Archive for the ‘advice’ Category
You know, I have been uncomfortable with the focus on the neighbor’s recounting in a recent news story and here’s a great article that helps verbalize some of part of why I think it makes me uncomfortable… http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/05/07/charles_ramsey_amanda_berry_rescuer_becomes_internet_meme_video.html
I would like to try to verbalize why, however, further thinking on my part of why the working-class bystander (that intervenes in a terrible situation or that speaks about something terrible) being pointed to and focused on as a colorful hero in a tragic news story really bothers me, because look at the longer clips with him really talking.
Something really, really awful happened and I think putting the spotlight on the working-class, verbose neighbor to have a laugh is part of the collective unconsciousness’ way of avoiding dealing with the troubling story. And it’s a really messed up way of avoiding the serious thing that happened. It speaks to how rampant sexism, classism, racism is in our society, that people will have a laugh at someone that they imagine fulfills a stereotype of poorness, or blackness, or some other kind of objectification to avoid dealing with a tragic event or to avoid processing something awful. Whether it’s toward a poor person, a nonwhite person, a nonmale person, or some other marginalized person. I think it’s really unhealthy and I think it upholds the social justice problems that contribute to the dehumanization of poor people, female people, queer people, people of color, and other oppressed people in our society.
Basically, it’s like a lot of people are unconsciously avoiding dealing with the seriousness of the story .”Something horrible just happened, but let’s have a laugh at this person!” The problem is, we really need to deal with the seriousness of what happened, we need to talk about it..
I would like to point out that the person that everyone is laughing at, is doing more then just calling 911, he’s offering any reward money to the people who were actually affected by the tragedy. You know, because they went through the trauma and it’s not magically over because they walked out of a basement. They are alive, but they are not yet safe. But the way the news reports it, suddenly they are “alive and safe.” To me, that’s a more important part of the story, because they are not safe, it’s not just over. You know what else is important? Asking ourselves, how did this happen? Why did this happen? What do we do in awful moments like this? How so we support and rebuild the lives of the people affected by the horrible thing that happened? The person that a lot of people are laughing at is actually dealing with the situation and you’re focusing on him as joke. I have so much respect toward this man for trying to refocus the spotlight on the people who went through the horrible situation.
I would implore you to listen to this person’s words before you make a caricature out of him.
I am not saying you’re a horrible person if you laughed at the condescending or demeaning memes going around, what I am saying is that you might want to really sit and think about why you’re laughing. What’s so funny about it?
It might be a little uncomfortable, but, as a society, we need to start dealing with this shit.
I wanted to share this comic that I saw thanks to my friend Chelsea.
Word! I love that this was this person’s final project, the comic highlights a common misogyny in nerd culture and it is so bravely personal. Total respect for the feminism here, this person showing their own struggle and being vulnerable, while recognizing another perspective for women in nerd culture who is also struggling even though they might conform to narrow guidelines of beauty-based-on-size.
If you relate to being left out by the rampant sexism in comics and nerd culture, if you relate to being belittled, objectified, harassed, etc. based on your gender despite thinking that nerd space should be a safe space… Well, you might also want to check out this amazing article by super intelligent nerd, Rachel Ediden. http://feminspire.com/idiot-nerd-girl-has-a-posse-taking-back-the-meme/
Speaking of super intelligent nerds, I went to the really awesome panel “Looking Past the Target Audience” at SCF this past weekend, but missed it at ECCC. It was really great to listen to the conversation with Rachel Edidin, Andy Khouri, Faith Erin Hicks, Scotty Iseri, Sfé M., and David Walker sitting on the panel. There was a lot on intersectionality, which was crucial! Intersectionality is a concept often used to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are INTERCONNECTED and cannot be examined separately from one another. Third Wave Feminism, especially, thrived on the concept of intersectionality in order to redefine Feminism as inclusive. The concept of intersectionality first came from legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989 and is largely used in critical theories, especially Feminist theory, when discussing systematic oppression.
For me, one of the most moving moments of the panel was when Sfé was talking about how an aspect of their process for creating Kyle & Atticus was to write a gender queer character with positive support and acceptance in their life. I think it really hit home for me because a lot of the stuff Matt, Marco, and I have been dealing with Matt’s parents understanding what our polyamorous relationship means and learning that I am a queer atheist. Essentially, he’s been coming out to them and it’s been really hard. That in addition to struggles I have always had with people being unsupportive toward me. This struggle, having parents, acquaintances, lovers, and even a long-time best-friend have acted as if they are shamed by me or have been demeaning or hateful toward me for any of the various reasons people have antagonistic or problematic relationships with me. That I am a woman, that I am queer, that I am polyamorous, that I am or do all these things that they can’t relate to, that I fall under any of the labels in their mind that they view as “bad” and then I go on to dare to have opinions, ideas, boundaries, and confidence to be myself. I am motivated to work with kids exactly because I want to try to be that influence in their life, to be the person who says, “You have a voice and it’s important.” Or, “I accept who you are and I will treat you as a person with their own autonomy and agency.” To be a supportive adult. To be an educator that empowers kids to think for themselves and to be themselves. I write about my experiences in the hopes that I can grow and that I might provide support to peers who can see themselves in me because I realize the positive impact that people have had in my life by being themselves and being open about it, as I have written about a few times on this blog. I really respected that Sfé talked about writing supportive roles in the comics on purpose, because I agree with her that creating those characters in stories feeds into the mothers and friends and parents and whoever seeing themselves in the life of a gender queer person or other underrepresented, marginalized people in our society. We really need those role models.
I also want to give huge props to the panel “The Big Picture,” where a bit of gender and intersectionality issues were discussed kind of inadvertently, with Alison Baker, Kelly Sue DeConick, Jen Vaughn, Shannon Watters, and Emi Lenox. As well as the focus of the panel, discussing how the internet has changed comics, especially independent publishing as, to my knowledge, most of the panelists had roots in indie comics and zines.
Personally, I believe that one of the biggest steps in activism is showing up, being visible.
If you have the ability and patience just to be there, that is a huge step.
Do what you can, REALIZE WHAT YOU CAN DO.
Do say hello to the creators and organizations you do want to support. Do buy zines and comics or whatever from the creators you think deserve it for whatever reason you value them. Do go to the panels that talk about issues you care about. Do say thank you (in person or online) to the panelists, we can’t hear it enough. Do blog/tweet/whatever about it. Do talk to your friends about the creations and panels you do enjoy or support. Do volunteer for an organization you think serves a valuable role in your community. Do go to an event that highlights creators and issues that you feel are important or meaningful. Do start your own event, especially if it’s an event you wish existed but doesn’t. Do make your own stories and creative work that reflects your experience, your passion, your values, your ideas. Do listen to or support the people who have different experiences than yourself.
I long lost the patience to volunteer for SCF, but I try to keep showing up to support the people who I do see promoting real conversations and ethical work I commend those who love comics and other cismale/white dominated communities. I have been able to devote myself to working on the Portland Zine Symposium as an organizer for so many years because it strives and works hard to be a safe space, an inclusive community with anti-oppressive ethics.
Also, I want to take this opportunity to promote the Women of Color Zine Symposium at PSU happening this summer, on June 8th. This is such an important event to support to me. It was started by Tonya Jones, a long-time Portland Zine Symposium attendee, powerful writer, and zine educator. The WOC Zine group that she started has self-published three issues of “Women of Color: How to Live in the City of Roses and Avoid the Pricks.” All three issues are available for $3 from the group, Powell’s Bookstore, and In Other Words. The zines can also be checked out from the Multnomah County Library!
And, speaking of the “Women of Color: How to Live in the City of Roses and Avoid the Pricks” zine, they have a submissions call up right now for their fifth issue! The fifth issue is themed for interviews and it’s an opportunity to interview a fantastic woman of color/person of color that you know doing great work in Portland and contribute to a great project. You can read more on their website, http://wocpdxzines.wordpress.com/woc-zine-collective-submissions.
If there is a theme to this post, it is that, whatever your battle in coping with oppression, you are not alone.
Keep showing up and we’ll find each other at all the nerd cons and wherever.
So, recently, my partner Matt’s mom sent him these books….
I jokingly tweeted that Matt and Marco say, “We surrender!” (originally Marco’s joke), and posted this photo. However, it turns out Matt’s mom is reading my blog and internet stuff. And, more recently, Matt got this gem in the mail…
I am pretty sure Matt, Marco and I have already read aloud to each other more of this book than his mom read before sending it. Just in case, let me reassure you, Matt’s mom, you raised a much better son than what this book would like us to believe…
All men are not conniving and deceptive. Especially not Matt. He is one of the most wonderful, honest and sweet people I know. I love him.
Though he might lick the lint out of Buddha’s belly button to impress a girl, I don’t know.
But, seriously, I don’t think he’d become a Buddhist just to impress a girl. I think Matt is a more defined and self-actualized person than that. I know Matt’s mom is having a hard time understanding polyamory and sexual freedom, but I do appreciate that she loves her son and is reaching out to him.
It can be hard to see people taking a different path than yourself or that deviates from your beliefs, but just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s invalid. Just because we have more than one committed relationship in our lives or that we’re open to, doesn’t mean our love for one another is not deep and meaningful. And, nonconformity can really be a saving grace, especially when popular books in Christian mainstream would encourage you to uphold and conform to certain types of relationships because, based on your gender, you must be a conniving liar trying to get into any girl’s pants.
Further, I would like to put it out there that, for me, feminism is about understanding that traditional gender roles can hurt men who aren’t interested in those roles, as well as women and especially any other gender expression. Gender binary is harmful, and narrow gender constructs like what the Ten Commandments of Dating try to convince people about each other based on gender are HORRIBLE. Do we really want to tell men that they’re all conniving liars? And, if the authors of the Ten Commandments of Dating are wrong about you’re son, what else are those authors dramatically negative or completely wrong about?
I leave y’all with a few links on those ideas…
http://thefbomb.org/2010/05/how-feminism-helps-everyone-not-just-the-women/ http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/five-ways-feminism-helps-men/ http://feminspire.com/feminism-its-good-for-men-too/
I posted this on facebook and twitter, but I wanted to dedicate a blog post to it.
You know what is a huge factor in rape?
A culture and media that blames victims and more readily sympathizes with people who commit rape rather than the people who have actually been raped.
CNN’s coverage has been completely unethical, but so has most the mainstream reporting on this case. Reporting like this feeds into why people feel entitled to each other’s bodies as possessions and objects, rather than understanding that consent is key and no one has a right to your body except for you.
Silence is not a yes, inebriation is not a yes, a short skirt is not a yes.
Here also is a list of links that covering the problematic way the Steubenville case was reported on, as well as a relevant petition for an apology from CNN…
And here also is some very articulate writings on rape culture and our society’s reactions…
When the allegations that such men committed rape are first revealed, there is an endless supply of people to normalize and excuse what they did; to doubt that the victim says, and also to blame her own behavior for whatever happened to her (usually under the guise of “well-meaning” rape prevention advice.) When they are tried, CNN and other media outlets qualify every statement about their culpable conduct with words like “allegedly,” and while this is necessary for liability reasons it subtly but surely conveys the impression to the audience that CNN doesn’t believe her.
The justice system so rarely works in the victim’s favor. Rape is the least-reported major crime because rape victims fear for their own mental health if they submit to a process that interrogates every aspect of their conduct — and often their past — and leans so heavily on their credibility. When reported, their stories are often rejected as unprosecutable. When tried, jurors’ biases often result in acquittals that are facially unjustified. And sometimes, particularly with celebrities like Kobe Bryant, the victim’s name becomes widely known and death threats from fans literally force her to withdraw her complaint.
Here’s the thing—when you argue that it’s impossible to teach men not to rape, you are saying that rape is natural for men. That this is just something men do. Well I’m sorry, but I think more highly of men than that. (And if you are a man who is making this argument, you’ll forgive me if I don’t ever want to be in a room alone with you.)
And when you insist that the only way to prevent rape is for women to change their behavior—whether it’s recommending that they carry a weapon or not wear certain kinds of clothing—you are not only giving out false information, you are arguing that misogyny is a given. That the world will continue to be a dangerous and unfair place for women and we should just get used to the fact. It’s a pessimistic and, frankly, lazy view on life. Because when you argue that this is “just the way things are,” what you are really saying is, I don’t care enough to do anything about it.
Do people making this argument really want to live in a world where we just shrug our shoulders at epidemic-levels of sexual violence and expect every woman to be armed? (And little girls, do we give them guns too?)
Teach young men to see women’s humanity, instead of seeing them as sexual objects for male pleasure: There is a reason why women are shamed into silence and why teenage boys in Steubenville, Ohio are caught on camera laughing about gang raping an unconscious girl at a party. The dehumanization of women spans all areas of American life.
There is no shortage of evidence that rape culture results from the objectification of women and the view that we exist simply for male pleasure. When a ESPN football commentator implies that the reward for being a star quarterback is that you get to have a pretty girlfriend, that takes away a woman’s individual agency. She is simply an object to be possessed. An object there for male desire and nothing more.
The young men in Steubenville aren’t monsters. They did something monstrous and criminal but perhaps we should begin to stop repeating the notion that “criminals” are the ones raping 1 in 5 women. No, it’s our husbands, boyfriends, acquaintances, relatives, and friends and they rape because they are not taught to see women as full autonomous human.
Let me also point to some well written allowance for sorrow for what has happened in a way that honors the humanity of everyone involved.
I do feel sorry for these boys. And not only because they will be put in cages that will not make them any better. I also feel sorry that two 16-year-olds are capable of the things these boys have been found guilty of doing. That makes me deeply, deeply sad. That we have created a world in which, at just 16 years old, and even younger, boys can already hate girls this much. That they can already dehumanize and degrade them. That misogyny is so insidious and so effective as to make 16-year-old boys incapable of respecting this girl, of seeing her as a human being with the right to make her own choices, even when drunk, and the right to remain unviolated, even when passed out. I am sorry for these boys that, at 16, some of their humanity is already gone. The cruelty of kids is not new, and I guess it should not shock me, but this specifically gendered cruelty, at such extreme levels and at such a young age, is shocking to me. And I do feel very sorry for these boys.
Just not as sorry as I feel for the girl they raped.
And what do we do? I am firmly in the camp advocating that we MUST TALK about these issues. And we need to all talk about them in a real and accountable way, a way that takes into account the broad scope of problems that feed into misogyny and rape culture, a way that makes us all responsible. We all need to be allied in the fight against oppression and recognize the very real privileges any of us hold. If you are a male person, perhaps it feels overwhelming. Here is another great article I have seen passed around for what you can do, everyday, as a potential male ally against rape culture and misogyny.
Part of male privilege is that, as men, we expect people to listen to what we have to say, and that’s no surprise—we’re socialized to take men’s voices seriously, to hear authority in them. And as much of a problem as that is, I can’t help but consider a few possibilities. An obvious start is for fathers to talk to their sons about consent, but there’s more. Think of the power that a high school football coach has to talk about violence against women. Think of how this kind of message sounds coming from an educator whose primary field has nothing to do with social justice. Think of how far consent culture can spread when a popular male artist, or blogger, or politician starts talking about it. And you don’t have to be a celebrity or leader to be powerful—anyone with a Twitter account or Facebook page can push the conversation forward.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sometimes the people you love most will fail to really accept who you are when it becomes at odds with something else they want.
And that’s okay. It happens, people have their different capacities for certain issues.
You just got to carry on and hold on to the people who work to understand your life even when you’re different or even when you’re practically the same. You’ve got to pull close to the people who accept you, not just tolerate you, the people who truly love and respect you.
A lot of people will tolerate you as a novelty friend when you’re very different from them. My impression of how people treat me like a novelty friend? “She’s strong! She’s queer! She’s outspoken! She’s slutty! Hahaha, isn’t that a riot? Hey, novelty friend, can you help me with this? Can you stand up for me about that? Okay, we’re done here, move along novelty friend, stop being so loud. I said I was done right now…”
The thing is, real friendship is about more than what you can get out of a person or their novelty to you. Many people will enjoy “novelty friendships,” much fewer people will really work to understand you and build a deeper intimacy with you as their friend. Much fewer people still stick it out and work to understand the deeper differences when things are hard or when they feel they have something to lose.
As my favorite, neighborhood, vegan barista said recently when I was cryin’ to him about being people’s novelty friend, “Don’t hurt yourself with attachment holding onto people who don’t actually respect you just because you’re attached. If they can’t see the discrimination you face or their unhealthy behavior, that attachment isn’t worth it unless they’re willing to do the work. Some people you just outgrow.”
It’s a good reminder, right?
But it really fucking hurts.
Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate, I wanted to write a post in appreciation and as testament to my experience as a woman. I am trying to keep this short, which, those of you who know me, is quite a challenge.
I am personally thankful for all the women who have fought to live and to have basic civil rights, in full knowledge that I stand on their shoulders. And, as I stand on the shoulders of women who have broken barriers so that I would not have to, they have shown what it means to stand up against oppression, to stand up for social justice, to stand up for basic rights.
I thank the women who inspire me to be true to who I am and I am going to do a bit more coming out right now, in honor of this idea. I thank the women who are present in my life to support me in being true to who I am… A queer, polyamorous, writer/artist and community organizer that works as a Dominatrix, as a teacher, and as a nanny.
I thank the women who look down on me for being who I am because they remind me my battles are not over and to live everyday as myself as truly as I can because that, in and of itself, is the greatest act of rebellion. I thank the women who look up to me for being who I am because they remind me that being true to myself is a righteous and rocky pursuit, that my fight benefits others and that is invaluable motivation to continue on. I thank the women who get that I am just another person trying to make it in this world just as I am, my friends, because they are who I turn to in my hardest moments for support and reassurance, they make me feel so very less alone as I face the inevitable discrimination that comes with being a women, not to mention my other identities.
And to those women I turn to and who have supported me, I thank you for being the person who I can talk to when hurtful names are thrown at me. I thank you for speaking up in conversation when I am teased or picked on or experiencing other microaggressions. I thank you for being vulnerable with me and giving me the chance to support you in return, you are, indeed friends of the highest order. I thank you for sticking around through my own issues and for truly hearing me even when you disagree with me. You are true friends, against all odds..
I thank the women who inspire me to be in solidarity with other women in world that would have us divided and powerless. I thank the women who I am different than for their patience and understanding as we navigate a world that would have us competing with each other instead of supporting each other. I thank the women who are courageously themselves in a society that has very narrow ideas of what it means to be a woman, whether philosophically, physically, or biologically.
The knowledge that we share in this struggle makes us the stronger for bearing it so that we will be able to continue the fight against the inequalities still to be faced.
The weirdest thing about the video thing I made to help promote that event thing, was editing it months later and seeing an ex, once adored and celebrated by me, sitting there staring at his phone and completely disengaged from the totally cool community thing happening all around him. Foreshadowing, folks.
He wasn’t the worst, not by a long shot. I have a lot of fond memories from the beginning of our relationship, before he stopped trying and before he let his negative demons run rampant. I actually even feel bad for the dude. I cried and agonized over limiting my time with him at the end of our relationship, when he was simultaneously saying I was crowding him and then complaining that I was too busy working on PZS.
But, gosh, was he such a draaaaaaaaaaag. Like, weeks and weeks before that. And completely inconsistent in his ethics (as in, bothered when people were racist, but often unsympathetic and even blaming toward me for being bothered when dudes were being sexist or harassing me). And unreliable for collaboration. But I kept thinking I just needed to be there for him. I am sure there is something to be said for not immediately jumping ship when he started to show negative behaviors, for trying to talk to him about them and be patient, and there were times he was there for me, but I definitely might have waited a little too long to retreat.
I am way thankful for my current partners. Engaged, sincere, willing to be challenged by life, giving, mature, and cavity-inducingly sweet. I so love Matt and Marco.
To my friends who were skeptical of me dating a comedian back then? Well, you were right.
The previous situation I wrote about in my last entry has been resolved because the partner clarified that they could no longer commit to the kind of polyamorous situation I was interested in.
There was an incredible lack of accountability on the partner’s end for dishonoring the agreements we’d made and the partner and their other partner were really upset with me for talking about what was making me unhappy (ugh, huge red flags) with other people. I broke off the relationship and the friendship doesn’t exist until that person is willing to understand all the boundaries that they crossed and take responsibility for that.
There are a lot more messed up details about the breaking off of the rather short love affair, of course, aspects of this person’s problem personality that became abundantly clear during this conflict, but I am not going to get into detailing them all because it would just be a waste of energy. It’s, thankfully, over.
And, honestly, I am really proud of myself for terminating the relationship as soon as I did, considering my track record on enabling people I fall in love with who have poor boundaries and problem behaviors. I think a large part of it was that it was so much easier to see what was problematic because I also had two other relationships going on that were sailing soooo much more smooooothly. In the wake of it, things with Matt and Marco have progressed remarkably. In all the time I have been seeing Matt, we haven’t had any serious disagreements. This is also true of Marco. Both of them seem to genuinely love every part of who I am, even the loud part that tells people sitting near us in a restaurant that they are saying racially insensitive things. Even asking that guy I broke up with in December to leave my best friend’s party because he was making me uncomfortable (seriously, he had only met my best friend 3 times before and then showed up at her party right after our breakup). And they were really nice and respectful about it, being supportive and solid, but also diplomatic toward him.
I keep joking about pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming just because my relationship with each of them is so easy. There is then the fact that they get along so wonderfully that the three of us have often been spending 3 or 4 evenings a week together, just hanging out and having fun… Working on projects, going to shows (like my friend Michael’s awesome reading/show at Backspace), hitting up events (like the IPRC volunteer party or BFF Katy‘s holiday party or AmaZine Day), celebrating holidays together (my birthday or Christmas or NYE), traveling together (we took a roadtrip to the coast with my housemates and we’re going to Seattle for ECCC because Matt’s tabling there), having potlucks or just making dinner.
It’s a challenging thing, learning how to have healthy relationships in our society. Hardships, difficulties, and unhealthy behaviors are romanticized in mainstream media. It’s even more challenging if you are poly, where healthy relationship models are almost impossible to come by…
In fact, I should take this opportunity to thank some people I know who have been healthy role models for me and probably don’t realize it (or won’t until I sent one of them a link to this). I know a few poly people who are married that have served as important influences on me, for both what to NOT do and for examples of what works… From their examples, I have grown to realize more and more over the years of what kind of poly relationships I want in my life.
One big influence that I have had is a friend who is a little bit older than me. That person is among two married couples who have been dating each other for something like 15 years and that person has kids with their spouse (the kids are teens now) and they all live together in a big house in SW Portland. They date outside that group, but seeing how they are able to balance freedom to love with commitment to each other and responsibility was a huge inspiration to me a couple years ago when I first met them. This is because it helped me feel more hopeful about the kinds of relationships I want. Committed poly relationships with solid people who date responsibly while also taking joy in the life they have built together.
Another big influence has been some nerdy, peripheral acquaintance-almost-friends I made 7 or 8 years ago. People I sometimes see at board game nights, or pie parties, or just randomly around Portland (because Portland is, like, totally small). One even shared a boss with me, I think, working in tech with a dad I nannied for a long while back). These people I always shared great conversations with when I did see them, but I never got into hanging out with regularly. Perhaps if I had, I would have a much better support network. But even knowing them peripherally, their kindness, and vaguely knowing they were some kind of non monogamy-practicing people.
It was validation that there were other younger, nerdy people who were thinking hard about what kind of relationships they were having and really trying them out while also seeming to get along well. It was a reminder that the relationships I was trying to have maybe weren’t hopeless.
That maybe there was a chance that there was some other nerd out there that I would click with and who would be really awesome toward me. That maybe there was someone, or even a few someones, that would love me without telling me to be quieter. That would love me without asking me why I bothered to care so much about this or that. Or that would love me without implying I was weird because I wanted to have more than one romantic relationship. (Yeah, I guess I have dated some real jerks.)
I want to thank those people, those influences, for being out and active in communities together. Just by being out there, having their positive relationships, they help pave the way for people like me. Younger people, less experienced in poly, seeking guidance and seeking hope.
Now, when I say healthy, that doesn’t mean flawless. I am sure that none of these people have been perfect, but that they were out there, trying to be ethical to each other and trying to have the relationships that they really wanted.
And really, isn’t trying to be ethical while also being true to yourself the most healthy way you can be?
Now older and more experienced, I can imagine all that you might have had to go through to be out there, trying to be yourselves and trying to be known, because I was lucky enough to know you while figuring out similar things for myself. Now, I stand on more solid ground because you all gave me the idea that it was possible. It inspires me to keep being out there, being myself, caring for what I care for…
Thank you for being true to yourselves and for being so awesome.
So often I have thought, “Is what I want even possible?”
Trying non monogamy on and off for 8 years, being a gregarious, open person who actively dates, I have SO OFTEN had my relationships trivialized, dismissed, and demeaned.
In the worst situation I have been in, a couple years ago, I have even had a male friend of a partner excuse abusive behavior because of our polyamorous relationship when I sought advice on dealing with the stalking and abuse from a person who I thought was a friend to both that partner and myself. The context was me explaining to our mutual friend how that partner had shown up black-out drunk to a date that I was on with someone else (which he knew about because I had told him) and yelled about us to the whole bar, pursuing me outside and pushing me against a wall because he just wanted me to listen to him rant about how he understood that I needed to cheat because he was a cheater. I was confused about everything, only three months into the mess, the partner had apologized profusely once sober, and I was debating taking him back. The friend excused the incident, saying, “Well, you know how hard it is for him to deal with the poly stuff.” I knew logically that it was awful and I should dump him, but I had gotten caught up with enabling. I had gotten caught up in wanting to be forgiving.
That’s just one really intense example out of years of well-meaning friends, not-so-well-meaning friends, acquaintances, employers, dates, lovers, and strangers making unsupportive remarks about my relationships and polyamory.
Like I said, it’s really challenging how to learn to have healthy relationships already, even if you’re just into monogamous relationships. A lot of media perpetuates really problematic views on how partners should treat each other, much less women. Doing anything slightly out of the norm can feel like navigating a tortuous labyrinth, blind-folded.
I am starting to feel like I have the blindfold off, I’ve disarmed the traps, and I made it through…
And I think I might be finally at the place where I am building a future with not just one partner, but two. It’s so wonderful.
The last few weeks this song keeps playing in my head! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12zPU-8bsTE
I keep thinking about going to see Gossip live with friends, and holding hands with two partners during this song and feeling like I was home.
Life is very wonderful, I feel so sentimental all the time, as everything keeps settling into place. I really like getting older. All the ideas I have been working toward seem to finally be a bigger reality in my life. I feel empowered and loved by friends, bosses, lovers, and community. Now, I really just need to catch up on more of my projects. If only.
Actually, quite frankly, I have been catching up and doing better because I have two strong relationships of people who are understand what I do and why and helping. Just the other day, Matt sat with me for a little while before I went to teach debate, helping me look up and write down facts about fast food and NPLAN’s “Healthy Food Zones” around schools for the debate my class wanted to have about fast food and whether or not fast food should be allowed near schools. He seemed to actually care and like it. Which is fucking awesome. He is such a sincere, giving, and caring person. I really love him.
Now, while a lot of things are so dreamy in parts of my life, there is an area that has become more complicated and taking downward turns.
It is so challenging, sometimes, this loving of more than one person at once, with dedication and commitment. Especially when you work hard to build community among your lovers because you are committed to it… Community around these relationships is so important to me, because, for me, it fosters commitment, growth, and constructiveness. I feel it also empowers each of us, building a deep network of trust and support.
Someone came along who just doesn’t seem to get it, however, but I fell for them anyways. And I might not have quite realized this is what was happening until my heart and the hearts of my other lovers have already made so much room for the this person that I fell for, I don’t think I really realized that he didn’t quite get it, maybe because this someone has always seemed to really want to get it.
And we are all hurting because this person, this person that has been having trouble getting what my relationship and polyamorous community goals are and this person has fallen for someone else who also doesn’t seem to get it. There are big checking in and communicating gaps. There is is a lack of empathy and effort for truly growing a close relationship between all of us, and only some of it may be due to both of this person and their new lover’s school schedule demands.
I have a lot of effort and empathy coming in from my other lovers to try and help me have perspective and constructive actions, a lot of them advocating for this someone, myself, our relationship, and even this other person. Meanwhile, I hear from this someone that their lover, this other person, like’s playing “Devil’s Advocate” when talking to this person about our relationship. Their remarks seem cold and unsympathetic. The opposite of what my support network, my other lovers, do when I confide in them regarding this person and this other person. I have come to feel there is a lack of commitment and support. This really hurts me, in partnership with their lack of warmth and reaching out. I am trying really hard not to take it personally. I recognize this other person is new to all of this and has an intense school schedule, but I fear this other person won’t ever be that way and I am not about to demand it, that doesn’t seem constructive. And I don’t want to demand anything, I want to be with people who want to have relationships they way that I want to have relationships and are committed to only pursuing other people who want to have relationships in a similar, compatible way. I have communicated, but I won’t demand. Instead, I wait and see if things sort themselves out with some more time… With a general feeling of preparing myself to walk away.
I perceive that my reaching out, explaining what is bothering me and what I need, etc. hasn’t really seem to be making many dents in these issues. I fear there are fundamental incompatibilities and I am ready to let go, but I did make commitments to this someone and I see effort on their part and even on the part of this other person. Or, at least, I have in my mind, as I tend to be terribly loyal and dedicated. It hurts not to feel that returned in a way I relate to. So, my plan is mostly just to take the space I need for now so that it is less painful, to listen to Kimbra’s “Settle Down” (which seems to somehow capture the feeling I have about the situation well), and to wait. To wait, hoping it will all pass somehow. Waiting and trying to get the pieces in place or to at least be patient enough for the pieces to fall into place, in the spirit of love and commitment…
And this is why I have tried to become so careful in relationships, because (through much trial and error) I have clear ideas and philosophies regarding what I want in my polyamorous relationships. Once I have a committed relationship, I attempt to take everything else carefully and slowly. I get so terribly involved and I can be very sensitive because I desire closeness and community among my lovers and their lovers.
So, yeah. Kimbra….