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Monthly Archives: June 2011

On Blame Assignment As a Socio-Political and Philosophical Position

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LOOK, LOOK AT MY PHOTO I DON'T CARE LOOOOOOOK!

So, I’ve been away from blogging for way too long, but I’m finally starting to really feel like myself, so WAHBAM as my delightful sister likes to say. Here I am.

Also look, look, I have a vacation picture! LOOK AT MY VACATION PICTURE!

Alright, now that that unpleasantness is over, I have Big Important Things To Say.  Things fomented by a facebook kerfluffle on Paprika’s page, sparked by a link to a blog post by the ever awesome Cynical Nymph (o hai! Blog Love!), because 21st century problems here people.

Anyhow, it’s an excellent post, and please, go read it. Go, shoo, g’won, read that post!

Ok, good.

The first facebook comment on Paprika’s page (because my friends list is deliberately tiny and nobody starts shit with me, so yeah, hijacking Paprika’s page) in re that excellent post was about how the commenter had no sympathy for Cynical Nymph.

Which, wow, dick much? But also she wasn’t asking for sympathy. I pointed that out, because shit, I’m helpful.

This whole thing spun out into a weird argument about how someone (Cynical Nymph, in this case), with ED, or you know any mental illness, I guess (?) shouldn’t be thinking they deserve treatment because personal responsibility and she’s not really sick at all (LOLZ, LAAAHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOLZIES I SEZ), and liberals are just running around saying that OMG everyone is SO SICK and it’s not their FAULT! And people with mental illness just need to… well, I don’t know really, ride a bike, eat a waffle, get some sun and STFUor something.

Because they need to accept that it’s their own fault, this thing that they are living with. It’s their own fault, especially all the privileged bitches with ED (paraphrasing here, but that’s what it boiled down to, essentially), for being so weak and bending to the vagaries of their environment and neurochemistry. And because it is their own fault, fuck ’em.

My question was, as it always is in the face of galtian individualism, why do we need to assign blame? Why does it matter whose fault it is (if indeed it is any one person, which I very much doubt), and what is that value of increasing suffering in the world, which does nothing but increase suffering, shockingly.

Yes, news at 11 people, increasing the volume of suffering in the world, um, increases the volume of suffering in the world. COLOR ME SHOCKED (and Mediterranean blue, I love that color)!! ELEVENTY!!1!!!11!

The desperate need to assign (and escape by special pleading, of course) blame and fault and guilt and shame, is the hallmark of right wing patriarchal thinking. Magical thinking too.

When stinking filthy red socialists like myself say, I don’t care about assigning blame, I care about solving the problem and decreasing the suffering, what we are really saying of course, is it could happen to me. On the most basic selfish level, I know that there but for fortune go I.

I refuse to indulge magical thinking that sets me apart and above and stronger and just plain better, than all those other people.

This is the same basic reason why I loathe rape apologia from women, because it’s indicative of magical thinking.

I am not better or stronger than a person with ED. I just happen not to have found myself living in the nexus of genetic, social, familial and chemical factors that create ED. I have other troubles, I have other struggles. I’m just lucky that my struggles have been the kind that generally receive some empathy rather than the kind of kneejerk reaction that ED and other mental illness receives. I’m just lucky. I never happened to be sexually assaulted either, because I didn’t happen to be around a rapist who raped me. That’s all. There but for fortune.

Don’t get me wrong–blame assignment is socially, politically and philosophically useful within a framework of justice. And in that framework, we are almost always talking  about the individual and the state, or the individual and society, but very rarely just the individual out there individualing around.

Because it’s not useful really– for instance: Someone is hurt.

What is important? Immediately, what is important is that someone is hurt, and that we are shitty awful bastards if we deny them the resources to help them hurt less.

Whether or not I like that person, or feel sympathy/empathy for them matters not a whit. It shouldn’t, in fact, it absolutely can’t. Because that’s not a world that you or I want to live in– not if you’re reading this.

That’s the world where rape victims are afraid to come forward, because they will be blamed, and justice depends on sympathy. Where mean spirited assholes agitate against universal medical care that they themselves would benefit from because somebody they don’t like might get some relief and fuck that noise! See, we’re living in that world.

And it’s shit.

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to the Couple Who Roofied Me During My Otherwise Awesome Vacation (TW)

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Man, fuck you guys.

What was that shit anyway? Ketamine? Home-brewed GHB? Some kind of magical Puke In the Gutter and Fail At Keeping Your Head Up chemical masterpiece? I didn’t even know where I was. I had to puke up what was, hands down, the spiciest (and most delicious) Indian food I have ever eaten. I had to do this on the curb, in a skirt. And it came right out of nowhere. One minute I was standing on the sidewalk trying to change from heels into flats, and the next? Boom. Vomit.

You had a pretty smart set-up going, I must say. You, chicky, looked like Ginny Weasley, and barely old enough to even be in a bar; you walked up all, “hey, my brother wants to get you a drink, but he’s shy…” and I was just like, cool, whatever, I’ll take a free drink. So I ordered it, and the bartender made it. You grabbed it and handed it to me, which just seemed polite, given that you were standing and I was sitting. And then you, Mr. Shy “Brother,” shuffled over and made small talk while I drank it down.

I don’t remember what we were talking about, but I think you said you were studying Forensic Science–which I hope you made up, because for the love of whatever, you need to stay the fuck out of the criminal justice system.

Anyway, I drank this sugary, pineapple-infused drink that looked and tasted totally normal, and sure, you, lady, had briefly handled my drink…but you’re a chick. And you were only in my blind spot for a second. And I was sitting right at the bar, so it’s not like you’d had to walk across the room to bring it to me. This was a distance of maybe four feet.

And you, Mr. Shy, you were just a chatty dude. So wev.

And who roofies someone who’s in a group anyway?

Oh wait. That’s right. There is no perfect victim, just like there’s no perfect criminal. There are just, yknow, assholes and the people they choose to target. And while I could continue to beat myself up for accepting the drink at all, I think we all know who’s at fault here.

So you were trying to drag me to a different bar, and we said we’d meet you there even though none of us had any intention of going, and you finally left. And then we walked outside, and bam.

Again, fuck you guys. It apparently took thirty-five minutes for Pepper and her sister to even get me to stand up from the curb, and then they had to walk me to a taxi, and the driver gave me a plastic bag to puke in, and then I somehow made it back up to Pepper’s sister’s apartment and blacked out. I guess. I don’t really remember. I couldn’t even hold down water until two p.m. the next day. It’s taken me a week to even imagine the taste of alcohol without wanting to vomit. I had stomach problems for three solid days. I had to forgo oysters for lunch thanks to you shitheads.

Stay the hell out of my close relationship with seafood.

And personally, I didn’t really enjoy that whole “I can’t move my limbs” feeling. The “where the fuck am I and who am I with?” feeling wasn’t much better. But you know what really pisses me off? The part where I have to take a drug test for my new job, and, since I don’t know what you gave me or how long it can stay in my system, I’m gonna have to drop thirty-something dollars on this shit:

I think you mean "Vile."

Thanks, guys.

Oh, and to that one person who was all, “well that happens, that’s why I’m careful when I go to the bar”? Stop talking. Not just in this one instance, but as a general rule. Just don’t.

Here, consider this painting Pepper and I saw at the pier in Bandon, Oregon:

 

Yes, it says "Repent" on the bottom.

For the record, you did not ruin my vacation. It was still made of awesome and fuzzy bunny happiness. But seriously–I got roofied by a woman? My faith in humanity, you guys took it.

Sincerely,

Paprika

We Went on Vacation, and Didn’t Even Tell You, Happy 100th Post!

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But we’ll be back soon! In the meantime, enjoy this picture, and be happy:

We got to eat delicious seafood to this view!

This is also our 100th post! Go us!

 

Today I Solved Your Ethical Conundrum!

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Via Jezebel, a blood boiling, rage inducing, headache making, teeth grinding OMFG FFS ALREADY post.

So. Here’s a (necessarily heterosexist) reply to people who are struggling with the ethics of what right the father has in terms of decision making after conception– does he have the right to demand termination (no.) or that the woman carries to term (no.) or that he can get out of financial obligations to the baby (no.).

The hard truth is that pregnancy is the literal building of something– in this process, the father provides 50% of the blueprints only, while the woman provides the other 50% of the blueprints* AND constructs the building. In a business deal? The guy whose only stake was handing in half finished blueprints has no real say in whether the building is constructed or not, because he isn’t on the construction crew. But when he has supplied half of those blueprints, and the building is built, it’s half his building, to take care of, unless otherwise negotiated. That, unfortunately, is the reality of the situation.

Here is what the father/guy does have though– the right to NOT provide his half of the blueprints to someone who will do something he doesn’t want done with them. He has the right to talk to his partner and determine with his own good judgement whether she is someone that he believes he can trust not to do something he doesn’t want done with his blueprints. He has the right to say no to sex if he is not 100% comfortable with the potential outcomes. I believe he has the right to more birth control options than are currently available. I hope to see the RISUG option take off like wildfire in the US and be free to all men who want it, and I hope many men will want it. The best way to avoid pregnancy related issues is to avoid unplanned pregnancy.

But if the father/guy fails to talk to his partner before having sex, determine his own level of comfort with all of the possible outcomes, and make the choice which is HIS right, well. You don’t build it, you don’t have a say in the construction process. You don’t get to coerce anyone into building anything for you. You don’t get to complain about handing out your blueprints without exercising your rights first.

Your body is your body to use exactly how you see fit, and with full recognition of the responsibilities and rights that does and does not give you. Your rights end where mine begin. You know what trying to extend your rights to oppress others makes you? A fascist.

Know what happens to fascists? Billy Bragg can tell you:

 

* thanks to some internet commenter whose name I don’t now recall from a blog I can’t remember– I will not take credit for this wonderful analogy.

I Drink Wine and Bitch About the Patriarchy.

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Ah, pick-up artistry. How awful you are.

This Hugo Schwyzer article on negging is characteristically excellent (minus the crack about gay hairdressers, which, what?–come on man, you’re better than that). But the comments are something. They’re mostly fine over at Jez, which isn’t surprising, but over at the GMP—and on Schwyzer’s own blog—well. You know.

My own feelings about negging are not complex: I just don’t think it’s very nice. I don’t understand what would possess a person to walk up to someone they presumably find attractive and make a derogatory comment. Why would you do that? Why would you think that’s okay?

Well, I suppose you’d think it was okay if you had no respect for women, and didn’t quite believe we were people, and if you were too embittered to consider other alternatives. I guess you’d be alright with negging if you were the kind of person who refused to really analyze your failed relationships, if you perceived every rejection as some kind of undeserved slight against You As a Human, if you believed you were entitled to a woman’s time, energy, and body. And if you lacked basic human empathy, that would help too. But nah, clearly the problem is that Women Are Mean.

Here, PUAs, let me explain something to you:

I am a bitch because I need to be. Because I am harassed in some way pretty much daily. Because I’m The Girl Who Walks Everywhere, and people think they know me, and that they’re entitled to my time. And I have heard everything already. I have had people take it upon themselves to figure out where I live; I have had salespeople call my cellphone after I leave their stores; I have had customers call my place of work and ask me out while I was on the clock. I have been pestered on the street, on staircases, on sidewalks, in restaurants, on the job, at home, and in class. I have heard pretty much any line you could imagine.

I say this not to make some arrogant point about how awesome I am (I’m really not that great), but to stress that my bristlyness is a learned behavior. I used to be friendlier, but it complicated my life, and now I’m a little standoffish. According to the PUA literature, this makes me one of those women who “needs to be taken down a notch”—except, no. No I don’t.

In fact, I basically have the self-esteem of a teenager, and although negging won’t hurt me as much now as it would have a couple years ago, it certainly won’t help. When I was twenty, negging could make me start or extend a fast, literally punch my body, or have a panic attack; now it won’t make me do any of those things, but the words will sit in the back of my head, chanting. They don’t just slip through me—they cling.  Remember the Nickelodeon amusement park slime machines?

Those kids look miserable.

Negging, for me, is like standing under a slime machine, only the effects are harder to wash away. I wish I were the kind of person who could just let those comments roll right off, but I’m not, and it’s taken me a long time to realize it, but: nobody gets to demand that I be that person, because nobody has the right to make those comments in the first place. Strange men shouldn’t be taking it upon themselves to “take me down a notch,” regardless of how insecure they are themselves. And chances are, if I’m being pestered, I’m not feeling confident; I’m feeling uncomfortable. I’m feeling cornered, and anxious, and irritated. What you’re reading as arrogance is likely something else entirely.

So yes, negging is mean. It’s a shitty way to treat another person. It suggests that you don’t actually consider me equal on the human scale, which makes you objectively terrible. And yeah, it might be effective sometimes—but it’s generally effective with people who were already vulnerable, whose insecurities are easier to locate and exploit. (I say this from personal experience.) And if you’re deliberately seeking out, and taking advantage of, vulnerable people…well, again, you are terrible, and you shouldn’t be dating anyone.

But, you know, the PUAs have complaints. They always have complaints. The most common of these seems to be “I haz insecurity and bitchez be mean!” I’ve no doubt there’s some truth to that, and to a degree I sympathize—but that’s a very small degree, because there’s no excuse for being a misogynist asshat. I mean, I’m sure it is, at times, ZOMG so hard to charm to laydee folk. But my answer to that is, well, duh—the patriarchy hurts men too.  Any system that attempts to force people into narrow, prescribed roles harms everyone involved. And that sucks for you, PUAs-in-training, it really does. It saddens me. It saddens me so much, I’m drinking a monstrous glass of wine to cope.

But it’s not my problem.

I have similar feelings about racism, so let’s start there. I personally feel that racists harm themselves, not only because they’re setting limits on what they will experience, and how they’ll feel about what experiences they do have, but also because, while we in no way live in a post-racial society (lollerskates!), there are usually some social consequences to blatant racism. Subtle, underhanded racism, not so much—in fact, it can often benefit a person—but someone who casually tosses out racial slurs will likely face some repercussions. So yeah, racism hurts racists. But it would be ridiculous to suggest that people of color bear the responsibility of reforming racists. (I’m sure that someone has tried to make that argument at some point, but whoever it was deserves a punch in the face.)

Coming to terms with your privilege isn’t pleasant. Realizing how much I benefit by being thin, white, young, cis-gendered, and able-bodied wasn’t fun. But you need to do it, and you don’t have the right to demand that other people drag you up into the light and make it all feel better. If there are people kind and compassionate enough to assist you in that realization, you’re lucky—but you’re not entitled to their help.

Similarly, women are not responsible for correcting the damage done to men by the patriarchy; men are responsible for that. I’m sorry, PUAs, if the pressure to conform to a narrow definition of masculinity has led to insecurity and resentment, but it’s not my fault, and I can’t fix it.

Sex and dating can be hard. It’s harder if you’re a dick.

How You Know Your Restaurant Is Failing: A Series of One-Acts

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#1: Insurance? What’s That?

A four-top prepares to leave. The matriarch, a wizened old lady with two Manhattans in her system, rises slowly, leaning on her metal cane, then promptly topples over. Paprika, Parika’s bossy co-worker, and the matriarch’s daughters help her up; the woman appears unharmed, and is escorted out to her car by her daughters. They drive away, and Paprika and bossy co-worker walk into the kitchen. Paprika rolls silverware while bossy co-worker dries pint glasses.

Bossy Co-worker: Shit. I hope she’s okay.

Paprika: She seemed alright.

Bossy Co-worker: Yeah. It’s just, we don’t have insurance up front.

Paprika: Say what now?

Bossy Co-worker: We have it in the back, but not in the front.

Paprika: How the fuck does that work?

Bossy Co-worker: Illegally.

#2: Fuck OSHA

Paprika, having just washed the blender, attempts to dry it with a cloth. Somehow, she slices her finger open on one of the blades, and blood gushes forth. It’s really gross.

Paprika: What the hell? I already sliced my hand trying to cut brownies this morning. I suck.

Paprika goes into the bathroom and wraps her bleeding finger in a paper towel, then walks into the office, seeking band-aids. She is saddened but unsurprised to see that the first-aid kit is completely empty, so she improvises by tightening the paper towel around her finger and securing it in place with a hair tie. She goes into the kitchen, locates the restaurant’s one remaining dry erase marker, and kneels in front of the whiteboard. The kitchen manager walks up and stands behind her, arms crossed.

Kitchen manager: What’re you doing?

Paprika: Putting band-aids on the “need to order” list.

Kitchen manager: Good fuckin’ luck.

Paprika: I know.

Kitchen manager: Cyndi’s been trying to get me to buy them for you.

Paprika: What? I know she told you to bring your own once–

Kitchen manager: Yeah, now she wants me to buy them for the waitstaff too.

Paprika: But you’re the kitchen manager.

Kitchen manager: And she wants me to buy all the dry-erase markers.

Paprika: How about no.

Kitchen manager: How about fuck no.

#3: Nothing to Claim

Pepper and Paprika pull up in front of the “stove store,” a shifty business perpetually under construction, from which Paprika obtains her bi-weekly paychecks. Paprika exits the car, walks through the mess of construction, and finds Marlys, the dispenser of the paychecks.  Marlys hands Paprika her check, then gives her a Very Severe Look.

Marlys: You know, you need to be careful about how you claim your tips.

Paprika: Do I.

Marlys: Yes, you’re not claiming nearly enough.

Paprika: We’re not very busy. Sometimes there’s nothing to claim.

Marlys: And sometimes what you claim is less than ten percent of your sales.

Paprika (annoyed): Yeah, ok.

Marlys: It isn’t fair for you to be claiming so little–then the other employees have to make up for it.

Paprika: Right, well, have a good day.

Paprika walks out, swings Pepper’s car door open with great force, plops down in the passenger’s seat, and angrily relates the tale.

Pepper: Uh, what? Half the time when you work you don’t even make minimum, and they don’t compensate you for that.

Paprika: Oh, I know.

Pepper: And they pay you three dollars an hour, so…

Paprika: Uh-huh.

Pepper: And aren’t your credit card and check tips automatically reported?

Paprika: They sure are.

Pepper: And how the fuck are the other employees “making it up”?

Paprika: If they are it’s illegal. I don’t fucking know. Let’s go get ice cream.

#4: We Be Fancy

Paprika stands behind the bar, hunting for a bottle of the house cabernet. Bubbly co-worker starts making a daiquiri, then looks over at the perplexed Paprika.

Bubby co-worker: Are you looking for the house cab?

Paprika: Yeah.

Bubbly co-worker: We’re out. John’s having us use that Lucky Duck wine.

Paprika: Isn’t that, like, three dollars at Wal-Mart?

Bubbly co-worker: Two ninety-seven.

Paprika: So what are we charging for this?

Bubbly co-worker: Well, we’re supposed to be charging six-fifty a glass.

Paprika: What are we actually charging?

Bubbly co-worker: I haven’t decided yet.

Paprika: How about free? Can we do free?

#5: Seriously?

Paprika walks in to work, ties her apron around her waist, and immediately checks the 86ed list.  They’re out of: avocado, portabella, bleu cheese, two kinds of Riesling, spinach, feta, chocolate syrup, and bread.

Bread.

They’re out of bread.

How the fuck do you run out of bread?

Paprika: Man, I really hate being overworked and underpaid.

The Economy: Whatevs. I think it’s great!

/close curtains

Another Analogy…

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Via the inimitable Liss at Shakesville, a glorious response to “if bitches don’t wanna be raped, they should just stay locked in cells with mail slits for food and water! AND I AM NOT VICTIM BLAMING!!11!!eleventy!!”

Ahem.

You know, the more crude version of this particular kind of victim blaming is, “if women don’t want to be raped, they shouldn’t be out drinking, and acting like sluts!” This was a comment by some dudebrah named phil on some thing that Paprika read me last night, at which point I just threw up my hands and yelled:

Well then phil! If you didn’t want me to shove a feeding tube down your throat, WHY WERE YOU EATING THOSE RIBS? HUH? YOU EAT FOOD ALLLLLLL THE TIME, AND YET YOU’RE TRYING TO TELL ME THAT YOU didn’t CONSENT TO THIS FEEDING TUBE?

I’ve seen you bolting down sub sandwiches, phil. I even saw you with that ice cream. I think that there’s a grey line here, with this feeding tube. You like food, phil. You even eat food OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOME. Maybe if you weren’t out acting like that with food, well, I would have realized you are not a person who wanted a feeding tube!

But you blurred the line for me, when you ordered those nachos. Plus, you’ve been drinking, which means that you also wanted the liquid part of the calorie slurry!

For the Nth GOD DAMN TIME: In the same way that eating a fine meal at a restaurant is NOT consent to a feeding tube, and no-one is confused by that, lots of consensual sex is not an invitation to rape. Drinking is not an invitation to rape. 

There is nothing confusing about this. Rape is to consensual  sex as a feeding tube is to eating a five star meal.