Pitch Perfect Queerbaiting

Pitch Perfect 2 was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. The moment I found out about its creation I knew I would see it on opening day. Imagine my surprise when I got a chance to see it even earlier, the day before it officially opened to be precise. While I enjoyed the movie on the whole, I was struck by its use of intense and unresolved queerbaiting for humor.

This is not really a movie review, but context is important; a continuation of Pitch Perfect, this sequel is about a group of young women at “Barton University” who sing in an a cappella group named the “Barton Bellas.” The original Pitch Perfect is far from a perfect movie, however the fundamental core of the movie was an ensemble cast of women living, struggling, and competing together in a spirit of sisterhood and friendship. This core was so well-formed that the included “love story” felt like a second thought. Indeed, the fact that none of the women talked about their love lives or men for most of the movie (blowing the Bechdel test out of the water) was extremely refreshing.

Were there faults? Of course. Casual racism, and almost celebrated fatphobia and slutshaming were par for the course of the average big studio film. Likewise transmisogynistic and ableist jokes had a regular presence. On the other side, though, there was a distinctly subversive use of anti-queerphobic humor, portraying queerphobia as both unreasonable and inappropriate. One of the things that I did expect from this sequel was a similar handling of both the only openly queer character returning, and any new queer characters.

Unfortunately, it did not deliver. Unfortunately the form that queerphobia took was in queerbaiting.

Queerbaiting happens when media hints at or constructs a relationship between characters that is purposefully ambiguous and romantic to excite and entice queer consumers, or for the titillation of heterosexual consumers.

Sometimes this happens in media for purposes of “plausible deniability” so that creators can keep queer characters while ensuring the continued life of their creation. An example is Legend of Korra, the nickelodeon animated series that includes a canonically bisexual main character (Korra) who ends the series by entering a relationship with a woman (Asami), all of which rendered entirely through suggestion and post-airing confirmation by the creator.

In Pitch Perfect 2 Becca, played by Anna Kendrick, finds herself speechless when faced with another character who she describes as physically flawless and beautiful. Indeed, Becca goes so far as to blatantly state that character is making her question her sexuality. Consistently throughout the film Becca becomes inarticulate when faced with the character who happens to be a rival she is trying to trash-talk, and compliments her profusely (my favorite was “…your sweat smells like cinnamon!”). This alone is innocuous, if annoying. The issue is that the character never really confronts being confused about her sexuality at all throughout the film, despite there being a clear discomfort and tension. It plays solely for comedic effect. But wait! There’s more.

In addition to her rival, there is another Barton Bella Becca gets close to. This relationship comes off as romantic; I asked my mother and another random person in the bathroom while we were both washing hands (because I am all about breaking taboos apparently) to ensure it was not me creating a headcannon. It was clear that there was more implied in that relationship than stated and literally one word or one more long look would have made it a clearly romantic one.

This alone would normally not be an issue; after all, Becca has a boyfriend, right? Well. Sort of. The love story between Becca and Jesse (Skylar Astin) continues to feel contrived. Indeed, with Becca’s increased intimacy and regard for this new character it throws her relationship with Jesse into stark contrast and honestly Becca completely ignores Jesse for most of the film (and not in an intentional way). The simple fact is that the relationship between Becca and this “friend” feels more authentically romantic than that of her and Jesse.

When coupled with a clear questioning of her sexual orientation, the increasingly intimate relationship with her fellow Bella made me palpably excited to see what was a main character make a very well done discovery to bisexuality. Instead the writers chose to pair off this new character with another (male) returning character in what was sweet but ultimately disappointing; even this was made with a tacit message via nod from Becca, probably meant to show happiness for that character finally “finding someone” but which instead read to me as “this is ok; we couldn’t be together anyway.”

I could have easily changed the entire film’s queerbaiting by adding two lines, both said by Becca. 1) “Wow, I think I might be bisexual; she was just so beautiful and I just… wanted her” to her boyfriend later when describing the rival, and 2) “Wow, no, it’s… it’s ok. You two are great together” (with Kendrick’s perfect delivery of the awkward smile) when she sees the “legacy” kiss the other character. Neither of these lines would change anything in the plot or anything about the characters, and yet they would completely diffuse the queerbaiting (done for both humor and titillation) into a three-dimensional experience.

Upon leaving the theater, I had a heated debate with my mother (who is a cisgender heterosexual white woman in middle age) over this queerbaiting and one thing really stood out for me: she could not understand the impact that this unresolved issue had.

Overall queerbaiting may seem innocuous, but it leads to a whole host of systemic issues. Those with privilege on a given axis will go out, see films like Pitch Perfect 2 and subconsciously draw conclusions about bisexuality, “same-sex” attraction, and any one of a number of other things that the film gets “wrong” that continue to reify structural oppression on that axis.

By positioning Becca’s confusion around her sexuality as unimportant and incidental (to the point that it is a joke), it suggests that confusion around sexuality is both abnormal and unimportant. This sends the message to those struggling with or confused by their sexuality that there is something wrong with them for not being able to shrug off that confusion. Likewise, it confirms the idea that even if you are confused/questioning you will eventually “get over it” while sexual orientation is truthfully in constant flux and change.

By not addressing an intimate relationship between Becca and another female character that eclipses the intimacy of both of their romantic relationships with men, it suggests that intimacy and “chemistry” is less important than dating a man. The incredibly biphobic idea that a bisexual person should or would choose to date and “pass” as straight is one that asserts heterosexuality/straightness as normal and anything else as abnormal (which is the literal root of queerphobia).

By leaving the question of Becca’s bisexuality (or at least questioning sexuality) open and up in the air the creators made a very safe choice. Those that want to see Becca as bisexual can. Others will see it as a lark, as something that just happened to the character, which had no real impact on her characterization. The problem with this plausible deniability is that it continues to add to an air of queerphobia (and biphobia specifically) which suggests that queer/bisexual relationships are 1) fleeting 2) fickle 3) unimportant and finally 4) not as intense or real as heterosexual relationships. Despite the fact that Becca’s relationship with the “legacy” is clearly more intimate than that with Jesse, we see her default to the latter. Whatever the reasoning is ostensibly, the simple truth is that she does so because he is a man and why should/would she realistically question her sexuality when she’s already in a relationship (no matter how dull) with a man? Likewise the “legacy” is paired off with a character who is the typical “nice guy nerd” trope, unable to talk to women and when she goes to kiss him he pulls scarves out of his mouth. I’m not saying their relationship is poorly constructed (it’s actually very sweet), however it is not as well constructed or as well supported as a relationship with Becca would be.

When it comes to depictions of queerness (and transness) we still see a lot of reliance on old tropes or creation of new tropes, instead of a real and thoughtful interaction. Hell, we still see this a lot of the time with race and binary gender roles. Part of the issue is that media creators are not regularly held responsible and to a higher standard. Because we do not hold media responsible for showing three-dimensional experiences of people who are not white, cisgender, and heterosexual (because it’s “just entertainment”), there is a carte blanche acceptance of a lack of three-dimensional experiences.

My issue with Pitch Perfect 2 comes in the fact that I honestly expected and could see it doing better. The only reason it did not was that it did not have to.

Posted in Blog, coming out, Music, Orientation, queer, QUILTBAG, Reviews | Leave a comment

“Zoning Laws” – Or, “Putting People into Boxes” Or, “Friend-zoning”

NOTE: I’ve embedded here an audio file of the following essay; please feel free to listen to it while reading. If you cannot view the embedded player, you can download the file from here. It is about 19 minutes long. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think of this format!


The Preamble

I “friendzone” people. I also “acquaintancezone” people. I see no fundamental issues for deciding where a person fits in my life and deciding to restrict that even if my restrictions are tighter than they’d prefer.

In the kink world, we call those “boundaries.”

I dunno. I’ve always said that I really like the entire concept of “friendzoning” as a useful word for how I conceive of my relationships. It’s really a shame that it comes from tear-and-cheetos-stained MRA/PUAs (“mens rights activists”/”Pick-Up Artists”) complaining that the objects of their desire aren’t sex vending machines, vending all of their sexy goodness for seventy-five seconds of being treated like a human being. It’s a pity that MRA/PUAs can’t view women and others they’re attracted to as autonomous people with personal tastes that don’t include them (simultaneously forgetting that they themselves have personal tastes that mean that not all women or others they’re possibly attracted to are attractive to them).

Fluffy, What is Friendzoning?

I’m, well, not *glad* you’ve asked, but I don’t really mind explaining. If you know already and don’t want to read about it, go ahead and skip to the next heading “Zoning Laws.”

For those who’ve been living blissfully unaware of this particular piece of rhetoric, the foundation of it is this idea that people (usually cisgender women) withhold sex from “nice guys” (usually cisgender men) while “using” them for favors like… listening to their problems,  helping them move (or move things they can’t alone), going out on platonic dates, and anything else you can think of. Fundamentally one might respond “hey, aren’t those, like, things friends do?”

Yes. Exactly.

The problem is that these MRA/PUAs have so conceptualized the idea that men “buy” sex from women by doing “favors” that they wouldn’t otherwise do. Like paying for the occasional meal, helping them move across town, sharing expertise or knowledge, listening and offering advice on their problems, among other things.

These people honestly believe that these are not activities that you can or will do with/for friends, I suppose; only when one expects a (usually sexual) reward. That’s the only way that I conceptualize of this line of thinking making any sort of sense to them.

And if you think that’s true? Hey, you’re a shitty friend.

Friends help each other. Typically that help comes with an expected reciprocation, yes, but it’s not a transaction. I don’t help my friends and then trade that favor later. I help them because it feels good to help my friend.

If you only help people with an expectation of that being reciprocated, and then get pissed when it doesn’t happen, then I’m going to give you some advice:

  • Charge for that help. Use the money you make from doing it to fund the help you need in the future.
  • Alternately, you can barter directly for it. But don’t pretend that you’re doing it because you’re a friend. Literally say “I will help you if you’ll help me.”

I mean, hey, if (platonic) friends don’t help friends move then I have about five people to whom I owe at least a blowjob. That’s the going rate, right? Or does “lifting heavy things up a flight of rickety steps” equate full-on coitus?

The basic flaw with this is that “everyone knows” that some things are worth certain interactions and/or sex acts.  Except that *no one actually knows* what the hell these so called “standards” are. Oh, sure, some PUAs have codified them; but they’re far from experts in having sex with other people (their self-proclaimed proficiency notwithstanding). MRAs have suggested standards, but they pretty much boil down to “women are obligated to have sex with me because they made my dick hard” and, not unsurprisingly, differ depending on the source, the cultural background, and whether or not they have PUA influences.

So. That’s the origin of the friendzone.

Zoning Laws

I am a relationship anarchist. Maybe in a past or future writing I wrote/will write about exactly what that means to me and in practice, but the basic idea is that I establish my relationships without rules that restrict other relationships.

This primarily affects my romances, but informs platonic relationships as well. Essentially I view each relationship as unique, its own, and only impacted by those it intersects (eg. those who are married or dating).

Perhaps a bit counter-intuitive for something with the word “anarchy” in the name, I enact this by use of what I call “Zoning Laws.” Essentially these “laws” are for my own benefit and consist of constructing (often artificially) the boundaries of a relationship to ensure that it does not overlap with others. Sometimes I do this in collaboration with the people I’m “zoning” but often-times I do not.

Mostly these “zones” define the *potential* of any given relationship, not necessarily where it “is” or where it “will be” because, as a relationship anarchist, I recognize that relationships fluctuate, change, grow, and shrink. What may today be an intense and impassioned romance may tomorrow turn into a really wonderful (but platonic) friendship. Because of this I also place a huge emphasis on the *now* instead of *prospects for the future*;  that is, I care about if they’re funny *now*, if I like the sex *now*, etc. because that’s all that I can really be certain about.

I’ll talk more about collaborative vs. non-collaborative zoning in my next section, “Putting People into Boxes” but for now I’d like to talk about my process for zoning relationships.

I go through a few tiers of decisions when I come across a new relationship or otherwise decide to reassess one. This might seem artificial to describe, and to be honest it is fairly artificial. The amount of time it takes depends entirely on how much time I’ve invested in the relationship already, how much time I expect to invest in the relationship in the future, and whether or not I *enjoy* the person. The more positive each of these become the longer the exploration period before I make a real decision. In any case, any decision can be repealed (and often is).

Level One – Zoning (Change) Request

This level of decision making is entirely based on superficial questions and primarily focuses on the amount of time I’m comfortable around a person. Typically this ends up defining acquaintanceship vs. friendship for me. Often I need to re-evaluate because I’ve been spending more time than previously expected with the person(s).

  • Does this person make me laugh?
  • Do I make this person laugh?
  • Do we communicate relatively well?
  • Does this person bore me?
  • What method(s) of communication work best?
  • Are they clean? Self-sufficient?
  • Do they “need” more than I can provide?

 Level Two – Investigation

Here I primarily do fact-finding and try to gauge what the other person’s level of interest, and what type of relationships they’re interested in with me. Sometimes I will ask this outright and try to do this cooperatively. Mostly I just decide on my own. This process is considerably longer; while it’s definitely a precursor to having a relationship with someone, if we’re fucking I’m more likely to speed through this. I think of this more as “friendly vs. intimate” friendship.

  • Am I interested in romantic activity with them?
  • Does this person make me think?
  • Do I want to kiss them? Hug them? Fuck them?
  • How much time do I spend with them before I need alone time?
  • How honest are they?
  • What are their current and past relationships like?
  • Do I like their friends?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • What is their relationship (if any) to their family?
  • Are they kinky? In what ways?
  • What is their orientation and experience with “queer” spaces and lexicons?
  • How well versed are they on gender? Are they able to learn & retain?

Level Three – Inspection

This level is almost entirely about romantic viability. The difference between friendship and possible romantic partner. This is probably the shortest process of all of them and completely non-cooperative.

  • How often do I think of them, even when they’re not around?
  • How good is the sex?
  • How good is the kink?
  • How good is the conversation?
  • Do I feel safe around them?
  • When I look into their eyes, do I feel a warm sensation on the sides of my neck?

Level Four – Drawing Up Plans

This is only ever a cooperative process, and more about understanding the dynamics of the relationship I have with the person. It’s the end of all of tiers, even if some are skipped or denied. Essentially, this is the big decision. I generally have a few concentric circles, one of which a person ends up in:

  • Acquaintanceship: I know you. I may forget your name (I’m really horrible at them) but I know you well enough that I don’t mind giving a hug and saying “hey!” and I’m likely to wave, say hi, or stop to have a quick chat if I see you randomly.
  • Friendly Friendship: I know a lot about you and, in turn, you probably know (or have had access to) a decent amount of info about me. I really like to talk with you both one-on-one and in a group, but I don’t really feel the need/desire to “hang out” with you or make plans. I consider anyone whose birthday party I would go out of my way to go to a good baseline for a “friendly friend”
  • Intimate Friendship: Like a Friendly Friendship only I DO feel the need/desire to “hang out” or make plans occasionally. Maybe we’re fucking, too. In any case I share more with you than I do others.
  • Romantic Friendship: Flirty, fun, but low or no commitment. Essentially an intimate friendship only we make it a point to see each other regularly and/or fuck regularly. (I really hate these types of friendships so I tend not to accept them; I don’t exactly *want* to be friends with my romantic partners. It’s a whole thing that I have, but I’ve found it makes for bad partners for me)
  • Romantic Relationship: “Committed” relationship, by which I mean we both openly (at least to friends) acknowledge that we are together.  We definitely make it a point to see each other regularly and to foster the right conditions for love to blossom.

Putting People into Boxes

To continue my metaphor from before, once I’ve “zoned” a potential or ongoing relationship, I then enforce those boundaries.

This absolutely means that there are people whom I view as friends and that I resist (or deny) any attempt to move that interaction further. Whether I’ve decided that it would take too much emotional investment, time, or simply that I don’t enjoy the other person’s company, I’ve found that I have a good sense about these things and get very few “false negatives” when deciding on boundaries. That is, if I’ve decided I do not want to be more involved than a cursory acquaintanceship for instance, I’ve found that original decision is usually  correct and disregarding (or re-evaluating) it leads to disaster (or at the least drama that could otherwise be easily avoided).

Human beings rationalize and categorize. We want to be special and also to belong to something. Ultimately we want to have the sense of control over our lives and the factors that impact them (known as an “internal locus of control”) and generally fight to achieve that. Because of these factors the idea that I might pick someone up without their input and put them squarely in the box of “friend” without a chance to push that friendship into romantic territory is supremely frustrating, especially if they move slowly.

And to be truthful, I think that’s where the blue-balled history of “friendzone” as a MRA/PUA term comes from. People don’t like the fact that those they’re interested in don’t “play the game” by their rules, that their interest (or intent, or reading of a situation, or, or, or) does not, actually, matter.

But here’s the truth: it doesn’t matter.

These same people seem to conceptualize the friendzone as this place they’re banished to, or that they have to “work” out of. But again – their work doesn’t matter. Not everyone even WANTS or IS OPEN to romantic, let alone sexual, activity; the fact is that most folks friend-zone *every person they meet* until-and-unless a person “makes a move” by asking for special consideration to be put into a different box. Unfortunately, even the men who DO seem to get this often get frustrated or angry when their requests are denied, falling back to this same rhetoric, though perhaps with different diction. Their individualism and locus of control is so internalized that they fail to recognize that other people exist as individuals with agency.

My process is a bit different, I suppose. As of this writing I consider everyone fair game for the first three months or three meetings I have with them, whichever comes first. During this time period I keep them in a special box that I call “new relationships.” At the end of that 3/3 review, they then get moved into one box of many others (some of which I’ve described above).

Perhaps boxes aren’t a good analogy, because some people DO interact and intercept within multiple areas of my life. A better visual effect is, perhaps, multiple circles which over-lap in varying ways or a network of nodes and connections. In any case, I typically think of any person for which I have “multiple” boxes as having one box: a special box that is all their own.

Realistically these boxes are meaningless; they represent the potential of the relationship, not the actuality, so a person may grow or shrink within that depending on our most recent interactions. If a person in a box marked “acquaintance,” for instance, tries to set up meetings with me regularly outside of gatherings with multiple friends, I will likely gently decline or gradually phase them out of communication entirely. If a different person in the same box never talks to me one-on-one but we still see each other occasionally, despite not living up to “the potential” of acquaintanceship, they’ve stayed within their “boundaries.” In general if someone continually tries to “break out” of the boundaries I’ve set for our relationship (knowingly or unknowingly) it constitutes one or two conversations and eventually a complete phasing out of communication.

So. The first three months are for, essentially, the first two stages of “zoning” I mentioned above.

Typically if I’ve known someone for three to seven months and there’s never been a hint of romantic chemistry or desire (whether that be by physical “moves” made from them like kissing, playing in the dungeon, or direct communication of that desire) I friend-zone someone. Obviously, the extent to which I’m interested in intimacy with them determines exactly when in that window of opportunity I decide to close the door.

If we haven’t moved on to an explicit relationship within a year despite deciding to leave that door open, I friend-zone them.

But what does a Fluffy-FriendZone look like? It looks like someone who I am very close to, but who I (generally) don’t fuck, and for whom I don’t go out of my way to see. If I’m not setting up regular, consistent times to see you, you’ve probably been friend-zoned.

And yet, you’re still a person I will help to move if I’m available, whose issues I’ll listen to if I can handle it, and whose input I will occasionally seek on my own issues and needs as well. Sometimes we may even be intimate together or even fuck if it satisfies a need we both have. I don’t think that’s so bad.

I do this for a multitude of reason. The biggest of which is that I have a tendency to pine. In the past there have been people very happy using me as an “intimacy mule,” who would very happily cuddle, kiss, even occasionally fuck, but who would either flat out deny our interactions in public or reject me when I requested to move our interactions “further.” They were very happy with the situation as it was and I was not. I don’t blame them any more than I blame myself; when I develop feelings for someone they are strong and they last. Not having the strength of will to recognize capacity for feelings with someone who could/would not reciprocate them was as much my fault as their using me for intimacy.

Put simply, if I develop feelings of love for someone, those feelings don’t go away. Because of this I’m extremely protective of myself and of allowing the environment for love to grow. I suppose that I view friend-zoning others as a method of ensuring that it doesn’t happen again, and simultaneously a way of ensuring that I don’t do it to other people. Once I’ve decided that I’m not going to pursue romantic and/or sexual attractions to someone, or have decided with the person that it is not a possibility, I subconsciously stop *feeding* those desires toward that person.

BOOM lo and behold, my emotions (eventually) match my behavior.

And this is part of why I don’t really like mixing “romance” with “friendship.” It’s not that I see these concepts as directly opposed or even remotely related, it’s just that “friendship” is so platonically coded for me that superseding it with a romantic and sexual relationship becomes difficult.

That is, because I (generally) don’t fuck my friends or go out on dates with them or “love” them, romantically, I tend not to think of romantic relationships as “friendships.” I don’t like this idea that romance “grows” from friendship. For me romance tends to grow from good sex, curiosity, and physical intimacy. Love and romance are processes that happen EARLY in a relationship, for me, not late, and they happen easily. Conversely, friendships take a long time.

And that’s why I friend-zone people. Because unless we are creating the room for love between us, it is one-sided and painful.

Not because I enjoy “getting something for nothing.”

Posted in Blog, Gender, Orientation, Personal Psychology, philosophy, queer, QUILTBAG, Recorded, Sex, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Fluffy’s Bad Day (Or: I Laugh So I Don’t Cry)

[NOTE: A few months ago I wrote this on my facebook; after much hemming-and-hawing I’ve decided to repost it here. Please be aware that it contains swearing.]

“How was your day today?”

Let me tell you.

From the moment my eyes first cracked at the sound of what was, apparently, my third alarm of the day I knew that today was going to be “interesting.” Not only did my first two alarms (and, interestingly, my last) not go off inexplicitly, my phone intimated that they’d never existed and who am I to question them in such a rude tone of voice at this ungodly hour of 8:50am, thank you very much.

After apologizing profusely (a.k.a. resetting my phone) I managed to snuggle into bed for another minute before harrumphing at my fourth alarm and getting up to turn it off.

This alarm, clearly intent on singing the song of its people, did not take kindly to me turning it off. It played again, and again, and again even after I dismissed it three times. “Fuck you,” my alarm said, “THIS IS MY SOLO!”

Disgruntled, I turned my phone to the youtube app because I woke up singing Zedd’s Clarity (because apparently my brain knew just what kind of relationship I have with my alarms and the morning). As the ads played on my app I got into the shower and listened. Something about a superb owl and someone being “up for anything” and beer. Lots of beer.

I think my phone was trying to send me a message that it was well hung over because once the ads (which played without a single delay) finished it proceeded to play Clarity. In five second stints. Five seconds, you may be interested to find out, is exactly how long it takes to get Fluffy singing at full voice before the song cuts off.

Additionally, there was no hot water. When I say “no hot water” this is maybe a small exaggeration; water came out of the spigot if I turned on the hot water knob, however it was just not hot. I merely looked at my razor, which replied with a glare that said “don’t even try it, buddy” and gave up.

Somehow I broke my unbreakable comb in the shower. I’m not entirely sure what happened. I kinda blacked out there for a little bit from the rage. All I know is that it was in two pieces when I got out of the shower, “IF OUR LO…” playing overhead “VE IS TRA” like some sort of “DGEDY WHY ARE” perverse alarm clock “YOU MY REM” made with mu”EDY!?”sic.

Stepping out of the shower, I began the process of drying my hair and body, during which I dropped my towel in the toilet. I’m not exactly sure what made my towel shout out “SCREW THIS I’m going to a REAL beach!” as it leapt from my hands and body into the open bowl of the (thankfully recently flushed) toilet, however it really did soak up something. Unfortunately it wasn’t rays of sunshine.

I grabbed my deodorant, understandably irritated and bemoaning my already-ruined day and began to apply under my arms. I say began because my deodorant giggled as it then decapitated itself, bouncing on my carpet at the foot of one of my poodles who proceeded to pick it up and run away. After chasing her down and castigating her I sighed and threw out my deodorant, thankful for the fact that I had a backup.

I say had. I wish I could use the present tense instead. I opened my extra deodorant to find it practically LIQUIFIED in its holder. Assuming that this was likely not a good sign I (wisely in my humble opinion) opted to toss it in the garbage as well.

I let out a roar. I’m not actually exaggerating here. I roared. It scared the crap out of my dogs who, freaked the fuck out, decided to bark back at the animal that had clearly inhabited my body to tell it to evacuate “or else.” Now, remember, my dogs are poodles. Were I to actually be inhabited by some terrifying, roaring creature I’m not entirely sure what they expected they’d be able to do. Still, I appreciate their efforts.

Pulling on my pants they ripped down the middle seam. No, no, not ON the seam. Next to it. You know, where it’s not really repairable in a way that isn’t noticeable.

It was at this point that a moment of “CLARITY” hit both me and my phone (which decided, apparently, that it was going to play through the entire song and “off” button be DAMNED) and I realized… I was using up ALL of my bad luck for the day right now. This was happening to give me perspective for what was about to be an insanely GREAT day of amazing happenings.

How naive I was, nine hours ago. How naive.

I finished the process of getting dressed with little other fanfare, thankfully. Picking pieces of comb out of my very frizzy hair, I went upstairs, closed the gate to the basement, grabbed my coats and put them on, got in my car to just DRIVE goddamnit.

Apparently god really did damn it. The drive, I mean. There aren’t really words to explain what happened to me on that drive beyond “everything short of actually crashing and causing damage to my car.” On one hand, I’m very thankful there was no one in the left lane when I had to violently swerve out of the way of a very insistent semi-truck. On the other hand, having to simultaneously slam on my brakes to not hit the person driving, with their blinkers on at 40mph, who decided to cut me off into the left lane as well maybe ten seconds later was less than stellar. I got to practice driving while fishtailing though.

Getting in to work I sat down and preceded to start my day. I turned on my computer which threw up a delightful black screen with white text. Apparently 2048MB of RAM failed between Tuesday at 4pm and today at 10:45am. Fancy that. Unfortunately I work with/for people who I’m not entirely sure understand the concept of what RAM is who are also the people I need to go through to get said RAM fixed or replaced.

While at work I managed to troubleshoot about three issues that they’d been waiting for over a week for IT to come see us for. Because I’m me. The nice new secretary, who is much older and not very computer literate, boggled at my skills.

“You know this so well,” she said, “you could do this for a living” she actually said.

“No. No I can’t, unless I want to live on substandard wages that make it difficult to even pay back my student loans, let alone become completely self-sufficient in my life. I’d make more money than what you guys pay me but not much.”

Instead of actually saying that, I smiled sweetly, thanked her, and pointed out that, actually, unskilled IT support is widely devalued and poorly paid. I’d need to get a degree if I wanted to make any real money and I’m not smart enough for computer science. I’m just competent because I’ve grown up with computers.

I proceeded to teach her how to use windows explorer (you know, to look at files on her computer), internet explorer (including helpful hints such as “no, you don’t actually have to type the url INTO google. You can just type it in the bar up top), microsoft office (“yes, if you just highlight that text right there, then right click you can choose “copy” and then right click where you want it to go and choose “paste” to make it appear”) and, even more fun, Microsoft Access (which I’m still not very competent with).

“This is hell,” I thought, not for the first time, “I’ve died and I’ve gone to hell, where I work as an IT person for someone who has been a secretary for forty years and can’t use a computer for $10/hour.”

Around 12:15pm I noted that I really needed to go to my 12:00pm meeting that was all the way in the library. She was very understanding and thankful for my assistance and told me to have fun. Practically running to the library, my uncooperative phone refused to let me see the GLASA facebook page to find out what room/area the meeting was in today. Indeed, stubborn to the last second, I ran outside and got to the elevators (wearing only a hoodie, not my coats) before it finally loaded and informed me “actually, dimwit, you didn’t really need to go outside. Hope you like hypothermia mothafuckaaaaaaaa” before turning off for some inexplicable reason.

Jogging back to the main classroom I went to the third floor where, apparently, Rubik himself decided on the numbering system of the rooms. “Fuck you, Fluffy,” he thought, as he painstakingly labeled 343 after 315, “and fuck your sense of logic.”

Finding the room, I settled in for GLASA which was lovely, if kinda negatively charged (though it had to be). Afterward I talked to the awesome Hyacinthe for a minute then got my food.

“Grilled Chicken 4-piece meal, please.”

“We aint got none.”

“I’m sorry?”

“We run out of grilled chicken.”

“I… what?” My consternation, you understand, stemmed from the fact that…they bread their own breaded chicken strips.

“We used ‘em all up.”

“Oh. Well, I guess I’ll have the normal kind then.” as she heaped them into the paper holder I sighed. *So much for gluten free. Hello hives tonight.” I’d forgotten to eat beforehand, you see. Well. Forgot is a strong word. Unfortunately no one except Sonic serves lunch before 10:30am which means that I can’t really eat gluten free from fast food (where I typically just get french fries).

As I pumped ketchup into the little ramekin the pump decided that I needed a spring in my step. “Here!” it said enthusiastically, “have some EXTRA!” right as I was finishing the last pump into the last ramekin and SPLAT all over.

“Thank you Ketchup. I really needed that today.”

I returned to my office only to have to continue teaching my new coworker by… re-teaching her everything I’d taught her that morning only in less than an hour ’cause she left at 2pm.

Did I mention hell? Oh, I did? Ok, good.

After she left I began to do research like I was supposed to do. Unfortunately, my computer disagreed with that notion. Apparently in addition to breaking its own RAM to spite its speed, my computer’s decided that it doesn’t really like the APA website. At all. Fuck APA. Who needs to know anything about psychology not on ask.com? Not my user!

Eventually I got so frustrated I sent a quick update email and left, intent on doing work from the comfort of MY computer and beating traffic. I’m not exactly sure why I expected anything to go right, at this point. I think I was still holding out the hope from before. Surely, SURELY, something amazing was going to happen. Something. Please dear god. Anything. A call from the Ohio lottery or something. I don’t even know.

Instead god apparently thought that I needed a remix of my morning drive! It was great, like a remix of everything Skrillex has ever done by Metallica, Ozzy Osborne and the creature from the black lagoon. Haunting. Tragic. Fraught with something that feels like it could be talent but is so covered in shit you can’t REALLY tell.

After surviving the majority of the drive home, I merged off the highway and decided that I deserved french fries, goddamnit, and I rolled into Wendy’s. These french fries, guys… I can’t even. They smelled delicious, were piping hot, you could SEE the salt on them (in that “OMG MOUTHWATERING” way not the “WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME WITH BLOOD PRESSURE!?” way). I decided that I would save them for home and, despite my current track record with ketchup, would use just a touch. I was salivating.

Waiting to pull out of the driveway there was a helpful person behind me also turning right but, for some reason, in the left turn only lane. This person proceeded to beep at me, and hold down their horn. I can only imagine that they had more confidence in my car’s ability to become incorporeal than I did or were overestimating its ability to move quickly because, of course, there were numerous cars blocking me from getting out. When I looked over to them to see what the hell was wrong, they raised their middle finger at me and shouted something. Lovely.

Eventually I pulled out of the driveway and they pulled up tight behind me. After the first traffic light they began beeping at me again… despite the fact that I was behind a very slow dump truck that was much bigger than my car. Thankfully, at the second light this person turned left, but not before being sure to raise their middle finger at me one last time.

At this point I think I’d finally given up on hoping for something great to happen. I was just looking forward to going home and resting. To letting the world sort itself out.

Precisely as I was verbalizing that fact to myself the car in front of me (the truck had merged right) stopped so shortly I had to slam my breaks. My bag of french flies FLEW across the car (it was kinda pretty, actually) and landed, top down, on the floor. My comb from my center arm-rest console flipped out of said console, breaking one of its teeth on the way out. My glasses nearly came off my face.

I began to cry. My mood had finally gotten to a point where, if not optimistic, I was at least ok and able to cope. Losing my delicious, PERFECT dinner to this godforsaken traffic? That’s what did it. That’s what broke me. I was broken.

As I rolled up to my house I stopped in the street, crying. I texted my mother about my meal and horrific day and I decided, no. I won’t let it end like this. FRIES WILL HAPPEN.

I went to McDonalds. It’s about a half a mile from my house (instead of the 1.75mile the Wendys would have been to go back to) and while the fries are inferior they’re better than NONE. In the line, apparently, the person behind me decided I needed a gentle tap to get my attention that I was ready to move forward.

Unfortunately we were in the drive-through. I wish I were joking. Luckily there is no damage (it seriously was a tiny tap but still). I paid for my fries and headed home. Once home I cleaned my car of floor-fries and headed inside.

Luckily since I’ve been home nothing terrible has happened… but I’m having trouble shaking that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think I need to step away from everything electronic.

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The Giver (2014): Review

NOTE: This is the review for The Giver. I am also working on a deconstruction that looks at its treatment of religion, gender, sexuality, race, colonialism and its mirrored utopian and dystopian ideals. As this is a review I refrain from “spoilers” in the hopes that those who watch media for the “Joy of Discovery” will be able to use this to inform their choices. Let me know what you think of the film in the comments!

Cinematography: Put simply, The Giver is very beautifully constructed; the movement between monochrome and chromatic visuals feels at first cliche but quickly stands out as artistic because of the continued shifting of saturation. When the entirety of color finally returns to the screen it is almost a tangible impact. The shots are clean, and while there are rather more “cuts” than I usually prefer in film the subject matter and action lends itself well to the film.

I would have liked to see a bit more playfulness with the hue and composition of memories; while they’re mostly “shown” in first person, we know that memories are far from perfect. Playing with the quality of the recording and of the remembrances (imperfect recollections, low-saturation for more ‘ancient’ memories, etc.) would have really driven home that they were memories and not snippets of film.

Plot: This is not a movie that you watch for plot. For one thing, the plot is uninteresting and rather cliche. For another: if you’re like me and haven’t read The Giver, you will still learn almost the entirety of the plot from the trailer. It’s not incredibly complex.

What makes this film stand out, however, is in how the narrative is told. Tension swells and falls without ever really breaking. Indeed, I think that this is the source of the majority of the negative reviews about this film. It was a refreshingly uncommon experience from what I’ve come to expect from soft-science fiction. Rather than telling an epic story with a climactic shift from conflict to denouement the film finishes with the threads unraveled, the story unfinished, and no real climax explored.

This will be incredibly frustrating for many viewers, I suppose. But the beauty is in the fact that the film never promises any of the things other films promise. From the moment Jonas, the protagonist, experiences color in all of its glory it’s clear that The Giver is intent on evoking a set of cultural histories and experiences in the audience. It is not about telling the story of Jonas and his mentor or the Communities where they live. It is about recreating the experience of the cultural identity of humanity and posing questions about the nature of what makes us human.

And somehow the film manages to do this without pretension, without banging the audience over the head with this idea. Without stating it outright. Indeed, in a way I think it was maybe too well done because it did not prepare audiences to watch differently from their usual perspective.

Acting: Part of the issue with assessing the quality of acting in the film is that the characters are supposedly emotionless (or at least emotion-lite) and robotic in speech by design. That said, some performances were notably lackluster or spectacular.

Katie Holmes fails to deliver a performance befitting the writing of her character; this is disappointing and likely the result of poor direction. While it was clear the character was supposed to struggle with feelings of anger, pride, and love it falls flat thanks to an almost mono-tone affect and body language. This changes later in the film toward the end, when there is no more dialogue for her character, but her reactions to the experiences around her are perfect. This is why I believe that she was “directed” to be more flat. I would have liked to see Holmes given the chance to flex her skills a bit more.

Cameron Monaghan comes depressingly close to convincing as Asher without ever quite hitting the mark. This is likely a combination of poor writing and, I’m sorry to say, poor choices in acting. The character as a whole is two dimensional and introduced and explained almost entirely through dialogue or monologue by other characters. Indeed, for a character so integral to the narrative of the film he is given very little screen time or impact on the events. It’s almost impossible to relate to him as anything other than a vehicle for the plot. That said, I didn’t much miss Monaghan’s presence on screen; it never felt like he inhabited the character as either roguish jokester or military man. This is frustrating as Monaghan is a really great actor once he’s inhabited a role.

Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges provide excellent foils for each other both as actors and as the characters they inhabit for the film. With very little other than body language they communicate decades of history between their characters and provide an intimate experience for the audience. I was wary of Bridges for the role but he played it to the hilt; likewise Streep, a personal favorite, never fails to enrapture whenever she is on screen.

As an unabashed fan of Alexander Skarsgård, I was very sad not to see his breadth used in this film. It’s not that he was bad or unconvincing, just that he felt unused and unexplored. His character deserved a greater emphasis and level of discussion than it received especially for some of the events surrounding it. That he is the “husband” of the head of law enforcement and yet lies and breaks rules in a society which punishes these things by “releasing” is interesting and worth noting, but it is brushed off with very little emphasis whatsoever. That said, his ability to play a specific scene (which I’m sure everyone will know once they see it) without even a hint of emotional attachment to the gravity of his actions is amazing.

Pacing: Finally, the pacing of this film was a bit off. I had trouble following the time of events to the point where I would have easily believed they happened over weeks or days. There was a complete lack of a reference point which would have been easily supplied by adding one or two lines to any number of characters to imply how much time was passing at various points in the film. Indeed, the one time this happened it felt impossible that literally months had passed because there was no build up or narrative persuasion beyond the fact the character says “I haven’t done it for months now” or something to that effect. Mitnick (new to Hollywood screenplay writing if IMDB is to be believed) and Weide sincerely drop the ball here several times over the course of the film, tainting what is an otherwise solid piece of writing (except for the character of Asher).

Overall: This film was definitely worth watching and I would highly recommend it with caveats:

  1. Do not expect a film that is filled with action, excitement, and tremendous battles between good and evil. This film explores shades of gray and the shifts between monochrome and chromaticism. It is worried less about good and evil and more about right and wrong and the capacity for good and evil within both extremes.
  2. Do not watch this film for the story, but for the experience of watching it. At the risk of being too forthright: step back and allow yourself to be influenced by the scenes instead of driven by the story that they tell.
  3. Notice and watch for the details; the visuals of this film are definitely what drive it.

With these three things in mind you should at least find yourself with a good experience. Personally, this was one of the more enjoyable films I’ve seen in quite some time because of the emotional capital it was able to build with very little effort. The scenes of Jonas’s training triggered almost a visceral response and experience and I was often moved. This is a movie that I would watch again and again. While the film is rated PG-13 this is primarily due to one scene of explicit war-violence, including death.

This film is a breath of fresh air in an over-crowded science-fiction elevator of films. An easy watch that also makes me think. If I had to score it out of 10 I would give it a solid 8.5 with points off for poor choices in writing, pacing, and the occasional lackluster performance.

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The Transitive Property of Glitter

[NOTE: This is an old post from elsewhere that I’ve edited up to repost here; I’ve since stepped back from the Ke$ha fandom because her politics (or rather lack thereof) got in the way of my enjoyment of her music but I was looking through old posts and was delighted by this one. I like the theory.]

Often when asked what type of music I like my answer is “bad” because I’m fairly obsessed with simplistic pop with fat driving beats and little to no harmony. Granted, whenever pop that I am obsessed with contains some level of complexity I celebrate (Lady Gaga comes to mind, as well as harder groups like Panic! At the Disco) but I can be just as easily enticed by a simplistic Rihanna or Calvin Harris dance chart as I can a multi-layered a capella version of “Born this Way” or an amazingly complex Daft Punk Medley.

We call them pop stars, and stars they are. They shine, even if it is with the shame of their fans. One good example for me is Ke$ha. I adore every last sleazy, dirty, shiny little ounce of this woman. She’s offensive to delicate sensibilities, refreshingly naive yet cynical and very, VERY eager to start a revolution based on a hedonistic principle I support. I am ashamed I like this music for many reasons though, not least of which being her problematic racism, ableism, and benevolent transmisogyny.

A short list of reasons that she offends my specifically musical sensibilities: simple (if any) metaphor, cliche or obvious rhyme, ‘rapping’ that makes me want to ignore her till she’s sober and over-auto-tuning what is, in fact, a really lovely mezzo-soprano voice that is probably over-worked and over-killed by alcohol and smoke of various varieties. Harmonies are clearly contrived and ‘added in’ if they exist at all and nearly spastic. No, there is very little to adore, technically, in Ke$ha’s music (despite the fact that she’s a really excellent songwriter, a skill that runs in her family).

But the spirit behind it, the message behind it and, ultimately, the woman herself, excite me to no end. So I put up with the likes of ‘U R A Dinosaur” and “C U Next Tuesday” for the small gems like “Sleazy” and “Cannibal.” And I call myself a fan. An Animal.

For those who don’t know, Ke$ha has a thing for animalism. And Beards. And Alcohol. And Glitter. Glitter is what I’m worrying about here.

A friend asked me recently if the fact that someone listened to Ke$ha made them more awesome. My answer was no, however that the friend listens makes KE$HA more awesome. This, my dear reader, is what I call the ‘transitive property of glitter.’

Put simply:

A pop star’s popularity and ‘glitter factor’ (whatever makes them awesome; Ke$ha’s unapologetic nihilism, Gaga’s violent fashion, Beyoncé’s intense cult of personality, etc.) is directly influenced by the people who listen to them. That person’s power is added to the star’s; they can exert that power. This relationship, however, does not extend the other way.

For example; the fact that I listen to Ke$ha will have one of three effects on someone else: A) their opinion of Ke$ha will rise and/or they will feel a kinship with me B) their opinion of ME will decline and/or they will feel alienated slightly from me C) Absolutely nothing because they don’t care about music.

At no time will my relationship with Ke$ha’s music HURT Ke$ha; however it has quite a bit of potential to HELP her, to give her more glitter, if you will. By, essentially, passing on a bit of my glitter to her, however, it can dim my shine in others’ eyes.

This idea, this “transitive property of glitter” is how celebrity works in general. The more thoroughly one drives oneself into a genre of music (at the exclusion of others) the more likely they are to either dim their own shine in the view of other people, or to help those artists shine brighter.

Posted in Blog, Identity, Music, Personal Psychology, philosophy, Writing | Leave a comment

#RadicalSelfieLove 30 Day Challenge

I am creating a challenge to everyone who is working on radical self love as a praxis (like me).

The #RadicalSelfieLove 30 day challenge. While I’m going to only be participating on twitter, feel free to participate anywhere! Here are the rules:

1. Post 1 selfie a day on whatever medium you choose with the hashtag #RadicalSelfieLove for 30 days straight. If you miss one, don’t stress, just post two the next day.
2. Selfie MUST only be of yourself.
3. Selfie MUST be taken by yourself.
4. Posts MUST include something you like about yourself in that picture (e.g. “I look so happy” or “my hair looks great here” etc.).

5. While the selfies don’t have to show nudity, take them without wearing clothes.
6. #Nofilter
7. Use a different pose and/or angle each day.


Check out my twitter feed tonight for my first #RadicalSelfieLove post :3

Posted in Blog, Identity, Twitter | Leave a comment

Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace Thesis Sources – UPDATED list

YUUUUP I now have more sources, and MAY be adding even more. I’ll continue to edit this post instead of posting any other new posts with them in order to keep the area de-cluttered 😉


Beagan, B. L., De Souza, L., Godbout, C., Hamilton, L., MacLeod, J., Paynter, E., & Tobin, A. (2012). “This is the Biggest Thing You’ll Ever Do in Your Life”: Exploring the Occupations of Transgendered People. Journal Of Occupational Science, 19(3), 226-240. doi:10.1080/14427591.2012.659169

Beemyn, B., Domingue, A., Pettitt, J., & Smith, T. (2005). Suggested Steps to Make Campuses More Trans-Inclusive. Journal Of Gay & Lesbian Issues In Education, 3(1), 89-94.

Brewster, M. E., Velez, B., DeBlaere, C., , & Moradi, B. (2011). Transgender Individuals’ Workplace ExperiencesTransgender individuals’ workplace experiences: The applicability of sexual minority measures and models. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 999(999), 60. doi:10.1037/a0025206

Center of Excellence for Trangender Health (CETH), University of California, San Franciso, Department of Family and Community Medicine. Primary Care Protocol for Transgender Patient Care. (April, 2011). Retrieved June 12, 2014, from http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/trans?page=protocol-hormone-ready

Chiaburu, D., Sawyer, K., Smith, T., Brown, N., & Harris, T. T. (2014). When Civic Virtue isn’t Seen as Virtuous: The Effect of Gender Stereotyping on Civic Virtue Expectations for Women. Sex Roles70(5/6), 183-194. doi:10.1007/s11199-014-0346-z

Demuijnck, G. (2009). Non-Discrimination in Human Resources Management as a Moral Obligation. Journal Of Business Ethics, 88(1), 83-101. doi:10.1007/s10551-009-0100-6

Dugan, J., Kusel, M., & Simounet, D. (2012). Transgender College Students: An Exploratory Study of Perceptions, Engagement, and Educational Outcomes. Journal Of College Student Development, (5), 719.

Gates, G. (2011, April) How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender?. Retrieved from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-2011.pdf

Girshick, L. B. (2008). Transgender voices [electronic resource] : beyond women and men / Lori B. Girshick. Hanover : University Press of New England, c2008.

Grant, J., Mottet, L., Tanis, J. (2011, February) Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Retrieved from http://transequality.org/PDFs/Executive_Summary.pdf

Haas, A. P., Rodgers, P. L., & Herman, J. L. (2014, January). Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults. Retrieved from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/AFSP-Williams-Suicide-Report-Final.pdf

Harrison, J., Grant, J., & Herman, J. L. A Gender Not Listed Here: Genderqueers, Gender Rebels, and OtherWise in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. lgbtq policy journal at the harvard kennedy school2, 13-24. Retrieved from http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/release_materials/agendernotlistedhere.pdf


Hays-Thomas, R., & Bendick, M. (2013). Professionalizing Diversity and Inclusion Practice: Should Voluntary Standards Be the Chicken or the Egg?. Industrial And Organizational Psychology-Perspectives On Science And Practice6(3), 193-205.

Lamda Legal. Transgender Rights Toolkit: A Legal Guide for Trans People and Their Advocates. (n.d.). . Retrieved June 12, 2014, from http://www.lambdalegal.org/publications/trans-insurance

Meerkamper, S. (2013). CONTESTING SEX CLASSIFICATION: THE NEED FOR GENDERQUEERS AS A COGNIZABLE CLASS. Dukeminier Awards: Best Sexual Orientation Law Review Articles121-23.

Merryfeather, L., & Bruce, A. (2014). The Invisibility of Gender Diversity: Understanding Transgender and Transsexuality in Nursing Literature. Nursing Forum49(2), 110-123. doi:10.1111/nuf.12061

Munoz, V., Nadal, K., Hendricks, M. L., Davidson, J., Perry, J. R., & Singh, A. (2011). Answers to Your Questions About Transgender People, Gender Identity and Gender Expression. . Retrieved June 12, 2014, from http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.pdf

Nishii, L. H. (2013). The benefits of climate for inclusion for gender-diverse groups. Academy Of Management Journal, (6), 1754.

Riggle, E. B., Rostosky, S., McCants, L. E., & Pascale-Hague, D. (2011). The positive aspects of a transgender self-identification. Psychology & Sexuality, 2(2), 147-158. doi:10.1080/19419899.2010.534490

Rothblum, E., & Factor, R. (2008). Exploring gender identity and community among three groups of transgender individuals in the United States: MTFs, FTMs, and genderqueers. Health Sociology Review: The Journal Of The Health Section Of The Australian Sociological Association, 17(3), 235.

Sheridan, V. (2013). Transgender Inclusion: Creating Organizational Value. INSIGHT Into Diversity81(3), 26-27.

Skidmore, E. (2011). Constructing the “Good Transsexual”: Christine Jorgensen, Whiteness, and Heteronormativity in the Mid-Twentieth-Century Press. Feminist Studies, 37(2), 270-300

Smith, P. C., Kendall, L. M., Hulin, C. L., Balzer, W. K., Kihm, J. A., Irwin, J. L., & … Parra, L. (n.d). Job Descriptive Index (2009 Revision) and The Job in General Scales (2009 Revision).

Tate, C. P. (2013). A Two-Question Method for Assessing Gender Categories in the Social and Medical Sciences. Journal Of Sex Research, 50(8), 767. doi:10.1080/00224499.2012.690110

Weiss, J. (2008). Understanding the transgender community, Part 2. (2008, March 19). Transgender Workplace Diversity [Blogs on Demand]. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA177570335&v=2.1&u=clev91827&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=92345deba1a235ed9ccfd20a2b6bd249

Wong, J. (2013). Recasting Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare Coverage: A Comparative Institutional Approach to Transgender Healthcare Rights. Law And Inequality, 31471.

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Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace Thesis

I’m sure that some of you, dear readers, are curious as to the sources that I’m putting into my thesis, Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace. Well, here’s the list!


Beagan, B. L., De Souza, L., Godbout, C., Hamilton, L., MacLeod, J., Paynter, E., & Tobin, A. (2012). “This is the Biggest Thing You’ll Ever Do in Your Life”: Exploring the Occupations of Transgendered People. Journal Of Occupational Science, 19(3), 226-240. doi:10.1080/14427591.2012.659169

Beemyn, B., Domingue, A., Pettitt, J., & Smith, T. (2005). Suggested Steps to Make Campuses More Trans-Inclusive. Journal Of Gay & Lesbian Issues In Education, 3(1), 89-94.

Brewster, M. E., Velez, B., DeBlaere, C., , & Moradi, B. (2011). Transgender Individuals’ Workplace ExperiencesTransgender individuals’ workplace experiences: The applicability of sexual minority measures and models. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 999(999), 60. doi:10.1037/a0025206

Demuijnck, G. (2009). Non-Discrimination in Human Resources Management as a Moral Obligation. Journal Of Business Ethics, 88(1), 83-101. doi:10.1007/s10551-009-0100-6

Dugan, J., Kusel, M., & Simounet, D. (2012). Transgender College Students: An Exploratory Study of Perceptions, Engagement, and Educational Outcomes. Journal Of College Student Development, (5), 719.

Grant, J., Mottet, L., Tanis, J. (2011, February) Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Retrieved from http://transequality.org/PDFs/Executive_Summary.pdf

Haas, A. P., Rodgers, P. L., & Herman, J. L. (2014, January). Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults. Retrieved from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/AFSP-Williams-Suicide-Report-Final.pdf


Riggle, E. B., Rostosky, S., McCants, L. E., & Pascale-Hague, D. (2011). The positive aspects of a transgender self-identification. Psychology & Sexuality, 2(2), 147-158. doi:10.1080/19419899.2010.534490

Rothblum, E., & Factor, R. (2008). Exploring gender identity and community among three groups of transgender individuals in the United States: MTFs, FTMs, and genderqueers. Health Sociology Review: The Journal Of The Health Section Of The Australian Sociological Association, 17(3), 235.

Skidmore, E. (2011). Constructing the “Good Transsexual”: Christine Jorgensen, Whiteness, and Heteronormativity in the Mid-Twentieth-Century Press. Feminist Studies, 37(2), 270-300

Smith, P. C., Kendall, L. M., Hulin, C. L., Balzer, W. K., Kihm, J. A., Irwin, J. L., & … Parra, L. (n.d). Job Descriptive Index (2009 Revision) and The Job in General Scales (2009 Revision).

Tate, C. P. (2013). A Two-Question Method for Assessing Gender Categories in the Social and Medical Sciences. Journal Of Sex Research, 50(8), 767. doi:10.1080/00224499.2012.690110

Wong, J. (2013). Recasting Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare Coverage: A Comparative Institutional Approach to Transgender Healthcare Rights. Law And Inequality, 31471.

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On Satire, Tone, Rape Culture, and Critical Thinking

In light of what’s going on with #cancelcolbert and general cries of “IT’S SATIRE” on the web, well. This is what I think about satire. Take the moment and think about the fact that racism is just as pervasive and just as violent as rape culture… it just doesn’t affect white people.

Eclectic Discourse

I’ve found that I can’t stand satire when it’s violent. I just can’t. Irreverent, witty, and perhaps a bit “holier than thou,” but not violent or even in defense of violence. I lose the message for the words.

I had the opportunity to read a few such satirical arguments recently. Some in the defense of rape, some in the defense of “traditional marriage” and even some in aggression against the deeply religious intent on infringing rights (obviously, since these were their satirical topics, their intended message was for the opposite). I’m sure I’ve read more but blocked them out as satire because of my pure inability to process the message behind the words. The author’s intent is clouded by the adopted tone of the article, compounding an already increasingly frequent problem with online discourse.

Tone is dramatically important in writing and especially in correspondence. An actor will practice the same…

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Why I Don’t Date “Nice Guys” (And Why You Shouldn’t Either)

What does nice mean?

Lately I’ve been focusing on being concise with language. If you follow me on twitter you’ll already know that I’ve been talking about being more direct and clear about what we mean when we communicate. Indeed I’ve outlined a twitter challenge/homework around this idea of stepping away from carte blanche value judgements.

Too often humans have this habit of couching things in terms that are widely accepted but poorly defined.

So what does “nice” mean?

Etymologically “nice” has a pretty nasty background, actually. Nice was a sarcastic term, used to describe something fake and that was a facade of kindness. It meant that a person was, willfully or accidentally, ignorant and thoughtless.

In current times “nice” has moved on to mean “goodness,” “pleasant,” “acceptable,” etc. but, especially in regards to feminism, still has undertones of negativity that I think most people simply ignore.

I won’t date nice people.

That isn’t to say that I will only date assholes, that I will only date people I don’t find pleasant or good. Quite the opposite.

What most people, and cisgender men in particular, seem to mean when they say “I’m a nice person” is that they’re kind, loyal, and they care about others. What they’re actually saying is a) that they believe these qualities are so rare in the world it’s worth noting that they have them and b) that this central idea of “niceness” is a core factor of their identity; it’s so important to them that they must communicate it to others for validation and identity negotiation.

With regards to a), I think it’s a slippery trap to think of kindness, loyalty, and caring as rare qualities. These are quite honestly default assumptions that I have about every human being and I expect people to actually WANT to be known for their kindness. Even if the shape and scope of those qualities is unrecognizable to me (and it honestly will be sometimes thanks to the intersections of privilege and under-privilege) I know that these are the basic qualities of pack mammals, which humans invariably are. Antisocial behavior (regardless of its roots) tends to be a symptom of something else in that person’s life and it’s worth more to treat it as data than as reason to punish or “other” that individual.

I think, also, that there’s a distinct lack of nuance around levels of system. When I say that kindness and caring are my “default assumptions” I mean on an interpersonal level. Obviously, with regards to systemic, organizational, and group levels people are actively self-serving and opportunistic. Being part of that collective allows them to withdraw from empathy and relieves them of the burden to be supportive, kind, and caring. Simultaneously, it also relieves them of the burden of cause; that is, because this is something propagated by the group/organization/system, that person (individual) has no duty or identity as one of the people enforcing this lack of support, kindness, and caring. This is how systems of oppression are perpetuated and why “privilege guilt” is rarely useful. It’s a discussion all on its own, but one that’s rarely had or acknowledged.

When I look at b) I am terrified. Thanks to psychology I know that when a person is faced with proof or challenge to their identity that it is very difficult to accept, internalize, and even understand or see as a worthy challenge. This is where “privilege blindness” comes from and where discomfort (in the form of “privilege crying uncle”) stems from in social justice and diversity work. When I point out something that is harmful that a person considers part of their core identity, or that relates to one of their core identities, that hurts and creates defensiveness (regardless of the validity of the point).

A person who builds an identity around “niceness” will be unable to see when they are being “not nice” often even when told directly “I know that you think you are nice but X behavior that you exhibit has Y effect and is, therefore, not nice.” “Nice people” tend to be intent-thinkers, whereby intent is always sacrosanct and the intention of not harming someone is tantamount to not actually harming them.

This is dangerous. Completely dangerous. It can range from benign (for example, if someone else does my laundry I’m bound to get upset; it’s not a kind thing to do and I’ve asked people to stop and they’ve continued to think it’s a kind thing and that I’ll be grateful for it) to the flat out irreparably harmful, and it always shirks responsibility for the impact of actions back onto the person who feels the impact, much like systems of oppression burden the oppressed with the responsibility of that oppression. To use the last example, the fact that I’m not grateful is something that’s “wrong” with me and now I’ve harmed our relationship because I’ve not considered their intent or feelings about doing my laundry.

It’s a silly example, but it’s silly on purpose: because it’s true. Starting with something so absurd makes it easier to move back and look at the issue from other lenses, other examples, other case studies. When we look at how systemic classism does the same thing by placing the burden of class on the individual instead of the system that perpetuates stratified classes, for instance, we see this play out at the systemic level. Add in issues of race, gender, sexuality, etc. and these are the same mechanisms working on different levels of system.


Because I expect kindness and caring from humanity in general on an interpersonal level, I especially expect them from those that I date (loyalty is in itself an extremely loaded concept worthy of its own blog post so I won’t get into that here). These aren’t notable facets of a personality to me, but core defaults. When someone builds an identity around them (whether realistically or facetiously online) that tells me that they have little else that constitutes “who they are” and they’re subject to all of the pitfalls I’ve explained above.

People are so wildly different that kindness for each person looks remarkably different. Kindness is a pursuit of caring about people; only by caring about someone and discovering what they see/experience as kindness are you able to be kind to them. There is no default level of kindness or default actions. All too often people create this equivalence of kindness with manners or not being a horrible human being but they’re both different.

Kindness depends upon the acceptance that impact is more important than intent. Both are significant, but it is kinder to not do something that impacts someone negatively regardless of the intent behind that behavior.

In general, if someone needs to state and affirm that they’re a kind, caring person there’s a good chance that they are doing so more to prove it to themself than because they actually display those behaviors. Indeed stating that, in my experience, tells me nothing about their actual behavior.

Personally, since I see kindness and caring as actions and behavior, much like allyship, someone identifying these aspects of themselves is nothing more than a red flag because they don’t see them as default behaviors of being a decent human being. Doubly so when they use “nice.”

What does “nice” mean?

Nothing good.

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