Carnival of Aces August 2017: “Post-Fact” and “Alternative Science”

[This is my post of the Carnival of Aces for August 2017 hosted this month by Asexual Research. The topic this month is “Asexuality and Academia“]

I really shouldn’t have struggled with this topic as much as I have since I’m a) asexual and b) a student. For my post I’m going to write my reaction to This Article titled “In Post-Fact America, Alternative Scientists Put Belief Ahead Of Fact” by secondnexus.com.  I originally saw a link to the article on twitter.

My biggest issue with the article is this part-

“…this alternative science — that is, science based solely on opinion supported by no evidence or proof — is gaining influence and demanding equal access.”

“Science” that is not based on evidence or proof is NOT science and should not be called as such. The article is both criticizing and legitimizing pseudoscience by calling it “science” and its practitioners “scientists”. My concern is that media outlets are, intentionally or otherwise, legitimizing “alternative-facts” and a “post-fact reality” by how they talk about them.

My favorite movie of all time is Denial (2016), a courtroom drama based on the book History on Trial: My Day in Court With a Holocaust Denier by Deborah Lipstadt. It’s not really a “how-to” when it comes to dealing with post-fact individuals… actually, I’m going to do like they do in the film and call them what they are: liars. The film isn’t a “how-to” when it comes to dealing with liars and falsifiers, but it presents the problem in a “dragons can be beaten” kind of way which is something that I need on occasion.

Liars have it easy. The common man isn’t going to take the time to fact check, especially if there’s a grain of truth to what is being said. It takes tremendous time and effort to get to the bottom something. Researching is a learned skill and it’s not a skill I personally learned easily or willingly to be honest. I hated doing research for classwork because the emphasis was on the process, not the necessity. 

I realized research was a necessary skill when I had to sign my own medical consent form for the first time and the form said in plain text, “Medicine is not an exact science.” I looked at the receptionist and asked, “What do you mean ‘medicine is not an exact science’? Shouldn’t it be the oldest and the most exact science there is?” It’s no wonder that shortly afterward that I discovered asexuality by doing my own digging. I realized that I needed to seek out information relative to me. I had to start asking my own questions without relying on the answers being spoon fed. Research became necessary.

Unfortunately there is so little research about asexuality. 1% might not sound like a lot, but redheads (like me) make up about 2% of the world population and there are some very important, medically relevant quirks doctors need to consider when treating a red haired person. It really sucks when I’m in the middle of a dental treatment and the Novocaine is starting to wear off.

I’m worried that media outlets are fueling the “alternative-fact” mindset. I’m worried this will hinder asexual awareness efforts. I need asexuality to be taken seriously for my own health and sanity, but I have to wonder if the truth of asexuality is enough to compete against the much louder, more controversial, and perhaps more news worthy beliefs of liars and falsifiers. I also have to wonder, do they outnumber us?

“A Political Cost of Social Unorganization”by thenoteswhichdonotfit

A while back I did this post about activism and political engagement, but something I missed was individual effort versus group/organizational effort. This post, A Political Cost of Social Unorganization, by Sara K. brings up a really important point that the most effective political impact isn’t accomplished on the individual level, but by politically active groups and organizations. It’s tough if you’re an introvert/ambivert like me and don’t warm up to groups very fast or really have time to be politically active on top of daily life. However, doing anything is 100% better than doing nothing so go ahead and check out the posts mentioned above.

Carnival of Aces February 2017: Resistance, Activism, & Self-Care

Carnival of Aces February 2017: Resistance, Activism, & Self-Care
[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces February 2017 on the topic of “Resistance, Activism, & Self-Care” hosted this month by The Asexual Agenda (click link for more info on what a “blogging carnival” is and to see previous topics)]

Frustrated by recent political actions and inspired by the Women’s March, a wonderful group of folks came together to hold an 8 hour conference this past weekend called the Rise Up – Texas Action Event in Austin, TX to talk about current issues, ways to take action, and to exchanged some ideas and best practices for resistance and activism. I was able to attend this event so I’ll be sharing my 6 take-aways from this conference for my Carnival of Aces submission.

Continue reading “Carnival of Aces February 2017: Resistance, Activism, & Self-Care”

Carnival of Aces for November ’16: Relationship Anarchy

Carnival of Aces for November ’16: Relationship Anarchy

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces November 2016 hosted this month by Dee of It’s An Ace Thing for the topic of “relationship anarchy”. The Carnival of Aces is a monthly blogging carnival centered around a particular topic. For more information about the CoA see the >>Master Post<<]

When I first saw the topic for this month I was a little skeptical (having never heard the term before), but after reading into it a little more I can see how relationship anarchy would appeal to many people (including myself). As an aromantic asexual I shy away from the idea of relationships because of the expectations that come with them. We’ve all seen the Hollywood romance model: Boy meets girl, they date, they sex it up, they fight, they make up, sex it up again, roll credits. It’s all very formulaic and I am all for breaking that standard model.

I’m slightly romance-repulsed. If a random person walks up and tries to hit on me I’ll either a) not realize that’s what they’re trying to do or b) internally-freak-out-and-give-them-the-choice-of-solving-three-riddles,-completing-an-impossible-task,-or-going-on-quest. Then to make things even more complicated, I’m a nonbinary gender (agender). So following the standard relationship model does not work for me and my only option really is relationship anarchy.

What’s the point of a relationship without sex or romance?” Well, just because I don’t feel romantic or sexual attraction doesn’t mean I don’t feel any attraction at all. I still feel sensual attraction. If I were to confess to a ‘sensual-crush’ (and I did that just today actually), I would say, “I want to hug you. You are allowed to enter into my personal space.” and I would consider them an acceptable cuddle-buddy. Words like “dating” freak me out, but despite all that I still want to have healthy and wholesome relationships.

Relationships of all kinds are defined by unwritten rules that dictate what you can and cannot feel and what behavior is considered normal. For me that is very oppressive. I would love to live in a world where my “before everyone else” is a mutual platonic partnership. I would love to live in a world where my “love” for my mentors is just as celebrated and talked about as a romantic love for a significant other would be. I would be over the moon if the social norm was that one of the first questions people ask me is NOT “do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend”?  and instead, “what is your most significant relationship?”

Right now my most significant relationship is with my tai chi mentor because they are making the most positive impact on my life right now. I want to be able to talk about and celebrate that relationship with others, but I can’t because of the social expectations. If I talked about a mentor like I want to people would think it’s weird or they’d mock me for having a “secret crush” when it’s not like that at all. I usually do fall “in love” with my mentors, but it’s always in a non-romantic way. I see those kinds of relationships as reverent and worth celebrating and talking about, but because of our social norms I can’t do exactly that.

I want Hollywood to tell a “Falling in Best Friends” kind of story. I want Hollywood to STOP KILLING OFF THE MENTOR CHARACTERS because that’s the only way they know how to talk about the relationship. I want us as a society to stop worshiping romantic love like it’s the end all, be all way. I believe all kinds of relationships are worth celebrating and talking about. I didn’t have a word for it before, but I guess “relationship anarchy” is what I’ve been wishing for all along.

If you’re into me, then you’re not straight: Orientations and attractions to non-binary people

Hey there, folks! Check out this awesome post by valprehension touching on Non-binary erasure and complication when is comes to orientation labels. The title says it all.

Non-binary people are a weird position in the dating world (ok, I mean, we’re in a pretty weird position all the time to be honest. But anyway, today I’m talking about the dating world)…

Source: If you’re into me, then you’re not straight: Orientations and attractions to non-binary people

My number one take-away from the post was the mention of the complication that came with people identifying as “straight” while still being sexually/romantically attracted to non-binary individuals and how “straight” and “heterosexual” don’t mean the same thing. I greatly enjoyed the post and will be thinking about this topic in the future.

All Eyes On You (How Important is Your Privacy?)

All Eyes On You (How Important is Your Privacy?)

Since I’m taking cyber security classes for my degree, the topic of privacy always comes up and I had a burning question about it: “Is privacy more important to minority groups than privileged groups?

Yes! Absolutely, a hundred times yes.

“Depending on where you live, your socioeconomic status and your race, maybe you’re less worried about the police, but there are plenty of law-abiding African-Americans and Latino-Americans who have good reason to be worried…”

Christopher Soghoian (principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union)

Mr. Soghoian did an interview (which you can view here) about why privacy online matters and it gave me the exact answers I was looking for. To understand what I mean about privacy you have to consider the kind of information you don’t want shared with just anyone. If you were to type your information into a Google search right now -Your full name, city, and birthday- think about the kind of information you don’t want to pop up. You might not be worried about the police or government having that information, but what about your boss, your school or your parents?

I don’t want the first thing people know about me to be is my sexual orientation or gender identity. I want to be the person in control about who knows that information so it’s not something I’m going to put on a public profile. Other things people in general don’t want to pop up in a search are medical records. I’m sure everyone remembers when the AshleyMadison “cheating website” got hacked and leaked, but many medical providers are switching over to digital. How secure is that information? Will that security hold up in two or three years? It’s not just local hackers we have to worry about either. When the US Office of Personal Management (OPM) got hacked, it was done internationally. Since I had applied through USAJobs before, that information (including my personal work history) had been compromised.

What if a support-group type website got hacked? What if the first thing that popped up on your self-Google search was a medical condition or mental illness? What if a vengeful ex put intimate photos of you up where everyone could see including future employers? When you turn in a job resume you’re not supposed to attach a picture because of potential bias, but what’s the point if an employer is just going to look you up on Facebook? There are some serious privacy concerns that we need to consider.

National Geographic’s Through the Wormhole did an episode on privacy as well titled “Is Privacy Dead” and I was less than impressed with some of the guest experts. They made the argument that privacy was becoming unnecessary or that people could adapt to a life without privacy. It was actually this episode that got me thinking about the question of privacy and minorities because the experts who were making the claim that privacy was passe were all white cis-men.

Sure, there’s a select few people who really don’t have anything to hide, but as  Christopher Soghoia pointed out, “…there are plenty of other people who do have things to hide and we shouldn’t flush privacy down the toilet because a few people are privileged enough to have nothing to worry about.”

In my opinion privacy serves as protection against judgment and prejudice. Until we can walk freely without judgment and until there exist no prejudices we cannot give up the people’s right to privacy and I believe privacy is an especially important issue for minorities.

Carnival of Aces Signal Boost!

Robin Enby has selected a wonderful topic for the Carnival of Aces September Prompt: The topic they selected is Asperger’s and Asexuality but the prompt is open to the whole autism spectrum. I won’t be making a submission myself, but I wanted to spread the word. I look forward to reading all the amazing entries in the round up. I believe this is an important topic so please continue to spread the word.