Secret Misogyny (Misogyny from a Nonbinary Perspective)

A while back I took one of the Harvard tests to see how sexist I was. Actually my mom had all of my family take the test to see how sexist we were and (not to my surprise) I scored the lowest (meaning I was the least sexist according to their leading questions). This didn’t surprise me because I’m agender therefore my answers don’t really fall in line with what they were testing for. The two kinds of sexism they were testing for was basically micro-agression towards women and putting women on a pedestal. So I got to flaunt my low score on both accounts (my mom was surprise by her own score in the latter category) and go on my merry way.

I haven’t completely given up on my dream to be a science fiction writer, but it’s definitely on the back burner until I get my life together. In the meantime I keep watching YouTube videos that analyze films and talk about story techniques. One video that popped up on my feed was an apology to Stephanie Meyer by Lindsay Ellis (formally known as the Nostalgia Chick) addressing whether or not the Twilight series deserved all the hate it got 10 years ago.

Spoiler alert: it did not.

Continue reading “Secret Misogyny (Misogyny from a Nonbinary Perspective)”

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Rats.

So, I mentioned a while back that somebody at my work asked me out and I thought the matter had resolved itself because I said, “no” and it wasn’t mentioned again for two weeks.

The matter is not resolved.

At the time I asked if he wanted a “formal reply” because he had asked me out over a text message ON THE DAY FROM HELL. Dude has no sense of timing. Serious, don’t ask people out on Daylight Savings day. Common sense, people, go get some. Also, that day I did NOT get enough sleep, I had an anxiety attack for unrelated reasons and was late for work, so if I could just block that day from my memory forever that would be just great. …And I’m off track.

So, I get a text at 1:33 AM saying, “Hey, been thinking about when you said no to a date and asked if I wanted a formal answer. I want to be able to set the record straight for myself so there’s no confusion form my end.” W. T. F. I said “no”. Where is the confusion.

Fortunately, there are places I can turn to and people I can ask when I’m having a miniature freak out. I’m going to go do that now.

Okay, I’m back and I’m much calmer than I was. 1) I found a really good PDF called “10 Steps to Becoming an Effective Ally to the LGBT Community” that I’m going to print out and take with me just in case. I’m not “out” per se, but I don’t consider my asexuality a secret. It’s just not something I like to talk about because it becomes “Asexuality 101” and I hate doing that. 3) I’m not going to respond to the text until I’ve had at least six hours of sleep and a half a pot of coffee. Lastly, 4) I’m going to be polite about it. Just like I can’t force myself to magically feel attraction towards somebody, he can’t just magically switch off his attraction. He’s only responsible for how he responds to those feelings and impulses (but the aro in me is still squicked out just a teeny-tiny bit, just saying).

That’s my game plan. I’m also working with my supervisor tomorrow so I can hide behind him in a corner if I need to.

 

 

Carnival of Aces March 2018: Sleep Hygiene

[This is my Carnival of Aces Submission for March 2018 under the topic of “Physical Health and/or Our Bodies” hosted this month by luvtheheaven. For more information about the Carnival of Aces, to see past topics, or to volunteer to become a future host please see the master post on the Asexuality Agenda blog]

It’s no coincidence that I’m dead tired as I’m writing this. Currently my sleep hygiene is terrible and I should know better!!! It wasn’t always this bad. I never pulled all-nighters to finished projects or study for test. Instead I would go to bed and wake up just a little bit earlier to finish what I needed then. Since I abstained from all-nighters I would do better on tests than the majority of my peers, I would FEEL better than the crammers and I could retain and recall the information better. In fact, I barely studied at all in school crediting a good night’s sleep for the cause of my good grades.

Now that I’m finishing up school and working more hours to prepare for a new career I’m finding that my stress and current lifestyle isn’t very good for sleep.

First things first, for anyone who doesn’t know:

sleep hy·giene noun
  1. habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.

I participated in a small sleep study a little while back. The study asked participants to change up to three habits to see if their sleep improved. All across the board, no matter what habits people picked up or changed, just being aware of their sleep hygiene and making small changes to their bed-time routine improved their sleep.

Here were the suggested habit changes:

  • Avoid caffeine after noon
  • Exercise for at least ten minutes each day
  • Avoid naps, especially naps longer than 15 minutes
  • Set a consistent bedtime
  • Avoid screen time (phone, computer, or TV) within 30 minutes of going to bed
  • Spend ten minutes engaged in meditation or mindfulness practices within two hours of going to bed

I’m going to be honest, I do none of those things. I did when I was participating in the study, but that was also before I decided to pick up a second major that I need to finish before the fall. I logically know that doing these things will help improve my mental and physical well being, but putting it into practice is hard. I could write six paragraphs of why I’m not doing these things, but I don’t think that would help anybody.

I use a program called f.lux for my computer to block blue light at night and that really helps me fall asleep faster after I use it. I recommend it if you’re tend to use the computer late at night. There are also equivalent apps for phones if you like to spend time on your phone at night and kindle fire has a similar program built in.

I also recommend investing in a comfy chair. I was looking at websites with sleep improvement tips nearly all of them recommend using your bed for sleep only (well, sleep and sex, but…) So, don’t read in bed…like I do…every night… these tips are hard. Another tip that I actually can vouch for is if you’re lying in bed and can’t sleep because your mind is racing; get up and sit in a chair. A really comfy reading/relaxing/thinking chair will give you a place other than your bed to do non-sleeping activities.

I was hoping to do more research for my post with facts and sources and all that good stuff, but I’m going to end it here. If this post at the very least gets you to start thinking about your sleep hygiene then that’s good enough for now.

In the meantime here are some TedTalks to fill in the gaps https://www.ted.com/playlists/223/talks_to_inspire_you_to_go_to

Pretty much all the experts say that a good night’s sleep is key to good mental, physical, and social health. Sweet dreams everyone!

 

I Just Watched “Kung Fu Yoga”

There are a ton of movie review/first viewing youtube channels, blogs and websites so this will probably only be a one-off thing, but I just watched Kung Fu Yoga (2017) because my new friends and I spent 20 minutes arguing what to watch on Netflix. I canceled my Netflix streaming a while back because it started to feel more like the $5 bargain bin. But I digress…

Kung Fu Yoga is the unholy fusion of Hong Kung film, meets Bollywood, meets Indiana Jones with questionable CGI effects. I enjoyed it immensely. This is a terrible, terrible movie, but my friends and I had a lot of fun watching it. From this point on there will be spoilers:

The opening to the film looks like an executive producer saw the LoTR battle with the giant elephants and said, “I want that!” but only had a quarter of the budget. If it were a video game, the CGI would have been passable, but alas…

It’s also Jackie Chan’s highest grossing film in China apparently.

The subtitles for the CGI opening were two fast for me to read so my brain short-cut it to “Journey to the West reference, lost treasure, this movie is Chinese/Indian collaboration, and our bad-guy is Hindi.”  That’s pretty much all you need to know.

It turns out that the opening narration over CGI opening was our main character, Professor Jack Chan (played by Jackie Chan), giving a history lecture to his students, most of whom are a sleep in the lecture hall because that’s just what millennials do, even though your professor is the “greatest archaeologist in China”.

Drawn by his fame the young and very very pretty Professor Ashmita from India approaches Professor Chan with a map to a lost treasure. Professor Chan gathers his team of also really pretty side-kicks and goes off to find the lost treasure. When they reach their first goal the villain appears, steals the macguffin that’ll lead them to the real treasure, and leaves Professor Chan and company to die in a frozen underground cave.

Actually, it’s one of Professor Chan’s side-kicks who manages to steal the macguffin and escape. Instead of calling for help for the rest of the team, he takes the macguffin for himself to sell in an auction. Fortunately Professor Chan and company manage to escape the cave, track down their turncoat, and get the macguffin back, but the villain appears again and this time manages to successfully steal the macguffin. Action movie car chase ensues and the turncoat is forgiven without so much as a lecture.

The villain manages to get away with the macguffin. Professor Chan goes to India where he learns that Professor Ashmita was an imposter! She’s really a pretty, pretty princess who disguised herself so she could safely enlist Professor Chan’s help.

Villain shows up after realizing he needs Professor Chan’s help to lead him to the treasure and takes two of the side-kicks hostage. The movie then blatantly copies Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Seriously, why does everybody hate snakes?

The side-kicks manage to rescue themselves and show up just in time for the climatic fight. Climatic fight ensues and then the movie just sort of ends? It’s like the plot just gave up so everyone calls a truce and breaks out into a Bollywood dance. Whatever man, tying up loose ends and having a story resolution is sooo last century, man.

Overall there was nothing original or new about the plot, the characters weren’t interesting or fleshed out, but apparently the movie didn’t need all that fluff. The audience was successfully distracted by the pretties (including me and I’m asexual), the fight scenes were really good, there were still moments of comic gold (because Jackie Chan), and at the end of it all we got to see Jackie Chan dance Bollywood.

Not my favorite film, but it’s not a film’s job to be “good”. It’s a film’s job to entertain and entertained I most certainly was.

 

Lingistic Relativity (a.ka. My Personal Pet-peeve)

This article about how a language’s future tense structure affects its speaker’s savings practices popped up on my twitter feed and sent me into a right tizzy. “Hate” is a strong word, but if there’s one thing I hate it’s Lingistic Relativity theory, aka Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis. I am obviously bias when it comes to lingsuistic relativity, so I’m going to review my virtue epistemology cheat-sheet before I start ranting.

My first objection is Mr. Chen isn’t a linguist or psychologist; Mr. Chen is an economist and therefore he would have needed to do his due diligence by consulting language experts for his study. My second objection is that the TED article is nearly five years old and does not include any rebuttals to Mr. Chen’s findings by psychologists or linguists.

It just so happens I have one rebuttal on hand because reading (or rather listening on audible) to my favorite linguist rip neo-Whorfianism a new one gives me such joy.

In his book, The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language, American Linguist Professor John H. McWhorter has a short section dedicated to Mr. Chen’s study and includes a graph from the study:

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There’s a visibly huge difference between Luxembourg and Greece, but if you exclude those two extremes it looks to me like there’s not really a significantly huge difference between savings rates. If you exclude Luxembourg, then the next two countries with the highest savings rates are South Korea and Russia, both of which Chen marks as languages with future tense markers. This is a problem according to Professor McWhorter

Chen, although making a diligent effort to consult the grammars, was misled by the fact that ultimately, grammars can be unreliable when it comes to explaining whether or not a language “marks the future” as regularly as English does. For example, Chen has Russian as a future-marking language. And indeed, you can get that impression from a grammar of Russian that devotes itself to telling an English speaker that you express the future by doing x, y, and z. However, Russian does not have anything you could call a future marker in the sense of English will or the future tense conjugations you might recall in French and Spanish.

It is part of learning Russian, in fact, to wrap your head around expressing the future by implying it, through bits of stuff that mean other things…In Russian, the future usually piggybacks this way on something else. The details are oppressive and, here, unnecessary, but suffice it to say that while in English the big distinction is between now, then, and later, in Russian the big distinction is between “flowing along” and “bang, right then,” whether in the past, present, or future. The future, in Russian, is largely expressed as one of various takes on “bang, right then.” So, ja pisal means “I was writing,” that is, flowing along writing. But add na– and say ja na-pisal and it means “I wrote”—right then. Tell someone to write something (right now) and you say Na-pishi! In the same way, to say “I will write” you use that same na– bit and say Na-pishu. The idea is that you are not talking about just writing along, over a period of time—rather, you mean you will start some writing. Right now, writing will start.

But this means that in Russian, there is no marker you can think of as being specifically for expressing the future. Russian offers no table of future tense endings to learn. A Russian struggles to explain to an English speaker what “the future in Russian” is, typically resorting to just giving examples like na-pishu whose endings, in terms of conjugation, are in the present tense. True, you can use the be verb to say “I’ll be writing”—ja budu pisat’. This is the kind of thing Chen likely came across…Overall, to learn Russian as an English speaker is to ask, at some point, “How, exactly, do you put a verb in the future?”

So that means that on Chen’s chart, the Russian bar should be white. Now, as it happens, if it were white, that would be good for Chen, because Russians are actually good savers. For him, Russian as a future-marking language is something he has to classify as “noise,” because his idea is that languages that mark the future make their speakers save less money. But this actually creates more, not fewer problems.

Russian is part of a family of languages, the Slavic brood, that largely all work the same way. The facts on the future are the same for Czech, Slovak, and Polish. Predictably from his take on Russian, Chen codes all of them as future marking. Yet on his chart, Czechs are good savers (another problem even under his analysis), while Poles are bad ones, and Slovaks are somewhere in between.

This leaves Chen in a muddle no matter how we parse the data. We might say that even if Russian and friends don’t have a word or prefix like will that is only for future, they do require a speaker to do something to make the future, even if that something can also be used for other things. So, we could say that calling them nonfuture languages is splitting hairs. But then, why are Russian, Czech, Slovak, and Polish spread all the way across the grid? Shouldn’t they, if grammar shapes thrift, cluster?

But then if we accept that these four languages are not future marking and should all be white, then that distribution is still a fatal flaw. What is Polish, in particular, doing way over on the right with the bad savers, when Poles (as I have confirmed in exchanges with a Polish speaker while writing this) have the same hard time telling an English speaker how to “make a verb future” as Russians, and for the same reason? We might add that Czech and Slovak are essentially the same language—why would their speakers be so many bars apart if we are really seeing a meaningful correlation between grammar and having the discipline to save?

Meanwhile, Slovenian is also a Slavic language and, as it happens, it does have an actual future-marking construction. But on Chen’s chart, aren’t Slovenians a little too far leftward in the thrifty realm for people with a future-marker that supposedly should be discouraging them from socking funds away for a rainy day?

And there’s some more. For example, Korean, too, requires an English speaker to give up the idea of a “future marker.” Nothing in Korean corresponds to will—Chen may have gotten an impression otherwise from a suffix that is translatable as roughly “could” or “might.” But that’s not will.

Whether we keep the four Slavic bars black or white, their spreading all the way across the thriftiness grid, in combination with the Korean problem, renders Chen’s chart a randomness. Ultimately, it comes down to this. Given how Chen’s chart actually corresponds with the grammars in question—such as that future-marking Slovenian is right next to Anglophone Australia but twenty-one bars leftward of the Anglophone United States—how plausible is it that the reason savings rates in the United States have been so low has anything at all to do with the word will?

I also noted that Ireland is not clustered with Australia, US, or UK. Another thing that bothers me is that language doesn’t obey country boarders. Languages will have different “shades” depending on how close they are to other languages. A country may have an official language for business, but citizens will speak their native language in the home. The whole Chen study just does not make sense to me.  I think it’s a case of saying it’s the buggy pushing the horse.

Your language doesn’t shape your world view; It’s your world view, i.e. your culture, that shapes your language.

/rant.

How Pessimism Cheered Me Up

I called my college to see about finishing my degree and the response I got was less than favorable. I was basically told that I couldn’t receive my degree without an internship or already having a job in the field. I knew I needed an internship from the beginning, of course, but I was also told that there was a class substitute if I couldn’t get an internship. The reason I’m hesitant about getting an internship now is most internships are unpaid or paid minimum wage and I pay for classes out of pocket. I can’t quit or put my current job on hold because I’ve already eaten through all of my savings to pay for classes as it is. I’m still waiting to hear back about the class substitute, but it looks like there actually isn’t one available next semester.

Naturally I was very upset with this development and when I talked to my mom about it she sent me the link to this video by Alain de Botton, a British-Swiss author, on Pessimism. Listening to the video while cleaning my room did wonders for cheering me up. de Botton is an entertaining lecturer. During the video, however, there were a few moments of “where have I hear this before?” and a few google searches later I stumbled upon Stoicism.

Stoicism is a branch of Greek Philosophy that later made it’s way and was adopted in parts of Rome. Three of the most well known (“well known” in the sense that they’re writing survived the passage of time) ancient stoics include a slave who later became a teacher, a senator, and an emperor.

When most people think Stoicism they think:
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In english “stoic” means suppressing your emotions, keeping a stiff upper lip, and all that. Well turns out that’s not what Stoicism is about at all. The word Stoic came from the Greek Stoa Poikile a famous Athenian site which literally means, “painted porch” where Zeno of Citium, the founder of the Philosophical School Stoicism, met with his students.

Stoicism follows the ideas of Virtue Ethics: “Virtue ethics is a broad term for theories that emphasize the role of character and virtue in moral philosophy rather than either doing one’s duty or acting in order to bring about good consequences” (via).  This means that, according to Stoicism at least, happiness and virtue is determined on the individual level. Virtue can be broken down into five components: Wisdom, Courage, Justice, Temperance, and Nature. The first four probably sound familiar and that’s not a coincidence as they have the same source. The last one is not referring to Mother Nature, but human nature. The stoics believe that humans are by nature social creatures capable of reason and following this principle is part of being virtuous. (Sorry, hermits)

Stoicism follows the teachings of Socrates in the belief that suffering is caused by ignorance. This isn’t meant to be a passive philosophy like, “You’re not suffering because you’re living in a war torn country and you’re starving; you’re suffering because you’re ignorant” and more is of a “Worrying means you suffer twice” kind of thing. Having reason and clarity of the situation allows you to make the best the best decisions possible without being hindered by negative emotions such as anger or anguish. Stoicism teaches that real happiness is virtue and virtue isn’t dependent on education, wealth, or health but your individual actions.

Stoicism also breaks down things into things within our power and things beyond our power. Things within our power include opinions, aims, desires, aversions, ect… and things outside our power include our body, property, reputation, office, ect… I really appreciate this idea because I feel like it takes a lot of pressure off of me actually. Basically I can control my opinions and my actions, but I can’t control what people think or say about it.

I know it’s been said in more ways than one by many people that sexuality is not a choice, but it wasn’t until reading up about within/beyond power that it really sank in that being asexual was not somehow my fault, that it was beyond my power. Having it phrased that way specifically was what really helped me let it go.

So, I’m going to keep looking into Stoicism because, oddly enough, it’s making a comeback. There is a modern movement that is bringing awareness of this ancient philosophy and adapting it to a modern era.

And I’m changing my major to math. We’ll see how it goes.

 

Sensual Attraction (Is Really Freaking Weird When You’re Aro-Ace)

I’m definitely aro-ace. Since puberty hit I’ve never felt sexual attraction towards anyone and I’ve only felt romantic attraction once. So, on an average day there’s zero blips on that radar. Sensual attraction is another story.

According to the AVEN website, sensual attraction is a “desire to engage in sensual acts with a certain individual (kissing, cuddling, hugging, hand holding, etc)” and I’d say this is pretty on par with what I’ve felt. The only problem is I feel that magnetic pull to kiss/hug/cuddle/etc without romantic or sexual attraction to provide context. It was hella weird in middle school and it’s still hella weird now.

I distinctly remember feeling sensual attraction for the first time in (I think) the 7th grade because it was such a weird and random feeling. I was in science class and I just got this really, super strong urge to kiss one of my classmates on the cheek. I was naturally freaked out as hell by this because 1) I didn’t know this student very well, 2) certainly didn’t even like this student in any capacity (romantic, sexual, friendship or otherwise), and 3) I don’t actually like people touching me randomly without warning. I’m relieved that I have a label for it now.

I would say the most common sensual attraction urge I get is to hug or cuddle people I’m sensually attracted to, but occasionally I’ll feel the urge to randomly kiss someone. I don’t get these kind of sensual urges with my closest friends or with my family, but I’ll sometimes feel sensual attraction towards coworkers or acquaintances. It’s just a weird feeling I get sometimes and I don’t really want to go through the mess of trying to explain it to people in RL, but I felt I should at least elaborate on it a little bit since I do hint at it on my bio pages. I feel sensual attraction towards other people and it just feels weird to me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯