Monthly Archives: January 2014

This is the B-Movie of “Scientific” Theories

A few people on my Facebook news have shared this “article” and I really want to thank them for it because WOW! It’s hysterical and I laughed and laughed.  The people who shared it, shared it with a great deal of anger and ranting.  But I say “bullocks!” to that because it’s way more fun to relentlessly make fun of it.

Is sarcastic mockery an example of positive thinking?  See, I know that it makes me happy to have opportunities like this, much like I experience glee when attending a high budget movie that’s bound to be terrible and fails to disappoint.  Last weekend, several of us went to see The Legend of Hercules in 3D and I doubled over in laughter for most of the film, mainly due to the excessive use of slow motion effects on mud splatter and how the movie would have only been slightly more ridiculous had there been a caption during “character and relationship development” scenes saying, “HEY.  YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO CARE ABOUT THESE PEOPLE. BETTER GET TO CARING, BITCHEZ!”  But alas, there was no informative caption.  Luckily for everyone sitting around me in the theater, I provided the necessary commentary.  Periodically I would say, “Wow, I am really invested in these characters.  FOR REAL.”  I think I gave a convincing performance.

What I’m saying is that one of my favorite pastimes is laughing at moronic garbage dressed up as Art or Cinema or, most of all, Science. So I’m pretty happy to have been directed to an article that says stuff like,

Dr. Masaru Emoto, a researcher and alternative healer from Japan has given the world a good deal of evidence of the magic of positive thinking. He became famous when his water molecule experiments featured in the 2004 film, What The Bleep Do We Know? His experiments demonstrate that human thoughts and intentions can alter physical reality, such as the molecular structure of water. Given that humans are comprised of at least 60% water, his discovery has far reaching implications… can anyone really afford to have negative thoughts or intentions?

And  has this really informative explanation of his “snowflake experiment”:

So, the article is about his “rice experiment”, wherein he labeled jars of cooked rice, each with either a “positive” sentiment like, “You are an awesome grain and I really enjoy making pudding out of you” or a “negative” sentiment like, “Hey, fuck you.  You’ve got nothing on barley.  BARLEY 4EVA, RICE NEVA”. He did this in a school or something and told the kids to say whatever sentiment was written on the jar to the jar every time they passed it by.  And then science happened and the rice inside the forsaken negative jar grew mold and the rice in the happy fun time jar remained unmarred.

Welp, that proves it I guess.  Seeing as this changes everything we think about the world, I think it’s time that we reexamine the concept of spontaneous generation. Sure, sure, Pasteur did a shit ton of work to teach everyone that hunks of beef did not, in fact, conjure flies because they were annoyed at being left to rot on a table.  Instead, he proved that hunks of beef probably already have bugs in them.  YUM!  Good thing humans have the use of fire and learned how to cook their bug infested beef, amirite? THANKS, PROMETHEUS!  Sorry about the whole liver thing though.  Does it help if I say you died for our flaming sins? No? That just makes it worse…Well…um…I think I left something in my car…

…vrooooooom…

Anyway, so yeah, negative thoughts make rice go bad and I assume that flies appear because, to quote Shaun, you touch yourself at night.

The best part of this article is the lively “debate” happening in the comments.  One of the believers makes an inane statement about how beautiful snowflakes are.  Another person tries to make a big scientific sounding claim about how obviously we can control the formation of ice crystals with our minds because they have a very loose understanding of quantum mechanics! And all us skeptics are just a bunch of negative Neds who will be able to only produce ugly, toxic ANGER SNOW.  I mean, think about it: Your mind is a collection of electrical signals and shit, right?  Electricity is made of moving electrons and stuff.  Everything else in the world is made of that too!  So, ipso facto, e pluribus unum, pisca es a patina, because you’re conscious of your mind (’cause consciousness and minds are totes separate things), you can will the objects around you! Probably also the weather!  This rice stuff has revealed a great secret to life.

Maybe I should write a book about it.

Wait…Damn.  Someone already beat me to it. Fine.  How about I just commercialize Anger Snow.  I’m pretty sure it would be Gak or Floam.  Mental note: Email Nickelodeon.

Also, my head hurts now.  And I’ve survived three terms of physical chemistry and one term of quantum mechanics.  My head never hurt this much EVEN THEN. Shit, all the rice around me is rotting.  I’m being too much of an asshole about this…

Why is there all this rice here?

Must be Friday.

I THINK IT’S TIME TO GO HOME.

 

Relationship Anarchy and a Culture of Consent

Over the past few months, I’ve become much more comfortable identifying as a relationship anarchist. For those who missed my last post on the topic, relationship anarchy is a relationship style that abandons the concepts of having rules or obligations. Basically, my relationship philosophy is that everyone should do whatever they want as much of the time as possible.

When I tell this to people, the most common response is something along the lines of “that sounds awful!” Not necessarily that it *is* awful, but just the phrasing tends to jar people. The idea that people should do whatever they want seems completely foreign and borderline abhorrent to a very large number of people.

I got into an argument on Facebook the other day about whether it’s rude to be using your smartphone while you’re out with someone socially. My policy is that social interactions should be entirely consensual, so if Person A longer wants to engage with Person B, they should stop engaging and do what they want (my friend Miri has a similar view). This is apparently a hugely controversial position. People seemed to view a social invitation as a form of contract, whereby if Person A agrees to spend time with Person B socially, they’ve promised to pay attention to Person B for the duration of the event. If Person A stops being interested in paying attention to Person B, then (the argument goes) Person A should suggest a conversation topic or activity that will allow them to continue paying attention to Person B. The other seemingly acceptable solution was for Person A to tell Person B that they are no longer interested in the conversation, giving Person B an opportunity to suggest a more interesting conversation topic or activity.

The problem with both of those solutions is that it creates an obligation on the part of Person A to continue paying attention to Person B, even though Person A doesn’t want to do so. These solutions only make sense if the goal is to continue the social interaction. People were completely opposed to the idea that simply ending the social interaction (without additional steps), either temporarily or completely, was an acceptable option.

One of the reasons why people are so threatened by the idea of other people doing what they want is that we don’t live in a culture of consent:

A consent culture is one in which the prevailing narrative of sex–in fact, of human interaction–is centered around mutual consent. It is a culture with an abhorrence of forcing anyone into anything, a respect for the absolute necessity of bodily autonomy, a culture that believes that a person is always the best judge of their own wants and needs.

Consent culture is meant as a rejection of rape culture, but it covers so much more than rape prevention. Cliff Pervocracy advocates:

I don’t want to limit it to sex. A consent culture is one in which mutual consent is part of social life as well. Don’t want to talk to someone? You don’t have to. Don’t want a hug? That’s okay, no hug then. Don’t want to try the fish? That’s fine. (As someone with weird food aversions, I have a special hatred for “just taste a little!”) Don’t want to be tickled or noogied? Then it’s not funny to chase you down and do it anyway.

This is the part that tends to give people the most trouble. Boundary-pushing is shockingly acceptable in our culture, as are “etiquette rules,” (cell phone use being just one example) that encourage people to do things that they don’t want to do for the sake of meeting other people’s expectations.

Relationship anarchy, at least in theory, does away with all of that. When there are no rules or preexisting structures, and everyone is encouraged to do what they want, then nobody is pressured into doing anything. RA is, of course, not a panacea. Communicating desires and/or expectations (hugely important things to do!) can still often be interpreted as the application of social pressure to meet such desires or expectations,* so even people who claim to have no rules should take special care that they aren’t created de facto relationship rules, and that all parties understand that there’s a difference between communicating a desire and insisting (or even asking) a partner to meet that desire.

The poly community likes to endlessly debate about the appropriateness of partners having rules and making agreements. My view is that having any sort of control over one another’s choices is contrary to the goal of building a culture of consent (important: that doesn’t mean that there’s no good reason to do it). In a culture of consent, people would be encourage to do whatever they want in relationships. That doesn’t mean that there would be no consequences for their behavior, but it does mean that situations would not be intentionally constructed to discourage people from doing what they want.

As I seemingly repeat ad nauseum, rules and agreements only matter if one or both parties wants to break them. If nobody ever wants to break the agreement, the agreement is not necessary. By making the agreement, you’re planning for what happens in the event that at least one partner wants to break the agreement,** and you’re deciding that, in that case, that partner should stick to what you’ve agreed. In the culture I wish we had, such things would be viewed with great suspicion, if not outright hostility.

The scary part about consent culture is the same thing as the scary part about atheism. Namely – if there are no rules and nobody is pressuring people to behave a certain way, people will do awful things! Atheists generally have no trouble shrugging off this criticism, most often pointing out that they have no desire to do awful things, and if fear of god is the only thing preventing people from committing atrocities, then we are truly in trouble. I would make the same argument with respect to relationships. If people are permitted to do whatever they want, free from pressure or coercion, what would truly be different? If you’re in a relationship, consider this question: what is it that your partner wants to do that would be so awful if they did it? For those who are not, do you really want to be in a relationship with a person who would mistreat you if not for the social pressure put on them? I certainly don’t.

In a culture truly based on consent, wouldn’t all relationships be anarchic?***

—————————————–
*Franklin Veaux has some very good examples regarding the difference between communicating expectations/desires and making rules.

** Seemingly, some people make the puzzling decision to use agreements and rules as a way of communicating mutual expectations/desires. I advocate against doing so, as I think it’s important to maintain a distinction between the two ideas. However, if your rules are simply meant as a way to communicate, and not to actually encourage/pressure anyone to do (or refrain from doing) anything, this paragraph does not apply to your rules.

*** Other than those explicitly and consensually based on BDSM or other forms of control which, if done ethically, are completely at-will and can be changed at any time with no penalty.

Some Stupid Stuff that has Happened to Me in the Last Few Months

“Oh, well, I’m just waiting for my opportunity to spritz Gina with this hose!” he quipped.

I raised an eyebrow, looked straight at him, and then continued what I was doing.

“Gina? You’re really dour.”

“Dour…” I said. My eyebrow had not descended from its skeptical position.

“Dour!”

“I’m dour?”

“Yes!”

“I’m not 85, if that’s what you’re saying. Also, get the hell out of my lab, thanks.”

“You don’t have to be old to be dour.”

I walked away, smirking to myself because I, like, read blogs and live life as a woman in America, and of course my inability to find this dude funny labels me as a dour woman.

I suppose this guy has been building the Dour Case for a while now. He’s been working here for a few months and has consistently given me a reason to not want to talk to him or find him funny.
Things this dude has said to me:

– Oh, you’ve only be married for 2 years? Have you got him trained yet?
– 2 years, huh? He’s probably still crawling at your feet, heh heh. That’ll change.
– “I think that the world has only gotten better for women. Not men. What do you think, Gina?” “It’s about damn time?” “What??? What would your husband say to that?” “He’d agree.” “Oh man, you DO have him trained.”
– You can cook? Oh, your husband is a lucky man.

This doesn’t even include the time he saw my shelf of knick knacks in my cubical and, upon seeing the geisha doll that was given to me by a supplier, asked me, “What, are you some kind of closet Chinese person?” I don’t really know what that means and decided against saying something like, “No, but I’m totes a communist.” That would have riled him up, for sure!

But yeah, I’m pretty dour. I’m so fucking serious all the time! Why can’t I just accept that this jackass is trying to build a rapport with me based on sexist assumptions and mindless joshing?!?

Several years ago, we all had to go to a sensitivity seminar. The HR person talked a bit about not hitting on coworkers and such, but the video we had to watch was pretty much all about not making fun or making assumptions about Asians. It was the weirdest thing ever. Apparently everyone in the video office kept asking this Asian man what he thought of the new kung fu moving that came out and he was PISSED. Given what I learned at the seminar, I totally could have reported the dude for getting on my case for being a closet Chinese person. MISSED OPPORTUNITY.

Anyway, a day before this guy made the “the world is getting better only for women comment”, I had a ridiculous phone call with a different coworker that left me so revolted and feeling oddly violated that I wrote him a direct email about how we don’t have a familiar relationship and that if he can’t speak to me professionally, then he shouldn’t speak to me. It was one of the best emails I’ve ever written and it cited everything he said. I copied HR.

I got called into HR the next day to go over the events that I very clearly and concisely outlined in my email. Before getting into the nitty gritty, I was reprimanded for writing to him directly because it was too aggressive and confrontational. I said that I understood what she was saying, but that I meant to be assertive and confrontational because I’ve been putting up with this garbage for almost 10 years here. “Yeah, but you shouldn’t.” Um…sure. I will never do it again?

After the meeting I came back wanting to hurt people and was informed about how the world is getting better for women and not men. I nearly turned to violence but cursed instead.
A week later I had a follow up meeting with the HR person about the other employee’s side of the story. He claimed he hadn’t said any of the things that I said he did (even though I wrote the email 5 minutes after our conversation). Why would I make up statements like this:
– Man, you have a nice, pretty voice. Nothing like the mean, mean person you were to me before.
– Ah, you must have your husband trained…or chained up in the basement. Har har har.

And some other stuff.

What is it with dudes thinking that women have their men trained? Why is this an ever present trope? In explaining to the HR person why I find this nauseating, I cited that Wes and I have a pretty egalitarian relationship.

“What? I’m sorry…what does egalitarian mean?”

“…equal.”

“Oh, well good for you. I don’t believe that relationships can be equal, but great.

So, um, yeah, that’s just a smattering of why I haven’t been writing much lately. There’s a lot going on. But I thought I would dip my toe back in with a semi-coherent piece about being a woman with a boy career.

And today I get called dour for finding some dude unimpressive in his choice of humor. Sure. The thing is that now that I have reported something, I know that it is worth it to report things? So…watch the fuck out. 33 year old Gina is a little more bad ass than 23 year old Gina.

Like, a lot more.