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Breakaway

I have just spent two hours listening to a man spouting some of the most hateful bullshit I’ve ever heard in my life, without being permitted to say anything or give an opinion in return.  He was good-looking and I’m an idiot, which is how I ended up sitting down.  Forgive me.

This man is from South Ossetia (ie the breakaway region of Georgia), pro-Putin, an avid hater of gays, convinced that Jews are running the world and playing politics as if it’s a game of chess, and fairly distinctly anti-Arab Muslim.  I don’t even know where to start.  I’m actually overwhelmed.  ‘Flabbergasted’ would be the appropriate word, if it wasn’t so ridiculous-sounding.  It probably goes without saying, but none of the below reflects my opinions in any way.

I guess I’d better start with gays.  He told me all about how:

  • Being gay is a choice.
  • Nobody in Russia gives a fuck because it’s sick and barbaric, and these people are monkeys who ‘care more about someone fucking their asshole’ than about their parents, heritage, brains or future.
  • Girls can choose either way at any time, but when a guy chooses to become gay, there’s no going back. He’s doomed.
  • A lot of guys in Russia choose to be gay to make good money. Because you see, if someone is good-looking but has no brain, their best option is to become a prostitute.  And these stupid, good-looking young men want money, so rather than do the ‘right’ thing, fulfil their ‘main role’ in life, they instead choose to fuck fat old guys in exchange for cash.  Because iPhones and travel.
  • Nobody in Russia would want their child to be gay. Gay isn’t normal, and the ‘gay movement’ is ruining Europe and the West and causing massive demographic problems.  That’s right, low Western birth-rates aren’t due to high levels of education or the availability of family planning, but to people choosing to be gay.

On women:

  • Russia’s main export is women, because they are top quality. The stupid ones become prostitutes, and the other ones wives all over the world.  This is because, despite the drinking and drugs in Russia, they just have good genes.

On life and love:

  • People’s main jobs are not to kill anyone, and to have a family. A guy is supposed to meet a girl, be in love for a year and long enough to have a kid, then can move on or whatever.  Love never lasts longer than 2-3 years, because that’s all that’s necessary to have a child.  Then if the parents stay together, the feeling mutates into something else.
  • Incidentally, I told him that I’m not having kids and I’m pretty sure that makes me a deficient monster in his eyes.

Children and heritage:

  • We don’t own ourselves, we are owned by our forefathers. Because, you see, they expended the effort in having sex and then protecting their lands, so that we could be here.  So that I could be here and ‘not look Chinese’.  They gave us genetic material and their knowledge so that we could be here, so we are theirs—and as such, being gay or not having children are not choices that are permitted to us.  It is our job.
  • Incidentally, apparently all of our forefathers were laughing at the ridiculousness of gay people, they were a joke. Because that’s historically documented (this was the point at which I just couldn’t take any more, and yet again he wouldn’t let me speak, so I left.  We will be having no further conversation, one-sided or otherwise).

On politics in general:

  • The US starts a lot of conflicts throughout the world, and ‘Cold War #2’ was caused by the Russian refusal to be dependent on the Federal Reserve.
  • Europe is the US’ bitch. So is everywhere else, for that matter.
  • Putin is awesome, 95% of the country agrees, and everybody else is a self-serving criminal.

On Jews and Muslims:

  • Jews are way smarter than everybody else, and it’s them in the top positions in Russia and the US and the world in general. Thus it’s them in charge of the world, it’s all one group of people having petty spats which appear to be political conflicts.  Instead it’s all a game of chess played from within the same ‘family’.
  • The Quran asks that people have as many children as they can, and Allah will protect said children. Meanwhile Jews only have as many children as they can afford.  So while Muslim children are raised at home by ‘monkey’ uneducated women, Jewish children are ‘high quality people’.  Europe should be concerned about all of these Muslim killers immigrating as they escape from US-started wars in the Middle East.
  • Muslim (?) men like to fuck sheep in the street in the name of their religion.  (Yes, that’s an actual example he gave.)

Interestingly, at one point he said that ‘you Europeans’ think we have some kind of moral or inherent superiority, but that’s not the case.  Later on he said that those who were going to be barbarians like gays or what-have-you aren’t good enough to be in Russia, and can try their luck elsewhere.

I can’t believe I made it to 5 weeks back in this country before hearing this shit again.  I guess it’s because I avoided speaking to Russian men.  I feel sick.

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Unfunny

This is not going to be a jolly sort of post.  I’m also going to include a trigger warning.

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It’s freaking 2am again, and I can’t stop thinking about an email I received two days ago.  I’ve been tossing and turning, needing to write about it, so figured I’d give up on sleep until it was done.

The email in question was from a book reviewer, who was requesting a copy of Pickles and Ponies to review.  He also mentioned that he’s compiled a book of reviews, and would appreciate my review of that in turn.  This is the pertinent part of my reply:

“Dear [Author], I downloaded and started reading your book this morning, and it was hilarious (though I’m concerned for your rage levels!) – right up until I reached the point where you said you hoped a 10-yo boy got raped.  Wtf is that?!  I mean seriously.  Rape jokes absolutely sicken me.”

His reply?:

“I’m sorry, but that stupid kid in The Wasp Factory needed to be raped. Okay, rape jokes aren’t funny to those who’ve been raped, or to those who even know someone who’s been raped. I know this. But that kid needed to get raped, goddamnit. He was a filthy murderer. And he bored me to tears. And yes, rape jokes crack me the fuck up, even though I know it’s insensitive. But I really don’t care.”

…what a piece of shit, right?!

I once had a conversation with a friend where I pulled him up on his use of rape jokes.  I pointed out that they affect those who have been assaulted, they’re not funny, and they enable, you know, rapists.  Because it’s all in good fun, right?

Okay, seriously—last chance to turn back.  Things are only going to go downhill from here.

 

All right.  So I’ve alluded to it quite a few times (eg here), but fact of the matter is, I was raped by one of my best friends when I was 19.  And I don’t find these jokes funny at all.  And despite the red pill misogynistic bullshit which is associated with the word ‘trigger’, you know what?  People can be triggered.  And even if those millions of men and women who have been sexually assaulted and raped don’t suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and aren’t triggered by your ‘jokes’, you’re still fucking making light of the terrible things they’ve been through.  That’s sick.  It’s messed up.  It is not the fuck okay.

I’ve mentioned it before, but 1 in 3 Australian girls is sexually assaulted by the time she’s 18.  I don’t know the figures for other countries, but that is a lot.  That’s not funny.

In reading this author’s collection of reviews, the same complaints kept coming uphe wanted more torture porn, more rape, [I deleted the rest of this sentence because it was fucking abhorrent.  That bad].  He really seems to think that using the language of sexual violence is okay, is hilarious.

What is not hilarious is what I have to go through every day.  Honestly, the number of times I’ve wished I could just go back in time and not live through itthat’s how difficult this is.  You feel dirtied and broken and like it’s your fault.  The people I grew up with told me not to tell others, because I shouldn’t upset them.  I’m still incapable of having a normal relationship, or even of picking up, because it is terrifying.  One of the many of the ‘worst things’ of the whole situation was the way the guy was looking at me: adoringly, obsessively, like he cared about me.  Now, if a guy gets all googly-eyed, like he likes me, I feel panic.  I want to run away.  I do run away.  I leave the city, leave the state, leave the country.  Because this is something I associate with fear.  And yes, yes I’ve had therapy.

What else?  Well, there’s the part which a lot of people go through, where you start binging on self-destruction, drinking or drugs or whatever, sightlessly hooking up with anybody—because if it doesn’t mean anything, then what they did to you doesn’t matter.  It can all be undone.

There’s the part where, even if you’re with someone you trust, something you can’t even define happens, and you’re instantly back thereyou’re terrified, you don’t know where you are or who you’re with, and you’re trapped in this experience from which there’s no escape.  And you feel like a fucking crazy person, and on top of that, you feel bad for inconveniencing whomever you’re with.  It’s even more fun when they treat you like you’re making things up (“but were you really raped?  like [description]?”), or you should magically be over it, or like you have any control at all over what you’re going through.

There’s the part where, because you can’t handle these ‘nice guys’ who are into you, you instead date a string of cheating douchebagswhoohoo for avoidant behaviour!

There’s the part where you’ll be out with friends and they’ll joke that you should make out with whichever guy, and all you can feel is terror and loss of control.  Needless to say, I address this with friends, ie to never joke about or pressure me into hooking up with anybody.  It’s pretty great not being able to have the love/sex life you want, because it’s simultaneously the most terrifying thing you can think of.  Add in a couple of assaults and guys who don’t understand “no” on top of all of the former, and really, it’s a fucking struggle to keep going and not give up.

None of this is funny to me.  It’s pretty much the exact opposite of funny.  And then when I think of the statistically hundreds of millions of men and women who have been and continue to go through all of this, it just makes me so sad.  It’s not even slightly okay to me that rape or assault is something that somebody would joke about, or something they could say somebody ‘deserved’.

Okay, I think I’m all written out enough to sleep now.  But please oh please, next time you hear someone who thinks that our experiences are hilarious and should be repeated, pull them up on it.  Because rape jokes Are Not Funny.

Excellent argument at this link.

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Romantic Despair

It’s a fairly normal day here in Belgium.  That is to say, my housemates are eating, it’s raining outside, and I’m catching up on uni readings (aka ‘procrastinating’).  I was idly wondering to myself this morning whether such procrastinating would result in an official Valentine’s Day post—I’m (perhaps obviously) not a V-Day kind of girl, especially given I dated a guy by that name.  Now, for the first half of February, I pretty much end up narrowing my eyes at all V-Day related signs and items.  If I weren’t entirely devoid of any notion of romanticism already, the first half of February would definitely cure me.

Naturally, an essential part of my procrastination today has been reading hilarious book reviews on Goodreads.  And eventually, it always always comes back to 50 Shades reviews.  After reading a review of the second book, I stumbled across this little gem:

horror

There you have it, people: the abusive fuckwit character of Christian Grey is ranked 27th ‘best book boyfriend’ from at least 4911 possible options (I’m assuming there’s a predictably large number of love triangles in the books included on the list).  I actually teared up.  Not with laughter, mind you—with horror.

Then it struck me: what if this number 27 ranking was only his character for the second book.  What about the first book?

wtroyalfuck

Second.  Second best book boyfriend.  Wtaf.  I mean for starters, have they never read Howl’s Moving Castle?!  And he’s neurotic as fuck!  Glaaaagh what hope for humanity.

But I’m not going to launch into another diatribe against the 50 Shades series, because apparently that’s exactly what I did last Valentine’s Day.  Instead I’m just going to leave this here, and conclude that people are screwed.  In a potentially rapey, manipulative kind of way.

http://protest-resources.tumblr.com/post/37044146617/50-shades-of-abuse-flyer-canada-use

Domestic abuse helplines

  • UK: 0808 2000 247
  • Australia: 1800 737 732 (1800 RESPECT)
  • Canada: 1800 363 9010
  • USA: 1800 799 7233

It’s easiest for me to find the English-language hotlines, but a quick Google should help find the relevant support in your local area.

Other stuff

Lastly, please oh please, if you meet a real life Christian (or Christina) Grey, stay far far away.

 

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Sex and Power

There’s a famous quote by Oscar Wilde, which says that “Everything in the world is about sex except sex.  Sex is about power.”  I’ve found myself thinking about this, after just now simultaneously having a conversation with Mr Belgium about love and romance, and reading an article on power politics.
There are traditionally three main paradigms of thinking about international politics.  Proponents of these paradigms are known as realists, rationalists and revolutionists (eg Stern), or realists, pluralists, and structuralists (non-English School authors).  Basically, realists believe that international politics are all about states (countries), and each state has the aim of survival.  This survival is assured by seeking power, and therefore domination over other states.  Famous early proponents of this paradigm include Machiavelli with ‘The Prince’, or Hobbes in ‘Leviathan’, where he described the life of man as “nasty, brutish and short”.  In realism, political strategy is like chess, and is often described as a zero-sum game.
Rationalists/pluralists are a bit more liberal.  They don’t think all power relations are about domination and coercion—rather, states can co-operate.  Moreover, states aren’t the only actors—other parties such as multi-nationals operate across borders, and big businesses such as these have to be taken into account: as do things such as a global economy.  So rationalism is more about the stick and the carrot, and states aren’t the only ones with a garden.
Revolutionism is concerned with the system as a whole—so rather than looking just at states or just at bodies who transact across borders, revolutionists look at The Big Picture.  Think Marxism/Leninism, and the idea of the world as a large capitalist economy.  If mention of these two is enough to put you off, then look at it a different way—think about where the rich, liberal, well-resourced countries are, and think about where the poorer countries are.  Think about people travelling from places such as Australia or Western Europe for eg sex tourism (or even just cheap clothes!) in places such as Thailand or Moldova.  There’s a persistent idea of the ‘Global North’ (rich) and ‘Global South’ (poor), with an exploitative relationship between them.  For revolutionists, it’s not about states or people acting across borders, but the whole system which constrains people.  This system can only be over-thrown through revolution (hence the name).
‘So what the hell does this have to do with romance?’ you might be wondering, and rightly so.  Well, I was talking to Mr Belgium about how the world he lives in is so different to mine: whereas I see love and romance as belonging exclusively to fiction, that’s something he actively believes in and seeks.  I see relations as zero-sum—eg, to their gain and my loss—whereas he seems to see it as a positive thing to be sought.  So I’m a hostile state of the Hobbesian system, whereas he’s all about transnationalism and the penetration of state borders, to potentially mutual gains (I grow bananas and you grow grapes; I want grapes and you want bananas; we swap and both have munchies).  Because you see, a lot of politics is based on ideas of economy but also on human psychology.  The idea of ‘nature vs nurture’ comes in even here, with realists seeing power politics and a struggle for (state) survival as natural and inevitable (even if the idea of such makes them miserable—they do the best they can with it), and rationalists seeing it as having elements of nurture (continuing relations or ‘transactions’ on different levels will lead to closeness and less danger).  Don’t you think it’s funny that we categorise countries as having the personality profiles of school bullies vs people who sell chocolates to fund-raise for a school event?
Revolutionists are harder to categorise, as using the last analogy, they’re looking more at the idea of the school itself: what about the school system and how it’s funded and prioritised means that people have to conduct extra fundraising?  Where is the money that could be used for the school event actually going instead?  You can see how Marxism and anarchism come in here.  I guess in a way, social revolutions and eras such as the ‘swinging 60s’ (going to be awkward if it’s actually the 70s and I got the decade wrong) reflect revolutionist views.  Ideas such as ‘free love’ then and ‘polyamory’ now (being in multiple committed relationships concurrently) can be seen to reflect the idea that structures such as monogamy are potentially exploitative power relations, and that structure should be overthrown in order to gain equality and superior outcomes for all.
Beyond these three main paradigms, there are revisions and amendments.  Neo-realism, neo-liberalism, Gramscianism.  A zillion more.  But my personal favourite is constructivism, which is summed up in the following quote by Anais Nin (yes, that Anais Nin):  “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”  Thus if a state has a neighbour who it perceives as friendly (say Russia and China in the first half of the 20th century), it’s probably not going to be too concerned about having armies stationed by the border.  However, if a state has a neighbour who it perceives as potentially unfriendly, it will naturally treat things as more suspicious (how would Russia react now if China started doing military manoeuvres by its border?  Or look at how its foreign minister reacted at the rumour that Finland was being scoped out for a NATO base).  I guess this theory is most obviously related to human psychology, as it relates to therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy.  So perhaps if I started trying to see the world as Mr Belgium did, I would in fact find myself living in that world.  Maybe things would then be less ‘nasty’ and ‘brutish’ (cheers, Hobbes).  But ah, the cynicism is strong in this one.
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TIFU

Sigh.  It’s poem time, guys—and for those who don’t know, ‘tifu’ stands for ‘today I fucked up’.  And I did.  Lesson learned: never ever use your photos from facebook anywhere else.

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I decided one day it was finally time,
For a new adventure (which I’ll tell you in rhyme).
After four years of single, and in a new State,
It was once more time to look for a mate.

My horizons had broadened, and I signed up
(though I wish that I hadn’t, had the strength to say ‘nup’)
To online dating – OkCupid to be precise,
How I wish I hadn’t! (It bears saying twice.)

After 48 hours of constant distress –
‘Likes’ and messages, it was a huge mess –
I felt like I was drowning under the tide of desperation,
Too much work responding to would-be flirtation.

So I closed my profile with a great sigh,
And couldn’t care less that I found not a guy.
It was all over – what a relief! –
Then someone hunted me down (oh disbelief!).

It turns out this guy had downloaded my pics,
I don’t know why – perhaps just for kicks?
When he found that my profile was now deleted,
He didn’t stop – oh no, he wasn’t defeated.

Instead he used reverse image search, our Google Overlord –
One of my pics was on fb – I’ve fallen on my sword.
Despite being hidden from all search engines,
It didn’t get in the way of this guy’s intentions.

He’s now tried to add me, and sent me a message,
Of depth and length rather impressive.
It’s left me creeped and invaded – how fantastic!
(And “cos now we’re saying it,” that was sarcastic.)

At least there is ‘block’, and I’ve learned my lesson:
No online dating, no responding – and hopefully no more transgression.

_____________________________________________________

I am so creeped out!!!!!