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megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
megpie71

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megpie71: "Well, when I was a little girl, I thought I'd like to become a scientist, so I became a scientist" (feminism)
Friday, September 20th, 2013 08:23 am
Julian Burnside writes a very interesting response to the problem of hate mail and the sorts of vicious comments which are made to people who stand up for causes in public in The Conversation today.

His response was (to put it bluntly) fascinating. He chose to engage with those people who sent him hate mail over the asylum seeker issue, treating them as reasonable individuals, seeking to find out why they felt as they did. Oddly enough, by treating these people as though they were reasonable individuals, he discovered the vast majority of them were reasonable individuals, able to engage in civil discourse, and discuss a position calmly and in a considered fashion.

Which is great, but before people go around recommending that (particularly) women who are harassed and abused and trolled on the internet make efforts to discuss things civilly with their tormentors in an effort to bring them back to the path of light and reasonableness and politeness, let's just consider a few extraneous factors in the case. Firstly, Mr Burnside is male. He's white. He's a lawyer who is well-enough off to be able to afford to perform copious amounts of pro-bono work. All of these things mean he has privilege in our society. He is, in fact, extraordinarily privileged, with a high amount of social status.

All of this means if Mr Burnside goes to the police with, for example, a collection of abusive emails all emanating from the same email account, he's going to get a different reception than I did when I tried it. He's going to be treated with a lot more respect if he brings a screenshot of a tweeted death threat than, for example, Caroline Criado-Perez was when she brought the torrent of abuse she was handed to the attention of police. He'll get a more concerned and sympathetic reaction to someone publishing his address and other personal details online than, for example, Kathy Sierra did. If he's assaulted physically, the police will take this much more seriously than an assault on someone who is, for example, indigenous Australian.

Plus, of course, any abusive communications Mr Burnside receives are coming at him from a different angle to the ones received by women like me.

The abusive emails and letters Mr Burnside receives are examples of what I'd call "shouting up" - shouting up at the windows of the privileged from the street. The primary goal is to be heard, and to be taken seriously. A white man who sends an abusive email to Mr Burnside is hoping to catch Mr Burnside's ear, to be heard. When Mr Burnside does listen, and does engage with them, they're polite - they've achieved their aim, which is to begin a discussion.

By contrast, people who are identified as women, or people of colour online are abused for an entirely different set of reasons. Generally, this abuse is what could be termed "shouting down" - an attempt to silence the persons speaking up against the power dynamic in our society. A white man who sends an abusive email to a woman, or a person of colour, will generally react with rage and escalated abuse if they respond by attempting to engage, because this is precisely contrary to the intent of their action. They don't want to talk to us. They don't want to even HEAR us. They want us to shut up and go away and stay shut up, and stay away - and they'll keep up the torrent of abuse and harassment until the point sinks in.

Or, to put it even more bluntly: Mr Burnside receives abusive email when he speaks up on disputed topics. Women and people of colour receive abusive email when they speak.

So Mr Burnside's solution to the troll problem, while fascinating in its particular context, is not scalable to deal with the larger issue.
megpie71: Vincent Valentine pointing Cerberus toward the camera (BFG)
Monday, March 25th, 2013 08:32 am
(Or indeed to anyone else saying any of a number of victim-blaming things about the young woman who was raped by the rapists in question).

I've been reading a bit about the Steubenville rape event in various blogs and articles. Not too much - I'm not really in a psychological space where I can take the stress at the moment - but enough to get an idea of what's being said. I'm hearing an awful lot about the victim of this rape - about things she should have done, things she shouldn't have done, attitudes she should have held, behaviours she should have avoided. Things she could have done to avoid being raped, and thus avoided this whole mess coming to light, and "ruining" the lives and careers of two young men who apparently thought rape was a permissible thing, and bringing to light an entire town subculture wherein being part of the high school football team gives a person social licence to act as though the normal rules of society are not applicable.

The young woman in question was going to a high school party where members of the local high school football team (who were local heroes, and from what I can discover, practically deified in the local area) were going to be present. I sincerely doubt she thought of herself in context as "a sheep among the wolves". These were people she went to school with. People she attended classes with. People she knew. She most likely thought of herself, if anything, as a human being among other human beings.

She thought she was safe. She didn't know she wasn't safe. She found out AFTER THE EVENT she hadn't been safe.

How the bloody hells was she supposed to have known she'd be targeted for this sort of thing? How was she to know nobody would be looking out for her? She thought these people were her friends. She thought, more importantly, she was their friend, that she mattered to them. She found out, sadly, she wasn't their friend, and they weren't her friends, in the worst possible way.

And victim-blaming strangers say "she should have known better than to get drunk in the presence of rapists". SHE DIDN'T FUCKING KNOW SHE WAS IN THE PRESENCE OF RAPISTS, YOU SELF-IMPORTANT FOOLS!. She thought she was in the presence of friends.

Now, I learned at a very young age I couldn't trust other people to be looking out for me. I learned at a very young age if someone said they wanted to be my friend, they were most likely either attempting to lull me into a false sense of security, or trying to trick me outright. I learned I can't trust other people to stand up for me, to stand by me, or to take my side.

I know I'm broken.

But I'm broken in possibly the only way that might have protected this young woman from what happened to her. If she'd been broken in the same way I'm broken, she probably would have been suspicious of an invitation to such a party. She would have either said no outright, or more likely she would never have been asked to the party in the first place (because the kinds of bullies who are adept at setting up victims get pretty good at recognising the ones who won't take the bait).

You know what? I wouldn't wish my brokenness on anyone, not even my worst enemy. But you seem to think this is a necessary and vital state for all young women who want to be able to avoid rape.

I'm broken. I'm unable to function as a social animal, because I can't trust people. I'm able to fake it for a bit, but I will never let people close to me. I'm broken, and I'm child free by choice, and I've made the deliberate decision that my line of brokenness stops with me, because I know I'm not capable of functioning as a parent or a caregiver. I'm constantly depressed, I'm constantly miserable. I wake up every morning and my first thought every morning is "oh damn, I'm still not dead".

And you seem to think my state is somehow a desirable and necessary one for other people to be in, so they can avoid being raped.

From the depths of my misery, I LOATHE you.
megpie71: Vincent Valentine pointing Cerberus toward the camera (Bang)
Thursday, September 1st, 2011 10:33 am
Read the full article at http://ittybiz.com/death-threats-online/ - if you get a 503 error, try reloading, because this one is getting a lot of different boosts here and there.

My position on the whole mess is simple: I don't know what the original argument is, was, or might have been about, and quite frankly, I don't give a damn, either. Death threats are bullying, pure and simple. Stalking is bullying. Threatening someone else with death, or grievous bodily harm, or mob action is bullying. And any form of bullying is abhorrent to me, as a bullying survivor.

I also think that the negative experiences described in this post: http://glutenfreegirl.com/warm-brown-rice-and-grilled-vegetable-salad/ are a form of bullying. I find them just as abhorrent. I find them just as disgusting.

I am not a "free speech" campaigner. I believe in the idea of responsible speech - that we are all responsible for our words, for the ideas we espouse, for the things we say. I believe words have power, and we are responsible for the words we choose to express our thoughts. We cannot say that "words will never hurt you" and expect laws to have meaning. We cannot use "but I didn't mean it" as an excuse and expect our religious texts to retain their power to convince. We cannot excuse hatred with "it was just a joke".

Words have power. Words that express the spirit of mean-mindedness, words that threaten, words that are meant to be harmful, words that are meant to break someone's spirit, to pain them, to hurt them; those words have just as much power as words which are meant to help, to build up, to elevate, to make things better. I don't feel the first type of words have a legitimate place in any discussion, and quite honestly, I don't care how damn politically or socially incorrect that makes me.
megpie71: Simplified bishie Edward Elric is Scarred For Life (scarred for life)
Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 12:29 pm
Parents welcome ruling on bullying victim's suicide

The article I link to above is about a determination by a coroner in Victoria that a young man who killed himself had done so as a result of being bullied. It's an interesting enough article, and it raises some interesting issues about bully culture as it surrounds people.

It ends with a note that "If you are experiencing difficulties with bullying contact Lifeline on 13 11 14."

And I started to weep, because I'm a bullying survivor.

I was bullied by my peers, socially and emotionally, for twelve years. I was taunted, teased, degraded, abused, stalked, and pushed constantly throughout primary school and high school. I survived it, but mainly because I grew up in a family which had a strong history of chronic depression, and thus had a strong intra-family cultural taboo on suicide, self-harm, or any other form of behaviour which might bring the family to the attention of the authorities. Keep your head down, suck it up, and see whether you can fly under their radar; that's the family mantra.

I grew up thinking there had to be something inherently wrong with me, something which made those other children pick on me, something which made me a target. I grew up learning from my age peers the "normal" response to my existence was either outright aggression, masked aggression, or just outright denial of my humanity. If I had any friends at all, they were mistakes, errors, only putting up with me because they were outcasts too. If someone was being friendly to me, it wasn't going to last. If someone had my back, it was only so they could stick a knife in it more effectively. I grew up knowing this had to be the case, because if it wasn't... well, if it wasn't this meant that people were getting away with being deliberately cruel to me, for no other reason than "because they could". Easier to believe in my own inappropriateness than to believe in generalised acceptance of malice.

Bullying broke me.

I don't trust people even now. I particularly don't trust other women (and if you're a "popular" woman, you're going to have a lot of trouble winning even the slightest particle of trust from me, because I spent too many years being the target of the malice of the popular girls in school), I don't trust good-looking men, I don't trust people who have any sort of power over me, and I don't trust people who say they're my peers. I live my life on the lookout for the next knife in my back, the next attack out of the dark. I shadowbox my way through relationships. The closer a person gets to me, the more danger I'm in.

I expect to be bullied as a default state these days. It was the cause of a near-breakdown in my second year of university study, because I was so strung-out waiting for the other shoe to drop... prior to starting uni I'd never been in any educational environment where I hadn't been subject to some form of bullying, where picking on me because I was there hadn't been just an accepted part of the day.

I still wear the target on my soul. I found that out when I got my first full-time job in the public service, and was put in the charge of a manager who proceeded to play mind games, most likely with the deliberate intent of breaking me down. That job brought me as close as I've ever been to actual suicide, and I can still recall the absolute despair I felt at the thought of having to endure something like that all day, every day, for the rest of my life. The only reason I'm still here now is because my instinct for self-preservation overrode my lower-middle class upbringing (and led me to quit the job with no idea at all what I was going to do next). What that experience did for me was reinforced the half-understood lesson of my university days - that what had happened to me for twelve years of schooling wasn't a result of "kids being kids".

This is important: children don't bully because they're children. Bullies bully because they're allowed to get away with it, and they don't "grow out of" their bullying behaviours. They keep at it for as long as they're able, and they'll leave a trail of victims behind them. Oh, and they generally don't see themselves as doing anything harmful, either. They were "just having a bit of a joke" or "taking care" of their victim, or carrying out their actions "in the interests" of their victim.

I've never actually called Lifeline. I don't think they'd be interested in what I have to say. I doubt calling them would change anything, and it won't make the pain I still carry go away. I'm broken, and I doubt I'll ever be able to be fixed. I can paper over the cracks, I can pretend I'm functional, but underneath, there's still the little girl who doesn't understand why people are being so nasty to her without any reason. She's crying, and she's probably going to keep crying for the rest of my life.

My name is Meg, and I'm a bullying survivor.
megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
Friday, February 19th, 2010 11:02 pm
(Prompted by this thread on Shakesville)

Yes, I'm fat. Yes, I know I'm fat. No, I don't give a damn about it.

Yes, I've tried dieting. Yes, I've tried lifestyle changes. I tried for ten years or so, and all they got me was an extra fifty kilos; a thyroid condition; dodgy knees; an aversion to exercise and clothes shopping; and a major blow to my self-esteem that I'm still recovering from some fifteen years later.

Yes, I've given up dieting and lifestyle changes. I came to the conclusion they didn't work for me, after the gain of those fifty kilos and the thyroid condition. When should I have given up, in your opinion?

Yes, I know being fat is a health risk. I may lose years off my life. Given I've had three out of my four grandparents survive into their nineties, I have to admit I'm not overly worried. Yes, I realise I'm talking from a position of privilege here - feel free to complain about the genetics which give me a likelihood of an extensive lifespan, just so long as you realise they're also the ones which gave me a metabolism which was ideally adapted to surviving for a long time on low food levels. The same metabolism which was only optimised by ten years of dieting (oops, sorry, "lifestyle changes") so it now runs for ages on the metabolic equivalent of the smell of an oily rag. Can't have the one without the other.

Yeah, my body shape is a type the fashion industry isn't designing for (I'm short, big-busted, small-shouldered, big-hipped, short-waisted and small-waisted). The fashion industry hates me. Boo-fucking-hoo. I'm so upset. Given I'm a geek, all I tend to want out of clothing is a decent pair of jeans or trousers with enough pockets for the things I want to carry around with me; some shirts which don't gape at the cleavage; a bra which doesn't drive me bats or try to pierce my armpits (no underwires, in other words); and knickers which don't try to ride up my bum crack. Oh, and a decent comfortable pair of flat shoes which are built around the assumption humans have five toes rather than three or four. I've found all these, and often multiple examples thereof.

Yes, I'm sure I could find heaps of clothes which would make me look sexier if I was a smaller clothing size. But that's working from the assumption I want to look sexy in the first place, when, to be honest, I don't give a damn. I have a partner who thinks I look sexy no matter what I'm wearing - this is a man who thinks I look gorgeous when I've just woken up, can barely focus, and have bed-hair from hell. He's the one who matters. Please to explain why I should give a damn what Joe Monaro in the car park thinks?

Yes, I have aches and pains which are probably connected with being fat. My knees ache, I have a dodgy ankle, and I have chronic depression. But, given diets Lifestyle Changes don't appear to work for me on the physical side, and have the lovely side effect of making the mental illness worse, there doesn't appear to be much I can do about it, does there?

Yes, I am aware a lot of people find fatness physically unattractive. That's their problem.

No, it's their problem. Not mine. I refuse to apologise for my existence. They think the world could be a better place without me, they can take it up with my parents. I certainly don't see it as my responsibility to change my physical self to fit their world view.

Nope, don't give a damn who else it is. I like me for me. My partner likes me for me. My family accepts me for me. The rest of the damn world can go tie itself in a knot.
megpie71: Cloud Strife says "Meep" (Excuse me sir)
Friday, January 29th, 2010 01:38 am
I've decided to get back into MMOs again, because I'm just that insane. I've decided to pick up one I used to play about three or four years back - Dark Age of Camelot. so, off I go to their website, and create myself an account. Then I start by downloading their installer, which is about 14MB in size.

One of the golden rules of MMOs I should know by now: the installer only installs the launcher. Once the launcher gets going, it starts installing everything else. So, since about 11am Wednesday, I've been downloading "patch" files (aka the full damn game client for DAOC). The download caused the graphics driver on my lapdog to crash about three times on Wednesday alone (my suspicion is the whole thing did the standard Windows "juggle more and more and more and more in Virtual Memory until you have to drop something" dance... and the bit which acted as the running chainsaw in the whole business was the graphics driver). First three times, it didn't get above about 12% complete. At present, it's at 85% complete, and I'm hoping this means I'll be able to get the silly thing finished overnight and maybe start up a character for the 7 day "free" trial tomorrow sometime.

Yes, it's a slow download. I suspect it's being throttled at least once along the line, if not more times. Yays.

I must be more insane than usual.

Of course, I'm also planning to head back to study this year, on the advice of my nice case manager from CRS. He's clearly decided the easiest way to get me off his case load is to shuffle me sideways into someone else's "too hard" basket, and given I'm intelligent, articulate, and clearly capable of stringing a sentence together without needing to stop and check a dictionary in the middle of things, the universities are probably the best people to deal with me. So of course I looked into university enrollment, and the first thing everyone gets pointed to here in Western Australia is the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC) who handle all the enrollment details for everyone who'd just bounced out of high school and into the tertiary education minefield. Problem is, TISC is set up to deal with high school students, rather than anyone returning to study (understandable; this is who they're going to see more of, after all). But this means they're asking questions about a person's high school education and wanting your high school results before they'll let you mention any other tertiary level study you might have undertaken. My high school records are somewhere in the filing cabinet (I think) and I can't get much more precise than that without essentially combing through about fifteen to twenty years worth of accumulated, salvaged, shuffled and re-shuffled paperwork which has been through at least five moves (two of them across the width of the continent). I've managed to find most of my other educational records (uni, TAFE, TAFE, uni) but without the high school records, I can't let TISC know about them.

It's rather like losing a chance at a job because you can't prove you've done high school English, even though you have a PhD in Literature.

What do I want to study? Well, having previously studied Politics, Education, and Professional Writing at BA level, and having done half a diploma in IT (user support), I'm thinking of heading back to pick up a BSc in IT (possibly with a double major in Games design/programming thrown in). Yes, I am a masochist, however did you guess?
megpie71: a phone, ringing. (anyone home?)
Monday, September 28th, 2009 07:22 pm
It's been about a week since I wrote the "I need help" post, and about a week since the breakdown which prompted it. Since then, I've had a few things happen. I've contacted the Silver Chain people about getting some assistance with ensuring I take my medication regularly. From what I've read on their website, they're probably the best people to provide the kind of help I need, which is someone dropping in on maybe an "every second day" basis, in order to ensure I'm taking my meds regularly and getting out of bed at a reasonable hour. They've returned my contact, and advised me to get a referral from a GP, which I did on Thursday last week. Now I have to wait for them to get back to me again, and let me know whether it's possible for this to happen or not.

I'm back to taking my medication, and I'm going to try and keep consistent with it, even though I know I have problems with this (see the above paragraph). So far I'm on day two, and I'm suffering the understandable side-effects of restarting psych medication after about two weeks without it. Or in other words, I'm dizzy, dopey, and a bit distracted at present. This too will pass, but at the moment I'm trying not to move too much too quickly.

More under the fold )