ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the July 19, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] chanter_greenie. It has been sponsored by LJ user Ng_moonmoth. This poem belongs to the series An Army of One.


"Other Options"


When Spalling came in
to their little office to log
the latest trades, V was there
reading messages from Astin.

Xyr paperwork was
on another screen with
the O line highlighted.

"Thinking about ... other options
again?" Spalling asked V.

"I am," V said. "I have
an established identity, but
much of it does not fit me well.
An alternative has its appeal,
but also certain costs."

"I can see why," Spalling said.
"Even with Astin in the Lacuna, you'd
be the only other-gendered person here.
It's not fun, being a minority of one."

"Astin is no longer that," said V,
pointing to another screen showing
a different set of paperwork. "Sphinx
has declared Other as well, and
uses the pronouns ey, eir, em."

"You sound like you're giving it
serious consideration as well,"
Spalling said. "It's good to think
through things like this, rather
than jump to conclusions."

"I have not yet reached a decision,"
V said. "There are many variables
to account for, many pros and cons
to weigh before choosing."

"Why don't you talk to Astin
about this?" Spalling suggested.
"Xe has gone through it already."

"It will not be the same for me," V said.
"I like Astin, but we're very different people."

Spalling shrugged. "So what?"
he said. "My old drill sergeant
used to say that nobody ever
ran the same obstacle course,
because it feels different to
each person going through."

"I will write to Astin," said V,
"and also to this Sphinx."

"That's the spirit!" Spalling said.
"Even if it's not exactly the same
for them, they may have ideas
that will help you decide."

"That would be useful," V agreed.

"Besides, there's one benefit that
you get just for looking at other options,
whether or not you choose to change
your paperwork," Spalling said.

"What's that?" V asked.

"The choice itself," Spalling said.
"Whatever you decide, your gender
will be your choice from now onward,
regardless of what your paperwork says."

"That," V said. "That helps."

* * *

Notes:

Sphinx is a codeworker of Other gender who uses the Elverson pronouns ey, eir, eirs, em, emself.

Sex and gender are complex issues. People are prone to argue over whether these are choices. Given a large amount of data with different clusters of points, a logical conclusion is that some people have far more choice in this regard than others. It is certainly true that we have more choice now than our ancestors did, due to the advent of options like sexual realignment surgery and hormone therapy. It is probable that the future will bring additional options which we do not enjoy today -- and our descendants will probably still be arguing over whether those are choices.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-26 10:21 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
>> iven a large amount of data with different clusters of points, a logical conclusion is that some people have far more choice in this regard than others. <<

This. Yes. "I never felt like I had a choice," "I chose to be me," "I chose this and it has shaped who I am" - those are all valid narratives.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-07-26 11:01 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
It's a defensive tactic, I think, similar to respectability politics. But it's poor science, and the tactical merit is arguable.

On the one hand, just getting out the message that genders other than the binary exist and that trans people are real and not creepy can be really hard sometimes. It's hard to be critical of people for not portraying nuance (trans identities are complicated!) when they're having a hard time conveying any message at all (trans people are!)

... On the other hand, sometimes, it's necessary to speak within a group (like the queer community) and remind that group not to silence members of the community in the rush to create a united front. A lively, loving, open-hearted community sends a message all by itself. Also, sometimes one needs to preach to the choir or raise energy within the circle, rather than divert all efforts outwards and disperse them past the point of effectiveness.

It's the room-under-the-umbrella thing again, and the perception that it is of limited size. My question is, who gets to hold it?

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-07-27 10:44 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
>> It is not necessary to erase or otherwise hurt people in pursuit of unity, and indeed, that has the opposite effect. One builds unity by identifying common experiences and/or goals. <<

Fairly said.

On a different tangent, people sometimes do unnecessary, hurtful things. Even while people are wanting unity and consciously working for it, they also want other things - like being right, or being powerful, or being comfortable. So they may slide into doing things in a way that is easier for them because it exteriorizes its costs on the people who aren't part of the simple plan.

... I think sometimes the trouble arrives when people don't examine their own biases. I know I am biased in many ways, even while I know that I am working on my biases; the consciously held prejudice is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the inequitable things that slip by me (or anybody) because I'm distracted or worn out. There is a difference between consciously thinking something is a good idea and being unconsciously willing to be uncomfortable, and admit mistakes, in the service of that good idea. Not incidentally, both are easier with enough food and enough sleep.

... I really struggle, intellectually, with the line between taking care of myself and overindulging myself at the expense of working for the causes, jobs, people, etc I care about. When I'm down I honestly make my decisions on impulse and selfish desires and rationalize afterwards - but that has historically had better outcomes *for my productivity* than me trying to push through in a non-emergency situation. I just can't figure out whether I'm right in how I'm allocating my personal time because I feel okay and am getting stuff done, or wrong because there is *more stuff* and I could in theory be accomplishing more of it. And I think the answer is situational (I don't need another hour clicking things on the internet after I've done that for three hours, but I do need a nap after an exhausting day). So then it becomes an issue of how well I'm reading myself and how much I should second-guess decisions purely *because* they are convenient decisions. I don't need a single answer, but I would like a better real-time read on myself instead of saying, "Welp, that was a bad plan - I crashed / I missed out / I didn't accomplish what I need to / My list just got longer" a day or a week later.

>> Usually the most numerous or powerful subset, which is how gay men became so influential in the QUILTBAG community. <<

Different life experiences and differential access to particular forms of privilege are still in operation even within a group of people with a shared agenda.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-07-28 04:38 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
>> The biases I'm most aware of, I have no intention of abandoning -- against censors and bigots, for example. I don't feel compelled to tolerate abominable behavior. <<

Another good point! Some biases - against bad behavior and historically untrustworthy people - function as a shortcut for perfectly good decisions. Bending over backwards to give someone nasty the benefit of the doubt is a great way to fall on the floor and become a doormat.

>> You might find it helpful to track your time and health, if you can't intuit the patterns easily. <<

Setting some clearer goals/guidelines for myself might help with some of the difficulty, yes.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-07-28 04:51 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
>> Nobody can notice everything. I try to maintain situational and philosophical awareness, so that when something new comes up, I can deal with it then. But I don't worry about all the stuff I inevitably miss. If I haven't found it yet, I'm unlikely to by myself -- it relies on being around someone else whose trait sets off the trap. <<

That's very well thought through. I imagine it works well for you.

I think it does rely on noticing when the trap goes off, though - sometimes having a bit of warning from theory - history, opinion pieces, even (especially) fiction - can help me to notice an interpersonal problem in practice. I'm unlikely to abandon the theoretical end of trying to figure out personally kind, responsible, and anti-oppressive behavior choices. But I could probably shed some guilt by reminding myself that, as you said, nobody can notice everything.

On the other hand, I was reminding myself today of the (perfectly OK) things I am personally lucky enough to feel no guilt/shame about whatsoever because I didn't get, or rejected, the societal imprint of negativity towards them - or got it in reverse, by encountering discussion of why something was actually okay before I encountered much of the negativity towards it.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-07-28 07:28 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
It sounds like you're recommending two or three related things here:

>> But I have found that by far the most valuable information is field study. Why? Because even the highest-rated official resources are routinely, glaringly, dangerously wrong in these areas. <<

Field study = observing and interacting with people that one wants to support, and being conscious of what one observes. I agree with this. Frex, my skills at interesting with kids have taken a quantum leap each time I have gotten to know and work with a new group of kids in a new way.

>> And I still hit things that really upset people with those traits, which we talked out, and they were able to direct me to resources actually written by and for trait-having people, so my portrayals have greatly improved. <<

First person perspective resources = probably more-useful, more-realistic, and more-relevant sources for study. This can come under theory if you search out a batch, or under field-study-plus-conversation if you are, as you were, recommended specific resources because they were useful to trait-having people.

Conversation = being open to what trait-having people have to say. Listening and asking questions and being respectful. This is probably the biggest resource of all, and the one all the other rely on. At the end of the day, I can have many great conversations inside my head by taking more than one speaking part (that are all me - as far as I know I am a faceted single person in this body), but to affect the world outside my head, I need to interact with other people.

Obviously, observing people, conversing with them, and looking up the resources they recommend go together really well - but I think they are distinct activities.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-27 12:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhodielady-47.livejournal.com
Good poem--Spalling gives good insights.
:^)

Thank you!

Date: 2016-07-27 01:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad this worked for you. I like Spalling too. :D

Such a well-chosen handle

Date: 2016-07-27 01:25 am (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
What could be a better fit for an other-gendered codeworker than someone with the head of a woman and the body of a lion, who speaks in riddles?

I face my own choice every morning, when I must locate the balance point between the external stress going out as myself brings, and the internal stress adopting a more normative expression imposes on me. Reading about people who have a broader range of options with less stressful consequences is heartening. Well done!

Re: Such a well-chosen handle

Date: 2016-07-27 01:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> What could be a better fit for an other-gendered codeworker than someone with the head of a woman and the body of a lion, who speaks in riddles? <<

:D Yay! I suspect that it was at least partly chosen by coworkers who felt confused, but the joke's on them, because it really does fit.

>> I face my own choice every morning, when I must locate the balance point between the external stress going out as myself brings, and the internal stress adopting a more normative expression imposes on me. Reading about people who have a broader range of options with less stressful consequences is heartening. Well done! <<

I'm glad I could help. Yeah, navigating other people's expectations is a pain.

Over time, I'm encountering more characters who are either bifocal or fluid in gender. Salvo does it too, that's in a poem I'm currently writing.

Re: Such a well-chosen handle

Date: 2016-07-27 03:12 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Oooooh.

Though the main Chiara/Cuoio line holds more interest for me, Salvo - and C&C's reactions - are still... I wanna see what they come up with next. It's just *refreshing* when NT people don't freak right the frack out when somebody shows a part of themselves that is *actually genderfluid*... I mean here in the Lacuna it's kinda like Ed Murray ending up Mayor of Seattle... "So he's legally married to a guy... okay, what's his politics?" but T-America is still enough like L-America that you almost expected Cuoio to need calming down, but he's all, "Okay, so you need a nice dress? Let's go shopping."

YEAH.

This is what I like about the universes you've created. If it can be imagined, eventually, with enough effort, it can be made real.... this is hope.

Re: Such a well-chosen handle

Date: 2016-07-27 09:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Though the main Chiara/Cuoio line holds more interest for me, <<

Prompt as you see fit.

>> Salvo - and C&C's reactions - are still... I wanna see what they come up with next. <<

:D I'm working on that.

>> It's just *refreshing* when NT people don't freak right the frack out when somebody shows a part of themselves that is *actually genderfluid*... <<

Agreed. \o/

>> I mean here in the Lacuna it's kinda like Ed Murray ending up Mayor of Seattle... "So he's legally married to a guy... okay, what's his politics?" <<

Good response.

>> but T-America is still enough like L-America that you almost expected Cuoio to need calming down, but he's all, "Okay, so you need a nice dress? Let's go shopping." <<

That's actually T-Italy, but the same concept applies. One thing about Cuoio is that he gets very attached to people, especially now after having lost everyone he had before. Another is that he's a lot more flexible than he had opportunities to explore previously. He seems to think about this before reacting. Well, usually. Chiara still had to sweettalk him into the benefits of bedroom communication.

>> YEAH. <<

:D

>> This is what I like about the universes you've created. If it can be imagined, eventually, with enough effort, it can be made real.... this is hope. <<

Thank you! I may not be able to fix everything, but I am pretty good at describing a functional society when I see one, and identifying why it works better. If nothing else, people now have an example of how to handle discovering that someone cross-dresses.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-12-01 06:37 pm (UTC)
bairnsidhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bairnsidhe
>>a logical conclusion is that some people have far more choice in this regard than others.<<

I think what I tend to see in terms of the choice vs nonchoice is people have a hard time bridging between ideal and real. Because I think, ideally, it would be a choice in that every person would have the chance to think about what they feel like, and what they want, and how they want to identify, and if they'd like to have a different body, without society sticking their collective neb in with commentary. And that's basically the essence of choice, even if the choice is in how to express/describe/alter-to-fit a nonchoice (your state of being separate from your labels). But in the real world, without that ideal being universal, you get people stuck in places with really limited labels that don't fit and feeling that they've got to insist that they were born outside those labels and Not By Choice, because if it's by choice people can "blame" them for not wanting the preset labels. Similarly, even in situations with a society that is generally supportive but sticks it's collective neb in, going "Don't you know yet?" (the Queer community is often like this) it can be hard to separate the choice of label/expression and the nonchoice of state of being, even though they are Very Different.

Profile

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
ysabetwordsmith

April 2019

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 222324252627
282930    

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags