greenie_breizh: (quote)
[personal profile] greenie_breizh
I have a new apartment! Very excited about that, will update with more soon. But first I've let too much time go by again and I want to share a bunch of links. Today on the list: DADT ends! Dan Savage's readers are idiots! Shocking news: people with disabilities are the ones who know what's the best for them! La France se rend compte que la question du genre existe!


- "Sexuality doesn't matter on the battlefield"; this opinion piece by a U.S. soldier is a textbook example of the rhetoric around lifting Don't Ask Don't Tell, aka it states the obvious (sorry McCain). It's great for what it wants to do, and it gives me an excuse to say, DADT IS OVER. Yay, confettis, hugs, all that, I forgot to do it at the time because I was writing papers, I think. This IS a great step forward, and about time, and I'm REALLY glad Obama finally has something to show for himself in terms of LGB civil rights. But the truth is that it's a bit of a bittersweet victory to me because this whole DADT thing has (understandly and expectedly) gotten wrapped up in celebrating America's Greatness and the Greatness of its Military and that makes me cringe. I don't really want to spend hours going on about it, but essentially I hate displays of patriotism a-la-U.S and I'd rather the U.S. would stop sending soldiers abroad on "liberty missions" or whatever they're calling them these days. That said, just like I support same-sex marriage but still question its normalizing assumptions, I feel that I can have little to no sympathy for the institution of the military and still respect that some LGB people may disagree and want to be part of the army. So, in short: good for them.

- Not that people are really talking about it anymore, but I did want to link one more great post, this time by Kate Harding, about Assange's sexual assault charges.

- Two great posts by [ profile] chaoticidealism:
the first one on the importance of getting people involved in projects that are meant to benefit them. And don't assume that because you have people who walk with canes in the office that they can speak up for wheelchair users, this kind of thing. This reminds me of a piece published in the National Post recently about the crosswalk sound for visually-impaired people sounding too much like a bird, and it seemed like this was just "well-meaning" people with no visual impairments making noise about this; while actual visually-impaired people were like, "we don't care! just pick a uniform system so we don't get harmed!". So, FAIL. It comes down to the most basic advice, but one that always bears repeating: don't assume you know better and ask people to whom it actually matters. You're way more likely to fail by assuming you can anticipate someone else's needs than by asking the question, and having to ask doesn't make you an idiot, most of the time it actually makes you more respectful (and, in the case of creating infrastructure for people with disabilities, more successful).
The other post is just a really interesting reflection on what autism is about, and why thinking of it as a social disorder might not be entirely accurate. It was really informative and I recommend it to, well, anyone, because everyone could do with a little more knowledge on autism.

- I want to rant a lot about Dan Savage's latest post about asexuality and the profoundly dumb things that his readers are saying in the comments; both display a staggering lack of understanding of asexuality and knowledge about the asexual community. But I'll keep it short because I actually have work to do. First of all, OBVIOUSLY people should discuss their sexual expectations with future partners. I hate that this is made into an argument about asexuals v. sexuals; there are sexual people with low sex drives and that's cool, and there are asexual people who are willing to have sex, and that's cool too. "Asexual" is a useful and important identity that people can take up, and which might help them find a community and navigate a very sexualized world (I use the term broadly, meaning that most of us go around taking (hetero) sexual desire for granted). But it doesn't allow you to make generalizations about what asexual people are like or what they should do; it certainly doesn't allow you to pass judgment because CLEARLY being sexual is the best/most natural/whatever the fuck. I'm continually impressed (and discouraged) by queer people's capacity to be bigots when it comes to anything but their brand of sexual orientation. Ugh. Asexual people struggle enough with the idea of dating sexual people, and how to disclose their identity, when is the right time, etc; they don't need sexual people to make them feel extra guilty and stressed out. Instead we should think about how we can create (within our personal sphere of dating, but also within our community) supportive environments where people can communicate and negotiate their (sexual or non-sexual) needs without being blamed for their own desires.

- What the Fuck Has Obama Done So Far?, which is both a cool idea and interesting website (I only wish each item would link to a more comprehensive note on the particular achievement).

- En français! Un article assez intéressant de Télérama sur la question du genre en France. Il est grand temps que ça fasse question.

Date: 2011-01-04 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
First off: awesome news about the new apartment! Are we going to get to see any pictures? :D

When I heard about DADT I didn't believe it was real at first, it seemed too good to be true. I was so excited when I found out it had definitely gone; it's another big step forward and it's Awesome!!

Thanks so much for posting something about the Savage article. I also found it incredible how many members of the queer community were posting negative comments - so far, a good majority of the people I've told I was ace and have been accepting were queer and one of my friends even mentioned that, although they'd never heard about it before and found it difficult to get their head round, they'd be pissed off if someone refused to believe they were gay so I was pretty shocked by the reader responses. On an associated note, the fact that I find guys and girls attractive often ends up with people saying "well, you've just not come to terms with being gay" which comes with a whole bundle of crap concerning perceptions of queer sexualities as well as asexuality.

Asexual people struggle enough with the idea of dating sexual people, and how to disclose their identity, when is the right time, etc; they don't need sexual people to make them feel extra guilty and stressed out.
I wish I could hug you right now - you're a star!

Date: 2011-01-06 05:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have my reservations about DADT (see comments below if you're interested :) ) but it's definitely excellent that it was passed. It was ridiculous that that policy was even still in place!

Yeah, those reader responses were pretty discouraging. :( I'm glad you liked my response, at least! That last bit is so obvious to me, it's so offensive for Dan to imply that asexual people are like plotting to ensnare sexual people into a relationship. I mean, seriously? Sexual incompatibility isn't great for asexual people, either, and they've got to navigate those waters like anyone else. I hate the assumption that asexuals have never thought about potential difficulty, or that they wouldn't disclose to take advantage of a potential partner. Argh.

Date: 2011-01-06 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I see what you mean about gender norms and I don't want people to now say "well, we've fixed that, what more do you want?" a bit like with civil partnerships. But, still, a victory none the less I'd say.

I think one of the major hurdles for being asexual is when it comes to relationships and there being an imbalance. It's not like we plan to fall in love with sexual people and when we do it's just as complicated and confusing for us (it's so nice to see someone who isn't ace understand that so thank you again). The problem is that defining romance is difficult all the time, and explaining how we'd like our relationships with someone we're in love with to be different to "just" friends (man, I hate that phrase) is impossible. I can't even work out myself how I define my different friendships and whether or not how I feel could count as romantic love or, even if it does, if the relationship becomes romantic. I have no problem with falling in love, I just don't really like the idea of doing romantic things - if you understand anything from the last two sentences then you're probably doing better than I am! :P
Personally, if I were ever interested in pursuing a romantic relationship I wouldn't disclose my asexuality immediately, because if they don't turn up on the first date and state their orientation I don't see why I should - it's not the only thing in a romantic relationship anyway. Also, I don't want to go through the whole rigmarole of explaining myself and bearing my soul to someone I hardly know. Barely anyone I know in RL knows I'm ace so why would I tell someone I'd only met three times? I don't think you can get to know/learn to trust someone that quickly.

Sorry, that was unintentionally long! I have far too many thoughts :P

Oh, and in the comments below you mentioned a friend of yours was doing a lot with asexual activism and I was wondering if there was anything online about that? If so, would you mind linking me up to it? I'm kind of hoping to do something at uni at some point.

Date: 2011-01-05 12:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Regarding the post about asexuals, I'm pretty pissed off at the direction the respondents were taking. It smacks all too much of the bullshit argument that not disclosing your transgender/transexual status to a date before making out or whatever is RAPE. And the fact that people even go there makes me want to scream.

I used to identify with asexuality, and sometimes I wonder if I still do. I used to get the same kinds of reactions when I told people I was asexual - people who didn't know what asexuality even was, people who thought I just needed some good "lovin'" to open up, people who thought that if I just let them touch me, it would somehow change my outlook on sex and life in general. It was frustrating. I had people telling me I was just following a "stupid virginity fad" because I was a "poser." Of all things. In short, no matter what the topic, there's always bound to be some asshole somewhere who thinks s/he knows it all and must enlighten you to THE TRUTH. Whatever that might be. [/end personal rant]

It's things like this, though, that make me stay away from large groups of people, no matter how supposedly noble their cause. They might start out with the best of intentions, but they almost always manage to fuck it up by expecting everyone else to be just like their brand of "normal."

(Disclaimer: I just spent an hour in the worst rush hour traffic ever while worrying that my house was being broken into by a Craigslist creep, so my response is very much emotionally charged. Just so you know I'm not trying to unload my whole life on you. :-P )

Date: 2011-01-05 07:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
people who thought I just needed some good "lovin'" to open up, people who thought that if I just let them touch me, it would somehow change my outlook on sex and life in general. It was frustrating. I had people telling me I was just following a "stupid virginity fad" because I was a "poser." Of all things. In short, no matter what the topic, there's always bound to be some asshole somewhere who thinks s/he knows it all and must enlighten you to THE TRUTH.

Ah ah, it somehow reminds me of the guys who think the same kind of crap about lesbians and that if ever they could have sex with one of them it would change her sexual orientation. ;)

Date: 2011-01-06 04:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No worries, your response was totally fair - anger and frustration are SO warranted sometimes. And all these comments were, indeed, bullshit.

It sounds like the craiglist creep didn't break into your house? Yay. :)

Date: 2011-01-05 07:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Kinda amazed by the Dan Savage post and its comments...
Funny, I always thought an important reason why people are in a couple is love (granted, there's other reasons too, and for some couples, love isn't even a part of the equation ). After reading this post and the comments, it seems that too many people consider that a couple is just about fucking.
Those comments are so full of shit.

Besides, asexuality is NOT on the same level as heterosexuality/homosexuality/bisexuality. It's a different matter. I know that one asexual guy, he felt in love twice with girls (but only told it once, to the one who seemed a bit on the asexual side too), he's totally heterosexual, just totally not interested in sex itself, period.

Date: 2011-01-06 04:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, I didn't comment on the friendship/love thing... what's wild to me is not only how many people are like "if you're not fucking it's not a relationship", which is super offensive and one-sided, but how people are incapable of taking a step back and admitting that love and friendship can look different to different people. It definitely makes it more confusing to figure out if you love someone as a potential partner or just as a friend, but it's not impossible, and it's OK to get it wrong... I don't know. I hate the idea of defining friendship OR love by some general standard.

My friend Cole who does a lot of activist work on asexuality could explain the model better, but yeah, you're right, asexuality is not a sexual orientation; instead in the asexual community I've seen the heteroromantic/homoromantic/biromantic used, which I find useful. I do think there are parallels with sexual orientation in the sense that all of them are sexual identities. But that's getting subtle and people are clearly confused enough...

Date: 2011-01-06 02:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"That said, just like I support same-sex marriage but still question its normalizing assumptions, I feel that I can have little to no sympathy for the institution of the military and still respect that some LGB people may disagree and want to be part of the army."
Coming from a military family, still being involved with it in my career, I take a *bit* of exception to part of this statement (altho I agree about the liberty missions), but I'll let it slide for now, b/c the rest of what you said reminds me of something: It's interesting that you brought up "normalizing assumptions" as I've been reading a flurry of articles recently discussing the "end of gay culture" and how gay marriage reflects that - gays assimilating into hetero culture and thus losing their own unique norms and etc etc. Here's one:
And its true that the military culture helps to shape the broader culture, so if "normalizing" gay relationships is a goal, having it openly accepted in the military is where to start - same as with racial desegregation. (and sustainability, incidentally) "where the military leads the country follows" or something, I forget the phrase. Regarding your reservations (which btw I have no judgment on either way going into this conversation) what's your point of view there? Is it because rather than breaking down the hetero-normative paradigm, you think its just bolstering it further?

More detail on reservations to DADT repeal

Date: 2011-01-06 04:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
First of, this is going to be long, so apologies in advance :)

I wasn't looking to get into a debate about the pros and cons of the military, which is a whole other can of worms; I just mentioned it because that's why DADT was somewhat of a tainted victory for me. But like I said, I respect that for some people this was extremely important, because they want to be able to serve openly. So there's a bunch of things going on that explain my reservations.
At the bottom of it, I'm not a fan of the military as an institution (which doesn't mean I automatically don't respect the people who go into it, or doubt the genuineness of their commitment and good intentions) so the tone around this victory has been bothering me because it often seems to be tied up with a celebration of the military and American patriotism in its most narrow definition.
There's also the fact that this is being celebrated as a huge step forward, when to me this seems to be barely catching up; it's mind-blowing that this policy was still in place in 2010. So I think it's a very good thing - obviously discrimination is always a problem - but I don't see it as the military leading the way at all. In repealing DADT, the military is part of a broader cultural trend that leans towards acceptance, and in some ways, it's actually pretty late. It may seem more significant that other work-related legislation because of the sheer size of the U.S. military, but I don't see it as breaking grounds, much.
Another thing is that there's obviously a huge difference between the repeal of an official policy and the reality on the ground; from what I know, for example, the integration of women in the military is wrapped up in problems of harassment. I think something similar will happen with LGB soldiers, who won't necessarily be very well protected against discrimination and harassment at a smaller scale (you don't need the risk of being fired to make harassment painful, stressful or effective). To be fair, this isn't just about the military, this is true of tons of other environments, especially hyper-masculinized ones. But that's why celebrating the end of DADT as open acceptance of LGB people in the military seems overly optimistic to me.
The last thing has to do with that - much like the marriage movement tends to favor certain privileged populations (which is why some conservatives can love it! Your article was a good example :), the repeal of DADT mostly adds to the cultural message that "gay guys can be masculine, just like you" (for lesbians, the story is more complex because it's wrapped up in sexism which makes masculine traits in women both more desirable than feminine traits in men, but also maintains a need for a certain femininity within male-dominated occupations). That's a great message for gay guys (and guys in general) who fit our perception of what a "real" man looks like, but it does nothing for challenging gender norms. Unfortunately, these rigid gender norms are often the root of the harassment that LGB people experience (and not just LGB people, of course). So I've become somewhat skeptical of victories that further entrench the "normalization" of LGB people as being really just like straight people. As an anti-homophobia activist, I find that it actually works to limit opportunities to challenge heteronormativity - people start thinking that as long as they're OK with gay people (the ones who look and act "normal"), they don't have a problem. It's fairly similar, in my mind, to the way that racism has become hard to identify and challenge because people always rush to "I'm not racist" nowadays. (Well, some don't, but we won't talk about that.)


Re: More detail on reservations to DADT repeal

Date: 2011-01-18 03:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey! First off, I want to apologize that it has taken me so long to respond to this, I just got slammed this past week and plus and didn't have an opportunity to sit down and think/type anything out.
I wasn't sure what you meant by "approving of the military as an institution" - like, you don't approve of a nation having a standing army? 0_o But reading further it seems your objections have more to do with the "military and militarized culture" as it were, which I can cotton on to - and if I'm misreading please correct me.
I think I have a different perspective than you do regarding how far behind the times the military is on this issue...considering that gay marriage/civil unions are only legal in a tiny handful of states, and that in most states its still perfectly legal to fire someone for their (real or perceived) orientation - there is no federal protection for orientation, there is existing federal legislation which effectively bans any real recognition of gay relationships (nothing beyond the state level which in the scheme of things isn't all that) and even DADT, which was a step UP from how things were in the military before, was only passed in 1993.
Acceptance is growing, but that is by and large the younger generation, who are not the most reliable voting base. Repealing DADT is a huge kick in the pants to the anti-gay movements, and the fact that it's happening with the military is huge. There's also the consideration that this may be what it takes to really drive equal rights for gay people in general, especially as it concerns the marriage issue, since if gays are allowed to openly serve will the military be able to justify denying them equal partnership -housing and family and retirement benefits, etc? In this (DADT) the military is ahead of the most entrenched gung-ho military supporters (well, rhetorically anyway) - it's typically the conservative right wing that's most loudly pro-military, so that's significant as well.
As far as the military being hyper-masculinized, bear in mind that it's majority male, always has been, and they are conditioned towards violence...heavily and extensively conditioned. Part of that conditioning involves creating a "band of brotherhood" dynamic amongst the troops, and that's where you get all of this "threat to unit cohesion" talk from. Actually, if you want to read a little about what goes into that, I really highly recommend this book: Its a fascinating read if you ever have the time. Part of the reason I like this book is because, in going into the extreme conditioning these guys go through its apparent that that same conditioning can be effectively adjusted to include gays and women, if only combat leaders/trainers use it (which they need to do a better job of...I have hopes that including gays will force their hand in making the necessary adjustments for women as well, which they've been a bit behind on). But that's largely the combat units, each of the Services has their own distinct culture. I think you will be seeing the hyper-masculine aspect change, as more women and openly gay and lesbian people sign up (incidentally a panel has recently been formed pushing to allow women in combat positions) and more importantly as technology changes the nature of warfare (which it already is what with greater use of UAVs etc etc).

Re: More detail on reservations to DADT repeal

Date: 2011-01-18 03:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I understand better now, I think, what you mean about the normalizing...I guess I would personally tend to think of it more in terms as the worship of the "macho-masculine" and the denigration of the feminine, and the insistence that people are, or must be, one or the other. That's a part of the reason I love gay marriage being legalized and recognized as equal, socially and culturally as well as legally, because it undermines the notion of marriage as a gendered hierarchy. Incidentally, that is precisely what pisses off the gay marriage opponents - they see it as undermining gender roles. I think it does that in a very fundamental way (even if one partner is playing the "housewife" role and one is playing the "breadwinner" role, you can no longer say that's how it must be based on gender.)
So I guess my way of looking at it (and my response) is while it may be "normalizing hetero-normativity" on the surface, it is simultaneously deconstructing it, breaking it down, and blurring it up.

Regarding "class" considerations, I'm not really well informed enough of that topic to make any real response to your statement - a side effect of my own (relatively) privileged socio-economic status, I'm sure. (although I am aware that in our current economy marriage benefits the wealthier). So I'll cede to you on that.
As far as making it harder to recognize sexism, racism, homophobia, etc, yes people are getting better at hiding it, even from themselves, but with a little pushing you can always get the bullshiat out in the light. Its easier to confront when its overt, of course, but what would you do with yourself if you didn't have any assumptions to challenge? ;) Including my own? :)
Up next...Military sustainability!

More detail on reservations to DADT repeal (2)

Date: 2011-01-06 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So, I think that's the bulk of it! I hope that clarified my perspective :) Like I said, I do think it was super important that the repeal did happen - clearly it's worse to have it than to not have it - I'm just having trouble being purely celebratory about it. Just like the same-sex marriage thing (which has nothing to do with the military!), I think it's important to both move forward with the mainstream fight for equality and at the same time be attentive to how this movement usually recreates other boundaries that perpetuate inequalities. Again, the article you linked is a super good example of the way that same-sex marriage can both challenge inequalities on the basis of sexual orientation and reinforces inequalities on the basis of class (to only touch on one thing, the notion that hard work is a bourgeois value is pretty offensive to low-income Americans who work long, arduous shifts in shitty jobs...)

Also, can you explain what you mean when you say the military is a leader in sustainability? I'm not sure I understand what you mean, and I'm curious to! No matter what they do, the military has got to be ridiculously wasteful (by the nature of their operations, not because of some inherent flaw)? I mean, the amount of energy that it takes to power the entire thing seems so contradictory with the idea of sustainability? Not to mention how weapon debris inevitably end up in the environment, etc.?
From: [identity profile]
So here we go. This is a fun topic for me b/c this is what I was doing just prior to my new position, doing outreach for the Office of the Secretary of Defense Installations & Environment (and Readiness). Incidentally it was this job that got me interested in energy and conservation issues in the first place. Fun Fact: did you know that there are more threatened and endangered species on DoD land then all the other federally owned land (national parks etc) combined? And the military manages these populations on their ranges and bases, through the use of Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans (INRMPs) and quite well I might add. Here's a few examples:
Part of the problem there, especially out West, is when DoD was first setting up their ranges, they were the only ones out there, but as development increased (and is continuing to increase) around the ranges, wildlife are being driven onto DoD ranges, as they are the only places with habitat left. Which is the why DoD has the REPI program which is designed to provide buffers around the bases - effectively to preserve more and more habitat and lessen the load.
As far as energy sustainability - you are absolutely right, DoD is the single largest user of energy in the US for example, and it's because those jets and so forth use up so much oil and everything else. Conserving energy is as much a matter of saving money as anything else. Bear in mind they are certainly not first users when it comes to sustainable energy, but now they've started implementing it, they are going huge, and that has ripple effects.
Here's some information here (its just easier to link you than type it all out, plus not enough room!)

Okay, that's probably more than enough but let me know if you want to know about anything else!


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