Saturday, October 13, 2018

Personal Digest Saturday: October 6 – October 12

Life news this week:
  • Saturday involved getting my blogging done early and working on my asexuality presentation which I will be giving soon in Massachusetts. Then I organized my comic book inventory and made some posts about variants I'm missing, and got into working on shaping my wig so I can dress up as Garnet for Halloween!
  • Sunday I sat at my table and answered mail, bought some more comics, did my karaoke and laundry, and finished my Garnet wig. I got a message from one of the people who draws Steven Universe official comics, offering to help me get missing variants because of that post I made. Wow!
  • Monday was busy with utility coordination and letters of response. I also got some business squared away with the comic artist who's helping me get variants--turns out I'll be getting them for really cheap (considering what they're worth) too. The artist said to consider it a thank you for all the nice reviews over the years. How cool is that. After work Jeaux picked me up to help him at his house, and then we watched a cartoon special and ate pizza. (Cartoon Network had a crossover event and Steven Universe was involved, so I got to watch my favorite character interact with other cartoons. Fun!)
  • Tuesday I had to take the day off to go with my mom to the Social Security office. She has a lot of trouble staying organized so I was there to help her bring the documents and to help her understand whatever they said. It went really smoothly, considering it was government stuff. Then she trimmed my hair for me so I'd look nice for the trip, and she helped me figure out how to hang my antique mirrors. We didn't get them hung because it's hard, but I learned enough to do it myself. After she left I took a little nap and then Arthur came over with Thai food. We watched cartoons (Episode 129, "Stuck Together," through episode 134, "Gemcation"). I also got my new Steven Universe coloring book and colored the first page.
  • Wednesday I came back to work and found out we won a big job! A $65 million job! (Okay we're a subconsultant so that's not all our money, but woweee!) We had apple turnovers to celebrate. I fielded requests to show pictures from the coloring book and dealt with other work stuff until Jeaux picked me up and took me to the comics shop, then we went to eat at Applebee's and shopped at Publix. I had to spend a lot of money because I am throwing a big party next week. Woo! We came back to my place and watched our TV shows. I also bought some new plants!
  • Thursday I organized stuff at work and also got my fliers and whatnot together for my presentation. Also bid on one of the very few comics I don't own on eBay--I hope I get it. I got some drawings done at home but Victor didn't want to talk so I did it without talking to him. I also made a Happy Breakfast--two eggs for eyes, a strawberry nose, and fake bacon for a mouth. I'm silly.
  • Friday I worked and had a pretty good day. Very tired though. I spent some time on a letter of response and some supporting documents. After work I finished my webcomic and cleaned up the house a little.
New reviews of my book:

Articles, Interviews, Mentions:

Reading progress:
  • Finished this week: I haven't finished the book I was reading, but I did write a five-star review for the Steven Universe coloring book, of course.
  • Currently readingThe Basic Eight by Daniel Handler.
    New singing performances:

    This week's song was "The Loco-Motion" by Little Eva.

    Stuff Drawn:

    Webcomic Negative One Issue 0700: "Holding Hands."

    New videos:


    New photos:

    My wig for the Garnet Halloween costume is coming along well. B)
    New plants! Well the mint I already had. Others are new!
    Happy Breakfast! Inspired by "Keystone Motel."

    Social Media Counts:

    YouTube subscribers: 5,249 for swankivy (lost 2), 679 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 969 for swankivy (no change), 1,340 for JulieSondra (5 new). Facebook: 295 friends (no change) and 205 followers (2 new) for swankivy, 653 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 58 likes for Negative One (no change), 145 likes for So You Write (2 new). Tumblr followers: 2,510 (no change). Instagram followers: 155 (no change).

    Thursday, October 11, 2018

    Dynamics of assault

    This post is about assault and harassment that many women are talking about these days, but also covers gender stuff I want to talk about too. Please read with caution if you are sensitive to this topic.

    A lot of the discussion surrounding sexual assault is centered on "believe women" and "men, don't be that guy, and support women." This is not the time to start asking why men's problems aren't given equal time on this stage. But I would like to remind you that part of the reason things are so hard for women in this environment is that it IS set up like this issue is exclusively women vs. men here. Women aren't believed when they say they're sexually assaulted, and women aren't believed when they tell potential interested partners that they do not want to do a thing, and women are targeted so frequently partly because there IS this gender dynamic that has taught many men that women can't be trusted to say what they want, so it's okay to ignore what they say before, during, and after. In a society run by these kind of guys, it's a feature, not a bug.

    Some of the people who relate to being the victim here are NOT WOMEN. They may be nonbinary people, or trans men who were assaulted when others assumed they were women, or men of any orientation. If they were attacked and treated the way they were because they were assumed to be women, they also likely recognize these misogynistic dynamics as forces in their personal lives, but even though the world has treated them like women in some ways, some of them feel really uncomfortable with being casually referred to as women every time assault survivors are discussed. Some of this "we" are not women, and some of them are even men.

    Right now we ARE talking about the overall dynamics that privilege men and disprivilege women with regard to how powerful men consistently get away with sexual assault and frequently act like they have no flippin' idea how they're supposed to romance someone without assaulting them. This male/female dynamic is the focus of the major conversation right now, but that doesn't mean people who are not women don't have something in common with us. I mostly appreciate that the discussion is the way it is because I assure you it is no accident that women's expected subservience is being exploited, but just be aware that "sexual assault survivors" and "women" are not always the same group.

    Half my life ago a gross dude ignored that I said no to a kiss while stuck in a car with him, and he responded by lunging over and licking my face like a dog until I opened the door and jumped out. It's mild as far as sexual assaults go, but nearly textbook in what happened next. I got out of the car immediately, angrily, and he yelled after me that he was "just trying to help" me because he thought being asexual was a disorder with a cure, and that he "had to" lick my cheek because I wouldn't let him kiss me the right way. This guy then proceeded to send me messages for the next couple of months asking me to watch porn with him, complaining that I didn't fuck him (and stating that he'd thought we'd been about to fuck that night), explaining to me condescendingly that I was in denial about my attraction to him, and claiming that since he was Latino his upbringing forced him to be touchy feely with girls and I would just have to accept it. He told me he was sure he was the only intellectual man I'd ever had express interest in me and could hope to satisfy me, and he told me I exuded a "vibe" that made it clear I was into him no matter what lies I told. This is a person I did not touch until he put his tongue on my face the day I met him, and whom I had told about my orientation over our first meal so he wouldn't be confused. He told me he had studied psychology *in high school* and therefore knew better than me what my body language was really saying. I had to block him to get away from his messages.

    Years later when I mentioned this incident in a longer interview for a published article about asexuality, a man in the comments went after me with a vengeance. Told me I'd made up the assault for attention. Told me I'm trying to stop everyone from kissing each other now and claiming a simple kiss is sexual assault. Told me it didn't make sense that I didn't "just lean away" if I didn't want him to lick me.  Tried to drum up sympathy for the poor guy whose kiss was rejected and asked how we would feel if our affection was labeled "assault" when offered innocently. Claimed that "everyone" has assaulted someone if this is the standard now. Refused to acknowledge that I explicitly said "no" and the man did it anyway; claimed he was probably shy or awkward and couldn't be expected to really understand. Ended the conversation by saying I was a drama queen who needed to get over herself.

    My situation was incredibly mild, but even when the story made it clear I had verbally declined to kiss and wasn't complicated by either party's intoxication, I was probably inventing it for clicks, and also, him ignoring someone's clearly stated wishes isn't assault or isn't sexual or isn't his fault at all. This is EVERY TIME we talk about it. And all the people who don't want to believe us because it would mean accepting we're living in a rape culture are seeing that HuffPost comment and saying "yeah, oh, yeah, she's probably doing it for attention, why didn't she report it, what's his name? is she sure she didn't want it? no matter what she said, it can't have been clear enough. if we accept that violating her wishes is a crime, WE'RE ALL GUILTY, and we'd rather insist they're all liars than accept that we all might be criminals."

    They pretend that it's too complicated to figure out what we might call assault, but that's mostly because what we want has NEVER mattered to them. If you've been taught all your life that our bodies are there for your use, you'll see consent as a default and refusal as US DENYING YOU SOMETHING THAT IS YOURS. Our bodies are ours and our express permission is needed before you can use them how you want. Don't pretend that's too hard for you when you're also the ones claiming women aren't as logical as men.

    But I guess it's a lot easier to pretend you don't get it when your dude buddies can control what is a crime and have the power to rearrange laws to support your right to assault us.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2018

    Wednesday Factoid: Out of Place

    Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What situation or place would you feel most out of place in?

    Any situation where I can't speak the language.

    People speaking a language I don't understand is completely fine with me--it doesn't bother me if I'm with people who are bilingual (or multilingual) and I don't know what they're talking about in my presence to other people who understand. But if they don't understand English and I can't speak their language, I feel out of place because even if I want to, I don't have a verbal way of telling people what I need or who I am.

    I don't have much experience with this because I haven't traveled much, but the best example I can offer is when I went to Japan. Because there, the alphabet isn't the same as the one I know and I can't even look up what a sign says since I don't know how to use their characters. If you can't read and can't ask really basic questions (or understand the answers), you can get into real trouble. And even aside from the practical considerations like not being able to ask what's in your food or not being able to understand when someone tells you your total at the cash register, you can feel pretty isolated in an unfamiliar place if you also can't use language to help you understand. 

    I went to Japan with my mother, who speaks even less Japanese than I do (I know, like, a teeny bit?), but we were visiting my sister who was competent in the language. Having her there was good because she could interpret and help, but she wasn't always there and it wasn't always important to translate so in some situations she was part of a conversation when we could not be. That's just how it is if you haven't learned the language in a place you're traveling to. My mom tried to go to a convenience store alone while my sister and I were doing something else, and she got lost and found she couldn't ask for help. She didn't even know the address of my sister's apartment and couldn't read street signs, so even if she'd found someone who could speak with her, she wouldn't have been able to tell them where she needed to go. She literally just wandered the streets until we accidentally found her. (We did not have cell phones.)

    If you go somewhere where everyone else can communicate but you can't make yourself understood at all, that's where I think I feel most out of place. In most other situations, I can find a way to feel comfortable with people who are different from me, though I also feel REALLY out of place around outspoken bigots obviously. (I have a friend whose family is of that description and I was subjected to some very ignorant, horrible commentary at the friend's family dinner once. It's scary, and in a way worse than not knowing what people are saying at all, but that's another story; knowing what you're dealing with and hating it versus having no tools to find out is hard to compare.)

    Saturday, October 6, 2018

    Personal Digest Saturday: September 29 – October 5

    Life news this week:
    • Saturday I spent the day blogging, chatting with my mom on the phone a little, and talking to a Tumblr friend about cartoons for a long time when I was supposed to be doing other stuff. I also attempted to make a new video for my channel but I accidentally chose a letter I'd already used in a previous video! So I couldn't use the recording!
    • Sunday was my Thai Temple adventure. I got up early and did a new video that wasn't a repeat, and set it to process while I was out. At Thai Temple I saw my friends Victor and Jeaux, and met Victor's new friends Kristin and John. We had some good food and I ended up liking Thai tea. After the Temple, Victor and I went to the mall and I bought some toys and stuff. Also got shoes but they had to be mailed to my house because they were the wrong size. At home after the outing, I cleaned off my outside table like usual but didn't spend time sitting out there, and then I did my Sunday stuff--karaoke, laundry, and finishing the video. I also got to unwrap a bunch of new comic books that had been sent in the mail!
    • Monday I worked on assignments for three districts: a transcript for District 3, an expanded letter for District 4, and a regular letter for District 5. Lots of work, very busy! After work I organized my comics collection and worked on my wig for my costume. And I paid my bills.
    • Tuesday we had to finish up a submission packet for a shortlisted project and then after that the day was pretty chill. My friend Arthur picked me up and we ate our Thai food while watching cartoons. He also had to fill out a job application which took a while.
    • Wednesday I got up early to review a new comic book, and then went to work. The day was busy and then after work Jeaux picked me up, so we ate at an Ale House and went to Target for shopping, and at my house we watched the Wrecked season finale, a couple episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and listened to Night Vale. I didn't draw anything because I was working on sculpting my wig. :)
    • Thursday was a weird disappearing day. It seems like nothing much happened at work except my boss was out of town at an interview, and after work I talked to Victor on the phone while drawing comics and working on my wig. I also got a really tiresome message from someone who wanted to talk about asexuality and wants me to examine whether I'm afraid of intimacy. Ho hum. Just . . . is it too much to ask to just leave people be?
    • Friday I wore my new shoes to work and got blisters. Boo. I spent the day on some utility stuff and helping edit a report. Then after work I finished my comic and wrote a retrospective about a rarely seen cartoon character, which ended up getting featured on the front page of Amino (which hasn't happened for a while). 
    Articles, Interviews, Mentions:

    Reading progress:
      New singing performances:

      This week's song was "Promise to Try" by Madonna.

      Stuff Drawn:

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0699: "The Mad Thing."

      New videos:

      Letters to an Asexual #62 is out and it's called "Troll Variety Pack."

      New photos:

      Thai Temple with my friends. Victor always makes a face.
      My food at the Temple
      Us watching catfish at the Temple.
      Me in the office having a donut with my coffee

      Social Media Counts:

      YouTube subscribers: 5,251 for swankivy (lost 2), 678 for JulieSondra (2 new). Twitter followers: 969 for swankivy (no change), 1,335 for JulieSondra (lost 2). Facebook: 295 friends (1 new, got a new acquaintance named Rylan) and 203 followers (lost 3) for swankivy, 653 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 58 likes for Negative One (no change), 143 likes for So You Write (3 new). Tumblr followers: 2,510 (lost 2). Instagram followers: 155 (no change).

      Wednesday, October 3, 2018

      Wednesday Factoid: Wedding Ring

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: If you're married and wear a ring, what is your wedding ring and/or engagement ring like? For unmarried/un-engaged folks, what kind of wedding and/or engagement ring would you like to have?

      Nah, I'm not married and don't wear rings.

      I don't really mind the idea for others, but I don't think I like it for me. I'm not really into wearing a specific piece of jewelry every day, though there were times in my life when certain jewelry pieces were almost always worn so I guess if I had a reason in the future to change my current preferences, they could always change again. I don't really like rings much. 

      I don't plan to get married or engaged so I don't really have a reason to answer this question. I think a lot of people who are unmarried still have thoughts about what they'd want their wedding or other related aspects of it to be like, and I have to say I do not. I never fantasized about myself in a white dress (not even when I was a kid, though I did just kinda assume when you grew up you got married so I figured it would definitely happen to me). I never thought hey, when I get married, I want my ring to look like this.

      So I have no answer to this question at all.

      Weirdly, some people have said I should wear a wedding ring so I can communicate the same "taken" image that makes potentially interested parties leave people alone, but no thank you. There is also a somewhat well-known (within the community) asexual practice of wearing a black ring as a symbol of asexuality, but I don't do that.

      Tuesday, October 2, 2018

      I got someone banned from OKCupid

      OKCupid is sometimes really wild, man.

      I'm on the site to make friends. I swear it actually makes sense. Most people (rightly) think of OKCupid as a place where you'd search for dating options, but the fact is the site's roots extend back to more general social connections, and they maintain opportunities for people to select "new friends" as one of the relationship categories they're searching for.

      If you're curious, before they became the OKCupid we know now, the company used to support a bunch of personality quizzes where you could share and compare your results with your friends if you made an account. I made an account during that time, and kept it even when the site evolved into a romantic match site because it actually did use a pretty sophisticated matching algorithm to help you find similar people.

      Anyway, I use it for friendships like I always have and it's still connecting me with new people I end up liking. Several people in my close social circle are folks I would not have known without OKCupid. But obviously, my being there for friendships and making it 100% clear that I am only there for friendships does not make a difference when certain people decide the site is only for what they're looking for--people who treat everyone they meet as if they have no business being there if they're not there to date and mate.

      Anyway, this will become relevant later.

      A man sent me a one-line message--a thing I discourage explicitly in my profile, by the way--but his opener asked "didn't you used to be on SLS?"

      Now, this sounds terrible, but since I had no idea what SLS was, I immediately suspected it was probably something sexual.

      And I don't assume this because I just figure all men are trash (although on OKCupid, the odds are in favor of them being trash). I assume this because men do backflips to say something that will make women talk to them on the site. Truthfully, even if you send a pretty nice message, if you're a guy you won't likely get a response. I recognize that that sucks. But I have no sympathy for those who employ underhanded techniques to get past that issue--notably, some of them ask provocative questions or insult women, hoping it will be shocking enough that they'll be able to at least start a dialogue.

      And one of the provocative questions some dudes seem to think is clever is to pretend they've mistaken me for a porn actress.

      I'm not kidding; I occasionally get messages from men who ask me "You look really familiar, were you in [movie]?" And said movie is porn.

      They apparently believe women will find it flattering if you pretend they thought you were a porn star.

      I don't know.

      So you'll see why receiving a message from a man I've never spoken to before asking me if he recognizes me from something *I* don't recognize is immediately questionable for me.

      But this guy had a surprisingly high match percentage with me, and I *am* recognizable from some other stuff, so without more information I don't know whether this guy legitimately recognized me from something or if it's a line.

      One way to find out: I answered him. I said I did not know what SLS was so probably not.

      To his credit, he was polite in his response; he apologized for the mistake and wished me a good weekend.

      I still wanted to know what SLS was, and Googling gave me many innocent and not-so-innocent results, so I asked. He just answered with the URL of his specific SLS, and it turned out--surprise--to be an adult hookups site for sexually adventurous people.

      So here's my problem. Yes, maybe you just misremembered or mistook me for someone else, but all things considered, that's a pretty personal question. Asking me if I socialize on a sexually charged website is not the same kind of thing as, like, if he'd asked if he recognized me from a school we might've both gone to. And instead of just sending a stranger a message asking what is, in practical terms, a sexual question, you should LOOK AT THEIR PROFILE.



      There is no way in the world anyone would mistake me for a sexually adventurous woman if they even took a passing glance at my profile. I'm listed as asexual, lead with a statement about my lack of interest in relationships other than friendships, and elaborate further later in the profile. Don't just ask me stuff like that. Read a profile.

      So I basically told him that. I told him he should read profiles; I told him that reading mine would have answered his question; I told him his opener made me wonder if his question was going to be about porn because dudes keep doing that to me; and I told him I'm sick of people talking to me like my picture is the only thing in my profile when it's so easy to be respectful by leaving me out of conversations I clearly don't want to have.

      No, it was not a nice e-mail. I wasn't trying to make him feel good and did not feel obligated to acknowledge his relative politeness. He may not have harassed me or pressured me to talk about sex with him, but that doesn't mean it wasn't an impertinent question to ask, and that doesn't mean he should feel free to treat women like he can say anything he wants to them if he likes their face.

      Surprise, surprise: He pelted me with six insulting messages in response and then blocked me.

      The insulting messages opened by telling me I am a real bitch and need to remember that, and then he blamed me for continuing to ask about SLS even though it was just a mistake, as if I had been leading this conversation somewhere just so I could scold him. He explained that he, unlike others, is a GOOD guy who doesn't deserve the assumptions I described, but he also needed me to know he's seen me on this site for YEARS AND YEARS and maybe I should recognize how pathetic I am for that. Furthermore, he explains, I have something deeply wrong with me and need to see a professional to get fixed. He closed by saying "I feel sorry for you. Peace!"

      Interesting how he's seen me around OKCupid for many years and that makes me pathetic, but doesn't apply to him.

      That's my favorite part.

      People LOVE to shove in my face that my presence on the site proves I'm lonely, sad, desperate, etc., often expressed in sentiments such as EVER WONDER WHY YOU'RE STILL SINGLE BITCH? THIS IS WHY! But like . . . you still didn't read my profile, man. The thing I'm telling you you should do out of basic respect? You're still not doing it. I'm here for friendships. I'm going to keep being available for more friendships. Belittling people for failing in their love life or being unhappy with their situation is a terrible thing to do, and it proves you're a vindictive, petty person, but in my case it's not even appropriate. Shaming me for being on OKCupid "for years" as if it makes my loserhood self-evident is a nasty thing to do--and ultimately it's hilarious to me that they're trying SO HARD to burn me and they're not even using something I'm insecure or unhappy about. They're just so sure I must be that they immediately grab it for ammunition. That really sounds like a good guy, huh? Wow, I really shouldn't have assumed he was a jerk! The lack of imagination on these people is so disappointing.

      Since he had blocked me, I couldn't report him to the support staff directly, so I just sent them screenshots of our entire conversation. I know from other times I've dealt with creeps that they don't just believe screenshots; they have access to look and see if these messages were actually sent. (I found that out once because a man sent me an "erotic" fantasy directed at me in which he did sexual things to me and then murdered me. When I reported it, the person handling the report told me the person had sent the same script to a whole bunch of women, in case it made me feel better that it was not personal for me. She could see his sent messages.)

      The OKCupid rep wrote me back to say they'd banned the guy and blocked his IP addresses from making new accounts.

      Well, good. Maybe he can just do his socializing on SLS from now on. At least he will not mistake the women he's been ogling "for years" as having been present on some other site. I'm sure I'm not alone.