Saturday, September 18, 2010

Objectification is really interesting.

In the embarrassingly recent past, I came to the realization that, in my dating life, I was not in the habit of regarding men as people. As conditioned, I saw them as fundamentally different from me, in a way that should have made them magically able (and willing?) to fix everything, have all the answers, and have much greater control of their lives than I could have of mine. Because husbands and fathers are supposed to be in charge, and you're supposed to be able to trust them with that, right?

So that's how I objectified my romantic partners, seeing only a certain role, instead of whole human beings. It can be an amazing struggle to remember just let people be what they are (which is to say, people, with doubts and struggles and just as many imperfections as you), but ultimately I find I'm way more stable when I don't go into relationships expecting other human beings to be magical.

I'm fine with some objectification, because I see some objectification as being inherent in physical sexuality. To have physical sex, it seems like, to some degree, you have to experience bodies as objects. Even if the psychological aspects are terribly important to you, there will be some moments when you're far more immediately concerned with your partner's body than with their mind, and I don't see anything wrong with that. This places me at odds with the feminists who say objectification of female bodies is always misogynistic, and I wish someone would explain their point of view to me in a way that makes sense.

Objectification is a problem when the main story a culture tells about some group describes them primarily as objects, rather than as complex, rounded, people--when it fails to say they have complex desires and preferences which ought to be respected. As a crash course, the main story most cultures tell about women is centered around the Madonna/whore dichotomy. In one way or another, this turns women into sexual objects--not sexual human beings. Unlike Madonnas and whores, sexual human beings sometimes want to have sex and sometimes don't, a concept that's proven remarkably difficult to take mainstream. Perhaps even more importantly, sexual human beings have other facets (an intellect, relationships, creativity, career, etc.) which will sometimes be more important to them than sex.

The main story US culture tells about men is about competence, success, and power. Men have a serious cultural advantage over women because this narrative includes a lot more aspects of a human being than just sexuality and care-taking. On the other hand, this advantage is not unlimited. A lot of men who want to engage in relationships as human beings (they may or may not have decided that they also want relationships with human beings) find that they are expected, among other things, to be endlessly, inhumanly competent.*

*Edward, I'm talking 'bout YOU.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dear man in the hat,

I love you. Marry me?




I found another job, one that I really, really like. In fact, it seems almost too good to be true; I work from home--nestled between the huge east and south facing windows in my living room--I research, I write articles, and I get paid enough to live on. Probably. It's difficult to emphasize the awesomeness of this enough. I love researching, and the articles I'm writing are short enough that, so far at least, I never get bored of a topic. Writing thousands of words for publication every day is exciting, because I know that even without great editing, my writing skills are going up. As an added bonus, there's a good chance that a freelancing career could grow out of this.

My only concern is that I get tired. Instead of writing anything as fast as I possibly can, I try to write things I'd want to read. I love this. It's creatively and intellectually demanding, which is fun, but at a point you need the day to be over. I haven't figured out yet exactly how to set my workload. One of the things I love the most is that I work hard at it; I love the feeling of working hard, and well, and knowing that I'm contributing something real. The particular tech sector I've been working in for the past couple of years is something of a breeding ground for complacency.

Also, I'm terrified that this is too good to be true.

As a result of the new job and a couple of other windfalls, I've had a week or two of not worrying about money--not because I was so exhausted from worrying that I just gave up, but because there was actually money in the bank to pay the bills, and more besides. Or so it appeared. I do not remember a time like this in my life. Yes, I've saved money and paid the bills on time before, but I haven't done that and also spent money on things I needed, when I needed them. Having that taste of financial security is incredibly encouraging; the level of stress it removes from your life is amazing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

going on with me

This month is my twenty-sixth birthday. Twenty-six scares me a bit; your brain wiring is pretty much set by that age. I'm scared I can never teach myself to be happy, or to have a good working life. And I'm scared because I feel like I'm going to die young, a PTSD thing, I guess.

Besides fixing up the house, my struggles over the past year or so have basically amount to this: a) making enough money to live on, b) managing chronic pain, and c) fighting serious emotional/psychological problems related to repeated trauma and childhood neglect. I started working on the psychological stuff, and ran into financial barriers; I working on improving my physical health, and ran into financial barriers; lately I've been working on my finances, with the beginnings of good success.

Unfortunately, working--especially when you're laying the groundwork for better conditions in the long run--is really time consuming, and despite the relief that came from catching up with finances, physical and emotional health have started to slide. Physically, this culminated in injuring my back, which was surprisingly not bad. I talked to a doctor who was really encouraging about long term prognosis. I got time off work to rest, and drugs that will help me rest and recover faster. The day before the injury, I bought a punch card for ballet and yoga classes, so as soon as I'm ready, I'm set to start moving again in really healthy ways. I'm dealing with things better than before.

A lot of the emotional stuff comes down to time. I need to spend more time taking care of myself, particularly journaling and the like. I might be starting therapy again in the next couple of months, which will be overwhelming and time consuming, probably. I also think I need more/different friends.

I love the friends I have, and enjoy them a lot. However, I tend to put a lot of time into most of my friendships. If she's into gaming, I'll try gaming. If she's a stay at home mom, I'll hang out and talk while she gets dishes done. I read everyone's blog. That's how I'm used to doing most friendships. I'm fine with this because I get a lot out of these friendships. I give more time, but they reciprocate with different things; a steady stream of home-made food and a place to get away from my problems when I'm stressed out, or gorgeous handmade gifts that make me feel happy and loved when I look at them, or hundreds of enthusiastic niefling hugs.

I'm now busier, and lonely for certain things. I want to be listened to by someone who is really interested, and cares what's going on with me; that's part of why I'm writing this. I want more good conversation, and a certain amount of touch. I want company sometimes when I'm doing things that are fun and enrich my own life.

But that's all. Someone asked who filled this role for me in the past, and the answer is no one. I've never been this functional before. I've never needed my own time so much, or taken care of myself so well. I've never been able to say, I just need these things, but other than that, I'm good. It's always been triage. More functional than ever before may not be fancy, but it's not a bad place to stop and celebrate.