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Creative Writing Prompt December 19th

The colour crimson

The reflection in the mirror betrays her self-absorption,

the reflection in the mirror betrays her youthful pride.

To answer the challenge of night-time prowling,

she paints her well-trimmed face the colour crimson.

GENDER FAIL (EPIC)

“A lot of people will tell you that gender is imaginary and I disagree with that…I think that gender is VERY REAL…it may be a construction, but in the same way that a BRICK WAll  is a, a, is a human construction, it’s also really hard to just walk through….Some people sometimes take their queues from nature…I don’t like it, I don’t like to use nature to back up my ideas about human society, though, because if yuo take your moral and social queues from nature, you’re also probably an infanticidal, polygamous cannibal….”

 

The full vid.:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2ZsZtH3xW8

Olivier Cormier-Otaño: “Doing without: a therapist’s findings”, Spotlight on Asexuality Studies, 24/10/11, at the University of Warwick

A presentation was made recently by a non-asexual person of Asexuality. He has done research by using extensive answers received in a questionnaire he made in around 2008, when materials and evidence about Asexuailty were very scarce. Data was collected and collated and a large amount of figures emerged that produced a more accurate picture of how Asexuals see themselves and society at large.

Many possible questions about Sexuality, social cohesion, definition of terms, and social variance were created by this study. Also, it highlights the fact that many Asexuals feel excluded or opposed in expressing their Asexuality: many were called deviant by authorities, health professionals, families, religious groups, and peers and made to feel bad about their orientation. A lot of individuals have had to fight attempts to erase their identity and beliefs because the current value system does not agree with them. In a way, Asexuality is deviant as it deviates from the norm.

It’s recognized that there might be 60 million asexuals in the world, so erasing that amount of free-thinking individuals, I think, will really be a massive challenge to people who don’t recognise individuals’ rights to just be who they are;

60 million asexuals, and counting…

For the you tube video of the presentation and a transcript, go to:

http://www.asexuality.org/en/index.php?/topic/66455-spotlight-on-asexuality-studies/page__pid__1976736#entry1976736

Article: It’s ok to be neither

Teaching that supports gender-variant children

“Allison was biologically a girl but felt more comfortable wearing Tony Hawk long-sleeved T-shirts, baggy jeans, and black tennis shoes. Her parents were accepting and supportive. Her mother braided her hair in cornrows because Allie thought it made her look like Will Smith’s son, Trey, in the remake of The Karate Kid. She preferred to be called Allie. The first day of school, children who hadn’t been in Allie’s class in kindergarten referred to her as “he.”

I didn’t want to assume I knew how Allie wanted me to respond to the continual gender mistakes, so I made a phone call home and Allie’s mom put me on speakerphone.

“Allie,” she said, “Ms. Melissa is on the phone. She would like to know if you want her to correct your classmates when they say you are a boy, or if you would rather that she just doesn’t say anything.”

Allie was shy on the phone. “Um . . .

tell them that I am a girl,” she whispered.

The next day when I corrected classmates and told them that Allie was a girl, they asked her a lot of questions that she wasn’t prepared for: “Why do you look like a boy?” “If you’re a girl, why do you always wear boys’ clothes?” Some even told her that she wasn’t supposed to wear boys’ clothes if she was a girl. It became evident that I would have to address gender directly in order to make the classroom environment more comfortable for Allie and to squash the gender stereotypes that my 1st graders had absorbed in their short lives…

…I have just begun to empathize with the challenges that gender-variant children deal with. For some it may seem inappropriate to address these issues in the classroom. My job is not to answer the questions “Why?” or “How?” Allie is the way she is (although asking those questions and doing some research in order to better understand was definitely part of my process). My job is not to judge, but to teach, and I can’t teach if the students in my class are distracted or uncomfortable. My job is also about preparing students to be a part of our society, ready to work and play with all kinds of people. I found that teaching about gender stereotypes is another social justice issue that needs to be addressed, like racism or immigrant rights, or protecting the environment.”

for the full article go to: http://rethinkingschools.org/archive/26_01/26_01_tempel.shtml

This is an article by a teacher who is confronted with having to adjust the ways she views gender and conformity in order to accomodate a gender-variant student and make the classroom a healthier, more accepting place for her young students.

Through various exercises, brainstorming, and a rethinking of how gender values are subtly reinforced through language and how public spaces are used, the teacher makes a strong and determined effort to question intrinsic gender biases and confront attitudes towards these with respect to diversity. She also asserts that gender inequality is directly linked to other forms of inequality pervasive in society.

 

 

Creative Writing Prompt Dec. 12th

The end of the road

The car came to a screeching halt in front of the entrance gate. Richard sat at the steering wheel and frowned, wondering whether to proceed.

“Are you sure this is the right place?”, Marilyn casually asked, looking down at her well-formed hands. “Yes, this is the entrance to the old estate”, replied Richard. The fog obscured their view and heightened their sense of uneasiness at the approach to the mansion. “Maybe we should just let it go, Richard, and come back another time.” Richard switched off the engine brusquely and got out of the car. He took a cigarette from a silver case and proceeded to light it with an air of diffiedence mingled with anticipation. He studied his surrounds as if trying to wrest some secret from them that would give him assurance and the confidence to confront the opposition  he would surely encounter at the house that lies within the confines of these walls. “What a strange place this is”, he muttered to himself, drawing the soothing cigarette smoke into his lungs.

He longed for a reprieve from all life’s frustrations. He had spent much of his early childhood on this lonesome stretch of land and it always seemed to him to be inhabited by strange forces, forces of nature and beyond. Now it seemed stranger to him still and he was suddenly overcome by feelings of longing to stay and explore the rugged country lanes and forest paths and trace the stony walls that held all this age-old beauty. Marilyn rolled down the window and looked at him curiously. He had become paler, thinner, and looked much older now. His energy and creative talent had subsided and he became increasingly furtive and introvert as the years went on. It looked like he was talking to himself, again. He would often mutter incomprehensible things to himself and be caught up in his musings. ‘What curious thoughts must roam his mind on such occasions’, thought she as she continued watching him.

Now he was gesticulating and walking from one end of the gate to the other, the cigarette in his crooked mouth, immersed in thought. Was he practicing a conversation in advance of the encounter with his family? Marilyn could never make up her mind what was going on in his head. At times he was placid and looked fixedly at a thing, then suddenly he jumped up like a frightened animal and would wander through the rooms of their house as if looking for something long ago lost.

He was dressed in a finely striped business suit and sported a new tie and polished shoes to look his best. His appearnace, though decent and conventional, at times reminded his affianced of criminals she had seen in a recent film. She had to laugh at herself for thinking that way about Richard, eventhough it was by no means too far from the truth. He had borrowed a lot of money from family and friends recently as his business had gone down the drain. He clung to an image of success, even if the real thing was not to be had. Business was never for him, she had told him that time and time again. Now he was about to ask for a loan, not having repaid the previous ones and being seen as a failure in his father’s eyes. She supported him throughout his turbulent years as an aspiring medical student and then throughout his life in business, and she knew he needed him and was glad to have her to lean on. But the relationship had been rocky from the start and she had often thought of leaving him; he kept enticing her to stay, somehow. She enjoyed his roguish innocence, his indecision and veiled dependency. His emotional turmoil and overbearing constrasted with her subtle but nuanced stoicism and ability to overcome negativity with a sizable portion of good humour. She was often mocked by him for not being affected by deep feelings of hurt and guilt as he was, but she knew it waas because of his diminished self-esteem that he said this.

It was becoming colder and gew darker by the minute as this scene unfolded. Marilyn wrapped her fine shawl around her slender neck and shoulders and busied herself with putting on more make-up. Richard was looking listlessly at her, amused at her vanity and knowing, as well, that it reflected his own. He swaggerd towards the bonnet of the car and pounded his fist on it vigorously. His companion was startled to attention and looked at him with concern and affection. “Oh do get out of this dreadful cold”, she spoke with conviction. He slouched back to the driver seat and said to her: “I cannot do it, it is just too much. I have thought about something. We could just leave, and not tell anyone where we are going, and start afresh. We are too free-spirited to be bogged down by this whole misadventure. Everyone makes mistakes, once in a while, people ought to understand that. It is not that we did this on purpose, we will start afresh and if possible, pay people back when we can, but it might take some time until then. I feel like the forest knows how I feel, it’s energy has come into me, I know that I, we, are meant to be free and roam the world, unchained and unconcerned. You know all about being unconcerned, I am sure of that. Do you not understand? I am a spirit being, a poet…” He couldn’t find any more words to convey his emotions but Marilyn saw clearly that his spirit was soaring up into the heights of elation when talking about this new desire of his. She envied him his unashamed self-abandon sometimes and could only wonder at his power to feel rapture and be tormented by it at the same time.

He bid farewell to the garden gates that lead into a sheltered, finite life, with an astute look and a stern salute, and procdeeded to start the engine again and reverse the car. Calm had settled on the travellers, but anticipation seems to  never have left them as they made their way home. The image of the gated enclosure was imprinted on both their minds as they sat contemplating a life of unfettered freedom and lost themselves in dreams of riches and splendour. Nature had overpowered them both and spoken to them in terms they felt they understood on a profound and personal level. Their spirits were entwined with that of the woods, where mysteries are kept hidden, in order that some wanderers may seek them.

Anton Chekov: Selected Stories

AT HOME

” ‘ A man cannot possibly be higher than a house,’ said the lawyer. ‘See here, your roof only reaches up to the soldier’s shoulders.’ …’No, papa’, he said, contemplating his  drawing. ‘If you make the soldier little, his eyes won’t show.’

What need was there to have corrected him? From daily observation of his son the lawyer had become convinced that children, like savages, have their own artistic view-point and their odd requirements, which are beyond the scope of an adult intelligence. Under close observation, Seriozha might appear abnormal to an adult because he found it impossible to draw a man higher than a house, giving his pencil his own perceptions as well as a subject. Thus, the sounds of an orchestra he represented by round, smoky spots; a whistle, by a twisted thread; in his mind, sound was intimately connected with form and colour, so that in painting letters he invariably coloured the sound L, yellow; M, red; A, black; and so forth. ”

” ‘No, we shouldn’t pretend to know how to educate children. People used to be simpler; they thought less and so decided their problems more boldly; but we think too much; we are eaten up by logic. The more enlightened a man is the more he is given to reflection and hair-splitting; the more undecided he is, the more full of scruples, and the more timidly he approaches a task. And, seriously considered, how  much bravery, how much self-reliance must a man not have to undertake teaching, or judging, or writing a big book.’ ”

” ‘Medicine must be sweet, truth must be beautiful; this has been man’s folly since the days of Adam. Besides, it may all be quite natural, and perhaps it is as it should be. Nature herself has many tricks of expediency and many deceptions-‘ ”

THE MAN IN A CASE

” ‘Three days later Afanasi came to me and asked me whether he ought not to send for a doctor, as something was happening to his master. I went to see Byelinkoff. He was lying speechless behind his bed curtains, covered with a blanket, and when a question was asked him he only answered yes or no, and not anotehr suond did he utter. There he lay, and about the bed roamed Afanasi, gloomy, scowling, sighing profoundly, and reeking of vodka like a tap-room.

A month later Byelinkoff died. We all went to his funeral, that is,  the boys’ and girls’ schools and the seminary. As he lay  in his coffin the expression on his face was timid and sweet, even gay, as if he were glad to be put in a case at last out of which he need never rise. Yes, he had attained his ideal. As if in his honour, the day of his funeral was overcast and rainy, and all of us wore goloshes and carried umbrellas.’ ”

” ‘And, as a matter of fact, though we had buried byelinkoff, how many more people in cases there were left! How many more there will be!’ ‘Yes, so, so, quite right’, said Ivan Ivanitch smoking his pipe. ‘How many more there will be!’ Burkin repeated. ‘Yes, so, so, quite right’, Ivan Ivanitch repeated. ‘But think how we live in town, so hot and cramped, writing unnecessary papers and playing vint-isn’t that also a case? And isn’t uor whole life, which we spend among rogues and backbiters and stupid, idle women, talking and listening to nohing but folly-isn’t that a case?’ ”

‘One hears and sees all this lying,’ said Ivan Ivanitch, turning over on the other side. ‘Nobody calls one a fool for standing it all, for enduring insults anad humiliations without daring to declare oneself openly on the side of free and honest people. One has to lie oneself and smile, all for a crust of bread, a corner to live in, and a little rank, which is not worth a penny-no, a man can’t go on living like this’.”

THE BEGGAR

” ‘Well, Lushkoff, I can now odder you some other, cleaner, employment. Can you write?’

‘I can.’

‘Then take this letter to a friend of mine tomorrow and you will be given some copying to do. Work hard, don’t drink, and remember what I have said to you. Goodbye!’

Pleased at having put a man on the right path, Skvortsoff tapped Lushkoff kindly on the shoulder and and even gave him his hand at parting. Lushkoff took the letter, and from that day forth came no more to the yard for work.

Two years went by. Then one evening, as Skvortsoff was standing at the ticket window of a theatre paying for his seat, he noticed a little man beside him with a coat collar of curly fur and a worn sealskin cap. This little individual timidly asked the ticket seller for a seat in the gallery and paid for it in copper coins.

‘Lushkoff, is that you?’ cried Skvortsoff, recognising in the little man his former wood-chopper. ‘How are you? What are you doing? How is everything with you?’

‘All right. I am notary now and get thirty-five roubles a month.’

‘Thank Heaven! That’s fine! I am delighted for your sake. I am very, very glad, Lushkoff. You see, you are my godson, in a sense. I gave you a push along the right path, you know. Do you remember what a roasting I gave you, eh? I nearly had you sinking into the ground at my feet that day. Thank you, old man, for not forgetting my words.’

‘Thank you, too,’ said Lushkoff. ‘If I hadn’t come to you then I might still have been calling myself a teacher or a student to this day. Yes, by flying to your protection I dragged myself out of a pit.’

‘I am very glad, indeed.’

‘Thank you for your kind words and deeds. You talked splendidly to me then. I am very grateful to you and your cook. God bless that good and noble woman! You spoke finely then, and I shall be indebted to you to my dying day; but strictly speaking, it was your cook, Olga, who saved me.’

‘How is that?’

‘Like this. When I used to come to your house to chop wood she used to begin: “Oh, you sot, you! Oh, you miserable creature! There’s nothing for you but ruin.” And then she would sit down opposite me and grow sad, look into my face and weep. “Oh, you unlucky man! There is no pleasure for you in this world and there will be none in the world to come. You drunkard! You will  burn in hell. Oh, you unhappy one!” And so she would carry on, you know, in that strain. I can’t tell you how much misery she suffered, how many tears she shed for my sake. But the chief thing was-she used to chop the wood for me. Do you know, sir, that I did not chop one single stick of wood for you? She did it all. Why this saved me, why I changed, why I stopped drinking at the sight of her I cannot explain. I only know that, owing to her words and noble deeds a change took place in my heart; she set me right and I shall never forget it. However, it is time to go now; there goes the bell.’

Lushkoff bowed and departed to the gallery.”

neither man, nor woman, nor woman, nor man

Entitlement

“An entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or by legislation. A “right” is itself an entitlement associated with a moral or social principle, such that an ‘entitlement’ is a provision made in accordance with legal framework of a society. Typically, entitlements are laws based on concepts of principle (‘rights’) which are themselves based in concepts of social equality or enfranchisement.

In a casual sense, the term “entitlement” refers to a notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit—if given without deeper legal or principled cause, the term is often given with pejorative connotation (e.g. a ‘sense of entitlement’)” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entitlement).

The term entitlement will no doubt be familiar with many, especially those who own money and property and who are interested in legal, social, and moral issues.

Entitlements can range from home owners’ rights (the right to own and protect a home), holiday pay and workers accident compensation, to inalienable rights such as the right to free speech and movement.

A lot of the entitlements we enjoy in Western society are expected and seen as not only necessary to avoid scenarios in which ‘might over right’ is accepted, it also is seen as an obvious way of ensuring that our personal rights are protected. Rules and regulations govern this society of ours to make it more cohesive, safer, more productive.

The notion of entitlement is pervasive and inseperable from social values and norms. Entitlements can change over time, but when embedded into the legal and mental structure of a group of people, it becomes increasingly difficult to disconnect them from established norm.

Entitlemenmt is linked to neraly every aspect of our lives. what we can and can’t do is written down in law and determined by our environement, our parents, friends, and peer groups, the people we normally associate with. When a child grows up, it is already indoctrinated with ideas about how society works, what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

The reason why I have become so interested in this topic is because I have come to question some of society’s norms and therefore stumbled upon limitations of personal freedom and entitlement.

I have been made to believe for nearly 30 years that things are the way they are, because they are, and we must accept that. Nealy 30 long years of constant brainwashing and education by loved ones and other persons alike, whose interests lay not in helping me gain independence and become a self-aware, self-confident individual, but in following their lead and to do as they said.

When I looked for definitions and articles relating to entitlements, I inevitably stumbled upon the word Narcissism. Wikipedia states that “In clinical psychology and psychiatry, an unrealistic, exaggerated, or rigidly held sense of entitlement may be considered a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder, seen in those who ‘because of early frustrations…arrogate to themselves the right to demand lifelong reimbursement from fate” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entitlement).

Another article, ‘The Veil of Narcissism within Families’, highlights the possible origins and reasons for perpetuation of overly exaggerated senses of entitlements, as the authors trace it back to childhood. The family, our primary care givers and first contact with the world and our first experience of relationship is often at fault in perpetuating a false sense of self and an unstable personality that might lead to problems with social adjustment in later life, as ” …the needs of the parents came before the needs of the child. Instead of feeling safe and supported to express who we really are, we are taught it is far more important to make sure we do not make our parents feel a particular way” (http://gendercentre.org.au/89article5.htm).

The child may develop notions like this, in such a hostile environment, at an early age. Notions of self-worth, personal rights and responsibilities, and its place within society are all linked to this mental intrusion. Gender, also is affected by such senseless ways of thought. Oftentimes, the child is not encouraged to explore his/her/their/zir identity,  not encouraged to come to terms with it. Instead, the child is made to follow what to them might seem to be irrational, clinical choices of gender identification, that might exclude actions or expressions the child might feel more comfortable with. Just like children were made to dress up like adults in previous centuries, children are still made to wear the veil of adulterated parental stigmas.

So we all grow up to be males or females. Funnily enough, though trans-gender and gender-queer people are still viewed with suspicion or outright ignored, when asked about what constitutes male and female identity, many people I have asked have failed to come up with answers that would define these easily and without any doubts. So why, when people who define us as having a certain gender do not even know what it means to have that gender, is our identity constantly being appropriated? What on earth posesses people to feel entitled to judge us in that way?

They do not have the legal rights to do so. It does not affect their home ownership or work compensation whethere someone presents as male or female, or other. And yet, people are often so outraged when presented with ideas that are new and posess the power to create a less rigid, more inclusive society. They feel strange when not being able to pick someone’s gender at first glance, they feel insulted when one chooses to refrain from following their advice on how to behave more feminine, and act all surprised when told that their views are neither the only one, nor the most correct. Older people, I have noticed, often decide that they have the right to lecture younger ones on mostly outdated ideals and concepts. The rich often feel that they are entitled to decide on the fate of the poorer segments of society. Men and women both tend to try to assert their gender’s rights onto the other, as if that was their main goal in life. For anyone who wants to live outside the confines of these power structures and trappings of society, is there any hope?

Look at pepole like me, who wear the clothes they want, who fall outside the gender norm, not because of some biological defect or other medical condition, not to spite you and make you feel awkward, but because they feel that way, and feel comfortable in doing so and want to express who they are. Ask yourself why they are entitled to do so, what makes them so special that they can walk around in clothes you do not approve of, why do they not fit in like everyone else, why do they not act according to how you would generally expect them to act? And then, with all due respect, ask yourself those very same questions. You question their identity, you feel entitled to do so, because entitlement of that kind is a concept you have painstakingly established in your head so that it would make you feel better about yourself and your place in the world.

Ask yourself why you are entitled to feel so entitled? Who has given you these rights, who has decided that you think this way or that, where is it written in stone that we all have to act according to your wishes?

And if you still rage and pout and feel like you need to highlight your own importance, I suggest you take a long stroll and vent your anger on some object rather than an unsuspecting human being who did you no personal injury. And if, by chance, you happen to come across a psychaitric clinic, do go in for a while and talk to someone. You might just find out that you, too, for reasons perhaps only you know, perhaps reasosns that will never become clear, suffer from narcissistic persoanlity disorder. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, really. Society is infected by this, so it would come as no big surprise that you, as a normal element in this social structure, would become infected, too.