Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

I will gladly address you as an attack helicopter

The issue of gender - and how many there are - has been gaining notice over the last several years.  Take this Time article or the less respectful "I identify as an attack helicopter" copypasta.

The issue...confuses me.

Not because of the gender thing.  I mean, I know the difference between sex (biology) and gender (identification). And I also know that even the biology bit is really a lot more complicated than we like to pretend that it is.

What confuses me are the problems that people tend to have.

I mean, I had problems when people would say "that squicks me out" about homosexual relationships. My response was typically along the lines of "I don't want to think about most hetero people having sex, so it's all the same to me".

Likewise when we talk about what gender identification someone wants to have. To me, it's so simple that people's issues with it are puzzling.

I approach this the same way I do nicknames or preferred versions of names.

If you care about someone, you'll ask if they prefer (say) Steve or Steven, and then stick with that.  Such a request (and one that's very individual) is seen as no big deal, and if you insist on using the wrong name (or version of a name), you are rightly seen as an inconsiderate ass.

But somehow, the same people who gladly ask which version of "Steven" I prefer will say it's a huge imposition if a person requests to be referred to by a specific pronoun.

Put that way, it's clear that the problem is not about confusion or difficulty.  The "problem" is with the person making the objection, not the person making the request.

Putting it in that context illustrates how deliberate the choice is.  

Related: After watching it again, I continue to highly recommend Southern Comfort (Wikipedia, YouTube) to everyone.  This 2001 documentary is... just freaking amazing.

Finding the Hidden Sexism In Fluidbonding - a personal adventure

Warning for the prudish: Some mild but blunt discussion about doing adult things follows.  (Hi to all the perverts who just paid attention!)

I wasn't introduced to the idea of "fluid bonding" until I started running into polyamorous people.

Fluid bonding is one of those things that seems like it should be fairly straightforward: It's when you engage in unprotected sex; that is, your fluids mingle.  Some folks (including myself) also put a bit of significance upon this as a "milestone" in the relationship, in that it implies a level of commitment that is beyond the casual.

As is too frequent, polyfolk think and talk about this concept a lot more than monogamous folks.  The Solopoly blog has a pretty good explainer that's worth reading.

But it also highlights a failing of my own that I had; a hidden pocket of sexism and patriarchy I wasn't consciously aware existed. 

I only really considered it fluid-bonding if there was penetrative sex.

When a girlfriend of mine was also dating a woman, I didn't even stop to think about dental dams or other oral barriers.  It literally did not occur to me.

But when that girlfriend started dating another man, I suddenly stopped and asked if there was protection used during oral sex.  Again, that's something I hadn't ever even thought about asking while she dated a woman.

I could - if I was being a dishonest asshat - hide behind statistics about transmission rates.  But that would be ... well, dishonest.

It was about there being a dick involved.

And that's kind of the point here.  Not that I was jealous about there being another guy, but that even for someone who had spent SO much time examining their own societal sexism a rather large (and potentially risky) pocket of sexism managed to escape notice for so long.

(As an aside, things got sorted out rather quickly with that girlfriend, especially since I realized the bullshit double standard I'd unconsciously imposed.)

I'm not here to judge whatever protective measures you and your partner(s) have agreed upon.  Do what you and your partner(s) are comfortable agreeing to.

But I am here to say that those measures should be consistent across genders and sexual preference.

And that even if you've spent years examining your own biases and prejudices, you're never finished exhuming that crap from your psyche.  Combating the prejudices and biases that society programs you with is not a two-week crash course.

Be aware, and don't be afraid to challenge yourself.

The simple two-word fix to "You're Mine" in relationships

An ex of mine would whisper "You're mine." in my ear, and I 'd get pleasurable goosebumps, and whisper it right back.

It was what I wanted, after all. For us to mutually have that same feeling.

It didn't last.

Many posts and articles have pointed out that saying "you're mine" or "you belong to me" is really, really squicky in general. But more than that, it's also a crappy way of loving someone.

When you're saying another belongs to you, it's possessive. Not just in the "owning people" way (which is bad enough) but in a way that undermines all of love's ideals.

Because when you love someone, really, really love someone, it's not about just trying to get a need met. It's not about amassing the best significant other. It's not about you.

It's about the person you love.

As these similar quotations from Robert Heinlein and H. Jackson Brown put it:
"Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."
"Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own."

As a result, I don't say "mine" anymore.

It's a small change, but the more I think about it, the bigger the ramifications, the more important it seems.

It's just a few words, the other side of a verbal coin.

I no longer whisper "You're mine".

I say "I'm yours."

The day after the trauma is the day before hope

Holy Saturday is the bleakest day in the Christian calendar, and it is important... even if you're not Christian.

Because it's a powerful story about everyday life.

Friday might be the dramatic day, the day everyone remembers how  one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change.  It's the day that everyone focuses on now, but it's not the worst day.

That's when you get the shock and trauma. That's when you hear that someone's died, when your love tells you they don't feel the same way anymore, when you find out something that meant a lot to you was just another day to the other person.

Choose your trauma. There's no ranking system for pain.

That's the day of the shock.

That's Good Friday.

But it isn't the worst day.

The worst day, the bleakest day, is Saturday.

Imagine them for a moment - imagine them as part of a story or historical people, it doesn't matter.  Really imagine them, put yourself in their situation.

You're part of a peaceful resistance movement. Your leader is charismatic and great, and then one day he gets rounded up by the police and publicly executed.  Not only that, but you've suddenly found out that all the people around you, the people that you thought would be on your side, preferred to kill your leader instead of a murderer.

You're in disarray.  Your leadership is denying they were ever part of the movement. And your leader - the person you thought would at least make some change in the situation, or maybe even more - is dead and buried.

And the shock starts to wear off.

What you thought you had - your leader, your movement, your lover, your security, your family, whatever it was that your trauma cleaved from you - is gone and it's going to stay gone forever.

It goes from shock to becoming real.

And you have no idea how the world can keep spinning, how other people can laugh and smile and go about their daily lives, because don't they know?  Don't they REALIZE?

They don't.

But the thing the Gospels teach us, the reason that this story has persisted so long despite its dubious documentation, is not because of some Imaginary Sky Friend.

It is the same message that draws people to the Doctor, that draws people to Luke, that draws people over and over again.

It is that yes, there is a dark night. There is a time when everything is bleak and horrible and awful.

And then... whether in an opened tomb, a glowing regenerating corpse, a shimmering blue apparition, or just in the everyday perseverance of everyday people, there is the hope of something new, something different.

Because without Destruction, there is never anything new.  Never anything better. Without destruction and despair, there is no hope.

Friends, regardless of your faith or fandom or loves, know that Destruction is terrible and awful and horrendous.  That the day after is the day of Despair.

But the day after... the day after is the day of hope and Delight.

Board Game Review: Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem

Last weekend I got the chance to play the Sons of Anarchy game again with some friends, and realized that I'd not actually told y'all about how much I like it.
Other people's faces blurred, because ANARCHY.
Okay, so maybe this is what you think of when you think "Sons of Anarchy board game"...
...but you'd be wrong.
First, you don't need to know anything about the show to enjoy this game. I'm sure that fans of the show will get a kick out of place names and the like, but it's the game itself that I'm a fan of, not the show.

Second, the game is only $15 on Amazon, which for a game of this kind is pretty amazing.  There's two expansions (they usually sell for about $10 each) that are nice, but not necessary if you just want to try the game out (they expand the game from 3-4 to up to 6 players).  There's also an "unleaded" and "high octane" mode; the former has all the gangs being exactly equal, while the latter makes them different, but balanced.
This was my gang
As you go through gameplay, random locations appear that you'll want to use... and you have a lot more potential locations than you'll use in any one game, so replay value is really high.

Not to mention it's kinda cool to move your little biker guys around...
I took over the military surplus!
...and sometimes things can get hotly contested.
Everyone wanted to own the porn studio...
The first time you play - especially if you have more than four players - will probably be around two hours.  After that, the sixty minute play time is pretty accurate (though possibly a tish longer for six players).

While this is a "work replacement" game (where you get to beat up the workers!), it's pretty intuitive to pick up; usually folks have the hang of it before the first full turn is over. 
For only four bucks more than Battleship (yes, really) you can get Sons of Anarchy, a game that's a lot more fun and has a hell of a lot more replay value.

Oh - and I highly recommend playing DOROTHY or Sleep Machine as a suitable soundtrack.