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Isms, The Monkey Dance, Triggers and unpopular ideas

I enjoyed this article more than I could have expected to. It’s called ‘F*ck Liberal Puritans: The Ted Ralls Racism Trial’. It set off all sorts of ideas inside my head, and if you have rape-related triggers, please stop reading now (but go read the article – really).

I’m going to ramble, and I’m likely to offend you, and if you read on and get upset, I hope you’ve read the link above.  So I begin.

I recently heard the phrase “the monkey dance.”  It refers to the aggression that leads to physical altercations between humans, but especially between human males. It’s a perfect phrase. In my observation, humans (and I include myself) are not far removed from our primate kin.  I’m quite aware that racism is a real thing, but humans are always looking for something to differentiate ‘my group’ from ‘not my group’. At one end of that contiuum you have genocide (one ethnicity vs another, whether for territorial, religious, or eugenics reasons), and on down through clan vs clan (or gang vs gang – pick your own least favorite) and into mere attacks on the Other (“the knockout game”) and the subtly destructive assaults on people for simple difference is behavior or appearances. This is the playground, “kids will be kids”, “kids are cruel”, and high school all grown up. This is the human primate betraying its genetic roots: flinging poo at whoever isn’t part of our troupe.

Once, my father, who is 5’5″ and overweight, got into an argument with another adult man. The other man, who apparently couldn’t marshall a better case on his own behalf, resorted to calling my father “You fat little man!”. But try being the only kid with glasses, or the shortest one in the class, or the class “brain”, or an Aspie, or have a funny last name.  My maiden name was Armstrong. Even THAT got me teased unmercifully. That’s humanity for you. We try to civilize our kids, but turn your back for a moment, and it happens again. Playgrounds are brutal places.

I once upset another woman horribly by trying to explain that rape may not be the worst thing that can happen to a person.  I have no doubt that it was the worst thing that ever happened to her (for which I am heartily sorry – it clearly traumatized her) and it may be the worst thing that ever happens to any given individual. The woman I hurt went out and gathered up a bunch of mutual acquaintances, who piled onto me (behind my back, but being on social media means I read before I realized what was going on). Ganging together made them feel better, I guess. It showed her the solidarity of belonging and of support. But she missed my point.

I’ve been sexually assaulted, and it gnawed on me for years, even after I learned that the perpetrator – a High School classmate – had been killed on his family farm.  But to say that it’s the worst possible thing that can ever happen to anyone discounts that anything else could possibly be as bad to the person experiencing it. How about being beaten to a pulp for being white – or black – or Jewish – or homosexual (or perceived to be so) – or just because you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time? How about being blown up for being Sunni instead of Salafi (or vice versa), or losing your legs because the land around your village is peppered with forgotten land mines from a never-ending war? How about being tortured for your faith, or political dissidence, or because you’ve had the extreme bad luck to encounter a sadist? The victims of the Marquis de Sade and Vlad the Impaler, and soldiers in prisoner of war camps the world and history over, cannot be casually dismissed. The people starved to death on Stalin’s “collective farms” or thrown out of their homes during the Irish potato famine because they couldn’t pay rent have a legitimate claim, too.

All that said, I will says this: all rape is equally a violation, but not every rape is equally violent. For some victims, it might just be a thing that happens and can’t be stopped. It doesn’t necessarily cause them physical injury or pain. I think they’re entitled — if they wish and can — to forget about it and move on – to not be forced to feel like victims of the worst thing ever. Maybe for them, it isn’t.  If it is, I hope they find comfort and healing.  But – all abuse is horrible. I think it’s a mistake to rank the various kinds. How do you weigh physical abuse, domination and violation against unrelenting emotional abuse? I don’t know. I wouldn’t dream of dictating how someone else feels about his or her own life experiences. If someone is hurt, they’re hurt. One-upmanship doesn’t help you, them, or anybody else.

Here’s a side of discrimination people probably haven’t thought of: My feet have NEVER reached the floor when sitting in standard sized chairs. This makes my back hurt, which leads to me being unable to sit still for extended periods of time. I’ve been called up for jury duty at the end of the year. Yay! I get to sit in wrong-sized chairs for (possibly) days on end! I do not, however, get to claim discrimination on account of my height. Being short is not a recognized disability, and the ADA doesn’t make anybody provide a footstool, much less an adjustable chair, desk, table, or anything else). I will take a cardboard box with me to court to put my feet on, and if they don’t like it, then I guess I’ll just deal with it. C’est la vie.

How about being different in ways that can’t be seen? I can now – at the venerable age of almost-47 – generally stay on topic in groups, but I’m constantly scanning myself, analyzing myself, second-guessing. Did I read their faces right? Did I laugh too much? not enough? Did I change the subject abruptly and leave people blinking? Did I limelight? Will I overhear people discussing among themselves later what a horrible person I am, how I must be self-hating, and how they’ve always known I was X or Y, or laughing because I’m such a social failure, or rolling their eyes at each other over my head and behind my back? That’s been my life as long as I can remember. It certainly was my experience through my school years. I’d like to think that’s bad. I know it’s painful. The pain from the incident with the lady in paragraph 5 was so deep and destructive that I wound up seeking help from my doctor for depression (or rather, it exacerbated an underlying case of depression I’d always been able to live with, to the point I couldn’t live with it anymore). I’ve even been told “You REFUSE to change!” as if it were merely a matter of stubbornness.

I’ve never heard of Ted Ralls before, but I’ve been on the receiving end of accusations of racism. I don’t like President Obama. I think his policies are harmful, his hands-off managerial style contrasted with his jet-set, golf course, Martha’s Vineyard lifestyle indicates where his priorities really lie. I also think he sincerely believes that saying something makes it so. It reminds me, in fact, of the line from the character Ko-ko in ‘The Mikado’:

It’s like this: When your Majesty says, “Let a thing be
done,” it’s as good as done–practically, it is done–because
your Majesty’s will is law. Your Majesty says, “Kill a
gentleman,” and a gentleman is told off to be killed.
Consequently, that gentleman is as good as dead–practically, he
is dead–and if he is dead, why not say so?

In other words, I think he believes that if he says a law is good, then it is good, and the people who are being harmed are irrelevant because others are being helped. Ergo, quod erat demonstrandum. I disagree. I don’t think he’s a good President because of things like this, and therefore I’m a racist. The logic is clearly unassailable.

I despise when someone tells me what I believe or think politically based on their own perception of “whose side I’m on”, and then dehumanize me for believing it. As with the Ted Ralls incident, it doesn’t even have to be true (and generally isn’t true), but no amount of attempt to defend myself as NOT a follower of said philosophies will be accepted. I identify as a political conservative (leaning libertarian), and therefore I’m horrible because of things I am told I believe. I hate that the people making the accusations feel comfortable stuffing me into a little box of their own defining.

So, I come full circle. I come back to the Monkey Dance. It’s easy to punch somebody because he makes you mad, or name-call because he’s fat or wears glasses or has a funny name, or fling poo because he doesn’t look like you. It’s easy to believe that everyone else’s experience of life is like yours and to dismiss pain you have never felt. It’s easy to join the pile-on.

All I ask is that, if you find yourself participating in such a pile-on, you stop and ask yourself, am I dancing the monkey dance? If I am, what am I getting out of it? Am I inflicting harm? Am I dismissing others’ experiences, feelings, and observations? Do I even care? If I don’t care, what does that say about me?

I’m on Deviant Art!

http://chotii.deviantart.com/gallery/

 

Click to find my plush art (mostly ponies, but not *all*).

Captain Equestria

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Isn’t he a handsome devil?

My Little Dire Pony and Loki Pony

I need more challenge, I guess! I searched and found no one who had made a MLP/Avatar crossover plush, so here it is: a Dire Horse. Dire Pony.

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My oldest daughter asked for a Loki Pony. The helmet came first. The horns required 5-7 attempts before I found a curve that would turn right side out without tearing to shreds (gilded tablecloths are not really ideal fabric).

His mane and tail are made from frayed nylon webbing. My daughter drew his eyes. I think they’re fabulously crafty!

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His cutie mark is the scepter.

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But he wasn’t complete! In the morning, I added detailed wings and a regal green cloak:

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The winter pony: blind and beautiful

 

 

I wanted to try something new with this one: microfleece (a repurposed Old Navy scarf) and reflective tape from a safety shirt. The mane and tail are braided holographic shoelaces, teased out.

I’m very happy with this current pattern. The legs and neck are wider, and it’s slightly larger than what I was working with before, which was modified from one taken from a user on DeviantArt (I’m sorry, I don’t remember the name anymore).  The legs are, as always, filled with poly pellets to provide a good solid base  I now have a Bubble Tea straw to help me fill the legs. The pellets get jammed up far less frequently in the larger-diameter straw. Plus I got to have Bubble Tea. :)

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Cubethulhu!

Eight legs, two angry red eyes, two wings with which to fly into your dreams, and some serious teeth to EAT YOU WITH. It’s…Cubethulhu!

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‘Sarape’ – a new pony; a big challenge!

This pretty pony was a big challenge because the woven cotton fabric frayed if you LOOKED at it. I cut it oversize, zig-zagged the raw edges, and then gave it my best.


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She doesn’t have a cutie mark. I argue that this is because she IS one big cutie mark.

 

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