I guess I'm giving up writing about my life and what I'm up to.
When I first came here, I used to write something for every day. Eventually that became every week. Then it became every month. Then I would start posting every couple months.
Then I just fell out of it, a number of months have passed and I can't bring myself to start it up again. It became a chore rather than something I enjoy and I'm not convinced anyone was really reading it (certainly not with massive amounts of interest anyway).
I kind of liked the idea of recording my life though. It was nice to think that it was down in print somewhere. There's something about putting things down in words that gives a certain feeling of permanence to it, even though rationally that makes no sense (there's certainly nothing permanent about this journal in the long run).
It's presumably the same irrationality that makes me want to store a back-up of this journal when I hear scares about it coming down. That too would be emotionally comforting but entirely pointless given that it would just end up as a file somewhere on my hard disc that I never open.
Also doesn't help that there's no massive amounts to say. There's the one or two events worth of writing about (which I'm increasingly inclined to just write something short about on facebook rather than a blog post) but nothing to fill a month by month account.
Maybe that's just a sign that I need to find more ways to make my life more interesting though :o)
Thoughts: Moral Crusades (re: sexual attitudes)
Just had a longish discussion about rape culture on a discussion post.
I probably shouldn't have let myself get dragged in. I had intended to be at the gym but I just got dragged in.
It all started with a very vile post that was basically victim-blaming and a perfect example of rape culture. The image was originally a picture of a woman on a slut-march with a board affirming her right not to be raped, which references her personal experiences. The new image wrote over that with an account that blamed her for the rape, inventing all sorts of circumstances to suggest that it was really her fault.
That of course is pretty much archetypical rape culture.
Do fake rape accusations exist? Sure. Undoubtedly in fact. Is it possible that some women might reframe what happened the night before into something more sinister to excuse their own gult? Well, it's at least possible. Can a fake rape accusation ruin a man's life? I'm sure it has done just that for some people.
However, even if we accept that, none of this justifies what happened here.
Even if we assumed what I described the above was typical rather than just possible, it doesn't justify what happened here.
Here we had these accusations put onto a real person who was talking about their individual experiences. That goes beyond acknowledging such problems and extends to assuming them about real rape cases where you couldn't possible know any such thing. That of course is the root of problem; not acknowledging such cases might exist but assuming that they are the case. That's why rape victims have to face so much disbelief and recrimination.
If I was to take a guess at what was going on in the minds of the people who say these sorts of things, I come to a somewhat surprising thought; I think it's moral outrage.
In a sense, their feelings make sense. Fake rape accusations are a vile and horrible thing with great potential to do horrible harm, so why shouldn't someone feel outraged when they think about it. The problem is that people lose their sense of balance and proportion when they get outraged. People ride that moral outrage and end up in strange places. Very quickly they're not thinking of the purely anecdotal cases they probably started with (if they started with that even); they're now seeing it around every corner. Suddenly the world warps and they now feel like their most likely male selves are now victims in a world biased against them; a world where women wield incredible power to slander them and ruin their lives in the process. The world's gone mad they think.
Of course, once you add in the balance, you realise that it's by no means that one-sided. People who report rape are very much not automatically believed. Men who are accused of rape will often have a bunch of loyal friends assume he's innocent and often for no particularly good reason. Not only are rape accusations not as powerful as imagined, they're so weak that many victims don't even bother to make them.
Whilst I recognise how terrible it must be to have a fake rape accusation levelled at you, I'd personally rather have that than be raped. If we're going to play for who deserves most sympathy, it's not the poor men.
That's not to say that moral outrage is benign on the other side of the equation though.
I see lots of communities based around raging about various issues to do with social equality. I'm sympathetic of course, those things definitely do deserve rage. However, in the back of my mind I'm often thinking 'but is this really the best way to get a clear picture of the problem?'. I'm all for respecting the personal experiences of people in these situations, and that includes the emotional feelings of people who have been victimised, but clear thinking still requires a clear and clam mind. Your moral outrage may be more justified but it can still lead you to strange places.
The thread with the horrible victim-blaming image provides a full examples.
As you can see through my journal; I hate people who get other people drunk in order to take advantage of them. I think it's a very vile thing to do and I definitely consider it rape (and even if you quibble over the word, it's still a horrible thing to do that deserves serious legal punishment). I'm not keen on paternalism but if someone is obviously impaired then your first thoughts shouldn't be 'how can I turn this to my advantage?'. Instead, if someone is obviously impaired then you should be taking care not to take advantage. The idea of sleeping with someone knowing that you wouldn't have gotten away with it had the other person been sober is horrific.
That being said, I've had sex whilst drunk. I've had sex with people who have been drunk.
Okay, they've not been drunk to the extent that they can't talk, walk or know what's going on around them but they've been intoxicated. I wouldn't have ever done it had I believed that they would sober up tomorrow and be horrified or regretful of course and mostly these have been people who have shown a clear, strong and unmistakable interest in me and often have done so whilst they were still sober, so I didn't think there would be any harm in it.
Basically, the fact that I have had sex when drunk does not mean I think I've been raped, nor does the fact that I've had sex with drunk people mean that I think I've raped people.
Yet that's one of the directions people riding on moral outrage went on. They took the justified moral outrage on sexual abuses of drunk people and just rode that and ended up somewhere strange; they compared the horrific abuses some people suffer when drunk to those experiences often thought off fondly by both parties afterwards. They ended up in absurdity.
Similarly, moral outrage about sexual predation on young people led to support of a blanket ban on teenage sex. Suddenly, the idea of a nineteen year old having sex with his or her sixteen year old partner is now comparable with paedophilia. Again, the moral outrage has been ridden to absurdity.
But that's often the way. Once we get heated up we're often not sure where to stop. We ignore nuances and complications and everything becomes a danger and a threat to be tackled.
Recognising the abuses of the porn industry, suddenly all porn is problematic and the best efforts of sex-positive and woman-positive pornographers are just threats in disguise. Recognising the problems posed by anti-sex feminists to female sexuality, suddenly all anti-porn arguments are just attacks on female sexuality and the sex industry is quickly white-washed and we start to ignore how vile and horrible so much of it is.
How much of our lives reflect that clash? Am I entirely guiltless of it myself? I'm certainly not sure.
Especially online where your detractors push at you so aggressively and you feel yourself slipping towards pushing back every bit as hard. Rational argument requires more and more effort as the temptation is to dismiss arguments before they've even been written. I do my best to try to stop myself from becoming emotional involved in the petty (and ultimately meaningless) personal conflicts and to keep myself and my posts calm, clear and rational but I'm only human too.
Thoughts: Accepting Diversity:
Originally posted on facebook: linky
Just been having a discussion on livejournal with someone who felt hard done by because she find alt people to be unaccepting of her political views, which apparently clashes with alt people's pretence to be 'accepting of difference'.
Personally, I think there is a difference between being 'accepting of difference' and 'accepting all views, attitudes and values'.
I quite like diversity in all kinds of things; aesthetics, attitudes, self-expression, opinions... there's little in life that can't be made richer with a little variety. Not only do I not react negatively towards people solely because they're different to me, I often quite like it, so I think it's fair to say I'm a fan of diversity.
That doesn't mean I'm a fan of everything though. I can enjoy a diversity of opinions without enjoying all opinions. There's a difference between a diversity of opinions and an all-inclusive diversity of opinions, which presumably would include the opinions of the violent, hateful, bigoted and cruel. I have no time for those opinions.
The crucial thing is that I don't dislike hateful and bigoted opinions because they are different to my views; I dislike them because they are hateful and bigoted.
The accusation is one I see every now and then when someone finds their views are unpopular; the trick is to pretend that the group of people they are talking to are simply 'not tolerant of difference', which is usually completely untrue.
A group that is 'intolerant of difference' is one that uniformly reacts to people who are different with intolerance. If a group is generally okay with people who are different but for some reason doesn't like you in particular then it's not because you're different but because of something more specific about you.
So, yeah, I do not dislike people just because they are different for me and, generally speaking, I enjoy diversity. That does not mean I lack standards; I have some strongly held moral and political standards and I will not be closely associating with people who fall far below them. They key thing is that I won't be judging such people by how different they are to me but by those standards and values.
Thoughts: The Cost of Human Life (are animals as important as us?)
Originally posted on facebook: linky
I posted a link recently about how animal rights activists have come into conflict with health charities:
One claim that was raised a few more times in the resulting discussion than I would have expected is 'humans are not more important than animals'.
I can imagine someone sincerely believing this (or at least thinking they believe it) but I doubt there are many people in the world that can live up to it with their life choices, certainly no one in a position to be reading a facebook link.
The problem is that merely being alive in a western society (and basically though all societies and ages) costs uncounted animal lives.
Even if you abstain from eating meat, the agricultural processes that bring you your vegetarian or vegan food still cost animal lives. I doubt it makes a difference to a burrowing animal that dies when a field is ploughed to plant wheat that you won't be eating it after it's dead.
Nearly all housing will likewise cause animal death. Housing not only means tearing up the Earth (anyone watched Watership Down?) but also the destruction of natural habitats.
Basically, you don't need to actually use the dead animal as a product to have killed it. Just because you're not wearing furs doesn't mean that an animal didn't die to clothe you. Just because your laptop does not run on dead animal souls doesn't mean that it's production wasn't costly in animal lives. Just because your car doesn't run on animal blood doesn't mean that the construction and fuelling of the car didn't cost animal lives.
The fact is that anyone reading this is responsible for the death of uncounted animals by merely choosing to stay alive.
I'm not saying this to suggest that we shouldn't care about animal welfare at all; all I'm saying is that the claim that animal life is as important and morally valuable as our own is incongruent with our being alive at all.
My own stance on animal welfare is more moderate; where possible and where it does not conflict with human survival, health and prosperity, we should reduce animal suffering.
That means that I think anyone affluent enough to do so should avoid factory farmed eggs and meat and buy free-range. It means that I think people should consider buying a meat substitute rather than eating actual meat. It means that I have a low view of testing cosmetic products on animals. It definitely means that I'm opposed to blood sports. Basically, if your survival, health and prosperity does not rely on causing animal suffering then avoid doing so.
It doesn't mean that I oppose things that are equally unpleasant for animals. I don't imagine that living your life in a cage only to be slaughtered for meat when the time is right is that much more unpleasant than dying in a scientist's lab (although the latter may often be preferable). I certainly have no delusions that being slaughtered for meat is less unpleasant than dying slowly and painfully because the sewer you live in has been gassed by a pest control agency.
The difference is that killing an animal because you want to eat them is most often about enjoyment. Experimenting on animals to produce cosmetic products is also about human enjoyment. Killing them by hunting them with hounds is very much about enjoyment (of an animal dying no less).
Killing an animal to allow us to build shelter for us to live in is not about enjoyment (not first and foremost anyway). Killing them to keep our sewage system working is not about enjoyment. Killing them in order to apply the sort of agricultural methods we need to feed our population is not about enjoyment. Killing them in order to research life-changing and life-saving medical advances is not about enjoyment.
That's the line I work on.
If the line you claim to work on is that animal life should not be treated as less important than human life then you really ought to be living in a cave somewhere and living off only wild fruit or something. Anything less than that is treating your life as more important than that of animal life.
Really, the best way to treat your life as no more important than animal's is to kill yourself now. For those that are morally opposed to suicide, the best you can do is not breed and hope for natural death to find you soon. Having a child is probably one of the worst things you can do as far as animal welfare goes; not only are you constantly killing animals by merely being alive, you've now created a new person who will unavoidably do the same.
That's not far off what these guys believe:
The Voluntary Human Extinction movement; recognising the cost of human life they suggest that everyone choose to stop breeding so that the human race can come to the end.
I don't subscribe to their views but they're right that human extinction would be the best thing to ever happen from the point of view of animals. Even if we exterminated ourselves via nuclear war that would still be preferable to our continued existence. Take a look at Chernobyl; wild life is flourishing. It turns out that it's better for animals if a region is radiated by nuclear meltdown than to have humans living there.