Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Men's balls, innocence and why I try and horror for the holidays.

Last year my Christmas advice was to masturbate and again I heartily and with heartfelt emotion recommend it. Face you, you need to relax!

After my little episodes with Devotees, I thought I should do a piece about men and how they aren’t all that bad and how I might not know a lot of them but I am sure they are good people. But then the more I worked on the blog piece the more I realized it sounded like “Men are from somewhere that game consoles are made and Women are from where you learn how to insult each other by saying something that sounds nice to everyone else.” So I’m not going down that alley, I just want to echo Linda who saw a guy in a nice business suit adjust his balls while walking down the main street, “What’s up with that?” Anyway guys, I don’t hate you, and I will try to see and talk to the individual if you agree to do the same with me: deal?

So instead I am going to write about innocence; or why I pursue it. You see people often think “innocence” is a state of unknowing; being ignorant or na├»ve. Or it is just being foolish or a little dim. Innocence is a state of mind or being in which one is ingenuous (honest to the point of transparency) combined with a openness which opens a person to terrible emotional wounds but without which, the wonder of action and thought which humans can aspire to are overlooked, ignored or scorned. The more a person knows of humans and the experience that life etches into us, the more we guard ourselves, cutting ourselves off from the greatest gifts of humanity: hope, belief, love. Bet you are freaking out now; where is the swearing? What I am saying is that the swearing, the screaming, the crying, the na-da-na’s in your face: all of it is my attempt to remain true to my goal being ingenuous, completely open about who I am. I am ever seeking the possibility of innocence: to face the world afresh not just once but in every encounter. And I almost always fail.

As a child my father explained to me about the Christian idea of Sin and Christ and how no one could lead a perfect life. “Do you mean it is IMPOSSIBLE to lead a perfect life?” I asked, “Or is it just that no one has yet succeed?” As you can see, from an early age, the idea of testing the odds of several billion to 1 appealed to me. It is indeed the reason I am a follower of Christ (though probably not recognized as a “Christian” in the organized sense): because here was a being who knew the absolute worst of humanity, not just in deed but thought, and EVERY DAY, went out there, facing it, opening himself to be hurt, continuing to do and act for the sole reason that it is right. I decided then that if he could do that, then I should attempt it too. I realize that this is probably strange for readers and a little uncomfortable and sappy but that is why I do what I do. Not because I believe in heaven or hell (I don’t), and not because I want to live forever or often even be alive (most of my life: not so much, I started cutting at age five – what does that tell you?). But each person is a god and in every choice they reclaim the best or the worst of what we as a species can be.

Every day, I strive for innocence, to fully face all the things I have done which shame me, and all the things done to me and still TRY again. I happen to disagree with Yoda; Trying is everything. If all we are willing to accept is what we know is possible then yes, we live a life defended from disappointment. And no, choosing to try, always, regardless of odds or consequence is not likely to be a life of peace and free from pain, but I have known for a long time that I am not the type who sees someone fall and is only afraid. I am the type who sees someone fall and is terrified, and tries anyway.

So I guess the conclusion for this post is this: There will ALWAYS be a time when I fail, when I fall, when I lie in a heap. And there will ALWAYS be a time when I challenge myself to try. Like this evening when I tried to convince my Video Store to put a particularly horrific French film in their Xmas section (Hey, it happens on Dec. 24th, sure there is cannibalism and demonic possession but still…..XMAS!), or recommended The Bridge to a couple because, “Yes, I know a documentary on suicide isn’t what you might want to watch but hey.....it is all about family!” The sad aspect is that I actually thought those were good choices, I mean I am going to stay up and watch the UK horror film Wilderness. Nothing reminds me of family more than a pack of dogs hunting down the weak. Oops there goes that innocence thing. Oh well, I can try again tomorrow!


Casdok said...

Thanks for the advice at the top!
Hopr you and yours have a lovely day. x

alphabitch said...

This is just so right on, in so many ways. Reminds me somehow of some excellent advice my own father gave me about ice skating. He's a very good skater and his advice about it is pretty reliable. I once proudly circled the rink without falling and said, "Daddy I didn't fall once!" and he said, "Aw, if you don't fall, you're not having enough fun!" And he was right: if you cling to the edges and are scrupulously cautious, you won't have nearly as much fun as you will out in the middle, twirling and racing and hip-checking your much larger cousins into the boards. Yeah, you might fall. You might even get hurt. Totally worth it.

kathz said...

I don't find innocence a useful concept, though the difference between us may be merely a matter of semantics. I find that the idea of "innocent victims" (usually used by the press who take "innoncent" as a synonym for "cute") is fairly disgusting because it implies the existence of "guilty victims" ("not cute" or perhaps just unconventiona) who are held to be complicit in whatever has happened to them.

But I think you mean something different from that use of "innocent".

I'm not sure about the good/bad binary - most people are just doing their best and getting some right and some wrong - though some seem to be mostly at one end or the other.

Anyway, I share your aim to lead I would call the ethical life though I don't manage very well

Lisa Harney said...

Okay, I have to ask - you've been mentioning the videogame/guy thing fairly often recently (well, three times!) and I'm wondering if there's something driving that.

It's interesting because there is such a huge stereotype that only men play videogames. Getting it from guys is annoying what with their "I just assume everyone I meet online is a man, so I won't accidentally have a crush on one and turn gay," and I always love "but if I assume everyone is a man, I treat them equally. If I know you're a woman, I won't treat you equally. Isn't equality what you want?"

Plus, I just bought game consoles for both my nieces for Christmas at their request. :)

Elizabeth McClung said...

Casdok: Yes, the more I think of familial obligations, the greater the need for calm, for control, and for the smiling post buzz of masturbation.

Alphabitch: I find that an interesing list of fun events: twirling: check, racing: check, hipchecking your larger cousins into the boards: Errr....I want you on MY side for ice hockey.

Kathz: The current and common usage of "innocent" is unknowning, incapable, powerless, naive - the idea of innocence as a virtue for an adult is not so common anymore (though I think of someone like Henry David T. as a "willing innocent"). I agree that most acts of evil occur because people think that doing nothing or getting by is okay. I am sure that every death chamber is always constructed by men or women needing work, and guarded by people who need a steady income. I am sure that there are workers at the comfort station at Gitmo in the 7-11 and the KFC and the other stores that are just "doing thier job", they are after all, "not the ones directly involved" - I don't believe that a person can always make an aware decisions, but then, taking responsibility for who you are and what you have done is a choice as well. I have no power or authority to judge anyone but myself, but I will, when an individual choice is made effecting me, hold you responsible for that choice with the tenacity of the Furies.

Lisa: Often? Really? Well, see this is why I didn't write the piece, because it wasn't very balanced. Most of the guys I know and have known are either gamers, or I meet online (*cough*Gamers*cough*) so I don't have a balanced view. I do know that the gaming industry, which I was an early part of and a follower of has been a "boys club" and that the few games I was drawn to like Seven Cities of Gold, it turns out were created by a woman. I am aware of GirlGame mag and when I worked at a gaming store I did my fair share of gaming but even at say 15 hours a week, I would be doing 1/3 or less of the guys in the store (and I was gaming about 5 times more than any other female who worked there). Plus, I finally bought some anime dating sims, which seem to be somewhat male oriented (somewhat being an understatement, I think in Japan after something like 20 years of dating sims the first female oriented dating sim has come out). Plus, I keep thinking about that interview where nearly a majority of guys said they would rather have thier xbox 360 than sex. And I know how much guys think about sex, so.....how much do they think about gaming? Like I said, what I know about guys wasn't coming out very balanced so I scrapped the piece.

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

Masturbating makes almost everything go better.
This is a great post. I think that living honestly, from the core, almost guarantees failure.

Lisa Harney said...

I wasn't trying to accuse, and I was certain I'd mentioned that more men game than women.

And I did totally say you only mentioned it three times. I wasn't really serious, though. :)

Lisa Harney said...

Also, I totally agree that gaming is largely a boys' club, and this has a large effect on just about everything about it.

Plus, I don't think you were being too harsh on teh menz. :)

Sober @ Sundown said...

Hey Girl,

I hope you and your sweetie had a wonderful holiday.....

Elizabeth McClung said...

Daniel: Yes, if Xmas isn't about masturbation, what is it about? I have to say your comment: "I think that living honestly, from the core, almost guarantees failure." made me concerned that you might not have been making a joke - well, no, you don't get elected to...well, anything by being honest, but then, if I was a person who could have 'sold out', I would have.

Lisa: I dunno, I just find that, for instance a comic about gaming can get over 1 million hits a day (penny Arcade) and have its own expo which is like 90%+ guys is kinda.....interesting.

Sober: Thanks! I am sorry I haven't been around for a while, thank you so much for dropping by. I will try to do the same.

Lisa Harney said...

Whoops, I said more men game than women on another forum where the exact same topic came up.

Anyway, no, I don't disagree with you on this. I was just trying (and perhaps failing) to be a bit silly.

Marla said...

The other day I went to a fast foor place and the guy taking the order adjusted his "nether region" before taking our order. I was horrified and disgusted.

Tom P. said...

...I just want to echo Linda who saw a guy in a nice business suit adjust his balls while walking down the main street, “What’s up with that?”

Ummmm... Don't you ever have to adjust your bra during the day?

Anyway guys, I don’t hate you, and I will try to see and talk to the individual if you agree to do the same with me: deal?

It's funny but I gave the book, The Thin Man a bad review on Amazon in part because it stereotypes lesbians as being man haters.

I thought I should do a piece about men and how they aren’t all that bad and how I might not know a lot of them but I am sure they are good people.

So replace "men" with "blacks" and explain to me why that wouldn't be racist.

In other words, the part of your post about men sounds like stereotypical man-hating lesbian shit. But I know that all women are drunken whores. How do I know this? I saw a picture of Amy Winehouse once.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Marla: Er, yeah, not really the image you want of the hand preparing your food.

Tom P: Adjusting bra - yup, just generally not in public; and say there is a yeast infection or some other itchy in Area 51 - again, not while going down a main street or at work - I guess socialization of what you can do with your private parts in a public place is different between guys and girls.

As for lesbians as man-haters, and "I thought I should do a piece about men and how they aren’t all that bad and how I might not know a lot of them but I am sure they are good people." as being:
"the part of your post about men sounds like stereotypical man-hating lesbian shit"

How odd it is that in seeking to achieve the opposite we produce the result we tried to avoid. I think the question here is CONTEXT - for example, I had been held up as an objectified form FOR MEN, linked there BY MEN and that had an emotional impact on me. I tried the following day to try and write a post where I talk about the importance of men but realized I just didn't have enough experience of them to not end up with cliches (though for example, if you see today's post, you will see I am giving a tribute of sorts to my coach Ian). I am NOT saying, "All Men are Rapists." Even though a significant percentage of the men in my life have raped, sexually abused, physically abused and emotionally abused me. My older brother started using my body as soon as he reached puberty; should I base my view of males on him? But I don't. Yes, I've been stalked, repeatedly. I get emails almost daily from guys who have a fetish and want to lie enough to leave me vulnerable to them. Do I want to use THAT as my model? No. My last male employeer used to throw things at me, simply whip them at my head when he was angry or when he came in drunk to work. I had to have the police intervene in several male teens whose daily abusive behavoir was based on my orientation. The caregiving manager is male, he also has an obsession about my orientation and "lifestyle"; I really can't recount the number (in the hundreds) or acts of violence or threats from men because I am not interested in them, because I am "going to hell", or simply because I am holding my partner's hand (we'll ignore the response of males from my ultra conservative church when they found out about me).

And so for me to say, "Look, I just DON'T KNOW enough (or rather what I do know is probably not the whole picture) about men, so I didn't write that piece because I didn't want to patronize guys and I wanted to be honest but also let my male readers know that, hey, just because you are a guy, doesn't mean that I think you are a devo, a stalker, someone who is going to send me rude pictures, someone who is going to send me flame email, etc.

If you can't handle that - if you want; if you DEMAND more from me; then I will tell you what I told my male sexual abuse cousellor who also had a problem because I wanted to see him as a non-person and he wanted me to SEE him, to remember him. I told him: "Then rape me. You want me to remember you; rape me." (he is still my counsellor by the way - what I am saying is; if my admitting that I don't have enough positive experience of male offends you so much that you want to come here and call my being open about that a bunch of "man-hating lesbian shit" - well, I fail to see how that solved my problem of finding and replacing negative images of guys with positive ones.

I'm a lesbian because I like women; but yeah, there is a LOT about guys that I don't understand and I REALLY don't understand why the greatest women seem to be attracted to individuals with little redeeming qualities just because they are male.

I'm going to stop there because I really don't want to go further down this road - I am sure that guys are great and if any guy is unhappy because I am not overcoming my negative experiences by trying to trust and aquire new ones FAST enough....then I suggest you contact me and try being part of the solution - like having an email friendship with me.

Philip. said...

I'm a man and I'm pretty Ok :-)

p.s. I do try to never adjust my balls in public - LOL

Tom P. said...

"I thought I should do a piece about blacks and how they aren’t all that bad and how I might not know a lot of them but I am sure they are good people."

Do you get it now? "I was mugged by a black guy once but I'm sure other blacks aren't all that bad." Aileen Wuornos was a lesbian who murdered men in Florida. "But I'm sure other lesbians aren't all that bad." I understand that you think you have a reason to dislike men (but you'll overcome it if we agree to be nice to you) because some men did things to you. But generalizing any group because of the actions of some members of the group is an -ism... racism, sexism, orientationism. It is ALWAYS wrong.

but also let my male readers know that, hey, just because you are a guy, doesn't mean that I think you are a devo...

What you said was that "they aren’t all that bad." But in truth, I can't imagine a single situation where I would be compelled to let members of group X know that I don't hate them because of the actions of other people who also happened to be members of group X. "Some black guys beat me up but hey, you other black guys, I really don't blame you for it so don't worry." Now try to figure out a way to rephrase that so it isn't racist and then we can talk about sexism.

Anyway guys, I don’t hate you, and I will try to see and talk to the individual if you agree to do the same with me: deal?

Really! Do you normally only talk to people if they agree to your up-front terms? Isn't it better to respect other people as individuals and accept them UNTIL you find a reason not to?

I guess what has me pissed off is that I really like you and Linda and have enjoyed your blog and have always tried to reflect that in my comments. And then suddenly I get turned on because I happen to have a Y chromosome?

but yeah, there is a LOT about guys that I don't understand

That's OK. In the words of Patrick Star, "I don't understand anything."

Adjusting bra - yup, just generally not in public...

You need to ride the NYC subway - you'll see plenty of bra adjusting going on. I would bet that if your bra was pinching that you might consider adjusting it in public. But imagine walking around with an extremely sensitive organ hanging between your legs and it slips out of its little sling and is pinching with each step. It's why the "boxers or briefs" question is so important to men. Briefs give support (sort of like a good bra) but if anything slips then it pinches and can get very uncomfortable. Boxers give no support (sort of like going bra-less) but they don't usually pinch.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Philip: thanks! I appreciate the effort! :)

Tom P.: I am more than a little disappointed with your reaction to my sharing my limitations regarding men. And honestly Linda is too.

What would have been your choice of word before "man hater" if I wasn't a lesbian? Feminist? Bitch?

Again the word I can think of here is CONTEXT. I explain to you both my personal context, my personal limitations and the context in which I was open about why I WANTED to write the piece (because I don't assume all male that read my blog are stalkers, devos, pervs or rapists) and gave some options on what could be done if you were unhappy with the speed of my change of viewpoint.

Apparently you thought that coming over and repeatedly beating me with a verbal stick until I admit you are right is a good way to stand up for truth, justice and the male way. The only thing you are doing right now is showing me that men (or just you?) are okay with me being allowed to say what I want until I talk about my limitations about men. I dunno, why don't you volunteer your wisdom for a rape crisis centre - start that as an opening line: '"I was mugged by a black guy once but I'm sure other blacks aren't all that bad." Aileen Wuornos was a lesbian who murdered men in Florida. "But I'm sure other lesbians aren't all that bad."' - because it appears that you would rather be RIGHT than care about the person you are talking to.

You certainly haven't read back very far and you have no idea the fear I lived with - but then I have to wonder if you read what I said at all since your response to sharing my experience of having multiple and serial rape as well as sexual abuse from an early age is to throw down "the lesbian murderer" at me. Or a PHRASE about being mugged. You share something with me, something REAL that happened to you and changed you, scarred you and you work daily to overcome and THEN we will have this discussion, because it is NOT academic. I really can't believe you DID come back and try to FORCE me, to browbeat me into being the type of woman you demand I must be - the one YOU WANT - where YOU decide what hangups or limitations I am ALLOWED to have.

You want me to go down every dark ALLEY with anyone now because I am to TRUST and LOVE every male instead of just asking them to look beyond the stereotypes about me as I try to do for them (which you are not really very convincingly doing with your "lesbian" this and "lesbian" that)?

If you are genuinely upset that I got upset because a bunch of people WITH a Y chromosome turned me into a sexbot, then, yeah, don't come here. Because when I need Linda to threaten another stalker with a restraining order, you might get upset about that too. Right now, it would be easy to take your burning need to force me into thinking X about men and say, "Fuck it - they ARE all like that, they ALL will abuse you when you do something to displease them." But I don't believe that is true and I don't know why you are doing this - but I've been upfront about the garbage in my life which is in my head and I struggle against - what is going on with you?

As for your testicles.....never mind - do what you want with them, just not around me thanks.

alphabitch said...

Tom, please consider the possibility that you are over-reacting, or reacting to something that didn't really happen here. At the very least, you might be taking something wildly out of context, and I'm a little baffled.

Elizabeth's post indicated quite clearly in fact that she was struggling to articulate something and not comfortable with what she had come up with. If you had continued to read after you got your knickers all a-twist, you might have noticed that she said as much: "But then the more I worked on the blog piece the more I realized it sounded like 'Men are from somewhere that game consoles are made and Women are from where you learn how to insult each other by saying something that sounds nice to everyone else.'"

Which, like your demand that Elizabeth now prove that she's not a racist, is a nice little reductio ad absurdum -- but a useful one, because it reflects the difficulty many of us -- lesbians or not -- have when we try to reconcile our painful or traumatic past experiences with reality.

Especially if we have PTSD.

See, we do know that it's probably nutty to react to all men as if they are going to hurt us.

Because they most likely won't, especially if they aren't, you know, rapists.

Just as most black men aren't going to mug you and you are right that it would be racist of you to go around acting as if they all will.

Sure the situations are similar on the surface, but might I suggest that being raped is rather different than having your wallet stolen? It's more than a little offensive to suggest that they are equivalent.

Veralidaine said...


I just stopped in after not reading for a couple days, and wow, I guess I missed a HUGE train wreck!

Tom, if you're still reading these comments, as a female who gets along BETTER with men than with most women, I have this to say to you: Calm the heck down. Men are different from women. Women are different from men. Humans fear difference- especially when it's a difference that has hurt them. Nobody here is saying that prejudice against either gender IS justified; just that it exists, and sometimes it happens to you, whether you like it or not.

I think that many men get incensed by negative comments against men simply because there is SO MUCH misandry that does happen and does get ignored in our world, and much of it is in the name of feminism, which makes me cringe- you can't achieve equality just by pushing the pendulum the other way. You also can't achieve equality by making everyone pretend they don't have biases. It's not a see no evil hear no evil thing. You change things ONLY by talking about them. If someone admits to a bias but wants to change it, next time try not reinforcing the bias by behaving so rudely, hmm?


Tom P. said...

Or perhaps Elizabeth thinks what I wrote is offensive, that I am "forcing" her to act a certain way but in reality I am challenging her to be a better person. In this very blog entry, Elizabeth talks about her trying to be a perfect person. But you can't be a perfect person if you expect people to accept you before you are willing to accept them.

And yes, Elizabeth, I'm not a rape counselor and I would suck at being one. First, because I would want to find the guy and kick his ass. And second because all I would do is feed into your anger at THE GUY WHO DID IT.

But seriously, do you want someone to kick you in the ass and challenge you or someone who pats your head and tells you that you are a good little girl and it's OK to be mad at all men? Because if you really can't handle the challenge then I can understand that and I will tone it down. I don't want to offend you, I want you to think. That is why I brought up Wuornos because I wanted it to be personal because sexism is personal. Sexism isn't "Men are better than women." Sexism is "I'm better than Elizabeth because I am a man and she is woman." It is personal.

As far as my own experiences, it took me 20 years to share them with my wife so I'm not about to share them with a stranger on the internet.

Lisa Harney said...

Tom - why did you make Elizabeth's post about you?

Seriously, I'm not trying to gang up here, but Elizabeth admitted she's too biased to write about men in the way she wanted.

Your example about black men is strangely weighted, too. I mean, men are not positioned relative to women in the same way that black people are positioned relative to white people. I don't mean to give it more attention than that, but I just wanted to point out that black people deal with the weight of racism just as women - not men - deal with the weight of sexism. Your example is loaded.

But seriously, what in Elizabeth's second paragraph indicates that it's a shot aimed squarely at you? That she's lashing out at you? If you're being generally decent and kind in this blog, what makes you think that Elizabeth is slamming you personally? What makes that statement about you that you have to take offense and force her to change?

Look at the context: She's talking about the stalkeresque devotees that she posted about the other day. Guys who think they have a claim on her because of her wheelchair, who ask invasive questions, who film and photograph her against her will, and who make unreasonable - coercive - social demands of her if they do strike up a conversation.

Are you one of those guys? No? Then calm down, it's not about you.