History: The Good Kind….June 7, 2015

I was a baby the last time yesterday’s achievement was reached. I was born in 1977. In 1978, Affirmed was the last to win the Triple Crown in my lifetime. As you have noticed, it is now 2015. Finally, a second horse has achieved the elusive Triple Crown again. American Pharoah (no, it was originally misspelled), a 3-year-old colt from Zayat Stables, has won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Yes, you have to win every single one of those races to get the Triple Crown. It is rare that a good event makes headlines in the news. Most of the time, the news is about war, disease, crime, and the like. It can actually get depressing when you look at it. That is why I can usually stand news one half hour a day.

Last time people were so positive was the early days of the year 2000 – and that was only after the panic known as the Y2K glitch, about the way computers displayed the year on the computer-changed in a panic from 2 digits to 4 digits. (I wonder how many of those computers are still running nowadays?) Again, that was followed by controversy, terrorism, war, disease, crime, and the like…I sensed a theme in the news again. The 2000s were basically the decade of fear. (It depended on who you talked to when Obama was elected: there were the black and white dividers, as well as the red-and-blue dividers.)

The end of the Cold War was the time of extreme positivity before that. For the US, basically, it was a time of hope, of peace, of change. It was a time of revolution for most of Eastern Europe. Of course, ending a Cold War, as we soon learned, broke the nations out into Hot Spots (an actual punchline used in a comic strip!). Yugoslavia’s civil war and eventual breakup was very disappointing, as there were such horrid war crimes – and women got the worst of it, with systematic rapes by oppositions for all of them. (Yes, I had to mention that – rape was actually used as a war tactic by all sides. I would not be surprised if ALL the women and girls of the Balkans alive at the time were rape victims.) Another disturbing trend soon to come alive were school shootings, starting in the 1990s. For the record, a school shooting would definitely make headlines, but when does a school Model United Nations team ever make headlines? (Do you even know what that is, by the way? It is so little reported on that I doubt many people do.) Or when does a school’s positive activities get on the front page? This is why I cherish good news headlines – they are so rare.

Good news headlines are so rare, I cherish them. There is a statement made by the news media: “If it bleeds, it leads.” I mean, even in the news broadcast of today, it took four headlines of terrible news to even mention American Pharoah’s Triple Crown victory. That I extremely disturbing. Why do people want to hear such fear and negativity? Or, why does the media seem to think so? You scare the children with the way you currently display news – all that fear and negativity. I was scared throughout the 1980s (my childhood decade) when the news was on. I’m not even sure my mother let me watch it, it scared me so. Only when real historical things were going on was when I watched the news. Good news is rare, and good news is usually pushed to the back of the paper or broadcast. I cherish when it makes headlines, even when it takes 37 years to do it.

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Shaming Bodies, Hating Ourselves

“EAT A SANDWICH!” “LOSE SOME WEIGHT!” “Anorexic.” “With how fat you are, it’s a wonder you got a husband.” These are some of the contradicting statements made on a woman who is “too skinny” or “too fat,” and thereby worthy of shaming. It just really hit me that ALL women, not just us plus-size “big girls” are getting body shaming. I guess it’s a revelation when you learn you are not alone in one fight. I really thought I was alone as I got fat shamed in the comments section of anywhere. My weight is none of your business, thank you, though people seem to think some stranger’s weight is their business. It’s for their health, you say! But is it really for your health, as you claim, or is it because you don’t want to look at it? Is it about THEM, or is it about YOU?

Most of the time, I surmise it is about you. People seem to go after a certain body type because it is too much one way or another. Take, for example, my own guilty actions: I have often compared myself to Keira Knightley (and I’m sorry for doing so), finding myself coming up short. Maybe I should not hold her up on that perfect-body pedestal. Some bloggers called her “anorexic,” which I suspect is not true. My own experience with weight and body is markedly different, but I have known people who can eat double the meat and cheese in a burger than me and not gain a pound. Bodies are different, people! Why are we shaming them when they are similar or different? I haven’t been this objectively cruel to Melissa McCarthy or Tess Holliday (though others have), but why be cruel in the first place? to anybody?

I suspect, as I learn through apology blogs (like this one), that this is a personal-societal condition called “training the woman to hate herself in order to keep me (the man) in power.” Now, women are trained to hate their looks by being gotten to obsess on them. A good example of this is Caitlyn Jenner. For those who do not know, Caitlyn Jenner is the woman Bruce Jenner is transitioning into. Before, as Bruce, the media focused on the courage it took to confess what was in “his” heart. After Caitlyn emerged, however, it was all about “her” looks that people talked about. We are well-trained, from birth, what to value in a person, especially where gender is concerned. In women, it is clearly looks and caretaking, or measuring up to the Great Standard of Beauty. In men, it is strength and money making, or the Great Protector-Provider stereotype. Both genders are taught to shallowly measure a person’s worth by these Grand Illusions, these theoretical and clearly non-existent people. I am looking for this from a woman’s viewpoint, but I wanted to get out that men fall down under the weight of their own Grand Illusion as well. In relating to the woman’s view, she is taught to obsess about her looks, because that is her apparent value – as a DNA packet and child-bearer, because her worth is in bearing children and…no, that’s it. Bearing children, preferably sons. I am not liking this kind of thinking. It does not help anyone to measure them up to a standard they will fail anyway. But if they do, people will automatically assume that people cheated to make that standard, such as through eating disorders for women, or steroids for men. People, by these impossible, unattainable measurements, are taught to hate themselves and each other, and they do. As a result, we get nasty internet comments, because we need to spread around this hate and make others as miserable as we ourselves are.

I hope I have enlightened you on people’s general tendency toward keyboard bullying.

What If People With Autism Are Actually Hyperfunctional?

This is a really interesting way to see Autism. I’m reblogging. Guest Blogger: Time Magazine

TIME

Most people who think about autism think of people who struggle or are inept in some ways, especially when it comes to social behaviors. But there’s growing evidence that the autistic brain may actually be more super-wired to detect and absorb cues from the outside world.

Now, a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience suggests that the brains of people with autism are actually hyperfunctional rather than stunted or impaired, and that if treated early in a very predictable environment, symptoms could diminish.

In 2007, researchers Kamila Markram, Henry Markram, and Tania Rinaldi developed an alternative theory for what autism is, called the “Intense World Syndrome.” They believe that autism is not some form of mental deficit, but that the brain is actually supercharged and hyperfunctional. This makes stimuli overwhelming to people with autism, causing them to socially and emotionally withdraw as a mode of self-protection.

In…

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The Duggars, The Jenners, And The Growing Exodus From Christianity

Remember the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:23-25).

john pavlovitz

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Sometimes revelation comes in just 140 characters.

Tonight I had another Christian tell me on social media that he was okay with Josh Duggar fondling young girls “because he repented”, but has a big problem with Caitlyn Jenner, who he said was willingly sinning and being “sexually deviant.” The former he sees as a typically flawed believer restored and deserving of our forgiveness, the latter as an unrepentant, dangerous presence in the world who needs to be condemned and called out.

As we talked more, my virtual friend’s comments clarified the duplicity of his position: a child molester is excused because he’s said sorry to God (even though he and his family concealed the activity until recently exposed), however a transgender individual is clearly immoral by openly seeking to be the most authentic version of herself she believes is possible. One engages in criminal activity and still gets the benefit of the doubt, while the other operates completely within the law and is still vilified…

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Black Widow Left Out of Avengers Movie Toy Line

Remember when I told you how mad I was at the fact that my brother did not get the girl action figure in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles set? I wanted to play, too. I had to do a makeshift action with a She-Ra doll I found among some trash in the alleyway near my house. Don’t they see that girls want to play with superpowers? Those emotions of feeling left out came flooding back when I learned that Disney and Marvel purposely left out making Black Widow and Scarlet Witch action figures for the Avengers movies.

Alright, Disney. Where in the world is my Black Widow action figure?! I know you did not make them because the Avengers was apparently a “boys’ thing.” But, there are some girls out there who actually LIKE playing and pretending with superpowers. Did Elsa from Frozen not teach you that? I am very, very disappointed in you, Disney and Marvel. I know you think girls cannot comprehend the utter coolness of super powers – but you are wrong. Completely, willfully, ignorantly, WRONG. Magical powers is an offshoot of super powers. I know there are women out there who agree with me, whether they be Lana Wachowski or Adrianne Curry. Do you not realize that half the world is women? It is time to acknowledge that they exist, and they want to play with superhero action figures, too. The want to see themselves with powers, and abilities. I hope you can get your heads out of the Dark Ages and see that someday. For now, I will stay mad until I get a Black Widow or Scarlet Witch action figure.

Trans….

When I saw Caitlyn Jenner’s reveal in the Vanity Fair pictures, I was stunned-in a good way. She’s here! She’s Caitlyn! She’s gorgeous! Well, maybe her looks are not what we should focus on. I mean, who is Caitlyn Jenner? It would be nice to know her, I mean really know her as a person. Seeing a person transition genders is one thing, but having it in your family is another. I have a transgender, female-to-male (F2M) sibling. I will not reveal his names, because he has chosen to exclude me from his life, but I wish I could without provoking ire. This is my experience with my sibling:

Some night in 2006…and THREE-THIRTY IN THE MORNING…we get a phone call. We’re not exactly ready to get up and answer it, so the answering machine picks it up. The message we get (Well, the gist anyway)…

“I’m not afraid of you anymore. I’m transgender, and have decided to live life as a man.”

I suspect he was drunk when he made the phone call. Why else would he wait until it was THREE-THIRTY IN THE MORNING our time to give us a phone call? Let’s give some background to it: We live in central-eastern Kentucky (Eastern Time), and he lives in California (Pacific Time). He would know full well it was THREE-THIRTY IN THE MORNING where we were when he called, unless there was something screwing with his knowledge. He’s smart – unless alcohol might have been involved. Nobody is smart when they’re drunk. My suspicions had been confirmed, though I never told anybody about them, and had them for quite some time. He had given his phone identity a masculine name. Why else would a very intelligent woman do that? His phone message also had a somewhat different, but still masculine, name.

Anyway, this opened up a world I had suspected for some time. My mother had seen signs beforehand as well, and began putting them together. You see, when he was still a she, she never placed too much interest in a doll unless it was either a boy, or it bore her name. Also, she never really had much interest in very girly things. Now, nobody I know is expected or encouraged to follow in a classical “feminine mystique” stereotype anymore, especially thanks to feminism and a growing awareness of genderfluidity, but she never really got into feminine things unless there was peer pressure involved, or someone showed a rival affection (for another day). Here is a classic example: My born-male brother had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I got mad that there was a girl made for the set, but he never got it. (I had to play along with a She-Ra doll I found in the alley near my house.) My little sister, however, had no problem taking on this Ninja Turtle, or that Ninja Turtle. She had no problem playing boys. We never thought anything of it until that night, though.

That night, some of our world changed, but the rest stayed the same. I mean, my new brother excluded us from his life, and told us that or sister was “dead.” But it is torture for a person who shared so much of your life to say that there is this new dimension to them, AND NOT INVITE YOU TO SEE IT! That is what offends me the most; the fact that he won’t let me love him as the brother he wanted me to see all along.

People think that Kris Jenner is being selfish for feeling left out of Bruce/Caitlyn’s life decisions. Far be it from me to pity, but within transgender families, there is a sort of grieving period for the former person’s goals and potential. Nobody told us to expect It, but my mother felt the grieving more than I did. I seemed to go through the grieving period rather mildly, and during my time of suspicion, to get ready for something coming around the corner. Perhaps I was getting ready for it faster than she did, but everybody has their own timetable in this experience.

In all of this, here is what I would say to my F2M brother:

I love you. I will always love you. I also respect your decisions. Please, let me get to know this new you, so I can judge for myself if I want you in my life, but I probably will.

The Myths Persist

“But you don’t look/act/seem autistic!” I still get this a lot. I have learned to laugh at it, but there seems to be a misconception that I have overcome autism, or that I am less in control of my specific decisions than I really am. These are myths, and the myths persist. Like cockroaches, these false conceptions about autism and autistics continue to give me a headache. They also continue to make a neurotypical person (if you have to ask, you are one) think I am not autistic. I got my diagnosis from the University of California, Los Angeles, where they are serious about autism diagnosis and treatment. I would like to expose the myths that persist about autistic people and my experience with them. How many of these have you fallen for?

Myth 1.  Autistic People Are All Alike / Autistic People Are All Like “Rain Man” or (Insert person here)

Saying that autistic people are all like this one person or that one person (NO) is just as false and damaging as saying Hispanic people are all illegal immigrants (NO), or that all men are dogs (NO). People often expect “Rain Man” or Temple Grandin when I mention autism. We are all as different as we can be.

Myth 2.  Autistic People Don’t Have Feelings

Personally, I have often run out of the room to cry out of anger, sadness or frustration. I have even experienced happiness too intensely at times. Remember, we are processing things different from the neurotypical mind. For example, I do not watch “Real Housewives of…” because it makes me want to hit somebody out of stress or anger. Also, on empathy: I have often cried or felt sad when someone frowns or cries on the TV or movie screen. How much more empathic can I be?

  1. Autistic People Don’t Build Relationships

I struggle with this one all the time. I am currently looking for a man to love. I have, in the past, though, had my share of boyfriends, and been praised as a good girlfriend.

  1. Autistic People Are a Danger to Society

Here are the most common reasons somebody with autism may strike somebody:

  1. Frustration – usually after another sign, such as crying or shrieking
  2. Sensory Overload – This is “fight or flight” response
  3. Stress – Like the above “Real Housewives” scenario I mentioned

There is very little action out of malice. However, autistic people are often victims of hate violence.

  1. All Autistic People Are Savants

I lost much of my “savanthood” as I became more social, and my speech became more neurotypical, and I became more well-rounded. I used to be a spelling savant, by the way. Does this make me less autistic? Of course not.

  1. Autistic People Have No Language Skills

There are some autistic people who talk so much, you can’t get a word in edgewise. While it is true some of us remain nonverbal, most of us eventually learn language, but often at a later age than neurotypicals.

  1. Autistic People Can’t Do Much of Anything

This one just burns my biscuits. What if you could draw upon their special interest? I have seen innovative, creative works come out of autistic people since the diagnosis. This is probably where the savanthood myth comes from. Also, saying “My child would never…” is severely disappointing to the child themselves. Also, I held a job down at In-N-Out Burger for SIX YEARS. Not months, YEARS. I was a respected worker among the people there, too.

  1. Autistic People Do Not Like To Be Touched

This is one that is usually portrayed in media. Maybe the one who does not like to be touched have a sensory issue. Sensory issues can go the other way, to liking touch a little too much. I love being touched. It has gotten me into trouble in the past. Contact me privately if you want details.

  1. 9. There is an Autism Epidemic

When you cast a wider net for fish, you catch more fish. The “epidemic” began at about the same time the criteria for autism spectrum disorders was widened to include atypical and female autistics, plus higher people on the spectrum.

Why don’t you tell me more myths that seem to pervade your experience with neurotypicals? Or, if you’re neurotypical, ask me if something about autism is myth or fact? We can come to a greater understanding together.