amorpha: (Default)
[personal profile] amorpha
(Please note that the vast majority of this post was written through a crapload of brainfog whose exact source we can't figure out, and may have something to do with recent medication adjustments, but is not responding to any of our usual techniques for even mitigating it. Please bear with us. Thank you.

Also we are not actually on Tumblr because we can't figure out how to use it, and are kind of glad we're not at this point, but have noticed the existence of various clusterfucks going past various people we know.)

There are certain things in the world which other people insist are there, that we don't seem to be able to perceive.

The most significant ones aren't actually the ones that most non-autistic people would assume are there-- like certain kinds of body language, "that person was signalling all through that conversation that you were being rude and you didn't see it!", things like that. Which isn't to say those things haven't happened to us-- especially being torn up after the fact because we didn't pick up a certain "indirect" message someone else insisted was there.

But all those things seem to pale into insignificance when compared with the ones we're thinking of.

One of them is the idea that there are people in the world who don't really qualify as people. That although they may seem to us to be communicating and doing things meaningfully, they're just some kind of shell without a "real" mind in it-- that everything that looks purposeful is just a "reflexive" movement, or "imitating others." (And somehow it's assumed that they can imitate others without really having a mind in the way other people do, when imitation in mammals is generally considered a pretty sophisticated behavior which absolutely requires some form of self-awareness and reasoning.)

We have also experienced this when trying to write about our problems with the stuff we've called language dickery before, when someone else thought we were seeing the same thing they did, but we couldn't perceive the thing they were comparing it to at all. Like with people who are seen as having no minds and no personhood, there's this entire category of people someone else is telling us exists, who have specific ideas and attitudes, but we can't perceive them as existing.

One of the reasons we don't like to talk about our problems with the way language is handled in some communities is that people will come in and use it to soapbox about how much they hate a group of people whose existence or attributes we can't perceive. Talking about how much they hate "politically correct people," or "the activist mind," or some particular group (feminists, GLBT self-advocates, etc) that we may have our own problems with but NOT for the reasons another person does and is wrongly assuming we share, with various alleged attributes that we... cannot see, and have never really been able to. (As an overall group thing, not in individual people.)

And we avoid it because over the last few years of our life, we've found it really difficult to engage in arguments with people who insist that X group of people all have a certain attribute, when we can't perceive this, and we don't enjoy being put on the spot just so someone can declare us to be somehow defective because we can't perceive these things.

But there's another kind of person-- or more specifically, a certain attribute to various groups of people that we know exist, even if they are not much like the people who insist they have this imperceptible attribute are saying they are.

We were talking recently with someone who was trying to come up with a word for it, and the best they could come up with was "hateability." That certain groups of people, by virtue of something intrinsic about them and what they believe about themselves and how they express themselves, are just inherently hateable. And do not deserve any better treatment than to be mocked, kicked and spat on by the rest of society.

And I'm not talking about, like, rapists or child molesters or terrorists or any of the kinds of people that many people would list if you asked them which kinds of people they consciously believed were inherently hateable. This seems to be something that takes place on a mostly subconscious level and then just explodes out of people when they're exposed to a certain person or idea, even if up until that point, they wouldn't have thought to put that person on the list of people they thought were inherently hateable.

I can name some well-known groups that seem to get the hateability treatment. Disabled people who dare to "act weird" in public, to stim or make the same noises repeatedly and do it in such a way that nobody around them can pretend they don't exist. Homeless people get it too, and people on welfare. The idea of a person ending up in a bad situation because they were "just lazy" or "didn't want to work/clean their apartment/stay clean/etc" (whether that was what really happened or not) seems to turn on the hateability thing full blast, at least for a lot of people in Western culture (or at least specifically mainstream US historically-Protestant culture, as that's the one we have most experience with; can't speak for people in other countries). So does the idea of a person who deliberately behaves in an unusual way to "get attention" (again, whether this is what's really happening or not).

But I've also seen this thing, this angry, raging wish that another group of people would just stop existing, or die in some horrible way, explode out of people at groups that aren't remotely as well-known. Or just the idea of them.

We've encountered it because, among many other groups, there are a lot of people who seem to perceive plurals in this way. Any form of "more than one identity," really. We've seen it directed against trans people who have an identity that doesn't uphold traditional Western gender binaries, even from-- sometimes especially from-- other trans people. Anything that is about people who do not identify with their bodies or culturally/socially-assigned identities seems to trigger it in A LOT of people. Even those who can put aside a little bubble of separate logic in their mind for some kinds of trans people. (Often justifying it to themselves with "well, it's okay, but it's okay BECAUSE some research suggests there's a biological difference between cis and trans people's brains and so they can't choose it." Oh, and raging exploding hate from some GLB people against people who say they consciously chose to have a non-heterosexual orientation.)

This post summed a lot of it up pretty well here, about how this plays out in the trans community: A lot of that matches our views/perceptions of this stuff very closely. One of the things we've seen the recent Tumblr fail being directed at is people who identify with the labels of BIID or transabled. And at people whose self-identity and body map corresponds most closely to some kind of nonhuman being, whatever word they choose to call it by.

The thing is that much like some of the more failtastic debates we've seen over trigger warnings, the making of snarky predictions, "what next, being told I can't mention the color pink because you claim it triggers you?" (hypothetical example, but based on similar ones we've seen)-- we've seen all this before. And most of the people involved in it right now apparently haven't. Which makes it exponentially more frustrating for us to deal with, because we have seen all this play out before, with no resolution, with similar angry accusations on both sides, from people who claimed to care about upholding justice/protecting survivors/ending abuse/etc. There were some pretty vicious debates about it in (mostly) MPD/DID-focused multiplicity communities about ten or twelve years ago. And a lot of flaming, a lot of insulting, and... no resolution, in the end. (And we weren't innocent of being overly snarky on the "but any random thing you could think of is probably a trigger for someone SOMEWHERE" side, either, back then.)

But also...

It's like periodically, whole groups of people will discover the existence of people who identify as multiple but not in the MPD/DID model, and people with self-images and body maps that aren't human, and people who don't identify with their bodies or a culturally normative identity model in some other way.

And act like they are the first ones ever to discover these people exist.

And also jump to the conclusion that these people have only come to exist very recently, that if they had existed before they would have known of them.

And get ragingly outraged about their existence for some reason or another, and point them out to other people practically bludgeoning them over the head to laugh at, hate, and be outraged by these people and wish they would die. (I can't easily convey everything that we're using the term "hateability" to mean, but it incorporates all those things and then some.)

Flashback about nine or ten years, we were in some social groups where some people would periodically "discover" all of these same things, often through snark websites that misquoted or paraphrased them, and link us to them with "clever" commentary like "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA" or "THESE PEOPLE ACTUALLY EXIST, THIS IS NOT A JOKE."

And expect us to react to...

Well, to one of those things we can't perceive. Whatever it is that is causing other people to have the "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, GO DIE NOW" reaction. Because whatever the hell it is, we can't remotely perceive it. The worst thing we could ever even come up with to say about Otherkin, one of the groups that frequently get this reaction-- the worst thing we actually had to say, that is, not just when we were talking shit about people out of fear of what would happen if we didn't-- was something like "Well, I think some people may be deciding they aren't human because they think some of the things they do aren't traits that humans can have or do, and I think the human condition is more diverse than they think it is."

Although it's damn hard to manage even that when you're hiding in the closet about at least one of your own "weird" forms of identity, and terrified that if you do come out, your alleged friends will respond by making snark pages about you and saying you deserve to be beaten to death in a gutter somewhere. (For the curious, we were in the closet as plural at the time. Which was one of the things that we saw snarked about on various websites that everyone except us seemed to think were so funny. Usually with either an approach of "these people are making this up for attention, and if someone does that, they deserve to be laughed at and die" or "that's not what REAL MPD/DID is like, I have a relative who works with Those People, these people are all clearly faking for attention.")

Some people will probably be surprised to know that there were communities ten years ago for people who identified as multiple but not with the MPD/DID model. Or started out identifying with it initially but later decided it was inadequate to describe their lived experience. Or even who did identify with it but just didn't want to integrate and had decided they worked better as a team than they would as one person. (There were pretty epic flamewars in some of those communities, too. We kind of WISH we could forget those at times.)

And people being surprised over that is... it's another one of those things that baffles us. There's something bound up in the surprise, something underlying the conclusions, that we can't perceive, or never really considered seriously. The whole idea that if you have never heard of this group of people before, they must be some extremely new, frivolous, attention-seeking phenomenon. (I don't know how many people would be surprised to know that in the 19th century, there were some doctors who wrote about co-conscious plurals-- that the idea that "if they can communicate with each other, it's not REAL MPD!" is a modern myth. Or that in the 60s and 70s, there were communities for people who identified as what would be considered Otherkin today. Or that there were 19th-century cases of people whose primary identity was as someone they believed they had been in a past life, who made this their full-time identity.)

Because for some reason, one of the other gigantic piles of fail that seems to go along with these reactions, is the idea that anyone identifying as multiple or Otherkin or transabled or whatever basically just pulled the idea out of their ass or someone else's, that they have no interest in and don't care about the historical context of this stuff, or its social implications. That no one is ever in the closet, for some reason. (Which is incomprehensible to us. We have close relatives who've been badly abused in the psych system-- please note we are not saying that people can't have therapy or medication if they want it, we're just saying that the psych systems of most "developed" countries are horribly broken power-wise-- and have had bad encounters with things like therapists who wanted to integrate us, and were terrified of things like involuntary commitment. To this day, our biological family do not know about us, not as us.)

That none of us can see that "the personal is political," that whether we like it or not, our identities-- the ones we could choose and the ones we couldn't-- ripple outwards and have repercussions in everything surrounding us. Or that if we "really" understood this, we would immediately give up all the forms of identity that other people consider hateable, whether it would be easy or even plausible for us to do so. (Integration didn't work for us, and made us a lot more messed-up than we were before we tried it.)

But anyway, yeah, the idea that no one who has a self-identity considered hateable by the dominant culture would ever possibly, gasp, be HIDING it from others. Because they've seen too many people going "OMG, OMG, LOOK WHAT I JUST FOUND. LOOK WHAT THESE PEOPLE BELIEVE. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I HOPE THEY ALL DIE IN HORRIBLE ACCIDENTS OR AT LEAST GET STERILIZED."

And somehow, joking about sterilization is not at all unfunny, ableist, offensive, or sick in this context, when the inmates of asylums and people deemed insane, feeble-minded, etc were among the many diverse groups of people subjected to involuntary eugenic sterilization in the late 19th and 20th centuries, in the US and other countries. Especially when the people who have decided you're hateable will swing wildly back and forth between declaring that you and people like you are "really mentally ill," or that you're "just faking it" and therefore "insulting real mentally ill people" (never mind how many symptoms they'd consider signs of Real Mental Illness you may have experienced about other things). It seems to come down to people choosing whichever view of you they think makes you look more hateable.

Another thing that has bothered the hell out of us: seeing POC who identify as otherkin or plural being told that they are either just pretending to be POC, or that it's apparently intrinsically somehow wrong for them to be POC and identify as these things. Much along the lines of "you can't be trans and otherkin at the same time, and if you do you're doing trans wrong!" attacks. I've actually seen some very thoughtful analyses of the ways these identities intersect, by people who experience them. But you'll never actually be able to see what a person is really saying or who they even are when you have a giant block of hateability sitting between you and them.

For whatever it's worth, some of the plural systems we've been closest with have been bodily POC or from multiracial backgrounds. And yes, we've visited or lived with them enough to know that they are not homg a fakin white person. (Though people who are multiracial already get enough crap if other people decide they "look too white," as though skin color is anything remotely close to a good proxy for judging what someone's genetic background is, and that they must therefore be faking, appropriating, etc. And we have seen people use this as a form of hateability too, like "ha ha you faker, you're just another privileged white person claiming to be 0.001% Native American 'cause you think it's cool," even when they have documented family history supporting what they say about themselves.)

This seems to be a concept that astonishes people who believe any form of plural identity ever must be connected intrinsically to a very specific psychiatric model that was popular for a few decades and mostly applied to white middle-class women (some of whom were really multiple, some of whom were just talked into it by their doctors). Or that anyone who can say, when they think they're safely protected on the Internet from having their legal identity discovered, "I'm multiple and it's not a disorder for me" is just frivolously seeking attention, or "appropriating the experience of mental illness." (Except when they HAVE been through absolute fucking hell with various other things considered to be mental illness, y'know.) And is never, ever shit terrified that one day, someone just might connect it to their legal identity, but they keep saying what they can, when they can, because the alternative is silence.

It would also probably surprise many people to know that there are closed communities in which people who identify as plural discuss the social and ethical repercussions of having identities that don't match their bodies. Like having system members of a different sex than the physical body or the system's overall front gender identity, or people who are disabled in the way the body is not, or who identify with ethnicities or cultures that the body is not part of. (Despite the fact that plurals with system members identifying with other cultures have been described in medical literature at least as far back as the 18th century. But again, when people decide someone is inherently hateable, they also often seem to assume that no one ever does extensive research into the history of people like themselves. Which is again weird and incomprehensible. We've been digging up stuff like this from old medical journals from the moment we realized our identity was political whether we liked it or not.)

And questioning whether it is wrong, whether it is appropriation, if a person's identity can be forcibly changed, how voluntary any of this is to begin with. But, again, if all that people are seeing is attempts at developing clumsy makeshift words like "transabled" or "transethnic" (which we saw, YET AGAIN, more of the "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOOK WHAT I FOUND" response to recently, from people allegedly deeply committed to "justice"), rather than the extremely complex and nuanced and often productive thoughts that can come out of sharing your experience with others-- including people who are bodily something you're not-- they won't perceive any of this.

And it's not that we haven't seen this manifest in problematic ways in the plural community. Definitely not. Absolutely not. We HAVE seen groups who had system members who were basically walking talking stereotypes-- including of some things we were and they weren't, bodywise, like autistic. And have had discussions with other multiples about how we as a community should address those things. But it's damn hard to even develop a working plan of how to address it when it has to be mostly done in secrecy, so people won't link to you going "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, THESE PEOPLE SUCK."

Or people who link selectively only to certain things in order to create a very specific image of your group-- who link to the worst examples, the most extreme examples, the people claiming they're being persecuted on levels they're really not. It's ironic (in the real sense, not the snarky hipster sense) that people use this technique in the process of claiming we aren't a real valid marginalized group, when it so often is used against various marginalized groups to shut them up.

For instance we recently saw a few people talking about discussions in the Otherkin community where the term "human privilege" had supposedly been used. But no links to where it had actually been used, or estimates of how many people who identified as Otherkin had actually used it, versus the total number of people who identified that way.

And we have definitely seen people grabbing really clumsily onto various aspects of "social justice" language, especially from the trans community (and using overly binary/dualistic models) and trying to apply them to all other forms of not identifying with one's body or assigned identity. And we have looked at it and thought, "This isn't the right way to do it."

But we also ended up with the impression that part of the problem was that those models and ideologies were inherently imperfect and being strained to their breaking point.

And actually the first time we had that thought was not when we heard a rumor that someone had used the term "human privilege," it was when we saw someone use the term "non-survivor privilege." (And we actually do identify as abuse survivors.) And had an... overall pattern problem with how groups and divisions of privilege seemed to be getting cut down into smaller and smaller divisions, rather than understanding that power and privilege are things that are constantly dynamic and changing depending on what situation a person is in.

And that the existing models and terminology simply don't work past a certain level of how complicated and fluctuating things can get, although we continue to use it anyway because the alternative, for now, is silence. And writing all that dynamic/fluxing stuff off as "intersectionality" and "kyriarchy" doesn't do it for our brain either, though we have used the word intersectionality for the same reason we use a bunch of the other ones.

And we think one of the reasons it's difficult for us to perceive this nebulous attribute of hateability that so many people seem to see, is because our brain just doesn't do well with general binary, dualistic, models that are based on resolving everything down to small boxes and rigid divisions. And trying to capture the entire dynamicism of how power and prejudice work, with word sets inherently based in that kind of worldview, is like swimming against a very, very strong current, one that will push you under eventually if you keep trying to swim against it for long enough.

Basically our brain seems to do better with complementary thinking than with dualistic, hierarchal-style thinking. And after a certain point of trying to shove it into our head, everything just falls apart into a total mess where we can't even use language clearly any more.

(That paper, BTW, is very worth reading even if we don't agree with every single last one of the author's conclusions, and at times he uses language in ways we can't understand. We've been making some notes about how this stuff applies to plurality in general, and about how we often have to reduce our experience to an oversimplified dualistic model rather than, as the paper puts it, "the holistic, relational diversity of being and becoming"-- which is much closer to how we really experience each other in-system, than psychiatric models of discrete "splits" and rigid boundaries.

Some people who work best within that complementary kind of thinking are okay with something resembling a unitary "I" (which does not necessarily entail making rigid self/other distinctions), and for whatever reason, we were not-- all that was in us, that has been in us, that will be in us, in this body and brain and (if you believe in them) our soul(s) and their various components, are best lived as many people rather than even a vague-unitary I. It's the right way for us to live.

And I also want to mention because of the accusations of appropriation we've seen flying around in this recent stuff-- in saying that, we aren't claiming to totally understand, or be part of, any of the cultures the author cites as contrast to Western scientific thinking. Just pointing out that complementary-style thinking works for other stuff as well, and saying it works better for you doesn't necessarily equal claiming membership or total understanding of cultures that tend to work from it, or that you somehow qualify for honorary membership in them because of it or anything like that.)

But one thing I have noticed is that a lot of the experiences and identities that people seem to regard as hateable in Western culture, are often best approached through complementary rather than hierarchal, dualistic thinking. That after a point, any attempts to apply it to them will crumble and fall apart because of the intrinsic nature of what the experiences are.

So yeah, I think that some Otherkin we've met, for instance, would do better with a less dualistic model of themselves. On the other hand, many of the people we've seen raging about them, and similar groups, could stand to calm the fuck down and consider that some of them are basically fumbling around with words trying to badly describe an experience that the culture they grew up in, hasn't handed them the best models for understanding.

And... that's about all the words we can string together about it. For now. We have more but we need to edit them into something understandable and currently because of the brainfog we can write a lot more than we can read, and being able to edit would require having reading comprehension we don't have right now.

(And we are screening comments on that post, but that does not mean we don't want people to comment, or to link it if they think it would be genuinely helpful to link it somewhere. I just am not going to let people use the comments here as a soapbox to spew hate against any of the kinds of people mentioned in this post, or for people pity-mongering with otherizing descriptions of various people they've known. We will not do dueling "I suffered at the hands of My Mentally Ill Exes/Relatives more than you did!" oppression olympics crap. And we know from our personal experience that even describing our psychiatrically labeled relatives in what we thought were relatively neutral terms, can bring people swooping down on us to go "oh you poor thing, how terrible that you had to live with that," which is NOT the view we take of ourselves and our life, or want others to take.)

-Tamsin, Julian and Riel (with a lot of echolalic "I" thrown in for good measure, when we had views in common. That's what happens when your brain doesn't primarily navigate the world with words to begin with and your identity isn't acknowleged or validated by the culture around you.)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-02-13 10:30 am (UTC)
fascination: A bicycle attacking someone, with the caption 'Vicious cycle'. (Vicious cycle.)
From: [personal profile] fascination
I've been trying to formulate a reply to this for a while that goes beyond, 'hey, I definitely agree with this!' or echolalic repetition of what has already been said.

I've noticed the 'hateability' as well, although I haven't used the same wording for it. The idea that someone's identity is so 'weird' and 'freaky' that it must have several people ganging up and laughing at it or going out of their way to harass others about the fact that they dare have an identity that doesn't fit into the traditional Western norms. Psychiatric language is clumsily applied to it, even if it doesn't always fit (and it's most galling with trans people—as I've said multiple times, even the psychiatric community doesn't condemn transgender people, even nonbinaries, to the extent that these hateful people do). And there just...seems to be a lack of willingness for these people to reconsider how identity works, and whether a monistic, black-and-white view is even always appropriate for most people. They just sit there with their preconceived notions, and are unwilling to think about the impact that these notions have on people who may be outside of them. You're Wrong, with a capital W. How dare you experience more than one mind within a body; that's crazy talk. How can you identify with wolves or other nonhuman animals? You're clearly insane. How can you want to transition? You're clearly convinced that you're something other than what you actually are. And 'what you actually are' is always an assigned sex, or something else that someone is told to be growing up, not something they come to realise after they've developed enough to be able to analyse their identity, and come up with a mature conceptualisation of who they are, and how they should move through the world. 'What you really are' is always arbitrary, a conceptualisation of you that is created before you really have much of a say in the matter, and that is probably one of the most disturbing things about 'hateability' and the 'you must have a one-to-one correspondence with certain physical characteristics OR YOU ARE CRAZY AND NEED TO BE CURED!' mentality.

I feel uncomfortable with the clumsy use of social-justice language applied to groups like otherkin, as well. Not that otherkin aren't being attacked by the people who do consider their identities 'hateable', but that as all of you have said, the metaphors are stretched thin. They work well when talking about racial, gender or sexual-orientation oppression, but with subjective identities like otherkin or fictivity within plural systems, it really doesn't work in the same way. I feel that these people are trying to find some framework to discuss their difficulties being accepted within various communities, and because the culture of Tumblr social justice/identity acceptance tends towards privilege checklists and clear Privileged/Oppressed Hierarchies, they use this language and philosophy to describe their own experiences, even if it isn't as effective as taking another tack. Social influences have a lot to do with it, as does the lack of discussion about subjective identity and its nature within most parts of Western culture. In fact, one of our primary criticism of the 'plurality CANNOT EXIST WTF BBQ' school of thought is that the straight one-to-one correspondence between body and mind is a Western cultural trope, rather than an immutable reality that has existed throughout all time. I know that this applies to gender identity as well—the 'only two genders that always correspond with genitalia and chromosomes and can never be altered or fluctuate' is an idea that is related to a particular set of cultural stereotypes, and doesn't apply to all cultures that people have ever belonged to.

I don't think that hierarchical, dualistic thinking applies well to 'hateable' identities, either. My primary issue is with strict, black-and-white 'sceptical' (I put it in quotation marks, because I feel that this sort of 'scepticism' is often just as dogmatic as religious fundamentalism, except that it has an 'academic' or 'scientific' veneer over it) thinking, and how it's used to criticise identities that are based in something else other than genotype or phenotype. The problem with this sort of thinking is that it views cognition as a black box, or as something that's subordinate to genetic configurations and the phenotypes that those genes switch on in people, rather than identity formation as a psychological or philosophical construct, or how people can logically view themselves as being separate or different from their bodies without necessarily being 'deluded'.

They're missing the nuance. Identities have to be simple and black-and-white for them to be real.

This is such a dangerous philosophy, and there are some days and nights when I think about it and I get frustrated enough that I can't think straight, which is usually a reminder for me to get the fuck off Tumblr or avoid forums/media that aren't designated safe spaces.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-02-18 05:06 pm (UTC)
equationhouse: - (Blue)
From: [personal profile] equationhouse
We just wanted to say thank you for writing this. That is all.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-02-19 12:31 am (UTC)
sakurablossom: pink sakura blossom dessert (Phoenix autumn)
From: [personal profile] sakurablossom
I also read your entry and wanted to thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-12 04:50 am (UTC)
fauve: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fauve
so many hits, so few misses.
a solid post.


amorpha: (Default)

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