April 23, 2012

Forgive me, blog, for I have sinned. It's been several days since my last confession.

This is another long time brewing post with multiple drafts and edits.

Honestly, it's a message I want to type up, print out, fold neatly into an envelope, and then jam down one person's throat. Or as a fellow intern said (in reference to something else), I want to salt and pepper it and make the person EAT IT.

Ok, that sounds intensely violent (should probably stop the Criminal Minds marathon...) but this person's behavior REALLY bothers me. And it's not just this person, tons of people do what this person does in multiple different ways but for some reason I've been unable to cut this particular person totally out.

This person is what I would call "extremely religious". To clarify- there are those with strong religious beliefs. These people follow their religion closely and gain great strength from their practices. Further, they enjoy sharing their experience with others but respect other perspectives enough not push their their practices on other people.

A fabulous example would be an undergraduate friend (I will not mention her name since I didn't get her permission to do so but I'll let her know this is a secret shout-out to her awesomeness). Before I met this person, I'll be honest, I did not have a positive opinion of people with strong religious beliefs nor those who thought external forces controlled their lives. This epic example of a woman (and a woman of God) changed my opinion- frequently she discusses (and continues to on her Facebook statuses) her daily events as being caused or allowed by God/Jesus. But instead of blaming God for misfortune, she sees God's challenges as just that- challenges that will help her become more beautiful, strong, and awesome for things to come. Now, I'm not saying I'm jealous of my friend's connection with the Lord- I'm comfortable with my relationship with him and know that her lifestyle would not really work for me- but I greatly admire and respect her for being epitome of a good person and a good Christian.

Now, granted, there are some not-so-good Christians out there. And I don't mean people like me, whom have a general apathy for their religion, but I mean people like the Westboro Baptist Church. These are the "extremely religious" people I referred to earlier- they take their religious to an uncomfortable extreme. And street goes both ways- the first person whom I mentioned in not-so-nice terms is an extreme Atheist.

Now, he's not going out there and protesting at churches (although I honestly wouldn't put that past him) but in all the time I've known him, he has been constantly speaking out towards those with strong religious beliefs, particularly Christians.

I've even asked him before: if someone's beliefs gives them hope and comfort, why does it matter to you? I don't remember his exact response (since this was probably 2 years ago) but I know that this person operates on science as a religion- something he defiantly believes in as "truth" and the only truth. Those whom do not believe in this one and only truth, are illogical and and, therefore, unworthy of respect. Further, I know this person sees his role in life as someone who must confront those with religion and repent for their illogical behavior.

Because, you know, that's not at ALL what extreme Christians or Muslims or *fill in the blank* do. They NEVER use strong, hurtful language and actions to attack others' personal and spiritual beliefs. Nor do ever they act condescendingly towards people whom have differing beliefs. They always totally love and respect others as being from another walk of life and appreciate them for holding differences opposing them. AND as someone who is a true scientist, this person openly welcomes those to challenge his theories for the more challenges you face, the stronger your theory becomes.

...oh wait, that's not what happens? Oh,... Sciencedamn... (as opposed to God- I know, I'm hilarious).

Let's not even address (heads up- I'm totally about to address it) the fact that science is not ironically not fact at all. Science is a breathing, evolving community with adapting practices like a... a... um,... huh... er... maybe a fucking religion. Seriously. Science used to say the sun revolves around the Earth. And if we go by the idea that science is the truth that means... oh... Sciencedamn! I could continue to illustrate how science has drastically changed throughout the years but that's unnecessary (and let's be real- if my C average in history ass can name more than 2 examples, you know there's a shit-ton more we're missing). Now, I have heard Atheists criticize the religion for the catastrophic things done in the name of religion. Anybody remember the eugenics movement (can we again take a detour to admire this C students recount!)? Thousands of people were made infertile in efforts to weed out genetic imperfections. Scientifically, this makes total sense. Does it make it right? No. But don't PREACH to me about how religion has done historically terrible things in the hands of man.

Religion's not the problem. Man is the problem. For if you remove religion, I promise you man will find a way to hurt and manipulate others. Maybe I'm too Hobbesian (Thomas Hobbes, of course, being a high member in Christianity... oh wait, he was a philosopher) but man is selfish brute and he/she will find a way to do ugly things.

So pot, this is kettle telling you to look in a fucking mirror.

Seriously though, how full of pride do you have to be to not acknowledge that you have the same flaws you cannot stand and sneer upon on a daily basis?! And maybe that's why this person particularly bothers me- people with pride just get under my fucking skin. I'm still doing some self-exploration as to why that bothers me so but it does. I cannot stand those with pride- and I don't mean confidence or a sense of self worth but genuine PRIDE like John Doe from the movie Se7en contemplated using you as part of his master plan. I mean pride as when all those dead white dudes like Dante were sitting around talking shit about prideful people, they were thinking about you but wanted to spare your feelings. I mean pride as in you limp around with no nose because you shot yourself in the foot and cut off your nose to spite your face. Peacocks have nothing on your pride.

Ok, I went a little overboard there...

So why do I continue the vague connections I have with this person? I feel sorry for him. I'm sorry that he does not have the Lord to be his shepherd or Allah as a guide. I'm sorry that he has not found enlightenment from the teachings of the Buddha and will be reincarnated as a lesser being. I'm sorry that he cannot just find comfort in his personal "truth" and let the others explore in their own good time. And I'm sorry that he has chosen to look for all the negatives in the people around him who do have some sense of morality and love, even if it came from a religion. I have no intentions of being my beautiful friend whom walks with the Lord with every step, but I hope to continue to be a more positive example of someone with religion, even if it's only the vaguest amount.

Thank you, I'll get off of my pulpit...
Here's a lambie of God. While browsing through pictures I realized how literally all of our holidays (except maybe New Years) derives from a religion. Thanksgiving and July 4th? Colonists fleeing for religious freedom. Thank you, religion, because I know there are some days when we'd rather not work.

April 22, 2012

I have no witty title

Love that title, right?

So I'm the worst blogger ever. We have established that. BUT I have another idea for a post marinating in my brain so hopefully y'all will not have to wait another 100 years to hear from me.

This post has actually been a long time coming. I've mentioned in some previous post about a rant on gender and here it is. Although it's not in rant-form. Sorry to disappoint.

For those of you who don't know, I consider myself to be androgynous. But let's back up- there IS a difference between "sex" and "gender". "Sex" refers to the biological stuff that if I listed the terms here, some people may giggle reading; in our culture we use the words "man" and "woman". "Gender", however, is social and considered learned. It's the behavioral and personality characteristics our culture attributes to masculinity and femininity (ex: men are seen as aggressive and logical while women are seen as nurturing and passive). "Androgynous" is seen as a gender alternative (instead of "male" or "female") which contains both masculine and feminine personality and behavioral characteristics. For example, a lot of people would describe me as logical and neurotic as well as aggressive (particularly when driving- yikes!) and talkative. Making sense?

Well, last year, a teacher asked for me to explain what my experience was as an androgynous person. Being put on the spot, I went on a micro-rant about people insisting I have children (which may be a future post, who knows) which is not at all the big picture. I felt bad I did not portray my androgynous peoples better. For shame! But a year later, I finally came up with a good answer (ever had wanted to do a Mulligan on a moment in your life? True story.):

Being androgynous is like enjoying country music. I know, follow me on this. It's a quality people cannot tell by looking at you and not always something you mention to people or maybe wouldn't boast about in a given setting but it's a part of you that you appreciate and it defines you. Since it is not an apparent quality, frequently you'll be around people who will talk all sorts of shit on country music and on how much they hate it. Most of the time, you just sit there and hope no one asks why you're not agreeing.

     Similarly, when I'm in a social setting, people assume I agree with them or that I dislike behaviors men do
     because I'm a woman. Further, in mixed company (men and women), men will assume I do not agree with
     or side with a woman's perspective. It's usually when surrounded by women, I become more quiet as I
     debate whether I should speak against them or just get over it. Most of the time I don't speak up and most
     of the time I wish I had.

But maybe there's a time you do speak up and say, "Hey, I like country music." You'll get two responses. One response is someone telling you your wrong... on your opinion... which you just stated as a truth. "You're not wearing cowboy boots or have a cowboy hat so you don't listen to country." Ok, that was a silly example but country fans know what I'm talking about- people ask how you could possibly like country and act like you're unstable and that's the only possible explanation as to why your ears do not bleed (I know this happens because I sometimes do it- sorry!). Another response is the complete opposite where the person recklessly backs up, trying to say they too, enjoy country music, "Oh, yea- I really love the song Red Solo Cup!" Let's be honest, Red Solo Cup is not country- it's just amusing cultural trash and you will never hear me say I enjoy it but I know plenty of people who hold that song as their country music torch. Now, depending on your mood, you may want to slap this person, "Please, you do NOT listen to country music" or you just smile and nod, appreciating that they are trying to understand you when they clearly don't get it.

     With me, I usually (about 60% of the time) get the shut-down. I'm a woman and that makes me female or
     I'm seen as crazy or cold-hearted for agreeing with a male perspective. The other 40% is people who agree
     that they too have the same experience. Really? You just became androgynous in the 2 minutes you've
     known about the concept? Wow. You must be going through some serious crises.

That's the big picture stuff. In the day-to-day, you just see things differently as an androgynous person. Gender (and particularly gender preferences) is everywhere for me. Which brings me to the cute story which fueled this post (several pages later, I know, my bad).

This past weekend my family did our annual tradition of going to Oatlands, Virginia (outside of the sleezburg as we would call it) for cross country timber races, where we gamble, drink, and eat Popeye's. It's a classy event that Paris Hilton tries to get into every year.

THIS year, my aunt decided she needed more entertainment than dad and I drinking and amusing each other with Spongebob Squarepants references (which, of course, we still did) so she invited her friends. Four of which were two middle-aged couples who brought a little 3-year-old each with them. One boy, one girl. Naturally, these two are destined to be together like this is a Disney movie and the little boy tried to pursue the little girl all day- holding her hand, posing with her in pictures- in between stuffing his face with brownies and carrots (a balanced diet). Side note: The boy's father definitely told the boy, "You may want to stop stuffing your face, buddy, it's actually NOT a good way to get the ladies... trust me" as if speaking from experience.

The little girl was NOT into holding hands... unless no one was looking. She would not pose for pictures, and, in fact, hid behind her sunhat (ouch!). She pretended to be interested in another, older, boy, while looking over at the 3-year-old. When the 3-year-old would lose interest and be by his parents, the girl would grab a bunch of carrots and offer them to the boy. The moment his eyes became aglow, grabbing the carrots, that girl would dart off.

Being an awesome wingman, the boy's dad grabbed his son's arm, pulling an iphone out of his pocket. He yelled so the little girl could hear, "HEY! WANT TO WATCH A VIDEO?!" As he grabbed his son (whom was still looking around for the love of his life) and pulled up the video, the girl immediately tottered over, bearing more carrots. The father gave the iphone to his son commenting that it was "like fishing". The son, a novice at this game, immediately handed the phone over to the girl, whom dashed off with it, leaving him baffled.

Now, all us adults watching were laughing our asses off at this transaction. As an androgynous person, I walked off still thinking about this and ultimately became saddened with what had just happened. Here were a solid 7 adults (including myself- if we can call me an adult) reinforcing these two kids what they should be doing (girls resist but maintain connection with food while the boy lures with material goods, ultimately bewildered as to his losses). And as early as the age of 3! That's how early we openly and outwardly tell our kids this is the gender game and this is how you should play as a man/woman. But these kids kind of already knew even before the adults became involved.

And that's my experience as an androgynous person. I see what I should be doing as a woman and I don't get it and go another route which is typically seen as "masculine". To be perfectly honest, I don't know if it is or not nor do I care. I just don't want to be considered feminine or masculine.