Monday, September 2, 2013
Bang and Snatch: Some thoughts on Navigating the World
I've had a really difficult time writing things recently. To an extent I feel battered and bruised, worn and tired. Some of it is my job - I have an emotionally taxing job - but right now I think more of it is a series of very complicated blog posts on Freethought Blogs, and my own trying to figure out how to balance justice and pain. Somewhat ironically, I'm finding a lot of them crystallizing like rock candy around a series I'm peculiarly fond of - Once Upon a Time. One of the interesting things about the show is how it works its villains; through a combination of the past and the present, initially crossing between worlds (the mythological land of The Enchanted Forest, and a version of our modern era), and then later just between times (the past and present in various places). The challenging thing about it is that despite there being antagonists - and antagonists who do really, really horrible things - there is no one who is transparently, baselessly "evil". It is a story of fairy tales, but ones where the motivations layer over and over each other until you have to actually face simultaneously liking and disliking people - where even the purest spirit becomes blackened and even the darkest has value.I have some argument with how the blackening of one of the purest characters came about - it seemed grossly out of character - but I can't deny that the subsequent episodes where this has remained cogent have been intensely moving and thought provoking.
Two things on Freethought Blogs are standing out to me as very similar, one antagonists born of willful ignorance and the other antagonists born of pain. One is a double set of posts of Jen's about racism called: "On silencing anger to silence minority opinions" and the follow up: "Mandisa Thomas adds some pertinent information"; the brief version - Mandisa, a black woman, gave a talk on what the atheist movement could learn from the hospitality industry. During the question and answer segment, Judy, a white woman, asks an entirely unrelated question about what Mandisa is doing about "black on black crime" (for those unaware, statistically most crime happens within racial lines in the US due to the tendency of people to either be segregated or self-segregate; that is, "white on white" crime is as serious a problem as "black on black" crime, but only the latter is a talking point). Mandisa responded in brief at the moment, but some time later Bria, a black woman, spoke up about how racist that particular question was, both for implying that something is wrong with black people because they "hurt each other" when the truth is that is accurate for any racial group and thus not a black-specific problem, and for asking about crime within the black community at a talk entirely unrelated to that topic, which is racist due to setting up black people as responsible for all other black people in a way white people are not. In response to this, JT, a white man, wrote a couple of responses to Bria and Jen's responses (there's a point at which this goes down the rabbithole), and in the comments of Jen's post Mark, a white man, both took Bria to task for taking up time she shouldn't have, and responding with unjustified anger to what they both characterized as an innocently ignorant question. My take is that it is a peculiar sort of willful ignorance to think that an entirely unrelated question is reasonable and should even be entertained - and to not see the racist assumptions that underlay both the question itself and the venue in which it was asked. I also want to stick a pin in the use of "unjustified" in this context - the problem isn't anger, but unjustified anger. There is a deeper question of 'What Is Justice' that is peculiarly challenging to address in a racist society.
The second is the blogpost of P.Z.'s called: "Stunned Silence", which ended up becoming an impromptu sharing of survivors / victims of sexual abuse of varying types. It is an intense, moving, powerful read and I strongly encourage people to read and not comment, and to have comforting things on hand if it becomes too much. Two divergences appeared through the course of the thread, however, and their emergence seems to me to be very important. The first, comparatively simple one is when Mattir commented on her own situation and included feeling injured by other survivors, in what could be taken as a swipe against Atheism+ (A+ is one of the social justice centered arms of the atheist movement). Setár, showed up to object to what Mattir said and was disenvoweled; Flwellyn showed up as well to object, being one of the other survivors present, and they took it to the Thunderdome - a series of posts P.Z. specifically keeps for less moderated discussions, where it began to be hashed out with more of the story in place. The core of what was brought up can be summed up as: "What do we do when survivors make a survivor place unsafe". This is also the core of the second divergence (which I am going to be much less specific on) - when a survivor who later became a perpetrator brought up his experiences, and people responded in a variety of ways, defending him and saying he as making the location unsafe. Tied up in that defense is the experiences a number of people had with becoming capable of extreme violence as a result of trauma, and how that blurs the line between victim and perpetrator in a variety of ways.
Which is what I'm struggling with, and now, and have been for a while - when the "us" is also the "them", when the perpetrators are inside of the house, when we're dealing with issues that stem back not just generations but generations of generations, how do we handle it? How do we bleed off some of the pain without harming people? How do we distinguish between "justified" and "unjustified" when none of us see the whole picture? What does justice even mean, when a victim becomes a perpetrator becomes a victim? I don't think we can ignore that victims of sexual abuse and rape have a chance of becoming abusers who then get thrown in jail where they become victims of rape again - and while people consider the first victimization "unjustified" in most cases, an awful lot of people consider the second victimization "justified". Given this - it seems like our concept of justice is profoundly twisted. I feel like we need to figure this out, though; there is so much pain and suffering in the world, and yet my field of influence is so very narrow.
( More pictures here. )
Skin: De La Soul, Candace Creamer
Hair: Underscore, Night Out
Ears: Illusions, Seelie Ears
Hairflower: Wildo, Juliet Purple
Eyes: De La Soul, Mesh Eye Rainbow
Eyelashes 1: SLink, Mesh Lashes
Eyelashes 2: Flugeln Brise, 05-A
Eyeshadow: Virtual Insanity, TWISTSED Purple Rain
Lipstick: Mock, Bella Vetro Gloss
Wings: Deviance, Sidhe Wings
Hands: SLink, Rigged Mesh Hands
Nails: Nine Inch Nails, Deco
Outfit: Sn@tch, Head of the Class (Fishing Prize)
Location: !bang Poses
Light Settings: TOR, MIDDAY - Anime Ciel
Water Settings: Phototools, Black Default
Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping, only