Polyphasic Sleep and Better Thinking
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Not entirely about Cannonfist

So, I've been kind of loose and flapping about what to do with blog-type postings of stuff lately.  I've lost my organizational thread, I think; there's both too much to put AND too many places to put it.  I have the same amount, or possibly more, "readers" on Facebook than here; yet I don't want to talk about the same stuff with them, and branching out from either is problematic.  So if you've been wondering where the overhaul that I've been talking about is, well, it exists, but it keeps getting halfway and then getting changed.  Do I want a main portal page that can split off into The Everything?  Or a carefully curated set of URLs with different content?  

I have no idea yet, but if there's one thing I've learned it's that carefully studying a question, holding it up to the light as it were, for long enough always attracts the answer.  So I'm still pondering that.

I've also taken on a HUGE short-term project, so expect me to disappear a lot in long-form, but since I'll be in front of my computer a lot, possibly get pretty verbose on Twitter and/or Tumblr.  (Thanks to IFTTT, Twitter gets auto-posted to Tumblr.  I can't *really* figure out what to post on Tumblr yet, but I have a few friends who run *great* feeds, so I often repost their stuff if I suddenly find the time.)

I have to figure out where to put Ubersleep (the easiest, as it has its own URL at ubersleepbook.com already), my taiji stuff (especially as I gradually move towards teaching(!!!)), this writing project (if it works; will need it's own page and URL and all that shit), other writing (to avoid pseudonym issues with any of the other two) and just B.S. (though possibly I should cut back on that, or make a page for — just thinking aloud here — taiji and fiction that can hold the occasional hey-community B.S. post?  Maybe move my tendency to get poliphi over shit to a forum like the rest of the world?  (Actually that's not a bad idea…if I impress anyone I can pull them "into" my writing site(s); could be a good source.  There's a writer I really like who just about used Something Awful as his launch-pad to success, and at least two have done it with Reddit…).  I own puredoxyk.com but don't want to rely on it too much for Reasons; I also own yieldandovercome.com, which is a nice taiji URL and maybe OK for something else too?  HHMMMMM.  LOTS OF H's AND M's.

BUT FOR NOW, while I fill up Evernote and Google Docs trying to figure that out, here's a video of one of the Chen Grandmasters (his name is Chen Bing, and I know I shouldn't find it funny that such a big guy with such a ridiculously intimidating line of work — I mean, "Hi, I'm a Grandmaster of one of the most terrifying kinds of kungfu, how are you?" — is named "Bing"…but come on it totally is funny) doing the form I'm currently trying to learn.  It's very short, so watch it and get some Culture, damn it.  ;)


I know this sounds silly because that doesn't look like an easy form to anyone I've showed it to, but trust me when I say that It's a lot harder than it looks.  I mean a) Grandmasters kind of make everything look easier but also b) all that force you're seeing thrown around is 100% internally-generated.  You could get your strongest kickboxer-Crossfit-muaythai-weightlifter-whateverbadass and he'd be ohhhh, at least two years from being able to throw a single one of those punches correctly?  Those are all the kind of punches (and elbows and knees and everythings) that I've been writing about, which have taken so much study to be able to even do *basically* correctly, and which are done INcorrectly the world over by both the 90% of people who don't know what internal force is and the 75% of those who do know who are just doing it wrong.  Chen Bing's style isn't the same as my sifu's, who's style descends from Chen Zhenglei's (and I'm not really good enough to have a style yet), but he's HELLA good (duh) and if you've ever wanted to see what internal-style-kungfu's generated force looks like (when it's not actually hitting anything), now you can say you have.

Yay!  Enjoy your Sunday.  I've got a million words to write.  ;)

December 15, 2013   2 Comments

On Intro- and Extroversion: Labels Are Dangerous

(I owe the polyphasic community like six hundred updates — sorry guys!  My productivity has been miserable lately, for reasons that have nothing to do with sleep.  Actually, that's one of the posts I need to write:  How being polyphasic is different from "just" a productivity hack.  But first I need to fix my shit so that I actually have time to write again!

ANYWAY.  This one feels pressing, so I'm using it for motivation to Sit In The Chair And Press The Keys, which has been unreasonably difficult lately.)

Introversion has been "a thing" lately, and I think that's good overall, since as many of us know by now, people who are introverted socially are/were often mis-labeled as being unsociable, unfriendly, antisocial, or just not pleasant to be around — and that certainly isn't fair.  Having different needs isn't a crime, and we should all be more understanding of each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.  Good lesson.

But as with many fad ideas, I think this one risks going too far.  If I'm reading my feeds right, approximately half of all Internet-connected humanity thinks it's an introvert now; and we know for a fact that that isn't true.  (Neither are half of them suffering from some mild form of Asperger's, I might add as a corollary.)  

I point to myself as an early example:  I was called antisocial and treated just the way introverts hate being, for a long time.  Then I was more politely labeled an introvert and, well, pretty much treated the same way, though as the idea gained traction in the nerd community, it became easier to explain my loner-hood in a single word, I guess.  I behaved like an introvert, as I think many people (especially Gen-X/Y-ers) in the "nerd subculture" do:  I avoided parties, crowds and people I didn't know, preferred the company of just one person if any, and spent a whole lot of time with my face in a book or a screen, shutting out the world.

But I wasn't an introvert.  And I wasn't "antisocial" either, whatever that means:  I was, in fact, an extrovert with a crippling case of social anxiety disorder, and a whopping history of childhood bullying and isolation that had left me unable to identify, express, and meet my own social needs.  What the early well-meaning people identified as being "socially miswired" and the later people identified as "introversion" both missed the question:  Was I *happy* that way?  Because while I think we can all agree that it's cruel and stupid to look at a young person and say, "Fuck 'em, they're antisocial", is it really more helpful to label someone (or yourself, I might add, because this is an easy cop-out rather than dealing with it) "introverted", if the end result is still ignoring a problem?

A truly introverted person spends a lot of time alone, or with one or very few companions, and is happy that way.  Their social needs — and we are humans with social needs, and not getting them met is no healthier than malnutrition — are being adequately met by their circumstances.  You could compare them (sloppily, but adequately) with people who only need three or four hours of sleep:  That's rare, and it is unhealthy and mean to force someone like that to lie in bed all night because "that's normal and normal is what we do" — but it's just as bad to ignore the sleep-deprivation of a friend who's only able to sleep three hours a night but is miserable that way.

I guess what I'm saying is, labels are dangerous.  If we really want to be compassionate to each other and understanding of our differences, we need to empathize, to see each other as individuals, and to care whether whatever someone's doing is working for them or making them happy, rather than what box it fits into.  The "introverted" label made it possible for me to continue to starve myself of social contact I actually needed — and more pertinently, the application of that label made it easy for people, even people who loved me, to ignore that I was miserable and needed to fix some things about my social life.  

What happened, finally?  I went to a very good therapist and after a few sessions I casually mentioned that I was an introvert, whereupon she actually snorted before saying, "You are one of the most extroverted people I've ever talked to!"  From there it became gradually clear that I wanted and needed social contact that I wasn't getting because I'd been taught to fear or avoid it — but because I'd been taught to fear and avoid it, and then further taught that it was just "how I was" (i.e. "my" label), I didn't actually know that that was the problem:  I only knew that I felt a lot of negative shit pretty much all the time, that I usually felt like an alien and had a hard time connecting to anyone, and that I wasn't very able to be happy either alone or in company; and that while having one safe-feeling companion seemed like a fix for that, it was often landing me in very dependent and unhealthy relationships.

And while my issues may have been pretty serious on the scale of things, I don't think it's at all uncommon for people to be misaligned with, unaware of, or not automatically able to meet their social needs.  

In fact, I think "not aware of or able to get what you need for some reason" is a LOT more common a situation than "introverted".  The difference is, the former shouldn't be written off or ignored:  it's not a stable state, a comfortable label that's fine as it is.  If you are intro (or extro) and fine, then great, awesome.  You probably know what you need, then, and are capable of going out (or not) and getting it; and therefore there's not much reason to worry — the most discomfort you face is explaining your needs to others, which come on, isn't really that bad.  (And if it is, well, stop hanging out with those particular others; they suck.)  

But if you feel lonely, cut off, anxious, unsafe, unheard, or like you hate yourself or your life…that's not a label, not a thing, and not okay.  Neither you nor the people around you should be ignoring it:  You should be fixing it.  And fixing it starts with believing that a fix is necessary and possible…something those neat handy labels can sometimes really get in the way of.  

May you find peace, whether or not you find the "right" word for it.  ;)

November 10, 2013   2 Comments

Polyphasic info: Schedule-borking, No more alarms, and some fun facts on core-nap durations

Ah, the occasional utter borking of the schedule.

Do I, either as-me or as-a-polyphaser, do this more often than most people?  I've no idea.  But I definitely do it sometimes.  And the takeaway I usually get from it is that wow, even when totally stick-blendered, polyphasic schedules are a lot easier to recover. 


Yesterday I had a pretty normal 2-nap day, and slept for 4.5 hours last night.  (Actually, my E4 core nap is turning out to be mostly closer to 4h 45m — which doesn't surprise me, since when I sleep for 3 hours, it's actually 3:15.  Is this related to the fact that when I sleep for 8 hour nights, I actually need closer to 9 to feel rested?  Worth wondering.)

Also worth noting, especially as a YMMV:  I know these times because I don't use alarms anymore, unless it's to be certain I wake up at a certain time for an important thing, and even then I usually don't need them.  I know how long I'll sleep based on how many naps I got and when, and I wake up on my own pretty predictably.

Until I do shit like today, that is.  ;)

Today I headed off to a taiji class in the morning (after a normal morning consisting of the normal 2 cups of coffee-with-butter — yup, still doing that, and I still love it as a form of breakfast; not every single day but usually).  I stopped for tea / second breakfast, because fun fact: when you eat (or drink) breakfast at 5am or thereabouts, you're hungry again by ten or eleven – and then went straight to the climbing gym.  I grabbed a nap (it was close to noon; I'd last slept at 7 and normally would have napped about one, but it didn't surprise me that I was tired early after a pretty intense martial-arts class, and anyway I wanted to sleep before I got to climbing) and didn't sleep for very long (note: I don't know how long, because I don't bother with alarms for 20-minute naps at all anymore, because here's a weird one:  even if I don't sleep for some or even most of it, I will still almost always stand up after 20 minutes, or a little sooner; my internal alarm is getting pretty hilarious!) – probably I didn't sleep much due to some combination of sleeping early, being excited to go climb, and sleeping on a hard surface in a new place with lots of ambient noise.  But I did feel refreshed after, and then I:

-  Climbed for about two hours
-  Stopped for a light lunch
-  Climbed for another four hours
-  Walked about 2 miles
-  Ate a pretty huge meal (for me)
-  Walked another 2-ish miles home

In other words, I had a great day that ended with my getting home about 9:30pm, having skipped my evening nap and cycled through at least a thousand calories in extra exercise and food.

So of course I came home, luxuriated in blankets and a book for a few minutes, and passed out deliciously cold, probably about 10pm.  I woke up about 3 hours later, at a few minutes before 1am.

(Another fun fact:  If I sleep at an odd time because I'm worn out from exercise, I almost always sleep 3 hours.  Occasionally 1.5, but much more often three — 3 hours seems to be my "recovery sleep" time.)

And I felt great — well, a bit sore in the hands and shoulders, but duh, marathon of climbing.  I could have gone back to sleep if I wanted, but overall I felt quite rested, so I got up, showered, read my email, watched some videos, and, well, wrote this — it's now about 3:30 am.  I suspect I'll get tired again around four or five and grab an "extra" nap before my regular morning one at 7-ish.  

So with only a bit of effort, my schedule will be easy to get back on track tomorrow, even though what I did to it today could easily be described with the "o.O" emoticon.  That's definitely one of the benefits of being polyphasic, especially when you're prone to having crazy high-energy days sometimes; instead of sleeping a stupid ton to recover and then finding myself in the middle of an uncomfortable re-adjustment, I just shift a core, add a nap, and wham.  And it's not as complex to do as it is to explain:  I know this part might be due to my being really used to polyphasic sleep by now, but all I'm really doing is sleeping when I'm tired, and doing so for the durations I know work for me (20 minutes and 3 hours, basically).  

One last thing:  I've been getting tired of defending polyphasic sleep lately, because there's been a lot of discussion filtering through my inbox and my RSS feeds, and a lot of it is either completely unrelated to the kind of thing *I* mean by polyphasic sleep, or just attacking straw-men by showing that sleep dep is bad (which it is, but I maintain that in the modern world, at least as I experience it, being monophasic is more likely to involve sleep-dep than being polyphasic).  Anyway, the temptation is there to just shrug and go about doing my thing, but I do see how that's not the best thing for everybody, especially if due to my circumstances as a long-term polyphaser, I have information that could be useful to others who are trying to fix sleep problems or find a schedule that's better suited to their lifestyle.  So please pardon me if I lapse into silence about it sometimes — it does get draining, after a while — I promise I'll pick it back up and keep going.

Also, I have been working on some major changes to this site, which will hopefully make finding the droids you're looking for easier.  Stay tuned!



September 9, 2013   1 Comment

Oh how I hate video…

Ah, we meet again, FacePalm.  How've you been?

So I'd been meaning to do another Not Enlightened Yet video forever, and then walking home I got a great idea for one, and I actually sat down and did it, and I was really happy with it…until I rewatched it.  And it turns out that the fan that's aimed at my laptop to keep it cool is in fact aimed right at the speaker, and the audio sounds like I'm diving out of a plane.  SSSSHSHSHSHSHSHSSSSWWWHWHHHRSSHSHS…for fifteen minutes.

I can't post that.  But I also can't make myself do the whole thing over, extemporaneously and on a difficult topic, when I'm tired and I still have a few hours of work to go before I'm even remotely done today.

So I fail at video yet again.  (Or, well, recordings.  I'm just as bad with straight audio as I am with video, really.  The only thing that gets along with me is words, I guess.)  

Sorry, everyone!  Hopefully I can get the guts and ticks together to fix this tomorrow…



August 29, 2013   No Comments

Haul it on over

So, I think it's time for an overhaul here.  

I created this site in something like 2006 or '7, mostly to provide a place for the polyphasic information I was amassing, but because I'm a compulsive writer anyway, I knew it would wind up serving as a spot for general bloggage, content, and Writing.  

And so it has, resulting in exactly the kind of mess you'd expect that to cause.  ;)

Well, the Second Edition is out, and future plans for polyphasic stuff are much more in-depth and really deserve a space of their Actual Own — things like talks, travel, and studies shouldn't be just tagged posts that sit amid the morass of my general effluvience.

Of course, said effluvience needs a spot.  

But Writing, actual fiction and experimentation and poetry and such, needs its own spot now too.  I'm finally starting to take it more seriously, and to improve my skills to the point where doing it as more than just One Big Constant Exercise And Worship makes sense.  

Oh yeah, and I also do other things and collect other links and whatnot that might be helpful — this is more properly Presence than Effluvience, but it means that having room for other sub-categories of content that doesn't involve tangling them all up in A Blog makes good sense.

SO.  Here's my thinking so far:

-  I need a front page that sorta somewhat-accurately says "HI THIS IS ME, HERE ARE THE REASONS YOU MIGHT BE HERE".  This needs a descriptive, simple, sensical domain name. 

-  I need subpages with their own subdomains for polyphasic sleep, fiction and nonfiction writing, a blog, and potentially a lot of other things.  I like subdomains.

-  I need a dead simple and flexible design.  I like the theme I use here, but at the very least I need to unclutter it, and possibly replace it.  Wordpress I have no complaints with, and in all reality knowing how to use it probably saves me so much time versus learning something else that "upgrading" there likely isn't worth it.  (The best, and best-looking, "canned" websites are, I think, done in Twitter Bootstrap — it's what I often use for business clients.  But it's not anywhere near as easy to update as WP, and the built-in analytics and plugins are kinda worth their weight in gold.)

SO.  Apologies up front if any future changes cause annoyance for any future readers, AND OF COURSE I'm interested in any opinions or comments people have about the coming overhaul.



August 21, 2013   2 Comments

Behold the WBoD!

Here's my beloved Whiteboard Of Doom, with my first crack at a Big Fat List on it…I'm not sure that's nearly enough stuff for actual Uberman in the winter, but…it's a work in progress!

(I thought the edgy B&W was a bit classier than the actuality of its splattered blue-purple-and-pinkness.  And yes, I made it sort of hard to read on purpose…when I have a complete list, I'll type it out; this is more just for fun.)

Fun facts:  1) Yup, my Five Rules stay on the wall.  Always.  2)  Yes that is another language on the right.  Actually, much more of the WBoD is usually in this script, but I didn't want to have to work to decipher my BFL!  3) Apologies to my coach for accidentally sorta-publishing his ab workout ;)

November 26, 2012   Comments Off

Endless Chicken Cornucopia


(This makes sense, I swear.  I'm titling a post full of updates on things while making vague Thanksgiving references while poking the memory of one of my recent favorite books.  Don't be scared; this kind of thing happens all the time — just chill, and enjoy being a Chesterfield sofa for now.)

It's possible…probable…okay, likely that I drink too much coffee still.  I'm putting it firmly on the Fix Later list, though; especially in light of having successfully eliminated almost all wheat gluten from my diet in recent weeks (and that has me feeling much better! I was all bloaty and gastrically unhappy, and I'm fortunate that the first thing I tried — cutting out wheat — had an immediate positive impact).  But you know that when you make an offhand comment about not really being addicted to caffeine and everyone in the room laughs mightily, that's probably a hint right there.

Getting an opportunity to practice not letting emotions overwhelm me lately:  I'm quite sad about the holidays.  It'll be nice to see my family, definitely; but it'll also involve taking expensive disruptive trips to somewhere even colder than Boston and with much less exciting anything to do — gods do I not miss being stuck in the house during those bleak Michigan winters, wondering if I ought to go wander around the mall just to have a reason to get out — while the majority of my friends are off playing in hockey tournaments I have to miss, and going to warm places for diving and hammock-on-beaching and such.  I will admit to being grumpy about this.  I'm trying really hard not to be, but it's tricky.  I think a possible antidote might be to start planning something better for next year–?  We'll see.

[Idea had after writing this:  Also, I could start planning, or trying to plan, a few cool things to do over the Xmas trip -- it may take a little sub-travel, but surely the entire Midwest isn't such a hole that I can't find some people to visit, a hockey team to practice with, or some event worth checking out...right?]

The Second Edition is excitingly near done!  I got the completed proofs back from the (amazing!) designer the other day, and they look phenomenal, and one of my big tasks now is to go through them line-by-line for the no-really-one-last-time proofing.  Then it's cover time and we're in the home stretch!  Super geeked about that — this is taking a long time compared to the first, but when I look at the difference in quality and all the extra content, I know it's way worth it.

Important note:  I am still struggling to find a photographer for the Second Edition cover photo & About The Author pic.  It should be easy and fun work, and net someone a very good portfolio credit in return — if you know anyone in the MA area who might be interested, please let me know?  (If I don't find anyone soon, I'll improvise, and that'll work fine; but for obvious reasons, I'd rather meet/help out/work with a local artist-type.)

I haven't put up the sleep study flyers though, and I'm not sure I will — looking into it more, it's just a pain to flyer things around here…I dunno.  Things to ponder over the holidays.  I don't anticipate that I'll have trouble getting enough people into the study proper — there are already more applications than there are slots, though obviously the bigger a field of candidates we have, the better, generally speaking — and I've been made nervous about the local attention by some recent comments I've gotten about how the (many!) prominent sleep-researchers in this area will view my conducting a study.  I'm totally going to do it anyway — they should have done one if they wanted to so badly, darnit; I personally have been sending annoying emails to this effect for years — but I'd much rather put off getting their attention about it until after, or at least during.  Still percolating on that one.

I haven't forgotten that memory class I wanted to run, either — I think about it all the time, especially now that I have a bit more time myself, and it's still something I really want to work on.  (I especially have a deep, inexplicable desire to memorize the Periodic Table.)  Pulling together a time & method that works for more people than just me is the current challenge; plus there are a few more places I'd like to advertise it; but really it's mostly ready and I should just do it.  Sort of instead, I started a 10-day program that claims to make you really good at mental calculation, because it's always annoyed me how much I suck at that.  It's going well so far — day one, I shocked myself by rocking off sums of 5-7 two-digit numbers at a time without much trouble at all!  Yay brainhackery.

This also marks week 3 of being self-employed, which is still startlingly similar to both being unemployed and to being full-time employed — I'm stupid busy, but most of my work is trying to find work, so it sure isn't paying much.  Stressful to be sure, but there's still plenty enough probability that this may turn out to be a very positive career-event that I'm focusing on keeping my chin up and doing my best.  Productivity is a real challenge in these circumstances, but definitely one I feel I'm qualified to tackle — I'll make sure to let ya'll know what I come up with.

Aaaand I think that's about it — World Updated; Stuff Said; time to move on.  Hope everyone is well!


November 20, 2012   Comments Off

Hard Writings

Who are you?  How do you want to live?  Do you want to settle down or see the world?  Raise kids or stay in college forever?  Write books or become a CEO or earn your place as a pillar of your community…?

If you find somebody who thinks you're The Specialest Favorite, how far will you change to suit their lifestyle so that you can live together Foreverish?  And how long do you figure that is?  What if they don't agree?

What if you change?  What if they change?  How much priority can you, or are you willing to, give to staying in the same place as someone else Foreverish?

All of that depends on who you are, of course, which means that it depends on really knowing who you are — without that, how can you answer any of those questions?

Knowing who you are depends on having your EYES OPEN about who you are.  And that means having self-esteem, because convincing yourself that you're awful is just as dishonest as convincing yourself that you're Hercules (and has none of the potential benefits of the latter, either).

If you got past thirty years old, and made a bunch of huge life-decisions, all while having really awful self-esteem, then it's safe to predict that you will probably find yourself holding a basket filled with some pretty amazing mistakes.  I'm writing this to confess that that's precisely what I did, and that in the last couple months a good chunk of them came due — as mistakes do — and knocked down quite a lot of the life I'd been building for the last seven years.

So things have been unstable and uncertain and emotionally really difficult lately.  My near-term future holds more of that plus loneliness, financial difficulty, and an intimidating daily workload that, to be frank, I can't at the moment see how I'm going to pull off.  I'm sure it'll work out somehow — things do, after all, and panicking never helps — but I feel like I have to be honest with the people who read my blog and send me emails (which I haven't been good about answering lately *at all*, sorry) looking for advice that I'm not exactly lifestyle guru material lately.  I am, in fact, mid-lesson on some really useful shit that I'm sure will turn into some great advice I can give to others once I've figured it through…but the figuring-through is a long and tricky process, and while I'm in the middle of it I'm hardly a good example to anyone.

My idea of a "sleep schedule" lately is "try to stay awake until I'm tired enough that I can't lay in bed with my thoughts whirring unpleasantly, get up when I have to after probably far too little sleep, and snag naps if there's an opportunity when I get so tired during the day that I can't think straight anymore".  I couldn't even tell you when or how much I sleep, and there's no name for the schedule I'm on other than perhaps "yikes".

My idea of a "diet" lately consists of snacks, comfort food, restaurant food, coffee and beer.  I try to make healthy choices in the snacks and restaurant departments, and to drink at least some water every day, but that's about the level of attention I've been able to give it.

I do still get a good amount of exercise, thankfully — I've learned over the last few years that it leads directly to better mental health, and I need all the help I can get, so I've been sticking close to kungfu and swimming whenever time permits, and throwing in situps and simple workouts whenever I can steal them.  I also have no car, so I walk a lot, and I always do so quickly and while paying close attention to my form.  I still have visible stomach-muscles, woot.

BUT, and this is the important thing in my mind, I HAVE largely* fixed my self-esteem problems.  And that's a big deal for me…I'm not coming from "a bit of body-image issues" or something, but rather a background of full-blown self-hatred and self-harm.  The things that fell apart on me lately were things I'd built with "I don't deserve better" in mind, and so, difficult as it is to stand in a smoking field and try to contemplate a suddenly scary future, I'm hopeful because I know this is the right direction.

Path, not goal.  Follow proper principles.  Eyes and hands open.

All hail the fishes swimming up waterfalls!  ;)



*The necessary breakthroughs have been made, but as with all such things, there's a sensitive period afterwards — much like the second two weeks of an adjustment to polyphasic sleep — wherein one must be careful not to slide back into old habits.  That's where I am now.

May 11, 2012   10 Comments

No More Forced Pregnancies

This is kind of a big post for me:  I'm coming out of the closet, as it were, with my stance on a big issue.  I also intend this post to be a jumping-off point from which I do more with this issue, because I really feel that more needs to be done.

The issue is forced pregnancy.  And my stance on it is that I think it exists, in most societies including the modern American ones, and I'm sick of seeing it, and I'm sick of it not being called out for what it is.

I started to mentally identify forced pregnancy as an overarching issue some years ago, but I wasn't comfortable speaking up about it, especially in such loaded terms.  But having given it considerable thought, I believe that:

  • Many smaller societal issues are in fact part of this larger picture; and
  • People need to start pointing at the bigger picture and calling it what it is, because recognizing what it is will be key to gathering the motivation to fix it.

And I'm willing to do that now, scary or not.

I'll make more arguments, and in more detail, later — probably, I think, as part of a new section of the site, as there's a whopping amount to talk about and I don't want to confuse the already arguably pretty eclectic webpage I've got going here.  Here are some of the basics of what I'm thinking and where I'm going with this, though:

  • The core assumption of sexism, that women are lesser than men, is most directly and forcefully denied by womankind's ability to bear children (or more pertinently to the warlike mentality in play here, womankind's ability to end the fucking human race in one generation if we chose to not bear children).
  • The only way that sexist people can feel safe, therefore, is by ensuring that "the spice must flow", as it were — by ensuring that reproduction continues and continues to be as controlled by not-women* as possible.
    • You might expect these people to be more interested in using science to remove women from the childbearing equation, then, but there are several reasons to not go about it this way:
      • It's hella difficult and expensive to do.
      • Someone then has to raise those children, an incredibly time-consuming (life-consuming, in fact) and expensive process itself, and one for which no substitute for actual motherhood has been or is likely to be found.
      • Bearing children is itself a great repressor of women:  Childbearing women spend nine months physically vulnerable; undergo a major surgery for which the complication and mortality rates are fairly high; and then feel mortally obligated to sacrifice their goals, careers, health, and finances for the rest of their lives to care for those children.
      • As a result of the above, women with children are far, far less politically and socially dangerous than women without them.  So if your goal is to keep women oppressed in society, then ensuring that they have children, and especially that not much exists in the way of social and financial help for them in having and raising those children, is a great tool for you.
  • Therefore, the vast majority of all sexist activities are in fact some version of the same story:  Get as many women as possible to become pregnant as often as possible.
    • So if you've ever wondered why the more overtly sexist branches of society are staunchly against all forms of birth control, no matter how safe, and no matter how much knowledge they have of the glaring overpopulation problem the human race faces…now you know.

And there's a lot more to it than that:  I've seen nuances so layered and sneaky that it'll make your guts churn — television shows, modes of dress, turns of phrase, everything; a whole societyful of physical, political and psychological manipulation to make and keep women pregnant — details that would make Margaret Atwood's head explode.  And I intend to talk about them all, and loudly, because in all seriousness I have had it with this truth hiding under everyone's noses and nobody saying it.  

Nobody (that I've heard**) says "that's forced pregnancy" when a state limits or outlaws abortion, or when a major religion flexes its political muscle to keep women from having access to birth control.  

Nobody talks openly about what a nightmarish concept forced pregnancy IS and how unforgivable it is that our first-world society is still doing it and still acting like it's somehow OK.

But from now on, *I* will say so.  It probably won't make me popular.  I don't care.  Readers of my site, whom I love dearly and have no wish to piss off, are entirely free to skip the posts on this topic if they really don't want to hear about it.

But I hope they won't.  Because it's true, and it's important.

No peace without justice, and no justice without truth.

Thank you.


*I'll use phrases like not-women (instead of just saying "men") now and again, and though it may seem silly to you at first, please bear with me; I have a reason.  The relevant polarization in issues like this is between those who are sexist (who believe that women should be subjugated as part of how the human race works) and those who are not.  We live in a sexist world, where over 90% of all possible societies we could grow up in are sexist and have been sexist for as many generations back as we could count.  Therefore, due to upbringing, tradition, and culture, many women are sexist.  (I used to be, so I know this firsthand.)  Also, of course, just to complicate things, there are men in the world who are not sexist (just like there are white people who are not racist; just because you benefit from oppression doesn't necessarily mean you're in favor of it (though it does make it harder to understand why you shouldn't be, of course.)  Because of these factors, I hate referring to the conflict of sexism as one between "women" and "men", because it isn't.  It's between a large oppressed portion of the population, and their oppressors.  I don't think that the people fighting to end this centuries-long, globe-spanning oppression can really afford to lose the support of the men who are with them, or to ignore the damage done by the women who are not, by framing their battle as a "battle of the sexes".  It isn't a battle between the sexes.  It's a battle against discrimination and really horrible treatment based on sex, and what side you're on depends on what you believe and how you act, not what's in your pants.  So I apologize if my language-bending to keep that point clear gets annoying to anyone.

**It feels important to say right in this first piece that I'm not any kind of scholar or expert on women's studies — quite the opposite, in fact, as I have a degree in Super Logical Western Analytical Dead White Guy Philosophy.  So when I say things like "Nobody's saying this!", I'm referring to society and the media, at large and how I encounter them, with my only-slightly-deeper-than-average penetration into things International, fringe, feminist and forward-thinking.  It's extremely likely that people working in the trenches and typewriters of the sexist battle have been crying "forced pregnancy" for years or decades or even longer — and as part of my pledge to start crying it where I see it too, I'll be doing more reading on that as well.  But please don't take my enjoinders on the society I live in to be commentary on the body of work produced by feminism, women's studies, or trench-fighting anti-sexists, because I've had very little (more in recent years, but still relatively skimpy) contact with those groups and their writings.  This project is something I came to myself, gradually, and decided recently was something I had to do and say, regardless of what else others have done (because obviously more needs to be done, and having recognized that and recognized that I'm probably a capable person to pitch in, I feel that I have to).  

February 27, 2012   9 Comments

Gandhi FTW (yes, I’m shocked too)

New quote added to the Random Quotes scroller:

"Seven Deadly Sins:
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice."  – Mahatma Gandhi

I like this more complete formulation of a "sin"…as a Catholic child I was basically taught that single words ("wealth", "pleasure", etc.) were "bad", without any reference to why or how or what could bring them into balance so they could be good.

Gandhi makes the excellent point that a thing or condition like Wealth or Knowledge can be good or bad, depending on whether it's in balance.

I might even add some others:

Cursing without grammar
Gifts without gratitude
Work without goals
Help without sympathy

…Can you think of any?

September 20, 2011   Comments Off