My male privilege, let me show you it

I had an interesting experience at work last week. Well, I have lots of interesting experiences at work, but this one seemed exceptionally bloggable. (That is too a word, Firefox spell-check.)

I won’t go into too much unnecessary detail, because the details aren’t really the point. I went to a computer training session across campus. I got there a little late and came in as everyone else was going through the preliminary steps. I sat down and asked the instructor, who was standing behind me helping someone else, what I needed to do to get started. He was a middle-aged guy, maybe in his 40s or 50s. I’m not very good at pinpointing people’s ages, but I think that’s a good estimate. Anyway, as he came over to look at my computer, he put his hand on my shoulder. HARD. It’s more accurate to say that he grabbed my shoulder, or clenched it perhaps. This was both unexpected and unwanted. Ew don’t touch me, but also holy shit, I was not prepared for that violent sensation. Remember…sensory issues.

It was pretty early in the morning and I was still pretty flustered from rushing over there, and my brain kinda went haywire. Inside I was screaming “WHAT THE FUCK LET GO OF ME OUCH LET GO.” My voice couldn’t form actual words, though, and I ended up going “whoa whoa WHOA” while trying to wrestle my shoulder out of his grasp. Now, I suppose most people would take that as a sign that maybe they should fucking let go, but not this guy. He grabbed harder. I’m thankful for my coworker sitting beside me, because she somehow distracted him and said “hey, wow, you really freaked her out there,” and he finally let go but insisted on hovering over my computer for a little while longer. We’re all lucky that it played out like that, because my brain was starting to kick into fight mode, and it was kind of like something shorted out in my brain and I was ready to jump, hit, duck and cover, anything to stop the grabbing and the touching. Not exactly an appropriate response in a work environment, not that any of this was appropriate to begin with, but still.

Anyway, it didn’t end there. A few minutes later, after this guy had finally moved on, he came back to my computer and knelt down next to me. He pressed his hand onto my wrist and said, as if it were a joke, “Now don’t freak out again! I was only tapping you on the shoulder, nothing to freak out about.”

Seriously? No, asshole, I can tell the difference between tapping and grabbing, and goddammit, I get to decide where my boundaries are. I get to decide how I react to inappropriate touching. I have the right to control who touches my body and how and when. You don’t get to decide that for me, and you don’t get to decide what hurts me and what doesn’t. You don’t get to decide which of my feelings are valid. I have the right to protect myself from creepy grabby dudes who think they have the right to touch my body just because it’s there in front of them.

It’s just one incident and not a particularly big deal by some standards, but it seems to me to be indicative of male privilege. I mean, you know, you’re just a woman, so obviously you’re just overreacting because women are just so fragile, and come on, can’t a guy touch a little? Grab a little? Oh, you’re so silly to feel threatened by that. Silly woman. It isn’t like being grabbed by a large strange man who refuses to let go can ever be indicative of serious danger, right? Or bring back very visceral and unpleasant memories? Now, let me help you with this computery thing; I’m sure it’s a little confusing for a woman.

I would bet a lot of money that this guy has no recollection of anything weird happening during that training session. All in a day’s groping.

For the record, and maybe this makes this even more frightening, I don’t think what’s-his-face is actually a bad guy. Clueless and grabby and inappropriate and all sorts of other things, but I think he’s mostly an average dude, certainly not any sort of predator or menace. The rest of the training session went pretty well, and when we left I thanked him for the instruction and went out to my car like a reasonable professional person. But it’s stuff like that that makes it very, very hard to trust people, men in particular. Society gives them power, and there’s no good way of telling who’s going to use that power against you, if even on a pretty moderate level like this was.

Catching Up

I’m seriously awful at keeping up with blogs. It’s been over 4 months since I last wrote. Don’t think I haven’t considered blogging in the past four months, although every time I go to click on WordPress, I get shot down by the inner voice of shame that dreads the awkwardness of popping back up after several months of blog-silence.

Today, however, I’m stuck at home with what was once a migraine but has now dwindled into a disgusting postdrome hangover-feeling with residual dizziness from the prescription I had to take twice this morning. The headache I woke up with refused to go away until I finally killed it with 4 Advil, 100mg of Imitrex, and a dose of Excedrin Migraine. Yeah, there was no way I was going to be anywhere near functional at the office today, even if I had been able to drive myself to work without blacking out. Now that I’m no longer whimpering in pain, though, what better to do with my time than catch up on blogging? Not like I’m getting out of bed today.

So, pretty much the biggest deal lately is that I finally finished my master’s degree! I turned in my final paper on May 3rd, so I’ve been done for exactly 3 weeks now. Feels goooood. I ended up writing the paper on the USA PATRIOT Act and its implications for information freedom in libraries. I thought it was kind of rambly and repetitive, not the best thing I’d ever written, but it got an A-, so I’m happy with that. I now officially have a master’s degree in library science, class of 2012.

Another exciting thing is that I’ve joined the education team at WildCare and I’m getting to do super-cool things like work with my favorite bird and help raise some adorable baby geese. Favorite bird is, unsurprisingly, an owl. A Eurasian barn owl, to be precise, named Valentino. I work with him on Saturday afternoons now. He’s in flight training, which basically means we’re teaching him to fly from one person’s glove to another on command. Very cool for programs, because it demonstrates barn owls’ silent flight. We work on some other stuff with him, too, and last Saturday I got to spend some time just hanging out with him. He is a wonderful, sweet, silly, feisty bird and I love him, sharp talons and all.

As for the baby geese, they’re Sebastopol geese, a domesticated breed from Europe. Right now they’re at kind of an awkward half-feathered stage, which is hilarious and really cool to see their adult feathers sprouting from their baby fluff. Sebastopols have long, curly feathers that sort of look like a fluffy wedding dress. It’s funny…I started at WildCare because I wanted to work with owls, and I never really had any particular interest in non-owl birds, but now I’m going over there twice a week to hang out with 4 baby geese and a broad-winged hawk (and, of course, Valentino). I never thought of myself as much of a bird person, but apparently I really am! Birds are great. Fluffy little dinosaurs.

As a final interesting thing, I’m still making chainmaille jewelry, and I’ve gotten a bit better at photographing my work. Shiny updates:

Ooh, shiny!

I made this bracelet for myself as a graduation present. The 6 red-and-white Czech glass beads represent my 6 years as an IU student.

This is one of my favorite bracelets. Aqua glass beads and blue zircon Swarovski crystals among hematite-toned copper chainmaille.

Sterling silver-coated copper chainmaille with Swarovski crystal beads (light siam satin). This one took a while to make, but I love how it turned out.

Full Persian two-tone chainmaille punctuated by khaki-colored Czech glass beads. When I finished this bracelet, I believe the exact phrase I uttered was “Now that looks damn classy!”

I have a lot of bracelets that I haven’t photographed yet, plus a fantastic Byzantine chainmaille necklace. I’ll try to get good photos of those soon.

Oh, also

Right, that whole “finishing my MLS” thing. Don’t get too excited; I’m still not done…but this weekend I finished the project I had to revise, and with that I finished one of my 2 incomplete classes. That’s right, I get an actual grade (which will hopefully be a passing grade). This means that I am only one paper away from getting a few letters behind my name. Okay, so it’s a 20-page paper for which I literally have no direction whatsoever, never mind an actual topic, but I’ve written longer papers for less interesting classes. This class was a seminar in intellectual freedom, so at least I should be able to write about something I actually care about.

“By the end of January” is looking a little less than doable, so I’m telling myself now that I will get this done by the end of February, and at the very latest by spring break (mid-March). I suppose that will officially put my graduation date at May 2012, a year late, but not too bad considering the circumstances.

But for now…fuck yeah, one class done!

Bacon, brain freeze, and blackouts

Today I decided to get a bacon cheeseburger. Sure, I’ve made better decisions in my life, but sometimes you just know that a bacon cheeseburger is precisely the most delicious thing you could shove into your face and you must have one NOW. I had that kind of moment today. So I went to the dining hall at Gresham and asked for a bacon cheeseburger, which I have successfully done more times than I’d care to admit. This conversation ensued.

Employee (we’ll call him Hans, just for shits and giggles): A bacon…okay…bacon cheese…what?

Me: A bacon cheeseburger.

Hans: A…um…what’s that?

Me: Um, a cheeseburger…with bacon on it.

Hans: What? Okay, um…you want a cheeseburger with a side of bacon?

Me: No, a cheeseburger with bacon on it. (I was beginning to consider giving up at this point.)

Hans: Okay, let’s see…

And then he handed me a cheeseburger and a bowl full of bacon.

I think I probably gave him an actual “what the FUCK” look, but all I said was “Uh, okay, I guess that’ll work.” And then I walked through the dining hall carrying my cheeseburger and a bowl of bacon like a dumbass who doesn’t know how to order a bacon cheeseburger. By the time I sat down, the bacon was simultaneously slippery and crumbly, so I ended up eating a cheeseburger full of tiny bacon shards. Not entirely satisfying.

Also, today I got a call from the apartment complex office, letting me know that the smoke alarm had been going off and the maintenance guys went in to check it out. I don’t want to outright blame the one girl who smokes all kinds of things inside (despite having been told to fucking stop it), but let’s just call her a likely suspect. I was so tempted to say on the phone, “oh, was my housemate smoking pot in her room again?” but I didn’t, because I try not to be a jackass (other than on this blog, where I give myself free jackass reign).

In more pleasant news, this weekend I got to see one of my closest friends. I don’t really have friends in town (or in state, really) so it’s a rarity to be able to actually talk to a friend face to face. I was excited enough about it, though, that my anxiety kicked into hyperspeed. I wasn’t anxious as in “nervous,” just as in “OH FUCK MY BRAIN WON’T STOP.” It took me awhile to settle down, but regardless, it was a wonderful hour or so and it made me even happier to have this person as a friend. You rock, L. :)

So tomorrow is the dreaded-and-anticipated internet blackout. I know at least Reddit and Wikipedia are going black for some time, I think WordPress is too, and I’m sure there are others. The point of it is that if SOPA and PIPA do pass, the structure and nature of the internet are threatened, and this blackout is a little taste of what we could be dealing with if the bills do pass. So while I’m biting my nails at the prospect of being unable to fuck around on Reddit all day, I understand the importance of the protest. If SOPA and PIPA pass, there might not be a Reddit on which to fuck around. Then where would I find fantastic things like…

This collection of a few reasons why religion is an irredeemably destructive force.

(I probably could’ve found a smoother way to segue into that, but whatever, there it is.)

Hands off Our Internet

Ahem. [steps onto soapbox]

On January 24th, the US Senate will hold a vote on the “PROTECT IP Act of 2011.” Like seemingly all intrusive legislation nowadays, PROTECT IP is a huge acronym: “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property” Act. The common acronym of this acronym is PIPA, so for brevity’s sake I’ll be referring to it thusly.

You can read about PIPA here, although be warned that Wikipedia is one of the sites directly threatened by the legislation. Google is another one. Under PIPA, those and other online services could be ordered to remove hyperlinks and content, rendering the sites basically useless. Wikipedia, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, you name it. WordPress. All directly threatened by this legislation.

PIPA’s counterpart in the House of Representatives is SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act.

Both of these acts seem to have been written in complete ignorance of the reality of content generation and of the Internet itself. The Internet is built on links and content sharing. If other blogs–The Pen Addict, for instance, hadn’t linked to my blog, I wouldn’t have seen the little spike in traffic I did this weekend. Without traffic, this blog is as good as writing in a locked diary. To be fair, my blog is a bad example because the “spike in traffic” was something like 200 clicks in a weekend, but think about blogs like Hyperbole and a Half, or Regretsy, whose popularity basically exploded because people shared links on Facebook or turned “ALL the things” into a hilarious meme.

Please help prevent the censorship of our last truly free medium, the Internet. Clickity click.

And now, back to your regularly-scheduled owly words.

Great Horny Owls

It’s that time again–owl nesting season! For the past few years, the highlight of my spring (and sometimes into summer) is watching live feeds of raptor nests on Ustream. In 2010 I pretty much just watched Molly & McGee and their 2 clutches of owlets. In 2011, I mostly watched Sydney & Mel’s nest–they raised a clutch of 6 owlets! I also watched Molly & McGee on occasion, and some other assorted ones. Doesn’t matter; they’re all cute. Also, they’re all barn owls. At this point, I have a pretty good beginner’s grasp on barn owl nesting habits, although of course there are always surprises. This year I’ve already started watching Dale & Roy, although Dale hasn’t laid any eggs yet. I do expect her to, because that nest box has been host to a whole lot of hawt owl-on-owl action.

Let's get it on.

Sure, it looks scary and violent–especially if you have the sound on and can hear the screeches–but in a way, it’s cute and romantic. Before and after the above screenshot, the two were preening each other–sort of the owl equivalent of making out, in this context anyway, and they spent a lot of time preening each other’s face feathers, which really did look like they were making out.

Adorable.

It’ll get even cuter when she lays eggs and spends a month caring for them, and the cuteness will explode when the eggs start hatching.

I’ve also been watching Rusty & Iris, a great horned owl breeding pair in Minnesota. They are each blind in one eye, so they can’t be released into the wild, but they are housed in a big flight cage and will hopefully start making little baby great horned owls very soon! I’ve been watching/listening to them tonight as I work on finishing this godforsaken master’s degree. I’m at the main library on campus and have the owls on the library computer and my actual academic work on my shiny new laptop. So I was writing stuff for my paper and all of a sudden, in my headphones, I hear HOO, HOO-HOO-HOO, HOO! HOO!”

I started watching, and the hooting got more frequent and turned into a duet. And then Rusty flew over to Iris and got on top of her…aaaand cue the porn music.

Note: right now, as I’m writing this, I heard weird flappy-hooty sounds, looked at the camera, and Rusty and Iris were mating AGAIN.

Anyway, hooting. Lots of it. I’m delighted by it, really, because Regulus–the GHOW at WildCare–really doesn’t ever hoot. I don’t know if he just isn’t talkative, or if it’s related to his injury, or if I’m just missing something, but all I’ve ever heard him “say” is the occasional quiet hiss (translation: GTFO). I don’t expect to get sick of all the hooting anytime soon, especially knowing that I can listen to a chorus of raspy barn owlet hisses all night with no problem. There’s something just so delightful about HOO, HOO-HOO-HOO, HOO! HOO! It’s just so very…emphatic. Great horned owls: go big or go home.

Regulus.

Easily distracted

About an hour and a half ago, I sat down to write a blog post, because it’s been awhile. Now, after playing with themes and headers for way too long, and not even really settling on a header I like all that much, I’m getting pretty tired and am pretty much just running on hope that whatever words I fling out will make some kind of sense.

The other day I purchased an exciting thing. I am now the proud owner of a Wacom tablet. After not actually all that much deliberation, I settled on the Bamboo Create. I played with it a little and got the driver installed on my big computer, but I left my big computer’s charger at home in Bloomington, and I’m at my parents’ house in Greenwood until Monday, so I haven’t gotten too much of a chance to play with my new toy. The software bundle it came with includes Photoshop Elements, Sketchbook Express, and a couple others, so that should give me a pretty good start. I’ve considered trying my hand at a webcomic, but there’s no way I could do one with recurring characters or a plotline. It would be more like the internet version of The Far Side, but with fewer cows. Regardless of whether I actually do that, I’m pretty excited to start figuring out more digital art.

I also ordered more stuff from JetPens this evening. I just happened to check, and I saw that they had new Staedtler Triplus fineliner colors out, so obviously I had to get those, and I ended up getting a few other pens and a smallish Nomadic pen case. I got a ginormous pen case for Christmas, which will be great for storage purposes, but on an everyday basis I’ll need something portable.

I feel kinda stupid blogging about “shit I’ve bought,” so I’ll move on to something entirely different later on…after I’ve slept. Tomorrow, or really today, is New Year’s Eve, and it’s the first time since sixth grade that I’ve had no plans at all. My siblings are all going out with friends, and I’ll most likely stay in with my parents. I don’t mind spending it with my parents, but it sucks pretty hard to not have any friends around. Such is life, though. New Year’s Eve is arbitrary anyway, since the calendar is arbitrary, so…have I grasped at enough straws yet? Seriously, I’m sure it’ll be fine, even if it doesn’t cross over into “exciting.”

chin not to scale.

jk, kinda.

In any case, now is sleeping time, and I have a teddy bear and a stuffed barn owl to cuddle.

Putting the “Grad” in Grad School

In early 2009, I decided that I was going to get a master’s degree in library science. This decision happened as a result of my late-college panic over what I was going to do with a BA in linguistics and sociology. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t think I could get a job with that degree; it was more that I didn’t know what kind of a job to shoot for, because I didn’t know what I wanted to be doing in a month, let alone in a year or two. I think my train of thought was something like “I like libraries, so…why the hell not?”

As it turns out, “why the hell not” is not always a valid reason to enter a graduate program.

At the time, I was working as a resident assistant (RA) and I loved it more than anything else I’d gotten involved in throughout college. I was re-hired for the 2009-10 academic year, which was my first year of grad school. This is quite possibly the only reason I don’t regret going to grad school, because that extra year as an RA was exactly what I needed to realize that the graduate program I really want to get into is in student affairs administration.  Of course, coming to that realization about half a semester into an MLS program was a little disheartening, to say the least.

That second year as an RA was difficult. Instead of the awesome first- and second-year residents I had my first year, I was placed on a floor of mostly upperclasswomen and other grad students. They were a good group of people, but as older students their involvement in the floor community was pretty sparse. In addition to frustration with my own floor, I received a lot of sexual harassment from a few men on the other floors of my building. The stress of it all led to what I now recognize as a major depressive episode–my 3rd, and probably my worst. Unfortunately, my supervisor and I never figured out how to communicate with each other well. I think she thought I was slacking as an RA and screwing up a lot more than I actually did, and I was frustrated by her obvious favoritism of other RAs and what I saw as a lack of acceptance of my psychological/neurological issues.

In any case, it was a frustrating year, my grades tanked, the depression got worse, the following year was also frustrating and depressing, and I didn’t graduate when I was supposed to. I should have graduated in May 2011, but my therapist was like “um, no. I’m going to request Incompletes for you, and you’re going to graduate when you’re healthier.” I was (am) barely short of graduation; all I need to do is revise a project and write a paper, so I figured I’d do the work over the summer and just graduate in August.

That also didn’t happen.

I was then slated for December graduation. Welp, December commencement happened last weekend, and guess who still doesn’t have a master’s degree. On the plus side, I am doing a lot better psychologically now, and I’m settled into my new-ish job, and I just got a shiny new laptop for my birthday, so it’s as good a time as any to actually do this shit.

My goal is to finish by the end of winter break, although I will also accept “by the end of January.” Realistically, I should be done with my project revision by the end of break, and then I’ll spend January writing my 20-page paper for my Seminar in Intellectual Freedom course. At this point, it isn’t so much that I want a MLS, but I’m so damn close that I just want to get it done. It’s like going shopping on payday and finding something you once really wanted on sale for 99% off. Of course you’re going to fucking buy it.

And then in a couple years I’ll plan to start the degree I really want, a master’s degree in student affairs. I’m looking at Indiana State, Western Michigan, and Kent State for now.

Keep talking, Rick Perry

So, this video has been making the internet rounds. It helpfully includes a transcript, which I’ll go ahead and copy/paste here:

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.
As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.
Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.
I’m Rick Perry and I approve this message.

My favorite method of analysis is the step-by-step deconstruction, which I once used when blogging my way through the ill-fated series “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”  Here we go again!

“I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian.” At least 3/4 of Americans self-identify as Christian. I suspect that percentage is a smidge higher in Texas, hmm? (Quick Wikipedia check shows Texas being ~85% Christian.) Oh Rick, you are SO BRAVE. It must have taken so much courage to “admit” sharing basic religious beliefs with an overwhelming majority of your constituency. And without shame, either! Ugh, this asshole talks like this is his moment of “coming out” as a Christian after enduring some kind of oppressive hardship. Dude. We got the memo back in August when you led that evangelical prayer rally in gubernatorial capacity, or back in 2006 when you agreed with John Hagee that non-Christians are going to hell, or…yeah, we get it. Good for you.

“there’s something wrong with this country when gays can serve openly in the military” BWHUT?! “but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.” Okay, I think I sort of get where he’s trying to go with this. The dirty liberals have forced our good Christian military to accept gays despite them being an obvious abomination, and the same dirty liberals don’t allow any mention of Christmas or Christianity in public because they hate religious freedom. Am I on the right track, Rick? I guess the problem I see with this sentiment is that it is completely divorced from reality in every conceivable fashion. Gays can serve openly in the military because we’re citizens just like anyone else and gay sexuality is no more relevant to military service than is straight sexuality. Kids can celebrate Christmas and pray in school all they goddamn want to, as long as it isn’t led by or endorsed by public school employees, because that would constitute a state endorsement of religion, which as it turns out is unconstitutional. My public high school cafeteria was used as a church on Sunday mornings, teachers led after-school Bible studies in their homes as long as they were acting as private citizens and not state employees, and my friends and I exchanged Christmas gifts in the library during study hall. I was a Christian when I was in high school, and I prayed my ass off before many a precalculus exam (I got a D in precalculus). I won’t even go into all the other ways Christianity infiltrated my public education, but I assure you, Rick, kids most certainly can be openly religious in school.

“As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion.” Oh, this war on religion? Or maybe this one? I suspect what Rick Perry means is that Obama has made an effort to use more inclusive language, inclusive of non-Christian citizens as well as Christians. And that apparently is an attack on religion or some shit, I don’t even know at this point.

“And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.” Our religious heritage? The Constitution and the Treaty of Tripoli would like to have a word with you, Rick. Allow me to quote more things:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (First Amendment to the US Constitution, 1791)

Bolded parts: Laws endorsing a particular religion are a no-no. Laws stifling religious expression are a no-no. If you interpret those as “well, all religions are ok, but you have to pick one, so no atheism!” then the next part is awfully inconvenient for you, because freedom of speech means I have the right to type this on my public blog from a state-owned IP address: I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT GODS ARE REAL AND IN FACT I THINK THAT RELIGION IS A DETRIMENT TO PEACEFUL SOCIETY. Constitutionally protected. Is that the religious heritage you refer to, Rick Perry? Or is it this:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. (Treaty of Tripoli, Art. 11, 1797)

Oh right, the treaty that explicitly says that America is not a Christian nation. The one that goes on to say that America has nothing against Muslims or Islam. Yeah.

So anyway, Rick Perry, you approve that message, huh? Good for you. Freedom of speech in action. Rick Perry, governor of Texas and candidate for President, has a Constitutionally protected right to publicly admit to being a bigoted asshole with little knowledge of or regard for actual facts. I like this a lot, and here’s why: it’s like a huge red flag that says “HOLY SHIT DO NOT EVER VOTE FOR THIS CLOWN.” I appreciate that kind of warning. Thanks, Rick.

A quarter of a century

So, I’m 25.

I haven’t celebrated yet (despite there only being 9 minutes left in my birthday) but I have family coming into town tomorrow evening and I’ve had a generally pleasant day. So, hooray for that.

I always get stupidly giddy right before my birthday, so I haven’t slept too well the past couple nights. I’m probably going to crash hard tonight, and you know what? No complaints. A weekend reserved for sleeping, crafts, and delicious pasta? Fuck yeah.

Updates soon on the crafty-type things I’ve been doing. A brief rundown: glass magnets, chain-maille jewelry, crocheted bunny.

Okay, well, it’s been real. Time for my quarter-century ass to get to bed.

 

WTF, I suddenly have pageviews? Awwwwrriiiiighhhttt.

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