Also

It’s 2012. I choose my friends based on shared interests, not body parts. The idea that I’d enjoy hanging out with your significant other more than you simply by virtue of the fact that we both have two X chromosomes is offensive. Stop organizing gatherings based on gender lines. If your significant other cannot handle the fact that other women enjoy the same things her man does, but which she herself loathes, she needs to deal with that, and not take it out on everyone else.

Are these two extra posts to cover for softness? Yes. Yes they are. Now I don’t ever want to be invited along with the expectation that I will keep someone’s wife company again. If I wanted to babysit I’d have had children.

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Hurting My Nerd Cred

I’m just going to say it. I hate board games and card games. Not TCGs, because I enjoy trading and haggling and hunting down the cards you want, but these pre-constructed games? They’re awful. Plodding. Dense. Sparkless. If you judge me subpar or noobular in my geekdom, so be it. At least I won’t lose hours of my day to soul-sucking boredom. I’ll be skipping through same dazzling otherwhere, whether on a screen or on a page. I play games to escape, not to listen to rule nazis bicker at each other.

On Family

There are so many hokey movies and books and aphorisms about family being what you have to keep whole because they’re the only ones who’ll stick by you etc. etc. that I think any kernel of truth that might have been at the center of all that has been lampooned out of existence for most people. And maybe the realities of there being many horribly abusive and damage-inducing families out there also damages this truth. But no one else would have dutifully skyped me day after day as I sat there and cried and raged about how lonely and miserable I was. No one else would have hopped a plane for $2000 and come to stay with me for a week and made me forget, for a little while, what a ridiculous and stupid situation I’d landed myself in. No one else, after years of what could arguably be called neglect on my part—making no effort to see the other side of things, ever, and pretty much doing my best to drop off the familial radar—would pick up the phone at 3:45 in the morning and be on the road by four, driving 500 miles to be at my house by the afternoon.

And while I am in no way saying my way of coming to respect these truths is the only or the best way, I am grateful to have come to that point pre-marriage. Because I think a lot of people enter into relations with their in-laws with claws outstretched, ready and willing to find every way in which their backgrounds differ and to focus on this point as one of contention. When what really interests me is the fierce love we share for the same person, and the knowledge that maintaining everyone’s knowledge of that affection is really goddamn conducive to everyone feeling okay. And I am very much concerned with everyone feeling okay. There are too many people who don’t. While I am helpless in the face of the girl on the back of the bus who is folding in on herself and crying into her coat collar, I am capable of offering a needed ear when my mother-in-law needs to tell someone about the health problems she’s watching her own mother go through. I’ve seen them. More so than some people twice my age. If my being able to relate to her on that level makes her feel remotely better, I am glad to do so. If my dad was willing to drive 500 miles at the drop of a hat, and my mother fly 3000, the least I can do is listen when, even for just a day or so, my MIL feels as stranded as I was for over a year.

Don’t Cry For Me, Pegasister

Where to begin.

I’m going to make the reasonably safe assumption that few if any of the people I actually direct to this blog are aware of, or care for if they are already aware of, the recent burgeoning population of My Little Pony among those well outside its intended demographic. Bronies, pegasisters, Derpy, Dr. Whooves, fandom at large—these are all terms either totally foreign or only vaguely grasped, maybe long enough to express skepticism at but nothing more. I’m not going to educate you about them here. It’s easy enough to do that elsewhere—this is the internet, after all. So I’m skipping all that and cutting right to a post and a series of comments that deserves attention.

Here. 

Now direct your attention to the first comment, by Thaddeus (whom I don’t believe for a moment is a male, but that is beside the point). The range of my responses to this waxed and waned as follows: “Oh good, someone’s taking a stand who isn’t just going to ooze invective.” “Well, if that logic follows then a good number of awful hurtful things I’ve heard are rendered okay, but moving on.” “Damn, this person even has something of a background in queer studies. Sweet.” “Wait a minute, you’re upset about the term brony not being gender neutral?” “You’re whining because the boys are getting all the attention?” “Stop! Get me off this bandwagon! Stopppp!”

Okay.

I’m not going to sepia-tint this by going on about my fandom-less decade, the giddy years that preceded it, the real fringes to which I’ve kept re: FiM (due simply to the constraints of time and money), or anything anchoring me on a given point on the vast spectrum of fangirl/boydom. All I want to do is express my contempt for this kind of whining.

Yes, whining. I understand the erudition behind it and can probably name some of the articles—because “Thaddeus” is a recovering or concurrent academic, no bones about it—that would be brought up in defense of the Girls Not Allowed, Wah Wah position. I will brook none of it. Hijacking scholarship that is necessary to create spaces in which people can be themselves (please allow me this cop-out term), and using said scholarship as a crowbar with which to bludgeon anyone in any situation acting in a way that is not the way you find most charming, is infuriating.  I cannot claim to agree completely with the commenter who follows Thaddeus—we’re all well and good until we get to cringeworthy claims like “boys naturally gravitate to this” and “girls naturally gravitate to that,” which is so detestable it would be distracting to address it in full—but the point s/he makes about it being a no-brainer that bronies use this term to protect themselves seems entirely valid to me. I was aware of the term before I cared a fig for FiM, and neither then nor now do I feel put out or disenfranchised by it.

I know personally and resent mightily men whose kneejerk reaction to bronies (and for that matter hipsters, steampunk fans, men in cardigans, or basically anyone they can lump under the umbrella of a group to which they specifically choose not to claim membership) is loud and elaborate disdain. And since in my experience few people of either gender have the balls to dispense with friends they find cruel or barbed or downright bigoted, it does make sense to me to participate in the construction of this term and the community attached to it, in which one can shelter from the strident condemnation of one’s peers. It is easier for girls. Chalupatime goes too far in saying that any time a girl wants to do something outside the realm deemed appropriate for her gender, legions of bloggers descend on her in a celebratory feminist parade, but still. Prior generations have done a lot of work for us, while men still—for all the privileges they maintain in other spheres, to be sure—are able to take pleasure within only a very narrow corridor of activities before they become questionable to their peers. Sucks for them, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not going to hold the bronies or bronyhood against them for trying to branch out a little. 

And even if I were, as could conceivably happen, to enter a brony-centric IRC chat (yes, they still exist) and feel a bit left out…I’d suck it up. Sometimes you have to do that. This is the internet, people. You are never going to quash the urges of other people to out-squick or out-mock or out-argue you. This is neither pleasant nor avoidable. Deal. I realize this comes on the heels of my anti-snark post, and I in no way mean to advocate the dogged sucking-up of snark*. But by and large, being one of the few crashers at a sausagefest doesn’t mean putting up with snark. It just means having a backbone. So grow one.

* I’m treating it as defined by Adam Sternbergh in his displeased review of David Denby’s anti-snark book, as “humor as a vehicle for cruelty.” Whether it’s bronies, gamers or model railroaders you’re dealing with, nine times out of ten, the [potential] initial friction between you and the sausagefest you’re crashing isn’t cruelty, or the desire to perpetrate it. It’s a cocktail of unfamiliarity, bewilderment, and eagerness-disguised-as-idiocy. None of which is intentionally cruel, and very little of which ends up expressed in ways that could even be misconstrued as cruel. Which is categorically not the same for snark.

The Death of Snark

I would like to see it.

Knowing you are insecure, and that that is why you are so desperately cutting all the time, does not make me like you any better. Knowing that at one time people were able to get to part of you that wasn’t bristling with nasty puns and sarcasm—that once, maybe when you were little or pubescent together, you were close with your friends in ways that connoted honesty and earnestness—does not make me like you any better.

Because, as a creature so woefully beholden to the fashion of the times, you have closed the hell up, and now your only mode of interaction with people who didn’t know you before you were so insecure is to be a complete ass.

This is disappointing.

I realize there is a fine line between being genial and able to laugh at things, oneself included, and being corrosive in the endless onslaught of one’s barbed remarks. Not enough goddamn people walk this line. And I am tired of it. Persistent assholery toward people you do not know, and groups you know nothing about—hell, even the creation of those groups, so that you have new targets for your derision—does not make you appear slick, or witty, or adroit with your tongue. It just makes you look like a fucking jerk.

Try being honest about something once in a while, people. Try being open. For once in your miserable post-pubescent lives. When you keep acting like people are going to slap you for finding anything meaningful or beautiful in the world, you make it so the only way they want to interact with you is to slap you. To give you what you crave. And the cycle of your insecurity and the defensive jabs at everyone and everything that is not you continues.

So cut it out.

Please.