This whole “Catching Wine” thing

I almost never talk about religion on here (I don’t remember if I have at all yet, so this page may be the exception), but I think in this case it’s useful for describing what this blog is about and who I am, and hopefully it’s more interesting to read than a list of credentials. I promise to keep it non-preachy. If you wanted a sermon this isn’t generally the blog to read. I am more likely to talk about things like transgender issues, kink communities, design quirks, and media bias. Most of what I do here is intended to show the complications in apparently simple situations, or to make apparently inscrutable situations a bit more accessible to people who aren’t already intimately familiar with their workings. (Relevant credential: my day job includes writing technical documentation that doesn’t make end users miserable and bug reports that make developers want to throw as few things as possible.) Anyway, my point is that this isn’t a sermon, it’s about me.

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Mixed play experiences: or, why one person had fun and another got hurt

This is a fictional story to look at the question of how a person can play well with some people while others experience consent violations, abuse, and even rape. I think often we imagine that people are either always abusive or never abusive, and while we’re getting better at recognizing that people can make mistakes and work to own and address them over time, there’s still not a lot of understanding of how a person can violate consent over the long term with some people and not with others. I wanted to group together a bunch of common perspectives in a tangible example to show what this often looks like in practice. Content warning: this is primarily descriptions of sexuality, consent violations and abusive behavior, occasionally graphic and including some systemically oppressive behavior and ideas and characters defending abusive/oppressive behavior.


Joy plays with many people of any gender as a top, and has a reputation for exciting, extreme play. Most people report great experiences with her, and she vets well both as a player and as a community member for her years of involvement. A number of people report that after consensually tying them up she engaged in nonconsensual gender humiliation and gagged them without consent, preventing them from safewording. Those people are all trans women. Outside of play she is a dedicated trans ally, and no trans men have come forward about any concerns, but she’s got a pattern of bad play behavior with trans women.

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What is a Gay Bar For: Unpacking Chosen Segregation

Why do gay bars exist?

I can’t possibly hope to encompass the entire spectrum of gay bars, and that’s not my goal here. It’s actually to address the pervasive fallacy that marginalized groups self-segregate simply by choice and therefore diversity efforts are unwanted by members of that group. Therefore I’m intentionally focusing on some common trends in gay men’s bars specifically which may be seen as examples of this self-segregation. To deal with some of the wordiness and repetition, I’m just referring to them as gay bars instead of gay men’s bars, and referring to their core attendance as gay and bi men. I apologize for the failure of the wording on account of the entire English language. (I’m pretty sure being white gives me that authority…erm…)

Gay and bi men go to gay bars to meet other men with a similar attraction, to socialize with friends, to be out, to find new lovers with whom to share the rest of their life or just a handjob in the bathroom. But straight people do that in straight bars, too. We made our own private venues, eventually working out to be straight bars, for this reason: that sexual and romantic relationships between men were legally forbidden and socially subject to violent efforts to prevent us from loving and fucking each other. We made places to hide and even to thrive, to share resources, to be employed and out, to create our own art and folklore and subculture around our sexual attraction. It’s a world that provides both safety from homophobia as well as the ability to be out and common.

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Disney gets the measles: on not getting vaccinated

I’ve seen a few people suggesting that the solution is for people who are not vaccinated to never leave their homes, etc. Probably (hopefully!) a tongue-in-cheek suggestion, but here’s a reminder anyway: not all people who are not vaccinated are of the mind that vaccines cause autism or cancer or bad vibes or whatever.

For one, there are numerous good-science reasons for why certain people should not get specific vaccines. These are the US guidelines on who should not receive each vaccine. Coming from the federal government doesn’t guarantee good science (see: climate change) but aside from having a much better hit rate than Natural News, these are the guidelines doctors use to provide exemptions. They of course change over time due to a variety of factors, not just new scientific research but also changing studies of things like cost effectiveness.

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Reading Fox News responses to the Garner decision

Ryan J. Reilly’s pointed out on Huffington Post that Conservatives are generally confused and unhappy with the decision to not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner. I was specifically looking at responses on Fox and noticed some interesting things.

I’ve been talking about filter bubbles over  on Facebook, and in continuation of that I compared my search results using both Google and Yahoo, particularly while attempting to find the rest of the clip of Gretchen Carlson talking about the tree lighting ceremony, which was trimmed down to that brief clip by Think Progress without any link to the full segment. I usually default to Google for my search results, with search history turned off (info on how to do it here) but with local web browsing history and cookies not erased. I almost never use Yahoo to search. I was interested to find that when searching with Google for results on Fox News I was more likely to get results from Slate, Salon, Think Progress, and similar sites talking about Fox as my top results than to get results from Fox itself; I sometimes click Slate and Salon links, and almost never Think Progress, but that is a site I see many people I know linking. Interestingly, many of those results were sourcing each other. In the example of the Think Progress clip, while searching “fox news eric garner gretchen carlson”, my top result on Google was the above linked Think Progress page; my top result on Yahoo was Gretchen Carlson’s page on Fox’s site, including a link to the original video, which is a significantly better response.

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On Pronoun Etiquette

Third person pronouns are words we use to refer to someone who isn’t you or me (such as “he” or “hers” or “them”). In English, third person pronouns are a remnant of the grammatical gender of Old English. Many modern languages use grammatical gender in ways that impact pronouns, and many other modern languages don’t use gendered pronouns at all. This post is about English pronoun usage only and may or may not apply to other languages.

Generally, third person pronouns are now used to indicate someone’s gender, and it’s common to think that we can tell someone’s gender — and therefore their pronoun — just by looking at them. This is based on assumptions that there are “correct” ways to look like a man or like a woman or even like a non-binary-gendered person. However, many people who use “he” or “she” as pronouns may not fit other people’s expectations of what a man or a woman looks like, many nonbinary people may look binary, and there are almost definitely many pronouns you haven’t heard of. Continue reading

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Gender Pokey: a companion to the Gender Gumby

A friend remembered that I had issues with the Gender Gumby (PDF link), a teaching tool that SMYRC‘s Bridge 13 community education program has been using for some 10 years, since well before the Q Center even existed. The Gumby is good for people who have never questioned these things before, but for the rest of us it can be alienating, boring, etc (this video is a great demonstration). This friend asked if I knew anything better, and I realized I still haven’t seen an improvement I liked, so I made this Gender Pokey (PDF link).
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