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Thursday, January 17, 2019

On Toxicity and Gender

You know the advertisement I'm referencing. We've all seen it, we've all seen the reactions to it, we've all argued about it. I'm not going to say much about that ad. 

What I will do is talk, briefly, about the concept of "toxic masculinity". Because I realize tempers are high and patience is short, I will list my thoughts as bullet points:
  • Toxic masculinity does exist, although it's nowhere near as pervasive nor as powerful as people think. 
  • Toxic femininity also exists, and in greater concentrations than people are willing to admit. I'm prepared to argue this, just not here and now. 
  • The existence of toxic masculinity does not mean that all masculinity is toxic and all men are abusers unless they prove otherwise. 
  • The existence of toxic femininity does not mean that all femininity is toxic and all women are manipulative unless they prove otherwise. 
  • Masculinity and femininity are gender expressions which exist outside of biological sex. It's not only possible to for a man to be very feminine or a woman to be very masculine, I guarantee that you've met at least one of them in your lifetime. 
  • So basically, "People can be toxic -- which ought to come as no surprise to anyone -- and how they express their toxicity is part of their gender expression."
What I find interesting is that this particular commercial came hot on the heels of the recently* released Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men by the American Psychological Association. This guideline is causing all sorts of consternation -- and rightly so, because it makes such proclamations as “traditional masculinity — marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression — is, on the whole, harmful” and "traditional masculinity ideology has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict, and negatively influence mental health and physical health."

In other words, the APA thinks that typical male behavior makes people sick.

I like to think that I have an unusual perspective on gender, since I have been on both sides of the equation. And speaking as someone who was raised male, and who tried and failed to fit in as a male, let me tell you: there's nothing inherently wrong with being male. I was miserable as a male, yes, but that's not the fault of masculinity any more than it would be the fault of my right shoe for hurting me when it's on my left foot. No, the problem is that my foot is in the wrong shoe and the solution is to move the shoe to the proper foot and not force the shoe to conform to my foot or force my foot to conform to the shoe. I moved the shoe to the proper foot by embracing my inner woman, and I'm happier now than I've been in decades.

Since I don't blame traditional gender expressions of maleness for my childhood unhappiness, I'm in total favor of allowing men to be as masculine as they like because I want people to be happy in their own skin instead of trying to be something they're not. 

Of course, I am also in total favor of allowing men to be as feminine as they like, too, for exactly the same reason. I am likewise in total favor of allowing women to be as masculine or as feminine as they like.

You see, when we as a society say "It's bad when a boy does X" or "Men should never do Y", when we focus on the sex of the actors instead of the actions themselves, we are allowing our fears and our prejudices to force people into gender-segregated roles. As a transwoman, I still struggle against people who believe that since I was born male, I should act male and who, given the opportunity, would gladly deprive me of my rights by having me declared mentally incompetent if I didn't go along with what they wanted.

I don't want that done to me, so I won't do it to others, and I will oppose those who attempt to force it upon others.

Remember: any law or social convention used against your opponents can be twisted to use against you when your ideology is no longer in power. 

Remember: always move towards greater freedom and away from greater regulation.

* More like "recently noticed". The APA manual came out in August 2018, but apparently it took social media four months to notice.

Monday, January 14, 2019

ACP Episode 038: .38 Masshole Special

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss The Dumbness that is the Massachusetts License to Carry permit system; 
  • Weer'd interviews Jay Grazio of Shooting Illustrated about growing up as a gun nut in the gun-unfriendly state of Massachusetts; 
  • David continues his series on carry methods by talking about his favorite holsters; 
  • while it may be too late for Christmas, Oddball gives some knife recommendations that might help you to spend your holiday gift money; 
  • and the ACP House Dick tells a story about how easy a GPS retrieval can go...and how hard it can be. 

Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that’s $1/podcast) and you’ll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

Show Notes

Main Topic
Gun Lovers and Other Strangers
Oddball’s Corner Pocket

    Monday, January 7, 2019

    ACP Episode 037: Our Headspace on the Bumpstock Ban

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d discuss the recent Bumpstock ban;
    • Oddball explains why he hates the term "Sheepdog" to explain gun owners;
    • David continues his series on Holsters, this time with carry methods that don't utilize belts;
    • and the General Purpose Egghead returns, this time to explain headspacing of firearms.

    Listen to the episode here.

    Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that’s $1/podcast) and you’ll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

    Show Notes

    Main Topic
    Gun Lovers and Other Strangers

    Sunday, January 6, 2019

    The Mithril Duck

    Mithril Duck
    Wondrous Item

    Faint divination
    Caster Level: 1
    Slot: None (held)
    Price: 700 gp*
    Weight: 0.5 pounds

    This small statuette (no more than 6 cubic inches in volume) of a duck is much lighter than it looks, suggesting a hollow interior. Beautifully detailed with exquisite attention to detail, if skillfully painted it could easily be mistaken for an actual duck, especially if put in water (it floats).

    Effect: To use the duck, hold it in your hand and ask it a question. It will answer by quacking (as if a masterwork duck call) and cast the Guidance cantrip upon the questioner.

    Construction Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item; Guidance or Master Craftsman; Masterwork mithril duck (DC 20 to craft; 250 gp for 0.5 lbs mithril)

    * The Mithril Duck is a level 0 use-activated item.
    • Use-activation is Spell level x caster level x 2,000 gp x 2 (1 minute spell duration) x 2 (slotless magic item)
    • A 0-level spell is half the value of a 1st-level spell for determining price, so spell level x caster level = 0.5 x 1 = 0.5
    • So cost is calculated as 0.5 x 2000 x 2 x 2
    • The Mithril Duck ought to cost 4,000 gp
    • However, this is ridiculously over-priced for a magic item which casts a spell that any first-level caster can perform an unlimited amount of times per day, so I apply a GM fiat ruling of dividing it by 10.
    • I mean do you really want your players to be able to sell this for 2,000 gp? I think not. However, 350 gp seems about right. 
    • 400 gp + 250 gp for 1/2 pound of mithril + 50 gp masterwork artisan's fee = 700 gp.

    For those of you who don't get the joke: it's a magical fantasy version of rubber duck debugging.

    Sunday, December 30, 2018

    The GameStop Misgendering & Retail Customer Service Advice

    People have been asking me for my thoughts on the GameStop misgendering. The executive summary is "I understand why she was upset, but losing her cool like that actually makes her look more masculine. She hurts her own interests and those of the community." After all, I can't think of a single situation where threatening to take someone outside and beat them like a man would beat them is somehow feminine in behavior.

    Longer version with explanation:

    I've been misgendered many times, and it hurts each time. It made me feel insulted and belittled, because in my opinion I had taken great pains to present as a woman, and I figured that if I was dressed like a woman and had hair and makeup and jewelry like a woman and smelled like a woman and acted like a woman and (hopefully) sounded like a woman, then all those things would be huge clues to the average person that, regardless of how I was born or what I had between my legs,  I wanted to be treated as a woman.

    However, there is a vast gulf of difference between accidental and deliberate misgendering. Most people who misgender do it accidentally, and how I react to that can affect how they view and treat other transgender people in the future. It starts by making a few acknowledgements:
    • I acknowledge that people are primarily visual creatures and that the eyes go straight to the brain. That means if people look at me and see "man" and call me "sir" that it's probably an accident. The same goes for the ears; I'm about 50-50 on people calling me "ma'am" or "sir" on the telephone. 
    • I acknowledge that most people don't mean to insult me, and that any misgendering is accidental, either due to the aforementioned visual/vocal cues or perhaps they've never met a transgender person before. 
    • I acknowledge that biting someone's head off over an innocent mistake is a good way to ruin things for everyone. 
    So in the instances when I've been misgendered, my response is always to smile politely and say "Miss/She/Her, if you please". 

    90% percent of the time, that solves the issue. Most people will blush or fluster or be embarrassed and say something like "Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to do that/I didn't know." And this is enough to make me happy, because they have apologized for hurting my feelings and have corrected their behavior, and I can't ask for more than that. 

    About 5% of the time, the person will either be so mortified that they can't say anything, or is so socially clueless that they don't realize how what they've said is inappropriate. Those people are best left alone, because in the case of the former they're already punishing themselves so there's no need to make it worse, and in the latter you'll have better luck explaining the situation to a stone. In either case, I save my energy for more important things. 

    Then there's the remaining 5%, the people who will go out of their way to be insulting to transgender people because it stokes their sense of righteousness. Depending on my mood, I will sometimes fight with them ; not in the hopes of convincing them they're wrong, but rather to draw them out so that others can see just how spiteful and toxic they can be. I give them a nice long rope that they obligingly put around their necks, and once they've said things they cannot walk back from, I block them on social media / walk away in real life because they aren't worth my time. The rest of the time, I just walk away. 

    Unfortunately, the GameStop transwoman does everything badly. She not only acts aggressively (therefore reinforcing the perception of her as masculine) but she also makes all transgender people look unstable and prone to outbursts of profanity and vandalism. 

    What she should have done was demanded to see the manager before any of this happened. She was clearly already upset with the level of customer service she was receiving -- if she weren't, people wouldn't have recorded it -- and so when someone offscreen misgenders her she reacts angrily. Getting mad at a minimum wage clerk solves nothing; instead, ask for a manager who has the ability and authority to solve your problem. If the clerk had misgendered her before the recording happened, she could have brought that to the attention of his boss instead of making a scene. 

    I worked in retail for many years in my 20s. I worked retail on Black Friday. While my experience is not the same as everyone else's, I've met my share of irate customers who decided to take it out on me, and this is what I can tell you:
    • If I'm not the manager, an upset customer isn't my problem. I literally didn't get paid enough to deal with those people. My stock reply was "I'm sorry I'm unable to help you. Would you like me to get the manager?"
    • In nearly every single case, the manager later told me something like "Don't sweat it, that person was an asshole" or "There's no way you could have solved that problem." In other words, a customer blowing their stack literally had no effect on my job, and most of the time we laughed at them after they'd left. 
    • In the rare cases where I did get a reprimand, it wasn't because the customer was upset at me; it was because I'd failed to do my job properly. Yes, sometimes the customer was mad because I'd screwed up, but I never got in trouble for that. I only got in trouble for not doing my job to the best of my ability. 
    In other words, if you want to put the fear of God into an employee, you don't yell at them; you ask to see their boss. 

    On the other hand, good behavior from an employee should be praised, and when I receive exemplary service I ask for the manager so I can praise that employee. You might think it's a waste of time, but my experience tells me otherwise: nothing brightens a manager's day quite like being told that one of their employees did a fine job and made a customer extra happy, and a manager who is aware of an employee's fine performance is more likely to reward that employee with a raise or other benefits, and a rewarded employee is happy and continues to give great customer service. It's a virtuous cycle. 

    I will close by relating to you my experience at the 2016 NRA Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN. I was checking in at the media room in order to acquire my media credentials for the convention, something that I had done before. However, unlike all the other times before and since, this time the lady checking me in asked for photo identification. 

    This presented a dilemma to me, as this convention was also the very first time I attended in full female form, and I had not changed my legal name or gender marker and therefore my ID still had a picture of me looking very male with a male name. 

    I had several ways to handle this situation. I could have made a scene; I could have stormed out; I could have broken down and cried. Instead, I went with polite honesty: "Well, I can give you my ID, but it won't do you much good because I'm transgender." I whispered that last word because I didn't want to announce my business to the world. 

    The woman checking me in went pale and said "Oh my god, I am so sorry, I didn't mean anything by that." She acted as if she'd insulted me directly, and was either aghast at causing offense or worried I would cause a scene.

    I smiled and said "It's all right. Now, please tell me how we can best handle this?" She went and got her supervisor, who as turns out knew who I was and told her to issue me my credentials without needing to see my ID.  The entire times she acted embarrassed, and I told her it was fine, that I wasn't insulted. 

    And then, once the rush was over, I sought out her supervisor and praised her for how she handled it. After all, she could have refused me entry because my ID didn't match; she could have made a scene; she could have called security to have me removed from the press room. But she didn't, and instead worked to resolve the problem without making me, the customer, uncomfortable. Her supervisor was happy, and she was happy, and I was happy because I knew that the next time this woman meets another transgender person, she'll know what to do. I made her life, and the life of that transgender person, that much easier. 

    That's how you handle being misgendered. 

    Friday, December 28, 2018

    SHTFriday: New Posts at Blue Collar Prepping

    I know there was a months-long period where I wasn't writing anything for Blue Collar Prepping, but I hope to write more there (and do more writing in general) in the coming new year.

    For now, though, you'll have to content yourselves with two recent articles of mine: one about foot wraps (called Portyanki in Russian) written last month, and one about how to build a self-feeding fire that I wrote today.


    Not actually Erin.
    & is used with permission.

    Tuesday, December 25, 2018

    Merry Christmas 2018

    Sometimes, the kindest gift of all is the gift of time and attention.

    Thank you for your lovely Christmas Presence.

    Merry Christmas & a Happy Hearth's Warming!

    The Fine Print

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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