I finished P5! It’s over!

I finished Persona 5, thank goodness. I like RPGs, but not ones that go for so long and have balance issues. (By which I mean, by the time I was reaching the final dungeons, I already had those Personas and was not gaining experience due to being so far above the enemy levels just by doing the story dungeons and the social link requests. Given that there’s so much to do, that basic level of gameplay shouldn’t be making the entire party OP enough to one-hit kill physical resistant enemies with melee attacks.)

 

More spoilers below the cut, finishing off my thoughts on Futaba.

Continue reading I finished P5! It’s over!

Blah.

If you look back, you might see a few posts about the time I called the police and got screamed at because some guy was randomly scraping paint off the front of my house, and the police said it was strata so my male neighbour knowing about it was enough, even though I had already spoken to my landlord/parents and strata had been unable to confirm this was a thing that was meant to happen. Yeah.

Continue reading Blah.

Everything Wrong With Persona 5 – so far…

The amount of Gladio hate just builds and it makes my life. Though explaining to white male gamers that psychological conditions are not a sign of weakness of character is an uphill battle, the discovery that the stairs in Altissia have white lines painted on the edges (an aid for people with low vision, so they know where the steps are!) makes my argument that certain other low vision accoutrements aren’t up to scratch a tiny bit more grounded, and I’m happy in my spot on the Descartes graph.

 

But while I can still go on about FFXV (I got the Afrosword before my brother, and I acquired the Black Hood without using a glitch, unlike my brother, so I am very happy), I just went back to Persona 5 after taking a break after being spoiled and having some ragey moments.

 

I don’t have a good history with Persona, and quite frankly this one is more upsetting than the last. Persona 4 Golden was generally upsetting due to its weird fixation on a flawed perception of sexuality and stereotypes, but certain aspects of Persona 5 are quite personally upsetting.

Spoilers below the jump:

Continue reading Everything Wrong With Persona 5 – so far…

Road Rage strikes again

TW: MVAs, verbal abuse, police people

 

I have my new computer at last and there are so many little things I know now to appreciate – a dimmed monitor, a seat that hurts less, an ergonomic keyboard…

 

This just means that I am able to relate to you today yet another example of why I, as a person with a disability/disabled person/neuroatypical person/etc., will go out of my way to avoid dealing with the police. A lot of little things happened today to put me out of my routine and in a different place at a different time for this to happen.

Continue reading Road Rage strikes again

Eating Out Is Not A Team Sport

TW: harassment, mentions of rape

Okay, so one of the local papers back home has started pushing a new initiative, designed to create more conversation. “Encouraging conversation throughout the community,” actually. This is a local council funded and approved initiative, suggested, of course, by an old white man.

This initiative is a pale purple, business-card sized sign that said ‘Please join me’. It is designed for “single diners at cafes”.

Because, you know, there must be something wrong if someone’s eating out by themselves. And of course they want to not be alone, right? To the point of having to put an invitation out on the table for any old stranger to come and sit with them, no less.

Here are reasons someone might dine out alone:

  • They were shopping and stopped to eat something.
  • They are having alone time to recover from dealing with other people. This could be a parent having precious alone adult time away from dealing with kids and family, someone on their lunch break enjoying not dealing with co-worker gossip and pressure or just being away from a loud office, someone who just had a breakup and is reasserting their individuality… it could be anyone for any reason.
  • They want to enjoy food without having to make it a performative art.
  • They want to enjoy food without having to make conversation.
  • They are working while they are eating (particularly popular as the stereotype of writers in coffee shops, but this could still be anyone.)
  • They want to eat food they haven’t made themselves.
  • They want to.

The problem I see with this situation is based in my experience eating out alone, when that was a thing that was more possible than it is now. (Now I just get ignored at the counter unless they have a bell I can ding several thousand times.) And not just then, actually. I go out alone because I have no friends, right? Well, I went out alone when I had friends, too, and enjoyed it much more because I didn’t have to put up with people talking to me during movies, insisting on photos, complaining about my fidgeting/anxiety/whatever, running off in the wrong direction, stealing food off my plate and contaminating it (seriously, I was told off at family dinner where they insisted on having all the plates in the centre to share, and I insisted on taking my serve from the safe food first (and then found prawns underneath the vegetarian rice, wt?) and then my uncle was taking food off my plate because I wasn’t eating it fast enough. The night ended up with me in tears when we went to a zaharoplasteio for dessert and they just started picking things out and of course, there was nothing I could have, and then I threw up in the very sterile guest bathroom.). There exist people who won’t go to the movies unless they have someone to go with. Society still tells us that meals must be eaten in a group.

So when I am out alone, I get the following – all real examples:

  • “Is this seat taken?” Because, you know, when there aren’t enough seats at one table you just go take from others. Then I get told off for not responding correctly. One time, this escalated to a man complaining to event organisers that I did not talk to his wife, who was standing outside my field of vision, and resulted in laughing at how headphones should be banned. This exchange did occur where I could see it. Another time, it was a segue into the next one.
  • “Are you here alone?” This turns into either being hit on, or starts into a social commentary. “You’re so brave! I could never come to a gig alone. If my friends weren’t here, people would harass me all night! And I need someone to drive me home because I’m drunk. Are you drunk yet? Do you want a drink? No, you can’t not drink, it’s a gig! I’ll buy you a drink. Why don’t you drink? I know the singer. Did you know you can’t be vegan because occasionally bugs get caught in industrial factories and end up in food? So you shouldn’t try to be vegan, there’s no such thing. And there’s no God, either, because you eat bugs.”
  • “Oh there’s no room, I’ll just sit here, if you don’t mind.” And they are unpacked and taking up the entire table before any attempt at a rejection is made. And, of course, they talk. Because you have to talk, in social situations; you can’t be quiet because it’s creepy/rude/whatever. (I’m very creepy and rude. My brother called me scary because of how I dress. I’m proud of all of this, naturally.)
  • Being hit on. Yes, I mentioned it before. It is a thing that happens, a lot. “Are you waiting for your boyfriend? You don’t have a boyfriend? Why are you alone, then? A pretty girl like you can’t not have a boyfriend. You really don’t have a boyfriend? I’m not here with anyone, let’s hang out? And can I get your number? What are you doing after, want to go back to mine?” One time, in full view of all his friends (including two happily straight-and-engaged women), I was dragged around by my corset and adopted by a guy who refused to even ask my name (he looked like Tony Stark, so it shouldn’t be surprising). He wanted me to go home with him, made plans for me to cheerlead at his rugby games, and then started screaming at me for being too busy texting to pay attention to him when I was trying to type to him. The latter occurred after I got hit with a massive migraine, and one of the girls woke up and diverted the rest of his friends away so I could get out. He insisted on walking me out, reassured the bouncer that I was his and would be looked after (seriously, everyone can tell when I get a spike in the pain phase), and then started screaming at me in the middle of the street for not going home with him and not giving him my number. The fact that I didn’t want to be with him, repeatedly tried to get away from him, tried to leave without him… didn’t register for him at all.
    Another time I was at a concert, and I’d reserved seating. The venue screwed up and double-allocated the table, so I was there with five other people. One of them was very accepting and typed with me… and wouldn’t stop when the show started. I missed the entire show, because even putting my phone away and turning towards the stage wasn’t good enough – you don’t need to hear typing over a metal show, after all. Because men have learned now to text you before you leave and make you show them the text to prove you got it so that you can’t give them a fake number, and the only way he was leaving was if he had my number… it took about a week before he started sending me abusive texts about not responding to him fast enough.

Now, of course, you might be starting to see the issue. Compounded with the card being tiny, so that anyone would have to already be within your space to be able to read it… people who do not display the card now have an extra reason to be wary of people coming up to them. “Oh, I thought you had a card,” because their phone was the same colour. “You’re so pretty; I came to see if you had a card!” These lead to the most natural next step in any pushy, clueless, not-necessarily-entitled-male person’s playbook:

“Well, I’m here anyway, so…”

The one thing that can be established from my experience and those of the people whom I have been around, is the same thing that can be established from the not-so-recent trend of fake engagement rings… the people whom we most want to avoid are the people who will not take notice of such a signal. (And believe me, they don’t, and not just people who want the sex for themselves, trust me. That is, however, a story for another time.) The absence of a card doesn’t mean that people who are eating out alone won’t be bothered as they are now.

The presence of a card, however, is an invitation.

So far, I’ve talked about how people might want to be alone and be unable to deter people who intrude on that because people are either entitled or simply can’t comprehend that people might want to be alone.

But if you’re alone, and you’ve put out a thing which signals a blanket invite to engage with you…

  • Do you get to turn away the man who gives you vaguely unsettling vibes, whom you’d rather not know? Will he use the card as leverage to devalue your rejection?
  • If you’re about ready to leave and someone sits down, how do you extricate yourself easily? “I was just leaving, sorry,” is synonymous in film language for someone who is leaving to avoid someone, or to give privacy to someone else; what if someone doesn’t accept it as an excuse?
  • What if you start a conversation and then you become uncomfortable? You wanted it, right?

And so on.

Hopefully I don’t need to link people who read here to articles which relate incidents of rapists being acquitted because of various forms of invitation from the victim, not necessarily intentional or actual invitations. An actual card that says ‘please join me’? Well, it’s going to take a kind of judge we don’t necessarily have, and a very well-educated and enlightened jury to get past the rape culture and understand that isn’t ‘join’ in the carnal sense. The defence lawyers I know would certainly use it. The prosecutor I know? Raped me and only stopped because he said I wasn’t into it enough. So yeah, I think that’s going to become an issue.

The key issues in all this are, though:

  • An old white man thinks people don’t talk enough, so people alone in public have to signal that they’re alone and engage with strangers.
  • The inability of society in general, and men in particular, to accept that people may wish to appear in public alone, means that people (especially people who are in a vulnerable position compared to the ones who approach them, and/or identify with one or more minorities) can’t say no to company and expect it to be respected.
  • Because people can’t say no, or their no is ignored, expecting people to be respectable, civil people who can have an exchange that is like:
    “Excuse me, do you want company?”
    “No.”
    “Okay, have a great day!”
    is flawed.
  • The local council thinks all this can be fixed by encouraging people to not only signal that they’re alone (i.e. make themselves a target), but create an environment where people who don’t want to have a card and deal with strangers are treated with hostility. (And they are. I left a comment on the post expressing concern that this would affect people who don’t want company, and I was told that the council should make a ‘leave me alone’ card especially for me.)
  • The concept that we need to signal at all, either way. If someone’s alone, why do they need to be engaged in conversation at all? Why is it so bad to be alone in public that the local council feels a need to spend money to fix it? If someone is alone and wants to meet people, aren’t they going to be able to do that any other way? Like, for example, going up to people themselves and asking if they want company? Or are people so afraid of rejection becoming violent that someone deemed the card a great idea so that people know they won’t be rejected? Because if that’s the case, well… you know how the police say things like ‘don’t let your mail pile up while you’re on holidays because that might signal to burglars that nobody’s home’? It wouldn’t take much for someone to use the card as a way to case potential targets.

The last time I went out to a thing by myself, I went to the chemist and then to a movie (Ghost in the Shell! It was really pretty! I have opinions about whitewashing! I am white so I will keep them to myself!). On two separate occasions within the four and a half hours I was out, I was approached by two separate people-presenting-male on the street. I think one was telling me I was pretty, but I didn’t understand him, just that he started first from behind me then kept coming at me from the side. I was able to change direction and lose him. The other was calling out to me from a few metres away. I was able to keep limping on and lose him.

If I was displaying a card that said ‘please join me’, would I have been able to defuse those situations gracefully? Would they have taken it as an invitation to insert themselves in a way I couldn’t easily escape from? They were both bigger than me, and while by some miracle I have retained most of my strength through my body turning into not-my-body, I don’t have the flexibility or speed to realistically have expected to win a physical encounter. Would I have retained the choice not to engage? Clearly, the signals that I wasn’t interested – headphones in, not looking at them, not stopping – weren’t working. (And, therefore, my custom ‘leave me alone’ card, suggested, of course, by someone who lists their gender as male… probably wouldn’t either.)

Being alone, basically, is construed as an invitation in itself. I have countless more stories of being folded into groups or conversations against my will, which only violence or extreme rudeness would have gotten me out of, because saying no did not. Sometimes, they even hide it behind being protective – ‘You can’t take the bus alone at night! You’re only nineteen! You’ll get raped!’, or ‘It’s dark, I’mma drive you to your car even though it’s half a block away on a well-lit city street with a bunch of open restaurants, people, and cameras!’. We don’t need to give people an excuse to insert themselves into other people’s spaces when they do it anyway. We don’t need to be endangering people’s right to choose who they spend time with by “encouraging” them to issue open invitations.

It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to want to be alone. It’s okay to enforce that.

My best meal out by myself was before I was vegan, after I went dairy free. There used to be this little cafe in the shopping centre, with green walls and a Greek name, between the newsagent and the jewellers. I used to get on the bus on my day off from uni and go to my shopping, and then go in there. Their chips were the best – fried, with breadcrumbs  dusted on them, in a way I’ve never been able to replicate. They let me have a bacon and egg sandwich with no butter and no cheese. If I didn’t eat it all, because even then a sandwich and a potato was too much for me, I was able to bring the rest home with me. I would go in and I had my spot in a booth with my back to the wall and I was able to see the whole cafe and the people walking past. There was always a paper to read.

I was never bothered by anyone.

One time I went to the movies, and I was polite to a guy in line who just kept bugging me. I gave him a fake name, I didn’t give any personal details, I deferred plans after, I kept trying to end the conversation, and none of it took. Because I had pre-bought my ticket online (back when this was new and VIP was new, I just remember the line and that I was there at opening for first showing, not the actual movie at all or even what it was), I wasn’t worried about seeing him inside, since he had also pre-bought his ticket and was in a different cinema.

Somehow, he made it past three sets of ushers and the VIP security door (because I used to love the reclining chairs until one time an usher decided I couldn’t recline them by myself and came, pushed my hand away, and put the leg rest straight up – less than two weeks after I had abdominal surgery… oooooooooooow…….. the manager thought a voucher would fix it! I went back only twice, once because I already had my ticket for the KISS live concert, and once because Kingsglaive) to come into my cinema, find my seat, and lean over to say he hoped I enjoyed the movie. I dodged a kiss and there were ushers waiting to escort him back out.

In neither case was I overtly signalling that I wanted company or didn’t.

I don’t believe the cards are a good idea. I also don’t believe that they will have the intended effect. All I believe they will do, based on my experience and knowing the type of people in the area, is provide a small veneer of justification to approach people and then not leave when asked.

I don’t like the implication that this is for “single diners” or the implication that people who are alone shouldn’t be alone.

And most of all, I believe they present a risk, of a nature that an old white man, who has spent his life being socialised to believe that his company is always wanted and valued (etc. etc.), simply cannot comprehend. After all, he’s much less likely to have been a target and much more likely to have been an aggressor, oh, and been praised for it.

He doesn’t have to consider the possibility that someone might come up to him and use the pretense of the card, or looking for one, as a way to insert themselves where they would otherwise be rejected. He doesn’t have to worry that putting out the card would lead to someone coming up to him and abusing him for the way he looks or who he is, and then using the card as an excuse not to stop. He doesn’t have to be afraid.

In a society where none of us would be afraid, we wouldn’t need a card anyway.

(Incidentally, this is all much the same reason I refuse to do things like carry a note that explains my disability, which apparently renders any and all complaints about being mistreated as a result invalid. Like, one time I was threatened at a concert and yelled at by the security guard for not leaving fast enough – two minutes after the show ended. I probably made a post about it? Broadcasting these things doesn’t make one safer. It makes one a target – just like mail in the mailbox when on holidays.)

 

Edit [6 April 2017]: And now it’s national news. No, really. And the longer story is even more ick. I have incoherent painragethoughts.

Why I’m Not Attending Easter Masses

TW: Catholicism, discrimination, judgemental people, sexual harassment

 

It’s probably going to surprise people to know I’m Catholic. I’ve done the mental gymnastics, and it’s a thing I’m happy to identify with and it’s important to me, so that’s it for that.

Part of this is that I do not go to Mass. Every time I pony up and pull myself together and go, I end up coming home exhausted, an emotional wreck. Physically, it’s exhausting; I don’t kneel, but I still have to get up and down and walk around enough that I end up lying on the floor, that dreaded band around my waist, and my knees protesting every time I try to stand and my ankles twice their natural circumference, nearly perfect in their swollen roundness.

I would happily cope with that if Mass was a safe space.

Continue reading Why I’m Not Attending Easter Masses

A Privileged Position

TW: medical treatment for non-gender-binary and trans people, privilege

 

Side note: rumour has it that one no longer needs to provide ID to get codeine, at least until it goes script-only. Small wins are good, right?

 

So all this medical stuff I’m going through lately, and specifically how people seem unable to see ‘me’ in all this, has made me think about how i fit into the whole thing and how trans* and non-binary people get care. My position is that because i am afab (assigned female at birth), and since that’s generally how people assume when they see me, even if i do my makeup and bind and layer specifically for passing (especially now), i don’t really get put in the position of having to ‘convince’ anyone i was afab for things that is necessary for.

And, it is, unfortunately necessary. Because medical experimentation and treatment outlines and pretty much everything is designated male or female, it’s something that sticks with someone even if they surgically transition and live entirely as their preferred gender identity. (It’s very embarrassing to have to approach FtM relatives, for example, to ask if they had endometriosis, just fyi.) So, because i was afab and because i don’t want to permanently alter how i look, i don’t get the ‘but i was afab so you do need to give me a pap smear’ things.

What i also don’t get is valid and appropriate care for things which should not be gendered but are. Half of my heart is enlarged and i have a family history of heart disease (the rocks fall everyone dies kind of history). Because i don’t present male enough, it isn’t being taken seriously. Nobody knows why my heart is enlarged. Nobody thinks it’s worth looking into, no matter how much noise i make over it. Heart disease is a male illness; the warning signs and treatments are all designed for and tested exclusively on men. The fact that my heart isn’t working how it should, because i do not present male, is not important. The fact that i get dizzy if i move too fast, that my right shoulder doesn’t work, that i get chest pains for no reason – these mean nothing.

Well, i am told that the chest pains are just anxiety, because i have a mental health diagnosis, but then if that was the case it wouldn’t happen exclusively when i’m either sitting doing nothing and being very calm, or in the middle of the most strenuous physical activity i can not fail at doing.

 

Because i present female (even when i don’t mean to), doctors treat me as the stereotypical female. Since i have a mental health diagnosis from when i presented as a female under thirty… every physical thing gets written off as stress. i don’t get second opinions. i don’t get the right scans – just the cheapest. i had an echocardiogram after six months of saying ‘this isn’t right’. The cardiologist sent back a report saying it wasn’t concerning. My family history wasn’t passed on to him. i’m sure my file sits next to my dad’s in their file room, but confidentiality means even if someone noticed, they couldn’t use that as a reason to suspect a connection. Another doctor asked why i hadn’t had an ECG or a stress test, until he saw the report. Then, well…

Because people who present female and still count as ‘young’ are still ‘hysterical’ and ‘its just stress’.

 

And this is before the gynaecologist, where suddenly i’m not dysphoric enough to have a procedure i asked for for medical reasons, and i’m meant to wait until i’m older “in case”.

 

My point is, i think, that having any kind of non-binary or trans identity not only blocks people from accessing care due to the attitudes and assumptions of physicians, but even without those, we can never escape our birth identity. It still defines us, for them. We can’t avoid their boxes and the traits that go with them. Some of us have privilege that matches enough to get what we need; some of us do not. Some of us have to apply labels we don’t identify with to get what we need; some of us do not. Some of us can fight for what we need; some of us can’t.

It’s not us that need to change.