Broken is broken

Contains SPOILERS for the BBC show ‘Broken’

I’m going to cut all of this, because seriously, this show has so many triggers in like, four hours (so far), that like, it’s hit the red exit button for everyone I know. Everyone. And in my view, some of it was entirely unnecessary or unnecessarily explicit. But! So under the jump there will be the TW, because apparently some people got past the first five minutes without putting all the pieces together and I do know at least one person who hasn’t even watched those.

Continue reading Broken is broken

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…

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.

I Am Not Your Pony

TW: discussion of inspiration porn, ableism and discrimination

So it is true that sometimes, people who have disabilities have to work harder to get the same result as a person without them. It is also true that some people credit this as ‘inspirational’.This is called ‘inspiration porn’ and it is bad.

It devalues people and their disabilities by reducing them to motivation for non-disabled people by saying ‘well you don’t have to work as hard so you can be normal too!’.

It enforces the nonsensical idea that disabilities mean people can do less, and that therefore doing normal things is something that should be praised and celebrated as an achievement.

It propagates the assumption that the having of a disability means life is terrible by default and it takes extra special courage to exist.

It reduces disabled people to a stereotype, assuming things like:

  • all disabled people, no matter what their body will or will not allow them to do, have to work extra hard to do normal things (i.e. that doing ‘normal things’ is not actually their usual state);
  • all disabled people are special sainted angels who regularly overcome mental illness just to exist;
  • all disabled people have to fight or overcome their disability in order to be in society, because disabled people are ‘other’;
  • all disabled people have sunshine and rainbows for breakfast;
  • it shifts the blame for anything which can’t be solved by optimism and effort onto the disabled person – “You can’t do stairs! There’s no lift! But you can walk sometimes, right, so just work hard and you can do it! See, you did it! You’re so brave! What do you mean, call am ambulance? We just got here and I’m so proud of you!”

 

It assumes that the state of having a disability is a negative, undesirable thing that people who live with it must be special just because they do, and that by ‘choosing’ to appear normal they should be praised for conforming anyway.

Continue reading I Am Not Your Pony

Pharmacist woes, again

TW: discussion of medical examinations

So, today I saw the pain specialist, at long last. (Recap: I was meant to be referred in 2015, which didn’t happen, and then I was referred to one that was too far away for me to get to after I said I wasn’t going and wanted to go to the one in the same hospital where my psychiatrist is for reasons of being able to get there, and finally that happened and then I had to wait and yeah.)

 

Nothing happened. He examined me with my corset on, so obviously, he thinks I’m able to stand straight and all, what with, you know, 22 spiral steel bones holding me up by the grace of a really long shoelace. (I specifically asked the psychiatrist to tell him no other people present for the exam, too, and he just had to bring in one of the reception ladies to stand and stare at me while I was put through positions. I don’t think people realise that’s more mentally destabilising than just getting the exam over with.) He didn’t explain anything that he was doing either, which I hate because it feels like being put on display, and I’m so done with being the for-show-sub.

 

So on the way home, I had to get more pain meds, because nothing happened. He has to think, you see, to make sure he doesn’t give me anything that will have more chance of killing me than what I’m on. (Bear in mind, the only restrictions on what I am on right now are that it’s an S3-pharmacist only medicine, so it can’t be sold in supermarkets, and it can only be sold in packets less than a 5-day recommended dose. That’s it. All the rest of it is just pharmacists making things up and people being paranoid because a super-tiny percentage of people who put up with the dehumanising rigmarole and purchase it legally may end up addicted. Studies put this at 3% of users, with 30% becoming physically dependent, which is not addicted. Addiction is when use of it impacts the ability to live a normal life, such as not buying food to afford it or stealing money to get it, and it’s often characterised with increasing use, hence the fear that it is a gateway drug. Physical dependence is when quality of life is compromised without it because the body needs the effect of the medication, like how people who are on blood thinners or heart medication have to taper off even when switching brands, so that the things those drugs are meant to control don’t get out of control.)

 

It’s been a while since I have had to speak with a pharmacist to get them. It’s also been a while since I’ve had access to my printer, since I’ve been in too much pain to reliably trust myself to set up my new computer, so my note looks a bit old.

So today the assistant takes off to the back to ‘run it past the pharmacist’ and comes back a few minutes later, hands my my note, and someone has written the date on the back.

You know, rather than asking me anything so I could say ‘I just came from the pain specialist and I have to stay on this until he confers with my other doctors to decide what to give me’, they just decided, on their own, to write on my property, so they could track my purchase habits (not my usage), without signing up for MedsASSIST and thus ensuring I wouldn’t go there (because MedsASSIST is a huge violation of privacy and now entirely pointless, since my medication will go prescription-only next year. Apparently the government thinks a year is enough for everyone to get through to the proper specialists and get a diagnosis and get functional. I’ve been unable to work for four years and I’m only just now breaking through through sheer refusal to accept anything less than compassionate, informed treatment.) I don’t actually think I was meant to notice. It was on the back, in tiny writing, in the corner.

 

But I don’t get this thing at all. I mean, sure, yeah, I complained the time a pharmacist called me an addict to my face because people with migraines can’t have excruciating, sleep-stealing back pain. I think that was justified, because it wasn’t compassionate, and the pharmacist missed a huge opportunity to actually try to find out whether there was something better or make sure I was aware of the risks etc. (I got lectured on those again today. Yes. I know ibuprofen is bad. Paracetamol is worse for me. Yes, I know codeine sucks at relieving the pain I have. I haven’t been offered or able to access anything else.) Today the pharmacist wouldn’t even talk to me. The only contact with a pharmacist I have had at that pharmacy at all in the last six months is one time he came out and asked how many I was taking, and when I said he told me I should tell my doctor. I wondered what he thought I’d been doing, over and over and over again. And again. “Just eat more!” Except eating hurts, I’m not hungry, and now swallowing hurts because something in my neck is swelling like a big stupid grape. I have had pharmacists yell at me from behind the back counter where, of course, I can’t type to them. And they thought having a system of tracking medication would work? Why? Because it meant they didn’t have to talk to people. It’s the only conclusion I can draw. Pharmacists do not want to talk to me. At all. But without talking to me, they can’t do the thing. They won’t let me go in and buy what I need to survive until a doctor listens and lets me say all the things and finds the magical right solution, but they won’t talk to me to find out whether there’s anything better that they will give me without less drama, they won’t listen if I do get the chance to try to explain or ask. (I remember one time I went in and asked if there was anything else I could take, and we went around in circles for half an hour ‘I can’t give you codeine’ vs ‘I know that because I am asking for something that isn’t codeine’.)

 

And then there was the time where they wouldn’t give me my meds because they didn’t know if I wanted the generic or not because questions end with a question mark.

 

I am likely to get fibro meds and I have to keep telling myself it’s just a few more weeks of being treated like a subhuman for having pain.

 

I honestly don’t know if I can last. It’s not even that the opioid-suppresses-respiration thing is kicking in, or the pain is ridiculously worse because of the heat, but I just want to go in, get my meds, and come home, without drama or people trying to spy on me because they think they know my body better than I do when I’m the one stuck in it and they won’t even look at me.

 

(And, for the record, I can’t buy online, because the online ones don’t have ingredient lists, and about three hours of increasingly specific and weird searches leads me to the conclusion that not only are they three times more expensive than purchasing them legally, they have lactose, which means if I don’t throw them up, I won’t be able to breathe, because lactose comes from milk and I am allergic to milk. Being allergic to milk and therefore not even being able to walk down the cheese aisle without nausea and itching does not make for lactose intolerance. This is a backdoor PSA. Adults can be deathly allergic to milk.)

 

And now, because my life is not my own, I have to go tell my mum everything that happened in exact detail because she’s the only one allowed to keep her medical issues to herself.

Good News!

TW: female body issues, anxiety

 

I am officially old enough to be taken seriously when I make a decision about my body. You know, the one that is like ‘I do not want kids ever, I will kill myself if I have another period ever, the wacky hormones this body likes not having controlled are making my anxiety worse and I would like them to go away, please take out the thing that makes them’.  It wasn’t the most perfect appointment – despite telling me to make the appointment myself, the GP sent the referral anyway, so the appointment was made for less than two weeks away (which is now today, because I totally abandoned the internet for a week in favour of Final Fantasy XV, and there will be a post on that so if you haven’t finished the main story, get on it), and my psychiatrist didn’t know about it and had two days to send the ‘this is what is needed to facilitate best communication and this is where we are at in diagnosing things as either brain or not-brain’. Naturally, that didn’t arrive, so I got there and had to type on my phone, which means all statements must be Twitter-style brief and concise, which I am terrible at. Luckily, I took a summary of everything-since-I-was-12 and that answered most of the questions, so it wasn’t a disaster.

 

However, despite being old enough to say ‘this is what I want’, I now have to see not only my psychiatrist and return to the GP to get both of them to sign off in writing, I have to see another psychiatrist and another gynaecologist, so they all can sign off. And I can only have half of what I want (a partial hysterectomy, because they won’t take out the ovaries because they make the hormones which are causing the problem), anyway. And you know, it’s the law, so we have to cover our arses, you know “in case you change your mind”.

 

Which, I won’t. Obviously.

 

So now I have to pay for all this.

 

The good news is that I can, kinda. Medicare pay for some, private health pays for some, and the rest comes out of my shiny new disability payment. Turns out, I didn’t have to go to the appointment in the first place, or something, or something else, which I don’t know because I can’t call them and I only know this because I got a response to my third complaint which said “your issue has a resolution, please call if you want to know more”. And then! Money! In my account! Enough to pay down my credit card, pay for the gynaecologist, and buy a Christmas cake. And I can send presents to my family now!

 

And I’m just going to go back to Final Fantasy, because I am being very calm, because my head hurts and I’m terrified this won’t happen before I either need a new Pap smear, need a new Implanon, or get the period-after-the-Implanon-has-been-in-for-a-few-months. I know it’s coming, because my head hates me and I’m bloated rather unevenly and I haven’t even been able to keep my bi-weekly vegan alfredo down. I don’t know when.

 

But apparently, according to the gynaecologist today, I look 21, so. And I’m also meant to stick with my current pain relief regime because it’s good for me. You know, the one I routinely have trouble purchasing.

 

 

 

Yeah.