Estradiol: For when you’re not moody enough already

So last week I had my estradiol dosage jacked up and the big results so far are that I’m currently watching my free copy of He’s Just Not That Into You on Vudu… and enjoying it.

So seriously, as a feminist I’ve always tried to resist the stereotype of women being moody and emotional and everything, but ever since starting hormones I’ve felt like an emotional nutcase, and it’s just been crazy this past week. One second I’m all lovey and affectionate and everything, the next I’m catty and bitchy, and then next thing I know I’m curled up under my giant quilt scrounging through online video services on my PS3 looking for romantic comedies. I think I’ve only seen, like, 4 romantic comedies in the past 10 years, and all of those were because my girlfriend dragged me to them and made me promise not to make fun of them under pain of no sex. I watch horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and, when I need  good cry, kid’s movies. (I always cry at the end of kid’s movies, hormonal or not.) I do not watch romcoms, or comedies of any kind, for that matter. However, pretty much everything I’ve watched in the past week has been a comedy of some sort. I’ve also taken to laughing like a maniac at them, which is something I usually don’t do. Usually when I laugh during a movie, it’s because of how bad it is.

Anyway, while I’m enjoying the mini-boobs and the fact that my ass has finally joined the rest of my body in the third dimension, I could really do without the moodiness. Also the having to pee 50 times a day. I’m not saying that I regret anything, it’s just that years of training in feminist philosophy have not prepared me well enough to know what to do or how to think when I find myself identifying with Drew Barrymore. Dudes, next time your lady is acting all moody and weird, cut her a break. Your hormones make you hit things and want to fuck everything you see, which is really a lot simpler than experiencing the whole spectrum of human emotion within a single 24-hour period.

Obligatory end of summer update

Whoa, so I haven’t been around here in, like, forever. I’ve been splitting my time between working on a paper and actually having a social life for the first time in about a year. On Monday it’ll be back to having no life: I start my new job and then after a week of orientation it’s back to school. After taking part in the book discussion group earlier this summer, my professor–who has turned into something of a mentor this past year–gave me permission to sign up for her graduate seminar in Advanced Metaphysics in the fall, which will be focusing on feminist metaphysics this semester. I just got approved for that class on Monday by UNL’s Graduate Studies department, so I dropped my Spinoza class. Here’s the new schedule:

  • Intro to Physical Anthropology
  • Ethical Theory
  • Advanced Metaphysics
  • Fiction Writing
  • Writing Theory for Consultants (job-related)

In addition, I’m still volunteering at the LGBTQA Resource Center, so it should be a pretty busy semester. I’ll probably either end up killing myself or coming out totally prepared for grad school. My Philosophy of Language professor has been helping me with my paper. I’ve decided to write on the reappropriation of the word ‘queer’. Specifically, I want to explore how a word which started its modern life as a pejorative could end up changing connotations due to a conscious effort among
a specific language community. I suspect it has something to do with how much a word is needed to perform a particular job. Professor Dowell sent me some information about a conference coming up in November in Memphis that she said my paper would go over well at, so I think I’ll be submitting it.

Also, I had my almost-three-month hormone check-up on Wednesday. I switched doctors and am now going to Planned Parenthood. The doctor I was seeing at UNMC is more qualified, but it’s just easier to grab a 5-minute bus ride to Planned Parenthood than to venture up to Omaha at the asscrack of dawn, especially with how busy I’ll be this semester. They did more blood tests, and I’ll find out next week if they’re going to do anything with my doses. I have been noticing some significant changes already. The most exciting is that I’ve started developing breasts. They’re painfully sensitive and nearly microscopic, but progress is progress. Also, my body hair has started to diminish and grow more slowly. My skin also seems smoother and generally healthier, but I’m not sure how much of that is the hormones and how much is the fact that I recently started a new skin-care regimen. I’ve also started getting ma’amed a lot on the phone, which is a big plus. And today when I went to the pharmacy to refill my sleeping pills, which are prescribed under my full male name, the pharmacist asked if I was picking them up for someone else, which made me feel good.

Finally, on the dating front, I’ve met a lady whom I think seems like quite the winner. We seem to have quite a bit in common, and she is incredibly sweet and caring. The main problem is that she lives in Omaha and my piece-of-shit car probably isn’t fit to travel the highways. Also, she’s allergic to cats, which could be an issue…

Anyway, I’ll try not to disappear for weeks on end again. I realize that a lot of my friends come here to keep up with what’s going on in my life, which is nice, but I may be kinda busy for a while. I’ll still try to keep you folks posted.

Dr. Oz: America’s Quack (and now, “G-Spot” enthusiast)

Last night I was watching Piers Morgan (when I have the TV on it’s usually on CNN, regardless of what time it is) and in case you haven’t heard, it’s Guest Host Week. That means that some random dude whom I’ve never heard of was sitting in for Piers (whom I had never heard of before last year) and running the show. The first guest was that dude from the Today show, which I haven’t seen in at least 3 years, but that was more “with it” than I usually am with Piers’s guests (I usually have no idea who his guests are; the main reason I watch that show is so I can feel in tune with popular culture). After that torture, they brought in Dr. Oz for the coup de grâce.

Now I first became familiar with Dr. Oz last year when the James Randi Educational Foundation denounced him for featuring con-artist extraordinaire James Edward on his show. I did some research and found out he broke into stardom sometime around 2005 when Queen of the Deluded Gullible Douchettes, Oprah Winfrey, had him on as a guest. Apparently she thought he was great, which is usually a major warning sign for me. Usually, the likelihood that something is true is inversely proportional to how much Oprah seems to buy into it. I call this phenomenon the “O Factor.”

I did a little more digging and found out he’s a big supporter of integrative medicine. Us skeptics have a technical word for doctors like this: Quacks. I prefer to use the more scientifically accurate term, though: crazy, dangerous nutjob hucksters. Also, sometimes wannabe Messiahs or conspiracy theorists. Sometimes all of them at once (*cough* Deepak Chopra). I was quite puzzled to learn that Dr. Oz was sometimes referred to as “America’s Doctor.” I wonder if we can impeach him.

Anyway, last night Dr. Oz was explaining his latest quacky bit of advice: How to find the “G-Spot.” Strangely, he didn’t say anything I hadn’t heard before, but he also neglected to mention that if the “G-Spot” does exist, it only exists in a very small percentage of women (<20%). At the risk of sounding like one of those crazy conspiracy theorists I like to bash, I can see why belief in the G-Spot is so widespread. Since Victorian times, there has been this fear of clitoral stimulation, simply because it doesn’t seem to do anything useful in terms of procreation. Sex shouldn’t be about pleasure: it’s a reproductive act. On top of that, we live in a patriarchy, so the woman is inherently subservient to the man. This means the man’s pleasure should come first. For a dude, coitus is pretty damn pleasurable. Most women think it feels okay, too. However, most men are clueless egoists and don’t think of anyone but themselves (they’re conditioned to be that way), while women are told not to be too blunt about sex for fear of looking like a slut. The damage all this “G-Spot” talk does is as follows: It tells women that it is normal to be able to experience vaginal orgasms, which leads to the 70-80% of women who can’t feeling defective, like there’s something wrong with them. What’s normal about something the vast majority of the population in question will never experience?

So here’s the deal: You can try to find the G-Spot if you want, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t find some sort of magic pleasure button. Really, we should be teaching guys how to please a woman. So, ladies: Don’t be shy to take a guy by the hand and actually physically show him what pleases you. As a biological male-type, I have always found this most helpful. And guys, don’t be afraid to ask your ladies what turns them on. I know it can be kind of embarrassing, but your partner will have much more fun once you know how to push all her buttons.

Also, here’s a secret that a lot of men don’t seem to realize: You shouldn’t have to ask a woman if she had an orgasm, because most of the time you can feel it. When women cum, they usually experience a series of muscle contractions in the pelvis, vagina, and anus. Most of the time you should be able to feel it. Wikipedia says that not all women experience these contractions, but most of my partners have so I’m willing to bet the majority of women do (I’ve had a lot of partners; I used to try to fuck my way to manliness).

So, moral of the story: Dr. Oz is a nut, men need to think of their partners more. The end.

Book discussion group and other philosophy jazz

So I haven’t been posting here for a while because I got invited to join a book discussion group one of my philosophy professors has put together with her grad students and I’ve been busy doing reading for that. Honestly, it’s kind of intimidating, since I’m just an undergraduate and probably not as smart as everyone else there, but I figured I would try it out since I’ve decided that I want to pursue a Ph.D. in Philosophy. The book we are discussing is Judith Butler’s Bodies That Matter, which is an incredibly interesting read. Not sure how much I agree with her, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

One thing that came up during the discussion that makes me want to reread the introduction came from a woman I’ve had a class with named Clare. I had read Butler as arguing that our classification of people based on sex leads to two groups: those who are “people”, i.e., those who fit into the category of “normally sexed”, and those who are categorized as “not normally sexed”, who are culturally unintelligible. Clare, on the other hand, thought Butler split people into three groups, with the “culturally unintelligible” as people outside the “masculine/feminine” spectrum. We never quite figured out who was right, so I’m going to go back and re-read that bit.

Another thing that came up is something I feel strongly about. I’m only going to bring it up here because I’m thinking of using the idea for a writing sample for graduate school applications; I’m not going in-depth because I haven’t properly fleshed it out yet. Anyway, we were discussing the nature of language as well as trying to get to the central focus of humanity’s collective worldview, and I proposed that the answer was control. Everything we do is an attempt to control our environment, which drive has been the primary moving force behind all of human history. It’s similar to Foucault’s notion of power, but slightly more nuanced. I haven’t yet figured it all out, but I’ll try to post more as I do.

Another idea I’m playing with is a pragmatic account of hate speech and its relevance for radical word reclamation/reappropriation. I’m waiting for some articles I ordered through interlibrary loan to get here (they weren’t available online). Once I get the details set in stone I’ll post more.

A woman’s personality is a direct function of her looks

So, for the past two days I’ve been seeing this promotional poll on Facebook:

Which do you think fits me?

So, as you can see, the question reads, “Which Chubby Stick name fits your personality best?” Chubby Stick is a lip balm made by Clinique, so obviously this poll is aimed at the lady-types. Anyway, the thing that’s got me pissed off is the last option, which also seems to be the most popular. I see no way in which it could be extrapolated onto a personality type. It’s obviously a reference to a woman’s figure, which has absolutely nothing to do with her personality. The fact that the female Facebookers are responding that this matches their personality kind of makes me sad. It’s like the misogynist brainwashing is so complete a woman can’t separate her dreams, likes, dislikes, intelligence, ambition, etc. from her figure.

Why do we have to be like this? I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty plenty of times of assuming things about a person just because of how they look, but still, it’s something I try to change about myself and I think the world would be better if more people fought it. Someone’s figure is completely out of their control, and last I knew there was no known link between a woman’s curvosity and her personality. It’s like saying my gorgeous, curly locks say something more about me than the fact that I have really good genes. Incredibly ridiculous.

Also, I’m kinda irked about trying to jam people into really vague personality types based on clever names. Something about that bothers me, but I’ve always been confused by the personality typing craze. Completely unscientific.

Women and science

So being a major nerd for social progress, girls/women overcoming barriers, and science, this article on Jezebel brought a major tear to my eye. Totally embarrassing. In case you’re too lazy to click and read it, let me sum it up for you: an all-girl team just won the FIRST 2012 Championship with a device meant to help pasteurize milk in Nicaragua. Apparently Nicaraguan women don’t have easy access to clean milk, which results in all sorts of nastiness for them. Well, now they can drink their milk with peace of mind, thanks to an intrepid young band of femmy pioneers. Totally awesome.

This has got me thinking about that other article I wrote about about women in gaming. It seems like the STEM field is a major boy’s club. In fact, when I was talking to my doctor about starting life as a woman, the first thing she asked was, “Well, you’re not in any math or computer science classes, are you?” And she’s an MD! Why is it that STEM is such a boy’s club? I know, I know, there’s the whole stereotype of men being more logical while women are more about their feelings, but still, this is the 21st century. Shouldn’t we be past that by now?

I know I don’t really have room to talk since I opted not to go into STEM even though I am both interested in it and very good at it. I am thinking of going to grad school for philosophy of science, but it’s not really the same thing. However, one of my major concerns when it comes to going into a STEM field is the fact that I’m a trans lesbian, which is a triple whammy in that area: gay, transgender, and a woman. Really, I want to study physics and computer science, but I chickened out because I’m a wuss like that. My mistake. I now wish I could go back and start over and be a pioneering queer trans woman in a straight dude’s world, but I really don’t feel like being stuck as an undergraduate for another couple of years. My dad is talking about starting his own web-based software company and wants me on board as a designer, so maybe I can use that as an in to the world of computer science.

Anyway, enough about me, here’s why women should get into the hard sciences: women think differently from men. I know it’s probably not biological–it’s probably got more to do with social conditioning than anything like genes or innate neural differences–but still, the fact remains that there are usually marked differences between the ways in which women approach problems and the ways in which men do. If we only have one type of person trying to solve these problems, we’re only going to get on type of solution, when there may be other, possibly better, solutions waiting in the wings for someone with the right mindset to bring them into the open. It’d be best for the world of science–and the world in general–if we had as many different types of people as possible working on these issues.

Let’s make the world better. We can start by encouraging women and minorities to get into the STEM fields.

Some big ups to some progressive games

So my recent post about why I want to design video games got me going on all sorts of crazy issue which are very dear to me: namely, geekery and progressive social reform. Anyway, it got me thinking that I have a lot to say about the issue of how games could be more marketable to queers and that I can see it being something that spurns a lot of writing, so expect to see more on this issue, at least in the near future (until my next big project comes up and I find a new white whale). Anyway, I thought I’d start by giving some big ups to some games which I think have at least tried to buck tradition and be more woman-friendly (although not necessarily queer-friendly), as well as some of my favorite games which would be my favorite-est games if they made a few small changes.

Mad Props:

Xenosaga I, II, & III: So I must admit that I only play Episode II when it’s been so long that I’m fuzzy on some detail or other of the story (about once every 14-16 months), but the first and third installments are probably my two favorite games ever. I play Episode III more than any other game, even more than Final Fantasy III, Silent Hill 2,  and Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, which were my previous favorites before 2006. Anyway, there’s very little I would change about this game to make it more woman-friendly. Shion is a strong woman who is not necessarily independent yet, but she’s working on it and ultimately gets there when she helps to save the universe from imploding or whatever. She may be a bitch at times, but give her a break: she’s got a lot on her plate. I’m even fine with the fact that she’s straight, because the guy she pines for and thinks is dead turns out to be King of the Über-Douches, so it sends a message of “don’t always count on the knight in shining armor”, which I like for being decidedly un-sexist. Her friends are the ones who’ve always got her back, even her flaky big bro. And Allen, the other love interest, is pretty much a woman, so it’s sort of queer, right? Also, chaos strikes me as queer, so there’s that. And then KOS-MOS is the mother of all strong female characters. She’s one badass weapon of mass awesome, even if she is objectified a bit. I guess they could’ve toned the robo-erotic stuff down a bit, but still, it’s got some major pros in pro-woman category. If the Gnosis ever strike again, maybe we’ll even have a queer leading character.

Silent Hill 2 & 3: So Silent Hill 2 is another of my all-time favorites, and I think it’s got a fairly feminist message. Sure, the main character is a man–and not just any man, but the Emperor of Misogynistic Assholes–but it’s his blatant woman-hating that gets him sucked into a creepy demon-filled hell-town. The game is loaded down with more Freudian imagery than an Early 20th Century Avant-Garde art show, and it all revolves around James’s objectification of the lady-folk. The message is what makes this game pro-woman, and that message is: “Dudes, don’t treat your ladies like pieces of meat and then murder them when they can no longer satisfy your desires, or else they’ll turn into demon ghosts and try to kill you.” As for Silent Hill 3, it’s a game about a teenage gal who has to save the world from Evil Demon God and His Crazy Cultists (after carrying him in her womb! talk about a compelling argument for a right to get an abortion) with little to no help from others. How often do you see that in video games?

Needing Improvement:

Harvest Moon: Back to Nature: This would rank right up there with Xenosaga Episode III and Silent Hill 2 as Greatest Game in the Universe if only for two simple changes: Be whatever gender you want, and marry who the fuck you want. They could release a game that was identical in every other way–including graphics–and I would still pay $60 and end up flunking out of school after wasting 6 months of my life on it. It would just be that good.

Avalon Code: This hidden gem is one of the biggest unsung heroes of the RPG world, which is saying a lot since a lot of great RPGs slip by unnoticed in the seas of Final Fantasies and Elder Scrollses. It’s one of the best portable games I’ve ever played, and if they made one simple change, I’d think it was one of the greatest games ever. It’s the same thing as Harvest Moon: I dig that I get to save the universe as a young lady, but why the fuck are my romantic options limited to things with digital dicks? I mean, seriously, I can marry a freaky midget fire-spirit, but I can’t marry a girl? WTF, mates? Again, make that simple change, and it’d be Game of the Millennium.

Anyway, I could go through the list of all 80 of my games and tell you what’s sexist/heterosexist about all of them, but that’d take forever. Maybe that’ll be a new book project. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at creative nonfiction…