Against the liberation/assimilation lens

Liberationism vs assimilationism is a historically important dichotomy, which dates back to the gay liberation movement of the 1960s.  It put a name to certain political disagreements among LGBT/queer people that persist to the present day.  That said, in the present day, liberationism/assimilationism is less relevant, just one lens of many that we may apply whenever it seems particularly apt (e.g.).  And often, when we do talk about the dichotomy, we feel the need to re-explain what the dichotomy even is.

Ahem…  In a contemporary context, assimiliationism refers to the desire to blend in with mainstream culture, to emphasize “we’re the same”; while liberationism refers to a desire for more radical change.  A somewhat longer explanation is available here.

A recent video by Rowan Ellis revives the liberation/assimilation dichotomy for the purpose of understanding different forms of queer representation.  I hate it, and it illustrates how the liberation/assimilation lens can go so wrong.

The primary problem, is that “liberation vs assimilation” has largely been collapsed into “good vs bad”, while explicitly denying it.  Rowan Ellis says,

It’s not necessarily that assimilation films are bad and liberation films are good.  […] In the way in which it deals with LGBT stories and identities, for me, the liberation stuff comes up top. (14:23)

[Read more…]

Re-reading Shadow & Claw

After blogging about author Gene Wolfe, I decided to go back and re-read The Book of the New Sun.  I just finished Shadow & Claw, the first two books of the tetralogy.  Hmm… I wrote that blog back in April, so it took me 7 months.  I take my sweet time!

It’s a different experience the second time around.  My recollection of the later books sheds new light on earlier events.  But perhaps more significantly, I felt no need to avoid spoilers, and thus could freely peruse the secondary literature.

It’s surprising just how much secondary literature there is on The Book of the New Sun.  There’s Urth.net, Ultan’s Library, a subreddit, as well as two full books (Solar Labyrinth and Lexicon Urthus).  And honestly if you just google stuff, you can find discussion in all sorts of places.  Most of which is unreadable crap, of course.  The commentary that I found to be most helpful was the SUNS SUNS SUNS series from a blogger by the name of Kate Sherrod.  Sadly it stops short of the end of the second book, so I guess I’ll have to find something else for the second half.

I have half a mind to write my own blog series, which I think I could do better than most of the internet.  Perhaps it’s not worth my time.  But I will indulge myself a bit with some scattered analyses.

[Read more…]

My feelings about fashion

Fashion is an artform, one in which we’re coerced into participating. Anything you wear is making some kind of statement. Even if you wear something that tries not to make any statement at all, that in itself is a kind of statement. So, how I feel about fashion is about how I’d feel if I were forced to draw a picture every day, for my entire life. I hate it.

You might guess that I wear clothing that is pretty generic, and which says as little as possible. That’s not entirely true though. My dislike of fashion causes me to particularly dislike clothes shopping. My family picked up on this, so they know I really like being gifted clothing. So what I actually end up wearing is determined by a number of factors that have more to do with my family than with me.

[Read more…]

A season for giving

This is a repost of a short essay I wrote earlier this year, and published on Tumblr.  This is the last of the articles I wanted to import from Tumblr, so now Tumblr can burn down for all I care.

My mother is a hoarder, and her large house is approximately 90% filled with junk. I have, on multiple occasions, given her origami models, either as gifts, or because a lot of it’s just sitting in a storage box in my apartment anyways. I later see these scattered around the house.

[Read more…]

In the weeds with analogies

Sometimes I make an argument from analogy, and I deeply regret it. I say, “X is Y for the same reason A is B,” and commenters counter, “But X and A are different!” and I say, “I never said they were the same!” And so it goes back and forth, and into the weeds.

Arguments by analogy are terrible. They never convince anyone who wasn’t convinced to begin with. Never use them. Or so I say. But before I know it I’m using analogies again, because they’re just so darn effective for making a point.

But maybe I’m still right? Perhaps analogies really don’t convince people who aren’t already convinced, it’s just that I have an audience who is already convinced. Come on, readers! Think for yourselves!

I’d like to share my thought process about arguments from analogy, and the best way to do this is to discuss a specific case study with all its messy details. So I came up with a novel analogy for a subject that most readers are familiar with: the tone argument.

[Read more…]

Link roundup: November 2019

A few plugs:

There is a video of me talking about the Ace Community Survey.  Also cat and dog persons.

I wrote about my approach to putting asexuality on my resume.

And now the links:

Why I Can’t Trust You With The Term “Purity Culture” – Coyote explains purity culture, which is the Christian culture surrounding chastity, and virginity before marriage.  And then explains how “purity culture” is now being (mis)used on Tumblr, to refer to… something to do with supposed problems around social justice discourse?  It’s rather confusing, honestly.  Anyway, if you’ve ever talked about Christian purity culture, Coyote has some insightful commentary that really lays out what you’ve been talking about, even if you hadn’t realized it.

[Read more…]

After atheism, I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop

In New Atheism: The Godlessness that Failed, Scott Alexander explains how New Atheism was a much bigger phenomenon than younger people realize, and theorizes about its demise.  Scott’s hypothesis is that New Atheism seamlessly transitioned into the social justice movement (while leaving the remaining atheist movement behind with all the anti-social-justice folks).  I don’t entirely agree, but I’ve advocated similar theories myself.

But as much as I enjoy theorizing about the demise of New Atheism, I’d like to highlight a point Scott makes in his conclusion:

I’ve lost the exact quote, but a famous historian once said that we learn history to keep us from taking the present too seriously. This isn’t to say the problems of the present aren’t serious. Just that history helps us avoid getting too dazzled by current trends, or too swept away by any particular narrative.

The “current trend”, the current paradigm of the culture wars, is social justice.  As a former atheist activist, and current social justice activist, I am perpetually concerned that social justice will crash and burn the same way atheism did.  I mean, isn’t it practically guaranteed?  Do you really think that 10-20 years down the road, people will be concerned about the same things?

[Read more…]