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.

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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.

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When we used to get street harassment

cn: anti-gay slurs and harassment

My husband and I have been together since 2011.  And it used to be that when we walked around in the streets and used public transit, we’d occasionally get harassing comments.  Someone would yell out “fags” from a passing car.  People would stare at us, and then make negative comments just as they were getting off the train or bus.  Homeless dudes would rant, and I’d come to the realization they were ranting about us.  One time a girl hugged us while her friend took a picture.  In one especially memorable incident, a middle-aged lady accused my husband of being my father.  These incidents would happen about once a month.

And then after about a year, it suddenly stopped.  I don’t know what changed.  At first it seemed like something must have changed about us.  Maybe we were walking in the street less often, or walking in different neighborhoods.  Maybe the visible age gap between us shrunk.  Maybe I was mentally blocking it out.  But in hindsight, it seems like what changed was the times.

Years after the harassment stopped, there was one final incident that happened around 2015.  Somebody called my husband a faggot, and then swung a bag at his head.  My husband was shaken, and a police report was filed, but nobody was hurt.  And that was the end of it.

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Weird accounting

Something I now feel comfortable venting about, now that my PhD is over a year behind me, is their timekeeping practices.

At some point in the middle of my PhD, they started requiring that we record hours.  I (and other students) were pissed off about this, because we weren’t being paid by the hour, we were on fixed salaries.  Being salaried has the disadvantage that your employer pressures you to work long hours, because they know they don’t have to pay you overtime.  Being paid by the hour is better, but has the disadvantage that you have to record hours.  By making us record hours, while keeping us on fixed salaries, we were getting the worst of both worlds.

Once we actually started recording hours, it was even more ridiculous than we initially thought.  It was not possible to record accurate hours–the maximum number of hours I could record was about 20 hours per week.  This was supposedly because I had a “50% appointment”, meaning that half of my time was devoted to my position as a research assistant, and the other half devoted to being a student.  Which was not accurate by the way.  I wasn’t taking any more classes at this point.

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On Schizoid Personality

Earlier, I wrote an article on low emotionality, and I heard from a handful of readers with similar experiences.  However, one reader response caused me some chagrin.  They pointed out the similarity to Schizoid Personality Disorder, and I immediately regretted not mentioning it, since it’s the one that actually fits me best. It’s a bit embarrassing to figure out this stuff in real time while I’m blogging about it. But I want to do right by the readers who related to my article, so here we are.

So, Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD). Perhaps the best way to briefly describe it is to cite the DSM-V diagnostic criteria:

  1. Neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family.
  2. Almost always chooses solitary activities.
  3. Has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person.
  4. Takes pleasure in few, if any, activities.
  5. Lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives.
  6. Appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others.
  7. Shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity.

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Living gay (and ace)

This is a repost of an article I published in 2015 on The Asexual Agenda.  It was originally written for a blogging carnival on the theme of “living asexuality”, thus the title.

Recently, there was a very short documentary entitled “I’m Graysexual” (no longer available), featuring a man about my age, and using the same identity as I do: gay and greysexual.  He does nothing more than briefly explain his personal experience, which is somewhat different from my own, and as I said, it’s very short.

What was particularly significant to me was not what was said, but what was unsaid.  Specifically, the documentarian chose a stream of clips that imply close interaction with urban gay culture.  He walks around what appears to be West Hollywood (the gay neighborhood in Los Angeles).  He hangs out at gay nightclubs, watching go-go boys.  He looks quizzically at packaged dildos, racks of porn videos, Grindr.  This is all incredibly familiar to me.

I often feel like I’m the only ace who interacts with that kind of gay male culture.  This is not surprising: this is only one of many gay cultures, the ace community is dominated by women, and not all ace men are homoromantic, gay, or bi.  But even among those in the right demographics, I often hear that ace men simply aren’t willing to put up with it.

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Low emotionality

In a recent post, I said I’m a very unenthusiastic person. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m never enthusiastic. But my husband says it took a while for him to internalize that e.g. when I say “yes” to a choice of restaurant, I really mean it, even if I don’t express enthusiasm. And that’s not a matter of communication style; if I appear unenthusiastic, I feel like I’ve communicated my internal state accurately.

Enthusiasm isn’t unique.  I feel like most of my emotions are muted relative to the norm.  Another really noticeable one is anger. My “anger”, such as it is, rarely rises above what I would call irritation. It’s not very visible. And I find it very difficult to maintain a grudge, even when I know intellectually that I should.

In short, I’ve always felt like I must be experiencing emotions differently from most people–not necessarily in a neurodivergent way, but just somewhat outside the norm.  I don’t know of any preexisting term for this, so I’m dubbing it “low emotionality”.  Wikipedia describes “emotionality” as emotional reactivity to a stimulus, so I think the term fits.  I never see anyone talk about low emotionality, so I’m being the change I want to see.
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