Onwapathy

“Privilege” is a word that makes me feel a little icky, and every time someone brings it up in a conversation I get a bit defensive and skeptical. The concept feels too much like a scapegoat for responsibility, or a guilt inducer for the fortunate. And if you send me any mail after this telling me I’m a SJW who is shaming those with privilege, I will shoot you in the face.

But I want to try to understand it as sympathetically as possible, and I wasn’t able to until I noticed a specific feeling in myself in regards to my friend Josh.

Josh is extremely handsome (cis white male). He’s charismatic, friendly, confident, a world traveler, and gets laid. A lot. I feel happy for him. He’s got a great lot in life and is doing well.

But I noticed a funny response I had sometimes when he told me about his adventures, particularly when he said things like “You can just go talk to strangers, it’s easy!” or “And then I shook his hand and he offered me his basement to stay in for a week.” It was kind of a negative feeling, but I brushed it off.

I made friends with this (white cis) girl named Brittany. She had easily 9/10 looks – pouty red lips, huge blue eyes, blonde hair, button nose. People begged to photograph her. She worked for an agency and did product promotions. She exuded sexuality. Every time I was out in public with her it was like I was invisible – men swarmed to her and paid attention to me only to be polite.

And that funny response in my brain happened again when she said things like “Oh I’m sorry you hate your nose – I really hate my crooked tooth!” or “Haha I got invited up to his penthouse but I said no, you know how it is”.

In conversations with them I found myself trying to point out exactly how lucky they were. I said things like “You know, other people can’t just talk to strangers like that with the same results,” or “Nobody actually notices your crooked tooth, and my nose is super obvious.” I had the sensation that they weren’t fully aware of their extreme fortune, and over time I realized that this semi-frustrated feeling I was having towards Josh and Brittany was probably the same thing people felt when they talked about privilege. What I had been trying to do in conversations was get them to check their privilege.

And why did it feel so bad? What was the source of that discomfort and frustration when I sat there listening to Brittany talk flippantly about being hit on by a smalltime celebrity for the third time? Definitely some of it was jealousy (and I suspected for a time that people upset about privilege were just jealous), but that didn’t explain the entire picture. With time, empathy, and security my jealousy reduced, but that funny discomfort didn’t.

And I realized that my discomfort came from a specific phenomenon I wish we had a word for – “when someone feels as though they understand you but you feel as though they don’t understand you.”

I’m gonna call it One-Way Sympathy for now, and shorten it into this horrible conglomeration “onwapathy” and I’m going to use it and you’re going to deal with it.

My displeasure didn’t come from Josh having a great life, it came from Josh having a great life and assuming that I could too if I just did what he did. In his expression of this idea came a fundamental lack of understanding of what it was like to be me. In implying that he understood me, he was assuming that there was no further understanding to have, and by doing so he shut down the exploration of avenues I felt were unexplored – and that hurt. When I expressed insecurity with my physical body and Brittany tried to empathize by comparing her tiny flaw to my huge one, I felt bad. I felt unable to tell her that she didn’t understand. I felt onwapathy. And it’s not their fault – they were trying hard to be sympathetic. They just didn’t know.

I think when people express outrage about privilege they’re usually just trying to communicate onwapathy. They just want to feel understood.

Now I’m still skeptical of the word ‘privilege’ because it’s used in an accusing way, a way that implies wrongdoing or obligated atonement on the part of the privilege. I don’t believe in being ashamed of fortune or doing anything to counteract privilege, but I do believe in communicating the way you feel, especially if you feel misunderstood. All I really wanted from Josh and Brittany was an acknowledgement that things were harder for me than for them – that introverts have a harder time talking to strangers, that a crooked nose is a lot worse than a crooked tooth. That was it.

So I vote for eschewing the concept of ‘privilege’ for the concept of ‘onwapathy.’ It’s gentler, less accusatory, more communicative of feelings rather than aggressive moral principles, and I think brings us closer to the thing we all want the most deeply – to be understood.

Are there other genders?

Bob: Gender is real – man and woman. There are two genders. People claiming that there are multiple genders, being third-gender or bigender or whatever – are usually just trying to feel special.

Alice: Wait hold on – but gender is a cultural construction in the first place. We associate things like ‘wearing dresses’ with ‘woman,’ but that’s not absolute. Why can’t we say it’s manly to wear dresses? It’s all in our heads and the narrative society feeds us.

Bob: Well to clarify before I continue – we’re not talking about sex. People can have different genitals, sometimes both genitals at once. There are medical differences. Obviously claiming your physical sex as the ultimate say in your gender is a bit of a silly idea.

Alice: Well we agree there. I’m talking about the mental conception around the way we should behave, which is frequently but not always associated with our genitals.

Bob: Yes. Gender is a cluster. “Maleness” does communicate something – it’s associated with things like sports, being unemotional, aggression, sex drive, bravery. It’s also associated with physical things like beards, large muscles, and penises.

And these things are associated with each other. People who have penises tend to be aggressive. People who like sports tend to grow facial hair. Because we see these things appear together all the time, we give it a name – Male. And even if a male doesn’t watch sports, or if he doesn’t have muscles, he still usually has enough of the cluster so that he is way closer to the “male” pattern than the “female” one.

This is why our culture has an idea of “x is not manly.” What they mean is that x is not typically found in the “male” cluster. A man wearing a dress isn’t manly because “dress wearing” isn’t commonly found in people who are similar to him.

Alice: I feel like you’re making my point for me – that of social construct. We’ve identified this pattern, sure, but it’s only just because it’s common. There is a ton of different possible patterns that aren’t the male or female pattern! Everyone is different and varied. Why do I have to be “manly” or “unmanly”? Why is it that belching isn’t feminine, and why is it that when I do present as feminine, people assume that I’m feminine in other ways as well, like being terrified of mice or some shit? I fucking love mice. This is the entire point – that we break down our conceptions about previous pattern. By identifying as something other than male or female, I am declaring to the world that I am my own unique pattern, with its own unique name. I will not be defined in comparison to preexisting norms.

Bob: I partially agree with you. It’s true that the patterns of male and female aren’t absolute in any way, that it’s an idea that society has.

But the point I’m trying to make isn’t that the male-female patterns are fundamentally arbitrary and culture-bound, but rather that they carry meaning in a way that things like “third-gender” doesn’t, and so to equate them is a bit silly.

For example: we’ve had the word “cunt” in our vocabulary for a long time. It is a very loaded word. It’s banned on television, you can’t say it around your grandma, and if a young child says “cunt” a lot, we get worried.

Is it fundamentally arbitrary? Yes. Is it a social construct? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that you can come along and introduce a new word – “bogus” – and expect it to carry the same weight. You can’t cry “bogus is a bad word!” and expect people to have the same reaction to ‘bogus’ as they do to ‘cunt.’ And that is essentailly what you’re doing. Male and female are concepts that are extremely ingrained in our awareness, and you can’t make a new gender equivalent just by proclaiming it aloud.

Alice: But how else do you start? There are people out there who genuinely don’t adhere to either gender role. Male and female feel intuitive because they are predictable. We generally know what women are like and how to talk to them, what their bodies look like, that they get pregnant – and same for men. This is why we identify those clusters so strongly, because of the strong and well-known association.

But if we start using bogus like a bad word, maybe eventually it will become a bad word. If we want to make other genders a recognizeable pattern, we have to start actively treating them as such.

Bob: I’m not against that in principle, but I think that’s much harder than it sounds. The traditional gender pattern clusters have one huge advantage – that part of their pattern is their physical bodies. If you’re talking about pattern being valuable due to prediction, then you’re not going to be able to beat the powerful predictive ability of visual input.

It’s like – if every time you said the word “cunt,” grandma passed out. And every time you said the word “fuck,” Jesus shed a tear. The words are associated with something measurable and obvious.

And then if someone comes along and says “let’s make bogus a bad word,” you might agree – but if isn’t associated with either your grandma fainting or Jesus crying, then somewhere deep down, you’re not going to feel like it’s a bad word. You’re going to feel like it belongs to a different category entirely, despite people keep claiming it has bad-word properties.

Maybe if every time you said “bogus”, hell got a little hotter, then you would feel like “bogus” was associated with something, and thus a real word. And maybe if we had a physically distinct third gender with a unique role to play in the reproduction process, then “third gender” would carry more meaning.

But it just doesn’t. Patterns are powerful, and they exist because they correspond to something that we “discover,” not something that we invent.

But I am not against shirking your traditional gender role. I think anyone can be anything they want, behave however they want (as long as they don’t hurt anyone). There is no reason for a male-bodied man to be obligated to adhere to the male-cluster. I just think that the words are useful. If you’re a man who wears dresses, you’re less manly. And that’s completely okay.

Wiki Links

Over time I’ve been saving some of my favorite articles from those inevitable Wikipedia doom spirals. Here’s a list of odd, interesting, unusual, or curious links straight from my juicy bookmarks folder!

Fatal familial insomnia

Stigmata

Common cuckoo #Breeding

Mudita

Shutdown law

List of selfie-related injuries and deaths

HIV/AIDS denialism

Wright brothers patent war

Igaluk

Anula of Anuradhapura

Mass hysteria

Blonde versus brunette rivalry

Shotgun house

Dead man’s switch

Morbid jealousy

Black Death Jewish persecutions

Spite house

Work spouse

Privilege du blanc

Orkney

Picts

Norman conquest of England #Origins

Adrian Schoolcraft

Lists of unsolved problems

List of cities by population density

Tarrare

H. H. Holmes

Opir

List of helicopter prison escapes

Perverse incentive

Congo Free State #Mutilation

Pataphysics #Concepts

Mill Ends Park

Garden hermit

Republic of Molossia

Project MKUltra

Liberia #Early settlement

Varangian Guard

The Miracle of 1511

Phaistos Disc

Lithopedion

Toynbee tiles

Gobekli Tepe

Backmasking #Satanic backmasking

Kim Philby

Tower of Wooden Pallets

Animal suicide

Empress Dowager Hu #As Emperor Xuanwu.27s concubine

White elephant  #Examples of alleged white elephant projects

Psychopomp

Nuliajuk

Pope Benedict IX

Late Bronze Age collapse

1918 flu pandemic

Sweater curse

Ching Shih

1% rule (Internet culture)

Five Punishments

Franklin’s lost expedition

Rosenhan experiment

Form constant

Moral panic

St Scholastica Day riot

Carnac stones

 

10 Months of Acid

disclaimer: this is not typical acid use. There are many concretely ‘beneficial’ effects from lower, more infrequent doses

In 2014, I did on average 200-250ug of acid once a week(ish) for ten months, from January to October, or approximately 40 times. Doses typically ranged from 150ug-400ug, with tail ends of 50ug-600ug. Subjective experiences ranged from slightly glowing colors to complete loss of any contact with the physical world around me. I remember listening to a song, and by the time I heard a note in the song, I’d forgotten what the last one had been, and it didn’t sound like music anymore, just occasional ‘sounds’ piercing through once every few eons.

I had the ability to do this. I had savings. I lived in a house of accepting camgirls. Real life wasn’t getting in the way.

The first thing people usually want to know is why? Nobody gets addicted to acid. It’s unheard of. When people trip, they stay generally avoid it for several months. It’s usually beautiful, but intense, difficult, and often terrifying.

For whatever reason, acid was useful to me in a way that I’ve slowly grown to realize is not common in others. Every time I tripped I had the overwhelming sensation that the doors had opened and I was mainlining epiphanies from a direct source of truth. Every time I stopped tripping, it felt like those doors closed, and I forgot most of what I’d learned. But I wanted to remember.

So I kept doing it. Again and again, higher and higher doses. I needed to know. I produced art. I played music. I got very excited and tried to make everybody I knew do acid too.

drawn coming down from 400ug

When we imagine frequent drug use, we imagine it as a form of escapism – that real life is too difficult, that we want to shut down for a time. Acid is exactly the opposite. It heightened what I was aware of in my own mind, let me explore the way my own thoughts formed. It took what I was and shoved my own face in it. I couldn’t look away. There were times of deliberately induced and absolutely excruciating emotional pain, to which nothing in my regular life has ever come close. I did it on purpose. I needed to know.

It is very difficult to talk about the “things you learn” while tripping, because it occurs while in such a deeply altered state that language ceases to apply. It really is more about a way of looking – a very specific type of engaging in experience. “Thinking about the experience” defeats the point, because thinking about it is not the same thing as “having it”. Applying words to the experience is misleading by nature. Defining a thing gives it an outside and an inside, and thus you can never define the thing that is “always outside” – in giving it a term, in identifying it with boundaries, it is no longer what you are trying to say. The Tao that can be named is not the Tao. To name a thing is to give it form.

As time went on, I stopped viewing myself as a being separate from the universe. Sensations became interesting to watch, not motivating. I entered such a permanent state of utter peace and contentment that I stopped wanting anything at all. And by the end of it, I barely got out of bed, barely ate. My sleep schedule became erratic, as I woke and slept as I wished. I had vivid lucid dreams. I had stopped working almost entirely and was living off slowly depleting savings. Why would I work? Why would I do anything? I was…. not happy, not sad, I simply was. I was free of desire. I did not fear death.

And, ten months in, I realized that’s what I was looking at – death. I would compulsively whisper “I am dead” under my breath throughout the day. I was an empty vessel. And I realized, that if I kept doing acid, I probably would die, out of sheer apathy. I imagined becoming homeless, and that did not worry me. I imagined freezing on the street, and I embraced it.

I wasn’t terribly worried – but I had to make a decision. Did I want to continue down this path, knowing the end was oblivion? Or did I want to close the doors and return to the world of the living?

This choice and my decision occupies a very curious spot in my memory because I don’t really understand it, and it feels like the small center of something, like this was the thing I’d been circling around all this time. I chose life, as you can see, and I have the sense that my choice was inevitable, or that it wasn’t ever a choice at all – or as though it was a fundamental attribute of the deadlike state that I reject the state. Once I saw what the end was, the next step was to close my eyes. Or, really, the sight of the end and the rejection of it was done in one motion, like it is in the nature of seeing the end to shut your eyes. Something something quantum immortality.

The journey back was almost as strange and beautiful as the journey in. As my motivations slowly began returning, I found all I wanted was to forget. Whereas before I was trying to immerse myself in the knowing, now I was constantly attempting to shut eyes that were permanently pried open. No matter where I turned, the Knowing had been seared into my brain. It was like that feeling you get when you watch a movie and are suddenly aware that, just out of the frame, there are camera crews standing around the actors, and you stop buying into the story because all you see is the movie set.

I just wanted to pretend this was all real. I wanted to feel invested in myself. I wanted to feel upset, insecure, proud, happy, anxiety, anything. I wanted to stop knowing.

Before I chose life, I didn’t mind the deep nothingness I had sunk into – but after the choice was made, it became… not uncomfortable, but strange. I felt like I had abandoned an old lover, like this constant twinge of pain, like a splinter in my throat I couldn’t dislodge. I thought constantly about tripping again and being reunited. I did acid in my dreams.

Over time, almost without me realizing it, the eye slowly eased shut, like going to sleep. I started to find myself caught up in moments of investment. I started to feel insecure again, annoyed. And it was shitty and amazing.

It took about another ten months for me to return to roughly where I’d been when I started.

I’m mostly normal now, with only a few remnants. Sometimes certain types of conversations will trigger it, where I’m sitting there and suddenly the eye of the universe has turned on me and I am melting away. It is very intense. I don’t mind, though. That’s a fundamental part of the feeling, really – that I don’t mind when it’s happening.

I feel like I’ve pulled the wool over my own eyes. I’ve bought into this world. It is profoundly comforting in a way so subconscious it’s difficult to identify. It’s as though at all times, behind my ears, there is a powerful belief whispering it’s okay. I chose this. I am full, I am held. I am not afraid anymore, and when I am, it’s because fear is interesting, because I have the privilege of feeling it. I am so grateful to get to hurt.

My underlying motivation now is to convey this awareness to others (or feel as though I have). It seems like the most important thing, the only important thing. And so here I am.*


–Update
* The effects of taking this much have only continued to sink in and settle over time. I no longer feel some of these things. I have lost a large chunk of my desire to communicate, and I have increasingly intense episodes.

Strange Subculture List

I was shocked the other day at discovering there was a Hillary Clinton subreddit. Who the hell supports Hillary? Turns out – a lot of people.

Same with the police subreddit. For every police shooting, you can go to that sub and watch police giving every possible explanation for why the shooting was justified.

So I decided to collect “alternate culture” subreddits – subs that support strange views, or just views that are unpopular against the general social narrative. The narrative changes depending on what culture you belong to, so I’ve also tried to include things that might seem strange to you but not me.

The presence of a sub on this list does not mean I support or denounce it – only that I think some would find it strange.

NSFW/trigger warning: Some subs may be shocking or highly offensive

Sex

Consensual incest relationships
Sex Workers
Big Dick Problemss
NoFap – for those trying not to masturbate
Cuckold Community – for those who enjoy “unfaithful” partners
BDSM Community
Cocaine Gone Wild
Sex With Dogs
Yiff – furry porn community
Little Space – those who roleplay as small children
Escort Review – where people discuss how good the paid sex was
Hookers
Sugar Lifestyle Forum – women looking for a comfortable life

Politics and philosophy

Protect And Serve – police subreddit
Black Power
White Rights
Hillary Clinton Support
Donald Trump Support
Socialism
Purple Pill Debate – where traditional and liberal sexual philosophies clash
Dark Enlightenment – traditional anti-progressiveism
Critical Shower Thoughts – Shower Thoughts, but with teeth
European – subreddit name sounds innocent, but content is anything but
9/11 Truth – Jet fuel actually seriously can’t melt steel beams tho
Libertarian – in support of minimal government
Conspiracy – everything is out to get you
AntiPOZi – anti-immigration
Conservative

Religion

Reformed – strict biblical interpretations
True Christian – for the Christians who thought r/Christianity was too tolerant
Dank Christian Memes – a hilarious sub run by a Christian trying to quench the atheist-submitted memes
LDS – a sect of (maybe?) Christianity that has some weirder-than-normal beliefs
ExMuslim – a heartbreaking sub of exMuslims trying to escape being beaten by their families
MuslimNoFap – for Muslims trying to remain holy
NonGolfers – for those fed up with golfing
Explain Like I’m Not a Theologian – religious reason broken down for dummies
Reasonable Faith – for the rational religious believer
Quakers – on the internet somehow
Intelligent Design – distrust evolution, trust in God
ProLife – for the preservation of unborn innocents

Pro-Male/traditional

Modest Dress
Red Pill Women – women who support traditional lifestyles and sexual submission
Red Pill Wives
Men’s Rights – a group focusing on men’s legal disadvantages
Incels – unwanted men looking for marriage
Forever Unwanted – for those who have never been sexually desired
Slut Justice – pro-slut shaming
Seduction – helping men learn what women want
Men’s Lib – a more moderate male support group
Anti-Feminism

Pro-Female/progressive

Sororities
Feminisms
True Women’s Liberation – radical feminism supporting male castration
Misandry Fetish
Shit Reddit Says – SJW den of mockery
True Female Supremacy – radical radical radical feminism
Gender-Critical – women before men
Actual Women – trans-unfriendly feminism

Crime, horror, and mysticism

Adultery – for the unfaithful
Shoplifting – shoplifting support group
Eating Women
Satanism
Occult
Witchcraft – complete with spellcasting tutorials
Astrology – for those guided by the stars

Other

Homeschooling
Blind
Deaf
Dark Net Markets – trading discussion for the drug underworld
LSD
Mensa – For people who have very high IQs and want you to know
Tulpas – For the creation of imaginary mental people

Feel free to submit further suggestions for more strange communities. I will keep updating this list.

Spectrums of Identity

1. Belief

The Apatheist
This is the guy who doesn’t believe anything. Completely unconcerned with politics, religion, or even opinions about himself, he’s infuriatingly hard to pin down. Frequently contradicts himself and doesn’t seem to care. Ask him what he thinks is true and he’ll shrug his shoulders, exhale a bong rip, and say “what is truth anyway?”

Your Uncle.
This is the guy who is very right and wants you to know it. He knows exactly what is going down with the world and is hostile to any opinions contrary. This guy is present in every belief system known to mankind. He builds himself a castle of opinions and a fort of cherry picked facts to keep away the marauders with their links to objecting internet articles. His strong convictions also mean he’s a signpost for others who aren’t sure what they believe yet, and in the public sphere can help sway opinion.

2. Memory

The Now Girl
This is the girl who says “the past is just a story we tell ourselves” and frequently avoids questions about her childhood. Ask her what she did yesterday and she’ll make a joke. Has memory problems, probably from systematic lack of caring. Doesn’t tell you about herself, not because she’s mysterious, but because she doesn’t consider it relevant to your friendship with her. Why would you need to know if it doesn’t matter?

The Photographer
This is the girl who presents herself carefully and loves it, even if she thinks she doesn’t. She can give you her life story in three sentences but often chooses to do it in three hours. She wants to write an autobiography. Her life is divided into “before” and “after” some sort of important event. She can point to aspects of her personality and tell you exactly where they came from. Doesn’t consider you intimate with her unless she’s told her Story(tm). Brings all her past experiences in to justify her actions and absolve herself of blame. Probably into photography.

3. Ability

The Slacker
This is the guy who doesn’t take a lot of pride in what he does and isn’t particularly motivated either. He might enjoy activities, sure, but he doesn’t do them for you. He gives off a confident ease that comes only from not caring if people think he’s smart or not. You might know him for a year and then suddenly find out he can draw really well, or maybe has a Diamond ranking in League of Legends, but more likely you find out he deals weed with upsettingly lax security.

The guy with the Asian parents
This guy, on a deep level, views his life as worth living only if he hits the bar of ‘good enough,’ which he always sets just outside of his reach because subconsciously he can’t handle the idea of actually being good enough. He is usually terrifyingly competent, motivated by low self esteem and the need to prove something to anybody. He knows his IQ and wishes someone would ask him. He owns a really nice suit which he doesn’t get to wear as often as he’d like.

4. Society

The Manic Pixie
This girl doesn’t like being labeled, and fitting into the liberal counterculture is too much fitting in for her comfort. She doesn’t wash her hair out of sheer laziness, she’s pegged at least three guys on tindr dates, and she’s lived in four cities in the three years. Floating between groups, she’ll come in and out of your life without much predictability. She’s not doing this because she is trying to make a point, but because her parents didn’t give a shit and she operates on a strict ‘whatever feels good’ rule. Will sleep on your couch till you kick her out, and the next time you hear from her will be 6 months later asking if you saw her vibrator.

The Lemming
This girl loves playing by the rules of the social group she’s in. In conservative culture, she is the perfect housewife who shakes her head at homosexuals. In liberal cultures, she tweets “radical” messages even though she’s only followed by people who agree with her. She is the archetypical dedicated group member, flag holder, activist of whatever community she belongs to. She is more likely to join a cult. People are frequently loyal to her and a good deal of her mental attention goes towards the cohesion of her group.

——————————————————–

rate yourself, with 1 being the first one and 10 being the second

I’m 5/10 belief, 8/10 memory, 4/10 ability, 5/10 society.

The Iron Price

There is pain, and then there is suffering. The division between the two can get a bit fuzzy, but on one end we have things like “my fish just died” or “that dog just bit me” or “I just got fired from my dream job.”

On the other end we have things like “My father never loved me and I am angry” or “the world is unjust because my best friend killed herself” or “It’s been ten years and my abuser still haunts my thoughts.”

One side of the scale is an immediate, visceral reaction to pain that seems to be designed to get us to escape whatever is hurting. The other end is what happens after – when we’ve categorized the pain into part of the “story of our lives”, when we recognize how this affects us, and we’ve decided that it is bad.

When it comes to suffering, this frequently isn’t something we do voluntarily to ourselves. It doesn’t feel like a choice. It feels like a wound so great that it stayed open while all the others closed.

Other ‘bad’ things that happen to us frequently don’t seem so unfair – losing a footrace sucks, but it gives you the motivation to get better. Getting cheated on really sucks, but now you’ve learned what kind of relationship you want and how to look for it. Losing a job? You get the ability to find better employment, or go your own way, or whatever happened to you last time you lost a job and came out of it alive. The experiences might be terrible, but you’ve undergone a multitude of terrible experiences without indefinite suffering, right?

This is because the pain of those experiences are a price we pay to get an equivalent reward, whereas suffering comes when we’ve paid a price and got nothing in return. It comes from a sense of injustice. It is being cheated by life. It is that emptiness in your hands after the death of someone you love. It is that pointless void left from a parent who didn’t believe in sparing the rod. It is the unanswered why? Because there is no reason. You gained nothing. There was no equivalent exchange.

————————————————————————–

Sometimes I complain about my job as a camgirl.

This is absurd. I am one of the luckiest people alive. I have an amazing job doing fun work for people I like talking to for a great income. I am living the dream. And yet, after four years, somehow I get discontent about it.

Sometimes I have to take myself by the shoulders and shake a bit. I remind myself of the contrast, of how life would be without camming. I go to the store and look at a box of tampons that cost 8.25 and I think “I used to have to work an hour for that.” The gratitude comes flooding back pretty quickly.

I think we’re all pretty familiar with the concept of the power of perspective, the ability to change the way we feel about the world by changing what we pay attention to.

————————————————————————–

The trick to healing from suffering, I think, is deciding that the pain was worth it.

How do you decide the pain was worth it? Find out what it gave you.

I have a friend – edit, aka me, full post here She had an emotionally abusive father and, as an adult, experienced a great deal of suffering about her childhood for many years. It impacted her relationships, her ability to function at jobs, and her mental health – until one day she took a lot of psychedelics and “relived” her traumatic experiences, from her earliest memories to leaving home.

This was immensely painful for her, but the contrast of shifting from the memories of childhood trauma into memories of adult freedom made her feel overjoyed and she realized the things she had gained from that experience. It taught her that the world could be so much worse, which gave her a deep gratitude for things she had now, whereas so many others seemed so pessimistic. It taught her heightened awareness of emotional boundaries which helped her to avoid damaging relationships herself. It had taught her that she could endure horrible things and come out alive, which gave a rare confidence few other people seemed to have.

And she realized that the benefits she had gained were so great that, if given the choice, she would live her life over again exactly the way it was. It had been absolutely worth it.

And in deciding that it had been worth it, the suffering ended. Life had no longer cheated her. Life had made a fair trade.

You can always find the thing pain gives you, if you look hard enough. Sometimes that search takes years. Sometimes it’s hidden deep. It takes a very specific kind of hunt.

It’s also different for everyone. There is no One True Path of meaning gained from tragedy. Whereas my friend found her price in gratitude, others might have found it in something like “being able to empathize with others who have endured the same” or “knowing what not to do to my kids.” And lots of people around us have problems or insecurities that came from a lack of difficulty rather than a surplus. Your life is a story and your character might just be climbing a higher mountain than most. If anything, there’s a little bit of “worth it” in knowing that more people would watch your movie.

If you want to read more along these lines, I highly recommend the book Man’s Search for Meaning. One of the top 5 most influential books in my life. It was written by a neurologist and psychiatrist who went through the goddamn holocaust and then wrote about the ways humans deal with trauma.

Power Imbalances and Sex

I saw a gif of a woman talking about how women make less than men in the film industry, ending with ‘the only industry where women make more than men is porn!’ Her point was about the objectification and sexualization of women, and that women are only valued as sex objects.

And this is true. Women are featured half dressed to sell alcohol or to spice up music videos. Porn is a huge industry. Discussions on cat calling, sexist remarks during the Olympics, skimpy impractical women’s clothes, etc. are dominating the internet right now and probably forever.

Why? Because people want to have sex with women. A lot.

And let’s not blame them. We are designed, not just culturally, to have a sexual response to the sight of a woman indicating sexual availability. This is how we’ve continued the human race for thousands of years, and we shouldn’t shame anybody for it.

I think the sense of unease among women from this “sexual gaze” comes from something a bit deeper. Men want sex from women, really, really badly. Women have the power, particularly in today’s society, to give it to them, or withhold. When women have this Thing that men want, and men have to submit/earn/beg/work/steal to get it, then this creates a fundamental inequality in interactions. The problem is a power imbalance.

A woman thinks – is this man interacting with me for me, or is he after the Thing I have that he wants?

A woman has to make sure she’s not accidentally using the Thing men want in order to manipulate men.

A woman has to be wary of men upset about her having the Thing, and lashing out or taking it by force.

A woman has to deal with men focusing on the Thing she has rather than all of her other accomplishments.

A woman has to deal with the feeling that her worth to society depends on how much of the Thing she has, that society only really values the Thing, that the rest of her doesn’t really matter to society.

———————

Imagine you have someone who is very rich, with a bunch of poor friends. If everybody is sensible, the rich person can hang out with the poor friends, and the poor will be careful to pay for their own meals and not ask for anything, because they don’t want the rich person to feel like the friendship is about money. Even this can be a bit tiring, as all the poor people are constantly trying to ignore the fact that this rich person could fulfill all their needs with just a bit of generosity, and the rich person knows that the poor people, no matter how polite they are, are always going to have that desire.

And if everybody is a bit less sensible, then rich person would probably have to learn to always be on guard for friendly people who just want money. Maybe they learn to start suspecting all nice interactions. Maybe they start lying about their wealth. Maybe they start immediately ignoring anybody who asks for money. Maybe all they want to do is dress like they’re not rich and hope nobody notices that they have money.

And of course there are benefits to this. If you have a Thing everyone wants, you can use this to your advantage. You can make a lot of money in an industry where you sell the Thing. People will be nice to you if they see you have the Thing. People will give you gifts in hope that maybe you will share your Thing. It’s easier to feel intimacy and love from people if you have the Thing, because the Thing draws them in and gives them the motivation to see you for who you really are. You probably won’t have to do nearly as much as people who don’t have the Thing, and the standards for you will be set lower.

I think this leads to a sort of internal dissonance, because on one hand, there are benefits to having the Thing, and it’s nice to have a good standing in society, for people to treat you well, for images of your Thing displayed on billboards as objects of worship, to be powerful just by existing. But on the other hand, having the Thing means that everybody is constantly pawing at you for it, and that your life centers around protecting the Thing and trying to navigate dispersing the Thing, and suddenly your identity becomes confused and commodified, you lose sight of who you are without the Thing, and finding honest and vulnerable relationships becomes much harder.

————————————–

I think this also explains the differing views towards women’s sexuality. Some men see primarily the “unfair power” side of women’s Thing and feel resentment about it, much like someone might feel resentment towards a rich friend who got all their money through an inheritance and is being so uptight they can’t even share a little bit. This is where you get things like The Red Pill, where the focus is entirely about fixing the unequal power distribution. “They have the Thing, but it’s no big deal, it’s easy to get.” If you read TRP posts it’s obvious how much of it is about trying ‘take the power back’.

And some women feel very resentment about this whole setup, too. They feel upset at the world constantly trying to pry the Thing out of their hands. They feel as though their worth is reduced to the Thing and the Thing only, because that’s what everyone seems to pay attention to. A catcall isn’t just a catcall, it’s a symbol for the entire social structure around the power exchange of sex. It is no longer a compliment – an acknowledgement of the desirability of their Thing – but rather an insult, a claim that they are only desirable for their Thing.

And of course, some people love both sides of this. Some women revel in the power game, in withholding and dispensing their Thing, and some men love the hard journey (and reward) of getting to the Thing.

——————– ————————————–

My first thought about what differentiates “men who hate the game” and “men who love the game” was whether or not they are winning. Maybe men who don’t get laid are ones that hate the game? But this didn’t make sense – a lot of men who get laid frequently still hate the game and hate women. You probably know some of these people.

So my second thought was a loss of control thing. To be a man in the sex game is a very weak and vulnerable position, because you are at the mercy of unknown feminine forces you frequently don’t understand. You are the one asking people out, you are the one trying to be nice and getting nowhere, you are the one sending all the messages on dating sites, waiting for replies that never come, feeling unwanted and unattractive. It’s not a huge leap to imagine that some people feel humiliated by this. It’s frustrating, despairing, and helpless. They probably really hate the game.

And what differentiates “women who hate the game” from “women who love the game”? I think this is a bit more complicated. If I had to reduce it, I would guess a deep caring about the way strangers and society perceives them. Women who hate the game hate that society perceives them as sex objects. Why do they care that they are reduced to sex in the eyes of society?
Some people might think this question is silly – obviously you don’t want to be seen as sex in the eyes of society! – but a lot of women don’t mind, or even enjoy it. The women I know who love the game don’t seem to care about what society thinks. Catcalls on the street are fine, because they are 100% okay with being a one dimensional sex object to strangers.

Sometimes I feel like women who are trying to end the game don’t realize that the game exists because women have the Thing, and people want the Thing and aren’t getting it. The only real way to end the game would be to equally dispense the Thing so that there is no more imbalance. This could be done in probably two ways – either we all start giving away the Thing until it’s no longer a rare commodity, or we invent amazing sex robots with good mobile joint movements and realistic audio sounds.

The first seems to be present in more liberal, hippie-esque communities I’ve been in. In some circles, all the men seem to be satisfied, and all the women seem to have a lot of sex with a lot of people. I’m extremely curious about what are the causal factors of these types of groups. They seem to have solved the problem.

In conclusion, I don’t really feel that any of these views are right or wrong, because they all seem understandable. Everyone can relate to a fear of loss of control, everyone can relate to a desire to be viewed more than one-dimensionally in the eyes of society.

I feel like I fluctuate between all these views. Sometimes I am enraged for men at the helplessness, sometimes I am infuriated for women at the objectification. And sometimes I just gyrate on camera to hundreds of masturbating men, cause fuckit.

You Wake Up On A Table

You wake up on a table, blinking out the haze under bright lights. Your skin is goosebumping against a sheet draped over your body. Your breathing is slow and…. clear. Deep. As you inhale greedily, you become aware of a strange lightness, and with the exhale you realize that it is an absence of pain. You’d forgotten what that felt like.

You sit up, a little faster than you meant to. The room is a strange cross between a hospital and a hotel lobby; there’s wires hanging out of the ceiling and a large machine covered in screens by your bed, but the ground is carpeted and the walls are draped in heavy salmon curtains patterned with pineapples.

This isn’t your room, the little converted closet your family had put you, waiting for you to finally die, with the blue peeling wallpaper and the drone of that old fan in the summer heat.

A man enters with a whiff of cologne. He is holding a clipboard and is wearing little round glasses.

“This is the year 2442 AD,” he says before you can think to ask any questions. His tone is abrupt, procedural. “You died four hundred and three years ago at the age of….” he glanced at his chart.

“Ninety-two,” you croak. You turned ninety-two last month, but you certainly don’t feel dead.

“Correct,” he says with the tone of someone who’s said these words many times before. “Your body was selected as part of a program by a startup company which would later become the corporate governance known as Jericho. Your brain was scanned and saved in its exact configuration – your memories, personality, subconscious, instincts, your entire brain structure. All of it was compressed and put into a file. Over time Jericho amassed hundreds of thousands of these scans, and recently has begun an initiative to boot them back up in artificial bodies.”

Artificial bodies. You look down and see what you already knew – a smooth, taut skin surface, poreless, with texture lightly imprinted for realism. There are tiny bolts in the back of your elbows. You can’t find the outline of any veins in the back of your hands.

The man continues. “We’ve constructed an artificial body that nearly perfectly resembles a human body, with a few improvements. It will not age, it will not get ill. It can eat, dance, and enjoy sexual intercourse. It cannot reproduce, but we have new methods for that now, which we can address later. It must recharge every night, but sleeping is no longer necessary.”

This is absurd and you are somehow accepting it, numbly. 2442 AD. This means everyone you knew has died. They should have brought in a counselor, or someone who at least started out with “my condolences.”

“Did you download the personalities of everyone, when they died?” you ask.

“No.” His voice remains even, but he glances at you from beneath his spectacles. “Only corpses within a certain eligibility were saved at first. Later on we expanded our reach to 85% of the world, with 100% coverage in developed nations. We have a few thousand prior to your time as well.”

“Wait,” you say. “How do you save the personalities of people before 2042?”

“We reconstruct them,” the man says. “We place bits together from memories of loved ones, of writings, of records. It is a long, painstaking process.”

These questions are something to hold onto, some sort of anchor that gives your mind grounds to think. “How do you know it is accurate?” You ask. “What if you make a mistake?”

“There is a variance in every replica,” he answers, with a bit more spark this time. Maybe he isn’t used to these sorts of questions from…. new bodies. “It’s around 0.02%, even in yourself. The variance in personalities recorded prior to 2042 can reach up to 0.09%, but it is a negligible difference. All the presidents of the United States are currently living, as well as many major historical figures. A version of Shakespeare is currently living in New Jersey.”

“A version?”

“Historical records were not comprehensive enough for high levels of accuracy.”

“So is it him?”

“More or less. We have philosophers to argue over the petty details now, but if it means anything, he’s been writing some additional great literature. You should read his newest play By the Shore if you’ve got the time.”

You run your fingers over your skin and have an eerie sense of being sixteen. Sixteen with the mind of an ancient.

“Will I ever die?”

“Your body will eventually fail,” he says. “Artificial macrocells last for approximately 240 years before they must be replaced. Don’t worry, we have a financing option.”

“And then I’ll be put into another one?”

“Yes, unless you specifically request a non-continuation of your memory.”

You stand from the table and test your walk. Your legs take a moment to respond to your will, but your new brain picks learns fast, and within a few tries you are spinning around on one leg with absurd balance. It is a good distraction.

“So if you can reconstruct memories, can you change them? If I ask, can you erase shame, or the memory of death of loved ones? What if I were a murderer? Can you erase sadistic tendencies in people?”

“Yes,” he says. “There are extensive modification forms you can submit for change upon your next body shift if you wish to improve yourself. We refuse to reawaken criminals unless they agree to positive modification.”

Your mind immediately flies to the extremes. “Do people change so much they become someone else? Wait, no – can they choose to forget who they were, entirely? Are there people who want to be someone else upon their next… wake-up? Like a reincarnation?”

“Transferral into another body is something we call a birth. This is your second birth. And yes. There are many people who choose an identity and remove memory of their prior lives. Most of those are not aware that they are on their second birth; they believe they have simply been born. Some opt to put in false memories from a life that didn’t exist, just for the fun of it.”

“Then how are they even the same person?” Your brain may be fast, but it is still yours, and it has limits. “How is this any different than booting up any arbitrary consciousness with random specifications you feel like making? How is it them?”

The man shifts, and you don’t remember at what point his enthusiasm had become discomfort. “It isn’t.”

You realize you are naked. He doesn’t seem to care. You can feel the ligaments within you moving… differently. More precisely. Cleanly. It is hard to focus on your body with your mind whirling. There are a thousand questions to ask at once.

“Are my children alive?”

He consults his clipboard, obviously relieved to have an easier question. “You have four children alive.”

“I only had three children.”

“One elected to be birthed twice.”

“What?”

The man talks calmly. He looks pleasant now. You wonder if his body is organic or artificial. “Your child Miranda lives in Texas. She also lives in New Canada.”

“What are you saying?”

“Canada had sort of an identity crisis last centur-”

“No, about Miranda. Are you saying I have two Mirandas?”

“Yes. There are two bodies that carry her consciousness.”

“But – which one is her?”

“Both are her.”

“Both? How do you have two of the same person?”

“We booted the file into two different bodies.”

“You what? You can do that? Could you do that to me?”

“Of course.”

You stand there dumbfounded, and stare at the man with his stupid little glasses. He’s shorter than you. You have an urge to push him over, but suppress it. “So if you booted me twice, would the other one be a clone?”

“Not any more than you’re a clone right now, I think. That’s actually the subject of the presidential debate’s new platform right now, outlawing of multiple copies. But I personally think it’s just the same thing, there would just be two of you.”

“And this other me – over time it would be subjected to different experiences. It would be me for a little while, but then it would change. How could it really be me, then?”

“You think because it has gone through different things, that it is not you?”

“Then how do you draw the boundary between what is and is not me? Could anyone be me?”

“Some say everyone already is you.”

“But how? I can see and touch them!”

“You can see and touch another instance of your brain booted up into another body, too. Just because you’re looking at another body you’re not in doesn’t mean it’s not you.”

You grab your head – full of thick hair – and run your hands down your face, smooth and unfamiliar.

“What am I?”

“That is a very good question.”

“Is this me? You’ve taken something that remembers some life of mine, some collection of ideas – hell, they might not even be real, maybe I elected to have them imprinted inside of me because of some some twisted idea that it would be fun – and now I’m something that can be replicated? What is this? I died! I was gone, and now I’m awake again and I remember being me. I remember my children.”

“We don’t use the term death anymore,” he says, gently now. “We call it sleeping.”

“Don’t try to soften the truth. People do die. I died.”

“And when you’ve gone to bed to sleep at night? You closed your eyes, fell unconscious, and then hours later you opened your eyes again and remembered being you. We could have replaced your body when you slept every night and you would feel no different. And just now – you’ve closed your eyes and opened them four hundred years later. Sleeping is no different from death, except with sleeping, you just remember who you were last time. With death, the memory leaves. If you remember who you were, then you haven’t died, you’ve only slept.”

You have no words. The man continues. “You will meet many people who are on maybe their tenth births who will not remember their past births.”

“What about me? Have I lived in the span before this time and chosen not to remember?”

“If you had, I would not be at liberty to tell you.”

“Why do people choose not to remember?”

“Most will say they got bored. Immortality is quite the fad, but it seems a lot of people get tired of it. They say it’s not really fun to be a kid again if you already remember being an adult. You’re just smaller and nobody really takes you seriously. So you can’t really be a kid if you don’t die first.”

“I thought you said you didn’t use the word death.”

“We do in cases of non-remembrance – if you elect to be rebirthed and not remember it. I don’t really think that’s any different from regular humans being born and dying though, but that’s just me.”

“How many times have you been born?”

“I don’t know,” he says.

“Does anyone know, for sure?”

“No,” he says. A beeping sounds from outside the door. He reaches into a drawer built into the wall and hands you a simple robe. “My shift is up, though. Take this. Are you finished with your questions?”

“No,” you say.

He smiles, his first real expression, and you catch an artificial green reflection in his pupil. “You can come back whenever you wish. There is food waiting for you. You will also find a full manual and a trained Birth Specialist just down the hall. Two of your children will meet you outside.”

You thank him, your head still spinning, and with your new legs you step through the door.

Why I Can’t Say Yes To Sex

I am visiting South Africa. I’m staying in a beautiful apartment overlooking the ocean, I am all alone, and my sex drive has been insane.

I figured it would be nice to go on a date with a guy from Okcupid, maybe have some casual sex, and never see him again. I searched, found many possibly eligible men, but none really pushed me over the ‘action’ cliff. And so I spent nights alone, drinking wine on an empty vagina.

Why couldn’t I get laid? Why wasn’t I letting myself get laid? Why did I have these impossible standards about who I fucked when it didn’t really matter in the long run? I would obviously enjoy it while it was happening. I was cockblocking myself and I hated it.

I want to make clear that my following explanations for my behavior are not describing a conscious decision, but rather a framework for what must be happening behind the scenes.

Saying no to sex is a form of power – not because I want it to be, but because of the way the system is set up.
A lot of men are willing to sleep with me (as they are willing to sleep with nearly all young women) and saying ‘no’ to them all is kind of power, because it means

A: Men want something (me), and B: They cannot get the something – because I’m the sexual ‘selector’ and thus sexually superior to them.

I only say ‘yes’ to men I find sexually superior to myself. If a popular, handsome, and charming movie star – say a generic Chad McMuscles – came around and paid attention to me, I would probably at least start out with sexual interest, because he would be the most sexually superior mate. I assume I must be very motivated to have superior mate in my vagina, because I assume I’m programmed to try to produce the best baby, and settling for an inferior mate is just not great for my line of DNA.

This means that when I say yes to Chad McMuscles, I’m essentially telling him that he is the hottest/smartest/most intriguing man who’s paid attention to me – but more importantly, I am admitting he’s the best I can get. I’m submitting my sexual power, in a way, and it’s a very vulnerable position to be in.

This might be fine, because fancy moviestar Chad McMuscles is pretty high hanging fruit – but the problem is my subconscious brain doesn’t think so. My subconscious brain is an asshole.

“Are you sure you can’t do better?” it whispers to me (usually on the first date when he asks if I want to go back to his place). “Are you really going to let him know he’s the best you can possibly get? Your power is in saying no. You’re about to say yes. Are you sure you should be saying yes? Is this a good choice?  You know you lost all your superpowers, right? Is this worth it? Is it?!?

Of course this is very silly. I frequently just ignore this stupid voice because I am an adult and I like sex. I also frequently ignore it because the kind of people I like and respect as individuals are people who aren’t generally very good at triggering the primal side of me, and if I want to be intimate with them, I have to shut myself up, usually with copious amounts of alcohol.

But I do think this has had an effect on what I like in bed. Forceful sex is a primal way of taking away the stress of choosing a sufficiently high status mate – that I am not admitting anything about my sense of sexual self worth by having sex with his person.

And I think it feels so freeing because I no longer have to worry about whether or not I’m giving up power. It tricks me into feeling that I did not say yes to this. I am not giving up power. There is nothing wrong with my sexual value because I neither asked for it nor allowed it. Really, it just reaffirms my ideal view of the world – of course a man would want to have sex with me so bad that he would ignore my ‘no’.

I trick my primal brain into believing this, and then it allows me to enjoy sex.

Now, I’ve been followed and chased twice before – one involved chestkicking a man out of my apartment door when he tried to shove in after me, and the other involved a man trying to grab me in a dark alley in the middle of the night. Both were absolutely terrifying and horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

But those events later turned into sexual fantasies. I felt fucked up because it turned me on, like it shouldn’t, like I was betraying some sort of moral code, or admitting a victory to those horrible men, by allowing myself to fantasize about it.

At some point I just have to throw my hands up. I’m not going to judge myself for the things that get me going. I engage in safe, consensual play. I in no way condone actually forcing anybody into a sexual experience against their will.

I don’t know how many other women experience this sort of mindset. Part of me wants to think it’s widespread, because a lot of women are into rough stuff, and the idea of a woman demonstrating sexual value by loudly rejecting men is a
huge
part
of
our
culture.

Men don’t really get the same message. Generally you don’t hear them bragging about how they said no to all the women. Men get the message of sexual value by getting lots of women to say yes (cue every single music video of rappers coated in a writhing blanket of womanflesh). When men do brag about being “too sexy for you” it’s almost always done for comedy.

(disclaimer: this seems to be the case regarding initial dating or flirtations with the opposite sex, or pure sexual desire. Messages about love and relationships are a whole different category.)

It doesn’t seem like too big a leap to hypothesize that maybe this emphasis on a woman’s sexual value in rejecting leads to anxiety about accepting. And in a world where rejecting sex is celebrated as a status symbol of value, this may be what leads to slut shaming – where those who accept too much are viewed as having given up their status symbol.

So… maybe we should stop celebrating women who say no?