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Life, explained... - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
Life, explained...
In case people haven't already seen this:


(I want this on a t-shirt, captioned "SWITCH HITTER".)
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From: kaet Date: March 14th, 2003 05:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know whether to take this to be about sex or life (or perhaps something else). [And I know you better than for you to invoke authorial intent! :)]
From: kaet Date: March 14th, 2003 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Just the picture, I meant. Damn English.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it's about life (of which sex is a subset).

(Maybe my car isn't female after all; she only has a handful of controls!)
From: kaet Date: March 14th, 2003 06:13 am (UTC) (Link)
You're probably right. (sigh) I need more options, damn it.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, what I should have said was: I think it's about a very clichéd view of life, and the joke itself isn't particularly funny (it basically boils down to "Women are so complicated, aren't they?" -- which, while true, isn't usefully true in that it doesn't distinguish women from any other human beings). In fact, why on earth did I post it? Stupid me.

When I say "Women", of course, I mean "mainstream society's perception of what is understood by 'women'", which isn't necessarily anything to do with actual gender, social gender, clothes, configuration of genitals, self-identification, fear, surprise, or a fanatical devotion to ageing church officials who all wear dresses anyway.

(I really didn't mean to offend the GenderQueer community by posting that picture. I just thought it was a good visual way of presenting a commonly-expressed sentiment. Sorry.)
From: kaet Date: March 14th, 2003 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
S'ok I'm not offended. I thought it was a good picture, I didn't take it as being an assertion, just as a representation. And I certainly don't feel part of a GenderQueer community never mind able to represent it!)

My reply was supposed to be in that context that all I have available, (according main society's...) is an on-off switch, something that stays on until it's too broken and is then turned off. It's a very good and insightful image, I'm pleased you posted it. I did think it was depressing, but if it's a true reflection of attitudes and stuff, then so what?
I remain, sir, thoroughly unoffended.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I did think it was depressing

What I thought was really depressing about it was the sheer obviousness of the photoshopping that's been done to get the labels on those pictures. People just don't try any more, do they?

Anyway. I think it's a true reflection of a stereotypical attitude; so yes, some people think like that, otherwise there wouldn't be a joke there; but certainly not everybody thinks like that.

According to certain avenues of mainstream humour, the only reason I have legs is so I can get from the sink to the bedroom. But I can recognise that the stereotype exists (and even find jokes about it funny if they're put together amusingly) without having any intention of letting it inform how I actually live my life.

I'm glad you're not offended, though. I really didn't intend it to be offensive.
From: kaet Date: March 14th, 2003 08:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I guess the main way it affects how I live is that it makes me very reluctant to meet new people, recognising stereotypical opinion. I think most people have opinions along stereotyped lines, aprticularly if they've not had to consider a problem, not everyone but very many. So, more often than not, if I were to walk upto someone random I'd lay money they probably thought like that. So if there's a certain negative consequence to that (even if it's little) the high probability would weigh that part heavily (otherwise I'd be constantly doing things like playing the lottery, where there's also a potentially very good outcome, but which is very rare).

People say that Cambridge is an accepting town, and we're largely amongst graduates, a fair few with postgrad stuff, too. Even with this skew there's only a very few which I'd feel comfortable in this way with, and not just about gender stuff. If you broaden that out into the world-at-large, what's the point of speaking to someone random on usenet or on the bus, or at a pub, who you don't know? Sure you can win the lottery, and people do, and a pound isn't really very much to lose, but to play it over and over again because you once won some money on it a long while ago, what's the point?
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 09:08 am (UTC) (Link)
So, more often than not, if I were to walk upto someone random I'd lay money they probably thought like that.

I'm confused now about what you're referring to. I suspect if you were to walk up to someone random and ask them "Are women more complicated than men?" then there's a chance that they'll answer "Yes". But if you don't mention it, but instead after talking to them for a while ask them if they think of you as being like that, then chances are they've been talking to you for quite long enough to figure out that you're an interesting person rather than a two-dimensional stereotype.

To be honest, I've observed that most people tend not to include the people they actually know into the stereotypes that they hold. My [paternal] grandfather has a tendency to express fairly racist viewpoints from time to time (he actually said once that "wogs start at Calais") -- but as for his Italian friends, his Spanish friends, his Jewish friends ... well, they're his friends, aren't they? That's different. They're not "foreigners" or anything like that, they're people he knows and likes.

Now I know this is inconsistent, and to be honest if you actually forced him to think about it he'd probably acknowledge it too -- he's certainly not stupid. The problem is, it's easy to let the stereotypes be absorbed into one's background thinking, and then they're often not examined too carefully -- while in the meantime one gets on with living one's life as a reasonable adult, basing one's opinions of people on the people themselves rather than the stereotypes.

It's like... [awooga! awooga! crap analogy alert!] ... I "know" Windows is evil, because I hang around with linux/unix geeks, and this is Received Knowledge among such people. But on a day-to-day basis I get on with using WinNT at work, because that's what's there, and by and large I don't really notice it to be honest.

Does that make any sense?

[more in next comment -- exceeded char limit]
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 09:10 am (UTC) (Link)
what's the point of speaking to someone random on usenet or on the bus, or at a pub, who you don't know?

Well, personally I don't think there is much point in talking to random strangers on buses or in pubs, except perhaps to pass the time on a long journey or in somewhere lonely where a human voice speaking your own language is all that's needed. I don't tend to bother trying to "meet people" like that, precisely because of the unlikeliness that they'll be people I really want to get close to.

Usenet (I'm thinking mainly about general-discussion and/or fairly chatty groups here) is a bit of a different thing for me; I'm quite open about myself and my life on usenet, so I can basically guarantee that anybody who's still talking to me after reading my posts for a few months doesn't disapprove of me all that much. If they've made unwarranted assumptions about me then I've probably already flamed them into the next millennium set them straight on those things by now, and if I haven't, they're probably at the very least fairly used to my rude and big-mouthed straight-talking nature.

I think there's a difference again between this and specific-interest groups (on usenet or in real life). If I meet up with people who identify as Morris Minor enthusiasts, I know I'll at least have something I can talk to them about, and unless they have no social skills whatsoever then I'll probably be able to spend a couple of happy hours in the pub with them narging about cars. If I meet up with people who identify as (for example...) bisexual, then it's a bit different -- I know that they aren't likely to judge me for fancying men and women, but that's about all I do know. They might disapprove of polyamory, or they might expect me to be poly ("How can you be bisexual unless you're going out with a man and a woman?"), or they might expect me to like 80s pop (okay, they'd be safe on that one for me), or they might expect me to enjoy clubbing (less safe ground there...). Or they might just be crashingly boring people to whom I have absolutely nothing to say.

Basically I like meeting new people when I think there's a stronger-than-average chance that I'll have some stuff in common with them. I tend to be reasonably happy meeting geeks because they often have the kind of enquiring minds that (to my mind) makes for an interesting person. I don't mind the goth community because they tend to be reasonably open-minded about bisexuality, polyamory, BDSM, etc.; and besides, they make good eye-candy. ;) This doesn't necessarily mean I'll open up to people from these groups immediately (though as you know I'm reasonably open with most people, I just find it saves time and stress in some areas) but it means that I'll say "ooh, meeting new people" rather than "Yawn, meeting new people" or "Ugh, meeting new people" (somewhere between the last two is the sort of reaction I'd have to, say, a "let's meet our American colleagues" occasion at work).

OTOH sometimes I just want to hide and/or stick with the people I know and trust. Sometimes I just don't have the energy for all the getting-to-know-people stuff. (Also, I'm getting to the stage where I feel like I don't have time for all the people I do know, so I don't really see the point of actively trying to meet new people, though that doesn't mean I avoid meeting them at all as a matter of course.)

I feel like I'm getting tangled up in trying to say too many things at once here... maybe I'd better go and think about this and come back when I'm a bit more coherent.

*hugs* anyway.
emperor From: emperor Date: March 14th, 2003 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Surely you'd want to be SWITCH NOHITTER half the time? :-)
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)
You're so, so fired.
huskyteer From: huskyteer Date: March 14th, 2003 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I find this kind of thing a bit offensive, actually. Damn, looks like I am a humourless feminist bitch after all.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 06:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Don't you think my proposed caption changes the meaning/implication at all?
mobbsy From: mobbsy Date: March 14th, 2003 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Er... which way? It seems to me that it's fairly offensive to both men and women.

(I actually find it more offensive towards men than women; I'd rather see the complexity of a human mind acknowledged.)
mobbsy From: mobbsy Date: March 14th, 2003 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)
(er... I should also say that I was amused by it as well, and Janet's caption improved it)
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Er... which way? It seems to me that it's fairly offensive to both men and women.

What, the caption? Or the picture?

I think the picture could be read as offensive to either/both. Which is probably at least part of the reason why I don't really find it offensive to either.
mobbsy From: mobbsy Date: March 14th, 2003 07:56 am (UTC) (Link)
The picture. My first reaction was amused, and I only really saw the offense after analysing it a bit. Lesson from that is don't analyse, just enjoy :-)
huskyteer From: huskyteer Date: March 14th, 2003 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Both! I am also a masculinist.

*whispers* to be honest, I didn't understand Janet's caption.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 09:39 am (UTC) (Link)
A "switch hitter", in baseball terminology, is a player who is able to bat left- or right- handed. This fabulously monospaced glossary of sexual terms defines the term (and a myriad other fantastic names for indie bands such as "AGATE", "FIFTH WHEEL", and "SEA FOOD" ... no, wait ...) if the above doesn't make it obvious what it has come to mean.

(I also note with some amusement that it appears in scrabble terminology, too, which makes me wonder whether they've borrowed the term directly from the baseball, or whether in fact It's All True what they say about people who play Scrabble.)
lnr From: lnr Date: March 14th, 2003 06:57 am (UTC) (Link)
*giggle* that caption just makes the picture so much funnier, I love it.
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: March 14th, 2003 10:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I want gender reassignment where the options include things like "Perl 5.005" and "Third Brandenburg Concerto".
j4 From: j4 Date: March 17th, 2003 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I want gender to be about as relevant as eye-colour.

I'm now wondering just how much of Brandenburg 3 (or the Perl 5 source, for that matter) you could fit on a contact-lens. (It's like cyberpunk, only with more culture. And I don't mean that in the Banks sense, eh.)
ewx From: ewx Date: March 14th, 2003 11:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I like the caption. I wonder if the author of that picture just wanted to say "women are too complicated", and whether the alternative "men are too simple" interpretation had occurred to them or not. Observation is subversion, interpretation is protest, cheese is insurrection.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 17th, 2003 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Observation is subversion, interpretation is protest, cheese is insurrection.

... the point is taken, the elk is dead, the beast stops at Swindon, Chabrol stops at nothing, I'm having treatment and La Fontaine can get knotted.
ewx From: ewx Date: March 17th, 2003 04:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
...the jet has seized up, the "M"oose is set, the carbuncle leaves Staines, the empire never ended, my psychiatrist is GAY and Nureyev has been eviscerated. N'est-ce pas?
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