Friday, March 29, 2019

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Upside-Down Narrative of "Power Under Abuse"

This is one of the worst The Discourse 👌 I've ever seen.  The list of "abusive toward people with power over you" traits are basically identical to a list of behaviors commonly displayed by victims of CPTSD.

– telling someone that their basic needs or boundaries are not valid because of their privilege or power.
– using shame inducing social justice language to pressure people to do things they don’t want to do.
– pressuring someone to have sex they don’t want to have, by telling them they are harming you if they say no. ie. “if you don’t have sex with me, you are ___phobic.”
– accusing someone of harming you because they are requesting conflict resolution with you.
– accusing someone of harming you in ways that did not actually happen, or exaggerating harm that did happen. sometimes these accusations are made public through call-outs.
– calling for ostracization or punishment that is not proportionate to the harm done.
– refusing to absorb feedback offered by friends and loved ones who witness you causing harm.
– refusing to accept support from anyone other than the person you are being abusive towards.
– refusing to acknowledge care given to you by the person you are in conflict with and instead characterizing them as only ever having had harmed you.
– leveraging shame or guilt to pressure someone not to set boundaries.
– accusing someone of abandoning you when they set boundaries.
– refusing to set your own boundaries and then making statements like “you made me do this”.
– constantly accusing other people of being oppressive, harmful, abusive, toxic etc, while simultaneously being unwilling to unpack the way you embody these things.
– not acknowledging the struggle, victimization or oppression experienced by the person you are abusing.
– convincing the person you are abusing that they have more power (in general and specifically over you) than they actually do.
– refusing to address conflict in a way that honours the integrity and humanity of everyone involved. ie: not using someone’s current gender pronoun when you call them out.
– stealing from the person you are being abusive towards and either denying you stole, or claiming you have a right to the thing you stole because you have less than the person you stole from (which may or may not actually be true).
– accusing someone of triangulating or breaking confidentiality when they seek support to navigate the abusive dynamic they are in with you
– claiming to be ‘getting support’ and ‘calling in witnesses’ when you are spreading rumours for your benefit.
– weaponizing pop psychology terms like “toxic”, “narcissist” and “empath”, often with little understand of what these words were originally meant to describe. Ie: narcissism is a mental illness which requires diagnosis based on a set of criteria. it’s not meant to be used to describe someone who thinks about themselves more than you would like them to think about you.
– labelling confusion, miscommunication or difference of opinion as gaslighting. 

Yes, it can be difficult for CPTSD victims to realize that the same habits they relied upon to survive ongoing trauma are the very sorts of habits that will destroy healthy relationships.  Yes, CPTSD victims can still be (for example) racist and transphobic, despite otherwise not holding power over.  But that doesn't translate to "this person I hold power over is gaslighting and abusing me".

If you find yourself struggling to cope with the emotional turmoil that can often come with relationships with CPTSD victims you hold power over, maybe exercise that power you hold to take a break to take care of yourself.  Then revisit the issue at a time you both agree on; you setting this boundary might trigger their abandonment issues, but state firmly and compassionately that you want to be able to be emotionally centered and present to provide them the best support you are able, and that requires self-care first.  Remember that no matter how much this might feel like gaslighting, this person is struggling with dark thoughts that make it all feel so very real to them, and that you turning the tables on them to paint them as "the real abuser" will only perpetuate the emotional nightmare they wish they could escape.

Lastly, take a good hard look at yourself.  Are you in denial about leveraging the power you hold over this person?  Are you possibly over-extending yourself and your capacity to provide competent emotional care for another person?  You might actually need to get help to figure out the answers to these questions.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Leveraging Intersex

I’ve been bad about this, and continually need to check myself, but leveraging the existence of intersex people in gender discourse is frequently objectification and erasure both. I don’t need to explain or justify my genitals to anyone - nobody does. And people do know about intersex bodies - they’re fully aware and have enacted great violence upon those individuals to “normalize” them. It’s not that some people don’t think a wide spectrum of humanity exists, it’s that some people think we shouldn’t exist even when we do.

Saturday, April 28, 2018


Every time I try to write about my family, I feel at a loss for words. I see friends sharing so many beautiful thoughts and photos of their families, and I love it. I love seeing the vibrant energy that comes from getting to share life with each other, and I'm glad that you're sharing your happiness and your sorrows with me.

I think of how I would share my own, and I'm overwhelmed with so many feelings and memories to choose from. How do I describe that which takes no words to experience? There is no analysis to dissect the soft touch of lips on neck, of nose pressed to nose, no photoset of the hopeful fearful dreaming of the future.

How do I possibly approach the looming spectre of misrepresentation? When the only positive example of nonmonogamy I know to point to is drawn from the mind of a dirty computer one short day ago, how do I possibly avoid the stereotype threat pressing my own free expression back into hiding?

I live my life as a fake person only seen for how closely I can imitate realness. I know that every story, every image, will be scrutinized for which relationship is the real one. Which person is the person I love the most? Which would I sacrifice everything for? Which part of my life should I stop pretending?

And then I think about the richness and fullness of our lives, and how many people I know are struggling for even a fraction of that, and I worry that I would ever cause another person pain of longing or envy.

So I leave things unsaid. The deep abiding commitment, the joy of flourishing affection, the fear that at any moment it could all be taken away. Maybe one day we all will get to be possible.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sexual Cinnamon Rolls

Growing up in a conservative Christian community, STIs were portrayed as something that happens to people who stray from the right path: total and complete monogamy with 1 single person for life. Condoms are completely unnecessary to learn about under that model; in fact, buying condoms means you're planning to sin, so don't. When I left Christianity and monogamy behind, and joined polyamorous spaces, it would have been a good opportunity to be deprogrammed of this toxic mindset toward condoms.

However, that's not what happened. Instead of condoms and dental dams being stigmatized for their accessory to a sinful lifestyle, they were now stigmatized for their accessory to a relationship lacking in trust and intimacy. Instead of STIs being the wages of sin, they were now a sign of a dirty person. It's really difficult to unfuck one's own mind under those conditions!

Everywhere I turned, the pinnacle of polyamory was "getting" to have sex without a condom with "fluid-bonded" partners. A thin sheet of latex became the barrier surrounding a gated community, separating those deserving of intimacy from those merely allowed the scraps of the bountiful love of the privileged. Relationship rules were written up like homeowners association covenants, ensuring that any interactions with outsiders would be highly regulated in a way that would remind the newcomer of their inherent dirtiness and undeservingness of love and affection, as certain sex acts were elevated higher than others, only to be claimed as if by birthright by those with purest blood.

One of the major factors fueling the recent uprise in STIs is that people won't get tested or treated - the stigma is too great.  Well, no wonder, when having one is treated like the Mark of Cain!  When you stand to lose access to entire communities of support from even admitting you're capable of catching an infectious disease, where's your incentive for confronting something that frequently won't show any symptoms at all?  (I know not everyone can afford medical care; however this is another way that communities could come together, and offer to cover the bill.)

Why is it so hard for us to stop using each other's bodies as tools for our own validation? Why do we insist that partners put our feelings before their own health? #abuseculture Fluid barriers need to become a primary way to show we care about each other's health. You're not a sexual cinnamon roll: too good for this condom, too pure.  We need to stop treating people with STIs as less deserving of intimacy, rather than as being in need of accommodations and support.