Mittwoch, 14. Dezember 2011

What does it matter to you?

I've been reading some of Natalie's fantastic articles on gender, transgender and privilege on Skepchick lately, and I've been wondering: Why do people care so much?
I don't mean on a personal, intimate, concrete level. I admit that I don't know what would happen if my husband came out as transgender, but somehow I doubt that I need to worry much about this possibility. And as a straight, cisgender, married woman, the whole business is pretty far removed from my personal life.
That's what makes me wonder:
Why do other people care so much? Even people who are not bigots, who consider themselves to be allies.
Why do people feel entitled to give a different asnwer to the question "Is somebody male/female " than the actual person it concerns?
I have no answer. Do you?

Montag, 7. November 2011

It'th tradithional"

While the USA prepare for the war on christmas and the rest of the world awaits the news of casualties, in Germany has come the time for one of my most favourite catholic celebrations: St. Martin's Day.
St. Martin is a catholic saint who, according to the legend, cut his cloak in two and gave half of it to a poor man who was about to freeze to dead. To this day, this is remembered at the 11th of November (or some day around that date) with children walking the streets with lanterns, the singing of traditional songs, a big bonfire and, where I live, a Martinsbretzel, a sweet bread that is only made around that day. Oh I love it.
I don't love it because of some supernatural humbig, but because it is a celebration of many things I like and find good:
  • First the kids and parents craft the lantern together. Spending time with my kids? Hey, that's wonderful. Sure, we could do that whenever we wanted, but that one time a year is something to look forward to.
  • The procession. Colourful lanters in the dark November evenings, singing songs together and watching the big bonfire. That's quailty time. That's being together. And a 2m bonfire (the wood, not the flames) is a sight to be seen.
  • The Martinsbretzel. Sure, we live in a world of plenty, we could have that everyday. But we all know it's not the same. Looking forward to something is a pleasure in itself. After having walked on the actual street, at a time when I was supposed to be inside and getting ready for bed, having a hot sweet tea or coacoa and a sweet Martinsbretzel when usually I would only get normal supper, that was a real treat for me as a child. All the normal rules were abandoned just for one night.
  • The story of St. Martin. It makes much more sense than the usual christian stories, at least at a child-like level.* Nobody killed for their own good, no magical mystery birth. It's a story that works without any religion at all. Being good, being kind, sharing, those aren't christian virtues, those are human virtues.
So, yes, I'm a great fan of great traditions. I will celebrate St. Nicholas' Day soon, and a full scale christmas. Only except the religious nonsense. I will celebrate for the sake of celebrating, I will celebrate being alive, and with my loved ones. Celebrations are good, and after all, they're tradithional.

*Well, actually he was a privileged asshole. How about taking the poor beggar up on your horse, getting him into your stables to keep warm, giving him a meal and finding him an odd job around the house?

Donnerstag, 3. November 2011

Storytime: Thief's luck

Jock gave Wulff a slight thump and pointed at a man in the crowd. Judging his clothing he was a rich merchant from the Rabost province. Had he come here laden with precious goods for trade, or had he travelled lightly and quickly to Zasul to get one of the much desired licenses from the Prodnik?
It mattered little to Jock and Wulff. Their whole focus lay on the fat purse he wore at his belt and the little girl he had with him. The couple was standing in the crowd in front of a puppet theatre, waiting for the play to begin.
Wulff nodded and started pushing through the crowd. Recklessly he pushed and thumped as if he weren't a skinny boy but a guard in full armour. Already people were complaining, pushed back and mayhem grew and finally the little girl fell and scuffed her knees on the hard cobblestones.
 Immediately the merchant took his hand off his fat purse to attend to his daughter and as soon as he had let it go, Jock cut it off and vanished in the crowd.
They met again in the old warehouse. The purse was heavy, and made from a leather so fine that Jock had never seen the like, adorned with a strange golden fur. Jock emptied it onto the floor. They'd never had such luck before, never seen that much money. Most of the coins were pure gold. They were rich beyond their wildest dreams, but strangely neither Jock nor Wulff paid the heap on the floor much attention. Their focus was completely on the strange purse.
"I take that, you keep the rest", snapped Wulff and pulled the purse right out of Jock's hands. He wanted to protest, to fight, but what could he do? Wulff was not only two years older than him, but also a head taller and twice as heavy as himself. There was a reason why the small Jock was the actual thief of the team. He watched Wulff as he left the warehouse. He was strangely aware of the fact that this was the end of their friendship.
Shrugging his shoulders he packed the money which now seemed much more appealing to him. He carefully divided the coins into little packets, wrapped in cloth so they would not tingle and hid them on his body, but again and again his thoughts travelled back to Wulff and that damned leather purse. Still grumpy he bought a fried pancake which would usually have made him drool with delight and ate it while he wandered over the market.
Suddenly there was a turmoil at the other end of the market and the thief in him led Jock  there automatically. But what he saw let his blood run cold and erased any thought of thieving from his mind. The very moment he arrived, the guards were pulling back Wulff from a bloody mess that might have been a little boy, but worse than that was the look of Wulff. Between his teeth he had lumps of bloody flesh and he fought like a madman. The Captain of the guards took his belongings from him and for a tiny moment Jock glimpsed the leather purse which vanished unseen in the pockets of the Captain. Jock was quite sure that it wouldn't reach the Prodnik as the law demanded.
Maybe, he thought, maybe it was time to leave Zasul. The Guilds of the Free City didn't ask where thier fees came from as long as they were paid. Jock was clever and canny. Maybe he could become a goldsmith, or a writer. No, probably not a writer, he decided as he headed towards the caravan-market. Parchment was too much like leather.

When the girl fell, Eidan immediately tended to her. The moment she hit the cobbles the smell of her blood reached his nose and almost drove him crazy. Yes, maybe tonight. Probably tonight. Poor thing. He'd bought her from a peasant a few days ago. She'd starve there anyway come winter, he said to himself. He'd given her pretty cloths and good food. He wanted to take her to the puppet-theatre. He hadn't asked her name.
Suddenly it was gone. The greed, the hunger, the madness. He took the crying child into his arms. "Shooo, don't cry, it will stop soon and then everything will be allright". And then again, more to himself, "everything will be allright".
He looked at her and wiped away her tears. "How would you like if we went home, the two of us. No, not the tavern, really home, to Rabost. My wife has always wanted a little daughter and your new brothers will spoil you beyond belief. We'll leave early tomorrow and what do you think about travelling via Zeikul? They breed the best ponies in all of Z'amad and you'll learn riding on the way home. When we come home you will be such a good rider that you can go on the hunt already!"
And most importantly, that way didn't lead past the five tiny graves filled with child bones of which only he knew where to find them.

Montag, 24. Oktober 2011

Do something now

I just got an e-mail that inspired me to this blog-post.
Some time ago I found out that the ultra-conservative Pius-Brotherhood is protesting against reproductive healthcare providers. This may be very old news for you, but not that common in Germany.
So, when I found out I took the 5 minutes it takes to write them a supportive e-mail, telling them "Thank you".
So today I got a reply. they were sincerely glad about getting a supportive slap on the shoulder once in a while, we all know that it feels good.
So, it's something you can do now. If you can't be an escort, if the nearest clinic is far away, if there's nothing else you can do: Write them an e-mail, thank them, tell them you're glad they're there for you even though you might never need them.
Just do it.

Mittwoch, 28. September 2011

7 things I'd like you not to do to my kids (or other people's kids)

1.) Do not touch
It's sad that I have to mention that, but really, please, don't touch. I don't touch you, a perfect stranger and you'd be rightly upset if I did. My children are perfect strangers to you, too, and just because they're short doesn't mean they feel comfortable with you patting them. Do you want to look like a creep?

2.) Do not feed
I sound like I was writing about zoo-animals, don't I? Another basic one. It's nice that you want to give them a treat. Just ask me, please. Maybe they are about to have dinner, maybe they just had a huge ice-cream cup. And while my kids might simply puke in the car, there are many kids around with allergies. Your cookie could be lethal.

3.) No, it's not okay
It's nice that you don't mind my kids screaming at the top of their voices or sitting down at your table in the restaurant. I really appreciate that there are still some people out there who have a high tolerance for kids. But honestly, that's a bit too much. I'm trying to teach them some respect for other people's needs and you're not helping.

4.) No, they're not dolls
I know, they're cute. But please, can't you compliment them on something apart from their looks? Come on. You're an intelligent adult, you can come up with something better. You don't want to teach them that looks are the only thing that matters. Do you want them to judge you by that standard?

5.) De-du-du-du, de-da-da-da is only cool when sung by the police
Can you please talk normaly? How do you think they're going to learn language? Surely not by baby-talk. Especially not since they're already fluent in it. It only makes you look stupid.

6.) Wear your big-kid pants
So they're not talking to you? Believe me, they understood you the first time. If they don't want to answer you it's their choice. If that offends you, well, that is of course your choice. But I thought you wanted to be the adult.

7.) Yes, you're a stranger
No, of course you're not one of those strangers who give kids candy and then want to do evil things. You're only one of those other strangers who just give kids candy. Honestly, how are the kids supposed to know that, or for that matter, how am I supposed to know that? Because the bad kind of strangers and the good kind of strangers look exactly alike until the point when they don't. Don't make me worry about what kind you belong to. And please accept that my children will err on the side of safety. Oh, and for candy, please read #2 again.

Mittwoch, 14. September 2011

On the non-existence of parental rights and why mum still knows best

If you're confused by the title, don't worry, it's intentional. I'm trying to explain.
First of all, there's this parental rights thing. We all know it. I'm a passionate mum. Mess with my kids and you find out why the most dangerous animal is a mother with young indeed. And don't start telling me why I absolutely must do X, thank you very much.
Sounds like I really like my parental rights, really?
Only that I don't think that such a thing exists. There are no imanent rights to anything that has to do with a child just because you ejaculated inside a fertile woman or poped a baby out of your vagina.
Because children are people, too.
Shocking idea, isn't it?
But I challenge you to cite a modern democratic constitution that starts with somewhat like "people have the right to life, liberty and free speech provided they're of age". Nope, those rights are granted to everybody, plus a bunch of other rights, like the right to vote and so on.
But rights come with responsiblities and consequences. And let's face it, if you have no clue what "100$" means, you shouldn't be allowed to spend them on sweets. If you can't understand what a pneumonia is, you don't get to make the choice to run around in your swimming trunks in a January snowstorm. And if you think "they promised me a lollipop" is a really good argument to vote for somebody, you shouldn't be allowed to vote*.
So, if you can't understand the consequences, you don't get the right.
Yet some of those rights are necessary for daily life. Unlike voting, which is something a lot of adults don't do, the decissions about food and clothing need to be made constantly. Others, like taking the kid to the doctor, are crucial and can't be left unadressed. So they're given to a responsible adult who's usually also the parent.
So, even though I get to make all those choices, I don't have the right to make them. I'm the stewardess of my child's rights.
I hand them back, little by little, until one day I'm not needed to make them anymore. There's a fully grown human person who can weigh the advantages and consequences of pancakes for breakfast herself.  And if I've done my job well, could make me some, too, please.
Now that I've established that I have no real right on that child, I still know best, well, most of the time. Not because of some magical mummy instincts. Not because I'm infallible. Simply because I know that kid best. I know their habits and characters. My experience tells me pretty well whether it's time for them to see the doctor or whether they just need a day on the couch with choclate cake, hot tea and lots of love.
That's why I generally don't care much if little Johnny is running around on the playground at 9 pm. Unless I've got reason to think that he's there because there's nodody at home or something like that, of course. But maybe little Johnny takes a long nap in the afternoon. Or he needs little sleep in general. Or a bazillion other sound reasons why Johnny's primary caretaker lets him run around that late.
So, don't look away when harm is done, because they have no right to do it.
But also don't judge people because they're making a different decision than you would make.

*I do notice that this is a problem with adult voters, too ;)

Sonntag, 4. September 2011

Have people ever thought about the afterlife?

It was comment from my mother in law that made me thinking about it. She's not a very religious person, I actually don't know what her beliefs are, she doesn't pray for people or thank god except in the way the phrase is used in Germany all the time: thoughtless, without really meaning it.*
So, what was it she said? Talking about my grandma who's in hospital and who seemed like giving up, she said "maybe she wants to be with her husband again".
My grandpa died last December.
So, if she really thought they would meet again, or if any believer believes in any kind of afterlife, how do they think it to be?
Would they still have their old, weak bodies? Or would there be a new one, perfectly healthy, perfectly able to do anything, unbreakable?
And most of all, what would they do for all eternity? Their lives were shaped by the struggles and the hard work they did. By WWII, emigration, hardship and also accomplishment.
So, what would that afterlife like, for all eternity, once you've gotten over the 10 minutes of joy to be with each other again?

* If you're talking to a German person and they're using a lot of religious language, don't assume that they are religious anymore than you'd assume them to have read Hamlet for saying "to be or not to be". We'll happily invoke god, Jesus, a soul and the appocalypse as idioms and metaphors.

Samstag, 20. August 2011

Homeopathy is so strong, it works through closed bottles

On our recent holiday in France, the kids and hubby caught cold. No big deal, but I wanted to give them some cough syrup, the only medication I hadn't packed.
So I scratched my French together, went into the pharmacy and asked for something against a dry cough.
Well, since Mr. was parking in the second row, and my French is about as fluent as the Dead Sea, I just took the bag, paid the bill and left.
Back at our caravan I inspected the bottle. Yes, my French had worked. It said it was a remedy against dry coughs on the bottle.
On closer inspection it also told me it was a homeopathic bottle of sugar-water and if the symptoms hadn't become better within 5 days, I should see a doctor.
Well, what should I say? After only two days, the cough really had become better.
All through the magic powers of a closed bottle in the cupboard (don't ask me why I transported it another 1.000 km to throw it away back at home).
If I were any suceptible to woo, I would now be completely convinced of the wonderful power of homeopathy. I would probably drive the 50 km to cross the border just to buy that very cough syrup.
Bad luck for them...
What really annoys me is that in the European Union, any so called "functionyl food" has to provide studies before they're allowed to market their stuff as "beneficial for your cholesterol digestion whatever" . So why are they allowed to put the label cough remedy on a bottle of sugarwater?

Mittwoch, 27. Juli 2011

The magic C-word

Sorry to dissapoint you, it's not clitoris. In this post anyway.
Context. You know "within the text".
I really have no idea what's the problem with the simple idea that for a lot of things it's not a simple matter of good or bad, right or wrong, but of when, where, with whom and how.
I always thought this was something you learnt early in life: you used a different language when talking to your grandma compared to what languaged you used when talking to your mates. There's nothing bad about pooping, yet you don't do it of the sidewalk. Easy, isn't it?
And the there are the rules of communication. The simple recognition that in a given conversation about topic X, regardless of what X actually is, jumping in shouting "but what about Y"* makes you an asshole.
To make it easier for those who have problems with that idea:
In a conversation about starvation in Africa**, complaining about your lack of Parmesan cheese makes you an asshole because you compare your tiny woes with a real serious problem. That's easy.
Trickier: In a conversation about Parmesan cheese, jumping in telling people that this is trivial and they should really discuss starvation in Africa makes you an asshole, too. But aren't starving children still more important than cheese? Of course they are, but bringing them up in this context shows that the person actually gives a fuck about them. What such a person really wants is to tell people what to do, trying to shame them because they obviously ignore such great woes in the world. Such a person wants to get their halo glowing with a holier than thou attitude. That's what makes such a person an asshole.

*Quite often the formula Y=me is true.
**BTW, you can help, these are cool people who don't spend money on bibles

Montag, 25. Juli 2011

To Norway....and the world

Now it's been three days since the horrible massacre in Norway. Police are correcting the death numbers, fortunately downwards. The shock that numbed out most other feelings vanes and all over the world the filths spews forth.
A Finish Newspaper blames the massacre on women not having enough sex with the bastard (if your Finish is as good as mine, try this link), while the most disgusting Glenn Beck insults the victims by comparing them to the Hitler Youth.

How can they?
How dare they?
Have they been raised under a wet stone and only recently came out?

I'm angry. I'm angry as hell. I'm angry at all those people who let the fascists, the racists, the xenophobes join their ranks as concerned citizens against the "islamification", who themselves used every cheap trick in the book to make immigrants the scapegoats again, who proclaimed the end and the death of the western world if we don't start doing something against muslims.

We have seen once again who wants to kill freedom, everything that's good, that makes life worth living. The same people who always wanted to do this since the 1930's.

I'm sad. I hold my kids as if there was no tomorrow. Because there are those people in Norway for whom there is no tomorrow in which they can hold their children.

I'm amazed at the Norwegians, who don't answer this horrible act of terrorism with cries for less freedom, but with a firm dedication to keep an open society, to uphold the values of those killed.
Because you can't end terrorism with police force or armies. That means you let them win.

Again, to Norway. I mourn with you, I cry with you.

Dienstag, 19. Juli 2011

All the way to Saudi Arabia

Well, nobody says that we're close to Saudi Arabia. It's pretty far away, sure. You'd take a plane to go there. And the differences are vast. And look at how bad women have it there. Really bad. No-one in their right mind would compare the situation with the one here.
But truth is, you can walk there. Well, if you are in continental Europe.
Each steps takes you a little closer to Saudi Arabia. Surely, you don't notice a difference going from Germany to Austria. But you go further. Things are still pretty good in Hungary. Maybe the gender roles are a bit more traditional, a bit more open sexism. Still, not that much to worry about.
Macho culture in Romania and Bulgaria might make you worry a bit. Istanbul in Turkey shows more headscarves already and the more you move away from the capital, the more they become. Finally you have to cross Syria with all its troubles. You're happy that your trip through Iraq is short. And you reach Saudi Arabia. With its open misogyny. With its laws that prohibit women to drive. With its burqas.
Your journey started at home, where things are good, but each tiny step brought you one step closer to Saudi Arabia.
Now, we can't put more distance between ourselves and Saudi Arabia. And it would be really stupid to believe that there was simply a continuum of sexism from Germany or France over Bulgaria to Saudi Arabia.
Sorry if you felt your country missrepresented, it was for the sake of illustration only. But I think it makes a point: Things aren't black and white, things aren't easy.
We can't move physical countries, but we also can't prevent sexism and misogyny increasing by just noting our difference from and to Saudi Arabia. But as a culture, as a society, we can move away. We can refuse to make the very first small step. By not letting a sexist remark slide. By not belittling women, their experiences and concerns. By not making their lives worse.

Donnerstag, 14. Juli 2011

Something completely different: A short story

Like about everybody who ever got a nice remark by their primary school teacher on their creative writing, the idea of writing a book myself has always fascinated me.
Well, with age there came experience and probably I don't have it in me to write a novel, but I humour myself not to suck too bad at short stories.
So, if you're interested in a bit of nice, no depth fantasy, here you go.

I was lost. I know what you're going to tell me. That wouldn't be just a disgrace, but also quite impossible, since after all I'm a Bayona*, born with the gift to find my way wherever in  Z'anad I'd be. But that's the point, I wasn't in Z'anad anymore. As a faithful Runner, I'd been sent to the Free City by the Prodnik to deliver an important treaty to their Prodnik.
I had acomplished my duties and so nobody would even notice I was missing. Runners lead a lonly life. Some of them have a partner in all the major cities, or at least somebody who acts like on for a few days for pay. Others, like me want to retire some day with the savings from their hard work and start anew. This should have been my last mission, paid for in advance. The Prodnik wouldn't wonder if he never heard of me again and neither would anybody else in Z'anad.

So there I was standing in the middle of the Wilderlands and couldn't even tell anymore where I'd come from. You laugh? I'm a Bayona, I never needed orientate like ordinary people. Stars are pretty and yes, the sun changes its position during the day and yes, there's more moss on one side of the tree than on the other. What did I care? You could drop me anywhere at night  with my eyes covered, turn me ten times around and I could still tell you wher Zasul is. As long as I myself am in Z'anad. So I went on walking. I would arrive somewhere or die of thirst in the meantime.

By the end of the second day I was lucky, I heard a dog bark in the distance, a real dog, not a mean coyote, and where there are  dogs there are people. I licked over my cracked lips with my dry tongue once more and paced up. Soon I could make out the first huts in the flimering twilight of the steppe. Somebody aproached me who in spite of the warmth was wearing a heavy cloak with a hood. When he got closer I saw it was a man, not very tall but moving gracefully and smoothly. His hair and beard were of a strange white, tinted with grey, like an old man's, but his face didn't show any signs of old age and his eyes shone with a peculiar power.
His eyes, yes they radiated with a blue I'd never seen before, not even with the Icepeople you see from time to time in Zasul. He greeted me in the guttural dialect of the Wilderlands that sounded almost like growling in my ears:
"Be welcomed, stranger. Seldomly do wanderers visit our village"
I answered his greetings and asked for food and shelter for the night. He nodded and let me to the village. It wasn't big, maybe 50 houses built around a small court with a well. The man must have seen my glance, moving fast he hauled up a bucked full od water and passed me a wooden scope to drink.
I've drunk the melting water from the mountainsides of Paklot and the sweet wine of the Bar Valley, but never in my life did anything taste as delicious as this stale water from a well in the Wilderlands.

When my thirst was quenched my host led me to one of the houses. It was similarly built to those I'd seen in the Karsteppe, but it seemed to lack stables. Never mind, I was too tired to wonder about that, too tired for anything. I almost fell down on the bedding I was offered and slept like a young kitten.
The next morning I took farewell from my host. Now I noticed that I had hardly seen any other villagers, especially no children playing in the court like in any other village. When I asked my host he answered something alon g the lines of digging out root and suddenly wanted to get rid of me quickly. They gave me a kind of sausage, made from dried sweet tree-juice and a big bag of water. He explained me the way to the next town from where I should not have any problems to return to Z'anad and I was glad for the thought of having the soil of Z'anad under my soles again and especially of having the feeling to know where I was in my head again.

So I thanked my host for everything and set off towards the town. Three days they had said. Only three days. Three days are nothing for a Runner like me.
They don't call them the Wilderlands for nothing. Their stepps host more than just thirst and it came when dusk arrived. Probably it had followed me for a while already. Its first attack pushed me over and made me crashing against some rocks. Its own momentum had carried it away from me, but when it landed on its feet some steps away from me, it immediately turned around to me again. Back in Z'anad, the brasuli belong to the mythical monsters grandmothers use to intimidate little children. Here in the Wilderlands they are real. Whatever your grandmother told you, she didn't exaggerate. Its teeth were as pointed as the palisades of a fortified village and its claws shone like the miners' pickaxes. And it wasn't alone. Three smaller creatures appeared on the scene when it prepared to jump. I could hear its growling and hissing as pushed its hindlegs into the ground, simultaneously with the others.
Instinctively I shielded my face with my arm. I heard the teeth cut into the flesh, I felt the warm blood dripping on my legs, but it wasn't mine. With a dumb thud, the brasul fell to the ground. Tentatively I lowered my arm and looked into those radiant blue eyes. The hood had slipped back over his head and revealed two pointy, hairy ears that stood out over his white grey hair. His two companions weren't less outlandishThe man had huge pointy horns and her beak was dripping with the blood of the brasul.
I don't know what stories your grandma used to tell you, but in the tales on mine, the Animal-Men were even worse than the brasuli. With a weak smile I accepted my fate.

That was more than 6 years ago. I have learnt to fine my way in the steppe, to interprete the wind, to read the stars. Kamik, my husband and partner taught me how to do it. He didn't need to teach our children. As long as they are in the Wilderlands, they'll never lose their way home, but may some day they may show it to somebody meandering like I did.

*Some remarks on translation and pronounciation.
This was originally written in German, which has clearly distinctive male/female forms, so the sex of the narrator is revealed within the first sentences. It was interesting for me to see whether it would change my own perception of the protagonist if that was probably not the case.
The story features names and terms from a fictional world.
Writing this it acquired a kind of Russian flavour (or whatever counts as Russian in Germany). So the pronounciation of those names is mostly short and "hard"
Z'anad: Ts' -u-'nud. Both Us are pronounced short like in but or bus
Bayona: Bu'yonu. A is a signifier for the female form.  Again, U like but, yo like yoghurt
Prodnik: think sputnik, only with O like some.
Brasul/Brasuli: Brrrusool. I indicates plural. The r is a guttoral rolled r. Think of Russian spies in James Bond movies. Oo like in spool.

What would you tell your daughter?

In the recent shitstorm that came to be known as "Elevatorgate" (I surely don't need to put links here, you all know where to go), a lot of the arguments mostly men made went along the line of "for all we know he was perfectly benevolent. He accepted no as an answer. It's sexist to assume that just because he was a guy he wanted to rape her".
Well, apart from the fact that neither of us can know what would have happened in the room had Rebecca Watson accepted his proposition, I think you're getting this the wrong way.
You sympathise with the Elevator Guy (and after being dragged all over the internet I sure do, too), you identify with him.
After all you're a good guy. You'd never hurt a woman, you'd never drug her drink, you'd always accept her no. Therefore a woman would be perfectly safe with you in an elevator at 4 am, in a dark alley, in a hotel room.
Therefore you think it's totally ok for you to make such a proposition.
Therefore you're offended at the suggestion that she might think you to be anything else than a great good guy after you worked hard on becoming one. It's an allegation you take serious. I understand you, believe me I do*.
The problem is: we don't know you. We don't know all those wonderful things about you. We don't know that we'd be perfectly safe with you.
So let's try and shift the perspective a little.
Let's say the woman isn't Rebecca Watson or any other woman you might find interesting and want to get to know better. Let's say the woman is your 18 year old daughter who comes to you for advice.
The guy in question isn't you for whom you can vouchsafe, but a stranger of whom you have no more information than we do about EG.
Now, would you tell your daughter to accept the proposition or would you tell her to stay away because accepting might bring her into danger?
If your reaction would be the latter, you have reached the exact same conclusion you were offended by before.
If you wouldn't want your daughter to accept a proposition from a man she has no more information about than a woman has about you, don't make it.

*I'm German. I'm an anti-fascist, I come from a family who suffered greatly under Hitler. I work hard to fight racists and (neo-)fascists. Still, usually when being abroad, some people will treat me with caution, with a certain amount of dislike by default for my nationality. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it offends. But I understand why they do so. And I try to make them see that I really am one of the nice Germans.

Mittwoch, 13. Juli 2011

A little story about "No"

In the recent debate also known as "Elevatorgate", a lot of the comments stated that "He propositioned, she said no, nothing happened, what's the deal".
The deal is, among a million other things, the problem of saying "no" without fear.
Whenever some guy makes the joke that "women really don't mean no, we all know that", my stomach cringes. It carries a threat. The threat that if you say no, the man will just ignore it because he knows what you want so much better than you yourself.
Saying no without fear isn't always easy.
About 2 years ago, just when I wanted to take a much needed nap (the lack of sleep certainly added to my level of annoyance), my phone rang. A man was asking for a woman called XY. I told him that he'd dialed the wrong number, he apologized and we both hung up.
I thought it would be the end of it, but alas, it wasn't.
2 minutes later he called again. Really no XY living there? We checked the phone number to see whether he got the right one and for sure, he had my phone number.
Short of it: the guy was an idiot. He called 3 more times even though he knew this wasn't her phone number. They'd met in a sauna, chatted. He asked her her phone number and she made one up. Unfortunately, it was mine.
That afternoon, I was really mad at both of them.
The more time passed, the more my perspective on the whole issue changed. I'm still annoyed at her, because even though unknowingly, she threw me underneath the bus by giving my number to the guy who now had my name, number and therefore my adress.
But I also feel for her, because she obviously was made very uncomfortable by this guy and didn't dare to tell him no when he asked for her number.
At that moment she made the decission that getting away from him safely had top priority. She made the decission that just saying no was not safe.
So, if you're response is "she said no, nothing happened", go back two steps, go back to the moment in which my unknown woman in the sauna felt unsafe to say no.
Wanting to say no should not make you think about whether it was safe to do so. The fact that a man will accept it without making a fuzz doesn't take away doesn't take away the prior moment when she had to worry about this.

Update for personal referrence: Today, Jan 20th 2012, at about 10 to 3, the same guy called me again, trying the exact same thing again. Somebody looks creepy right now.

Montag, 20. Juni 2011

Thank you for not pissing against the sofa

Let's suppose you have some friends who want to spend an evening at your house. Let's also suppose said friends have a male dog they want to bring along. All of you have a wonderful evening with drinks, board games, pizza and when your friends leave at 2 am, there are no warm damp stains on the carpet or sofa.
Would now anybody expect you to thank the dog for not having pissed against the sofa? Are you supposed to give him a doggie biscuit? And what the hell is this excourse in dog-pissing supposed to mean?
It's that annoying argument about "nature" I'm talking about.
I think it's safe to state that pissing against almost everything to mark their claim is very natural to male dogs.
Still, we train them not to do it inside of people's homes.
Yet nobody with a sane mind would argue that humans are opressing the poor beast by this.
This is the consensus when we're talking about an animal who cannot understand why his natural behaviour causes damage and harm when not controlled.
When it comes to humans on the other hand, sentinent beings capable of reason, logic and empathy, suddenly nature is everything.
"Boys will be boys" indicates that it's not only natural for them to behave in a certain way, but also that they should be allowed to do so. Even worse, whenever somebody tries to change that, there are cries of  opression and mistreatment. It is obviously a violation of human (and godly) rights if males have to sit down for peeing .
This argument is so frequent, we don't even recognize it most of the time. For a woman "it's that time of the month", which serves some men to disregard any reason a woman might have to behave in a certain way, and serves some women as an excuse to behave like she had the anger management skills of a 5 year old.
So, how come people expect a dumb animal to behave in a certain way that goes against their natural instincts and don't think about it twice, but actas is the Gestapo was let loose if anybody expects humans to behave in a compassionate way that doesn't harm other human beings?
Not only are those people failing at establishing "natural" in the first place (to my knowlege, little boys need to be taught how to pee without causing a damp stain just like little girls have to be taught), to this day I yet have to see why this should mean anything for a species that is living in buildings made from material that was produced via several stages in different factories, wearing clothes made out of old plastic bottles and  having arguments over the internet.
Here's the thing: If you want cookies, have some.
But don't expect to get them handed as a reward for not behaving like an absolute idiot.

Freitag, 17. Juni 2011


However you stumbled across this, welcome to my new blog.
I created this as a place to write down thoughts, ideas, rants that would derail other forums and blogs, to discuss them, get feedback, learn and share.
As the title says, this is about thinking aloud. That entitled me to certain incoherencies, mistakes, stupidities. I bring them forward for you to tackle them.
Disagree with me, challenge my ideas, add your input. Agreement is also welcome, once in while everybody likes a cookie.
Comments will generally not be moderated except for:
-Stupid adds
-Publishing of personal information

This doesn't mean I won't slap people down, though