Archive for Hypothetical Woman

I’m Dreaming of a Rather Disturbing Christmas

Posted in Holidays, Mental stuff, My So-Called Life, My Thoughts on X Thing with tags , , , , , , , on 27/12/2009 by phyrbyrd

Well, I should stop apologising for it being a while, since I only post when I feel I have something to say and I haven’t had anything particularly pertinent to say for the past month – I’ve just been busy. Even clam-examiners will know why – it is the season to be… well, at least not publicly miserable, anyway.

I am spending the holidays with three different sets of family this year, and so my present list has been quite large. I am currently writing this on Boxing Day evening from an air bed in the house of one of Mum-Ra’s twin sisters (1). I have had a good Christmas – there are family circumstances that put a darkener on the whole thing, but on the whole it’s been pretty good. Dark Twin has two daughters, and I don’t often see my cousins – we live at opposite ends of the country so it’s good to catch up. Tomorrow the Boil and I are going to visit other relatives, and Mum-Ra will stay to help deal with the family circumstances for a few more days.

But I’m not posting about Christmas, particularly, although I hope yours went well. What I’m actually posting about is dreams. You see, last night, I had a really disturbing dream. Not a nightmare, in that I wasn’t actually scared by it. I seldom get nightmares anymore in that sense – I just don’t scare easily. I was, however, very rattled when I woke, because although I’m told that nobody knows where dreams come from (2) I tend to believe that they’re composed entirely of the dreamer’s experience – that is, you can’t dream what you’ve never seen or at least heard of. This dream, therefore, was one which I was shocked to find in my own head.

I’m not going to tell you exactly what I dreamed. I’ll tell you the one before it – I was sitting in a bar drinking orange juice which was paid for by the man beside me who was drawing banknotes, and these notes were accepted as totally legal tender by the barman. After I’d drunk a massive amount of juice, the skin started to peel away from my hands, leaving bloody gashes in which the blood clotted up and hung in lumps. This dream was by far the less disturbing of the two – the later dream was perverse, illegal and not politically correct on many levels. There is nobody I could describe it to for fear that they, too, would be shocked at me for dreaming it and for the emotions that I felt while I was dreaming it – because, of course, the feelings were part of the dream, and it didn’t occur to me to be nauseated until after I woke up.

And yet. Why be horrified at Hypothetical Woman because she dreamed a dream? It’s not her fault. It isn’t her fault that her dream-self felt nothing but childlike wonder as she watched what would normally be illegal in several countries. She isn’t a lucid dreamer. She just dreams the dream, and then she wakes up and wishes she could scrub out the inside of her head.

I have encountered this misaimed prudery before, too – once I was in my art class and someone mentioned that they’d heard that ‘frottage’ was some kind of sexual act (3), so I explained it and everyone was mildly shocked – so was I, but mostly at the thought that they’d thought I was a nice girl. This was the same class that had seen me present this as an exhibition piece the year before. But really, why be shocked? I’d heard about it. It didn’t mean I was into it and even if I was, what business was it of theirs?

The original aim of this post is beginning to escape me – I believe it was something along the lines of, I’ve had some quite disturbing dreams, and people should be more open-minded. Happy New Year.

  1. Henceforth known as Light Twin and Dark Twin, since they are non-identical twins and one is darker than the other. Both married officers in the british navy, but since I’ve only met Light Twin’s husband once, I’m going to call Dark Twin’s husband Navy Guy.
  2. I would give a reference for this comment but it’s late and all I can find online at the moment is a load of guff about dream meanings and spirituality. I’ll fix this later if anyone gives a damn.
  3. ‘Frottage’ means ‘rubbing’ in French – in a sexual sense it can mean anything from masturbation to rubbing one’s genitals together. I, personally, think she already knew, but I picked it up from Y!Gallery.

The God Confusion

Posted in My Thoughts on X Thing, religion with tags , , , , , , on 25/11/2009 by phyrbyrd

So, I have been reading through my Ultimate X-Men collection – which is by no means complete, I currently have seventeen of the trade paperbacks, but there we go. Anyway, if you’re a clam-examiner you may not know that there have been many, many versons of this particular superteam – the film series cannot possibly have escaped your notice.  The Phoenix story arc is an important part of the X-Men mythos – one might even say that without the Phoenix, it’s not really X-Men at all. But I have expended a whole paragraph and four links just telling you what got my train of thought out of the station, so I’d better get started for real. Obviously, I’ve been thinking about gods. Morality again, too, but mostly gods.

Hypothetical Woman is given the power of a god. This god is truly good, and overwhelmingly powerful, really and truly capable of solving all that is wrong in the world. Or is it? Because if we assume that this is so, then we are saying that the coin only has one side.  For example, Hypothetical Woman and her borrowed powers heal everyone and restore people’s lost loved ones to them. Instantly, there is not enough food, housing and clean water to go round. Well, that’s alright, she can provide enough to eat for everyone – but the planet is still a finite size and soon every single available space is taken up with housing, the animals are extinct and there is still not enough room. Hypothetical Woman, it seems, can’t win.

Random Guy is also given the powers of a god. He is also made omniscient and immortal on top of it all, and his god has a completely neutral morality. Random guy spends a little while interfering in the lives of common humans, and then gets bored. He has nothing to relate to. It’s like squashing spiders – you grow out of it. Why on earth would an omnipotent god give half a damn about something as fleeting, as insignificant, as humanity? Eventually, he gives p and goes out into the cosmos in search of other gods to talk to, abandoning Earth for good.

Dr. X. Ample (say it with me) is also given the powers of a god. An evil one. However, when he tries out his powers, he runs up against the same problem Hypothetical Woman did – there are two sides to the coin. He starts wars in his name, but there are always some people who the war benefits – soldiers who are paid more than they ever were before, entire communities who make a living from supplying military equipment. No matter how many people die, that means more resources are available for those who are left. In frustration, he considers killing everybody, but then he’d only have the animals to torture and they don’t have a concept of evil – and what good is being evil unless there’s someone to know you’re doing it? He could just blow up the planet, but then that would leave him with nothing at all to do, and that would be really dull. Maybe he should go and talk to Hypothetical Woman – give them both something to do.

The point, and I realise that it may not be very well made, is that any good god is evil to someone and vice-versa, and an ever-living god has no reason to even register us at all, since we’re finite. That’s register us as a species, let alone individuals. Anyway, I did also have another point regarding how people believe, but that’s going to have to wait. I make no promises.

Alignment and Morality part 2 – Hypothetical Woman meets Neitzsche

Posted in My Thoughts on X Thing with tags , , , , , on 27/09/2009 by phyrbyrd

Hello again, and here as promised is the second half of my alignment rant. I only just discovered Neitzsche, so please bear with me – glaring mistakes are likely due to the fact that there is a lot I don’t know about his life and work yet. Anyway, these are my initial thoughts.

The Polish* philosopher Freidrich Neitzsche (and no, I wouldn’t have spelled it right without checking) is often closely associated with Adolf Hitler and Nazism, and so people are afraid to read his work and consider it for themselves – maybe they think they will see the words, think the same thing as Hitler thought, and facism will be born? I don’t know. It annoys me that so many people have an inability to form an independant opinion just because a figure historically marked as the Big Bad liked it.**

So, what does Neitzsche say? Well, he says a lot of things, one of his more famous philosophies is to do with the Übermensch, or Superhuman, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about his views on morality. The Master and Slave theory. That there is a simplified view, this is a more detailed explanation.

So as you can see, Neitzsche believed that Europe (and America, but Neitzsche was concerned with Europe) was ruled by the Slave mentality. I would not go so far as to call it the social illness that he did, but I can see what he meant. We are expected to be selfless, look out for other people, be modest, prudent, and so on. Our films praise the underdog and our politics are all about giving everybody a say. Our religions are about shoring up good deeds for a heavenly afterlife. So far, so good. Nothing wrong with this, really.

But why is the Master mentality (as characterized by, among others, the Hellenic races such as the ancient Greeks and Romans) bad? Is it bad to think of yourself? To say ‘I know’ instead of ‘aw, you’re too kind’ when someone says you did really well? To be experimental and creative? To concentrate on this life instead of the next one? Why can’t our films be about a strong hero?

Yes, there are flaws with both mentalities, but neither is bad, really. The Master mentality is terrible when taken to extremes. That’s when you get people trying to make a Master *race*. But the Slave mentality is also terrible when taken to extremes – that kind of thing triggers people shooting abortion doctors because they kill the poor defenseless unborn babies. *Any* philosophy can be taken to extremes, and I struggle to think of an occasion when this is a good thing.

Currently, our society tends to express anger ‘resentfully’, as Neitzsche put it, as opposed to directly. Especially in Britain, if someone slights us, we tend to do nothing, mutter behind their backs, and sometimes try and get them back in some other way. We have a kind of malicious joy in seeing the misery of those who are richer, more glamourous, more powerful than us – otherwise the celebrity magazines wouldn’t sell so well. This kind of behaviour corresponds to the Slave mentality, and its opposite would be if we expressed anger immediately – this is not to say disproportionately, although I imagine a lot more fights would be started if we were governed by a Master mentality.

For example, Hypothetical Woman lives in a society governed primarily by the Master mentality. So does Random Guy, and they are talking, and suddenly Random Guy makes a joke that Hypothetical Woman finds offensive. Instead of worrying about whether it is rude to tell Random Guy she didn’t like the joke, she confronts him about it. What happens next? I have no idea. I live in a society governed by a Slave mentality so I think if I was Random Guy I would apologise and the conversation would carry on uninterrupted. Dr. X. Ample says he would punch Hypothetical Woman in the face for daring to challenge him, but then, he would. He’s got a Master mentality, but he’s crazy.

* – Neitzsche is commonly identified as German but he was born in Prussia and identified as Polish. Germany as it is now didn’t exist at the time of his birth.

** – There is no evidence that Neitzsche would have liked Nazism, had he lived to see it. He died in 1900. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that he would have despised it.

Vetting and Barring: Is Hypothetical Woman a Pedophile?

Posted in Children, Politics with tags , , , on 15/09/2009 by phyrbyrd

So from October 2009 – next month, for Uncle Doctor and the rest of you clam-examiners – the British government will implement, through an Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) something it calls the Vetting and Barring Scheme. According to the Telegraph, the new law  requires everyone who has regular contact with children, as a result of an association with some form of organisation other than their family, to be approved by the Government after registering on a state-run database. This will cost the person being approved £64 – a one-off fee that is waived for volunteers – and the fine for not getting checked is £5000.

A lot of people are citing the Soham murders – they do this every time children at risk are mentioned, since it’s a high-profile case like Baby P and Madeleine McCann. But the Vetting and Barring scheme likely wouldn’t have done a damn thing in the Soham case – Ian Huntley slipped through the net because his criminal records were destroyed by the police. No scheme is perfect.

But people already have to be checked.  The subject was brought up and discussed extensively this week on BBC4’s Any Questions, and the armed forces minister, Bill Rammell MP, when asked whether we would now need a government check to take a neighbour’s kids to football, had this to say:

Bill Rammell MP: “My clear understanding is that if it is a personal arrangement with friends, with neighbours (…) if it is an agreement with those two families, then that will not, er, the Barring and Vetting scheme (sic) will not apply. If it is a voluntary activity, with a voluntary organization, I think parents would expect that organization to have carried out some checks, and that’s what this is all about.”

Jonathan Dimbleby: “Can’t they – forgive me – we’ve got the Criminal Records Bureau checks already there that they can utilize if they wish to, and most do?”

Well, Mr. Dimbleby has a point – he usually has rather a lot, come to that. And the Vetting and Barring scheme doesn’t make the CRB checks obsolete. Any Questions is usually better for a laugh than anything else, but in the session relating to this particular programme, one of the callers was a piano teacher who said that she had three seperate CRB checks and had friends with six, even thirteen, since a different check is needed for every school or group. They cost £36 each, which the schools pay – money which could, on the whole, be used for things like computer labs and playing fields. Don’t people communicate anymore? Can’t this just be put on a record that they could take with them? Are these checks nailed to the school walls?

I personally do not have children and do not intend to have children – this kind of thing is one of the many, many reasons why not*. The only kid I regularly come into contact with is the daughter of one of my mother’s friends, who I am giving sewing lessons to once a week because she wants to learn and comes up to my standards of ‘people I can stand to be in my space’. I’m given to understand from Bill Rammell’s statement above that I don’t need to be vetted to continue giving free sewing lessons to Kid Stitchy, as she will henceforth be known, but if I’m wrong? I’m on benefits, where the hell am I gonna get £5000?

But this is not my major beef with this. Let’s say hello to Hypothetical Woman (hi, Hypothetical Woman!). Hypothetical Woman not only has a sidekick – her daughter, Concept Girl – she teaches at the Abstract School for Potential Superheroes, as a volunteer. She has her CRB check, and when the Vetting and Barring scheme comes in she’ll be checked by them too – all good superheroines abide by the law, after all.

But Concept Girl is wary of her. She’s wary, in fact, of every adult in the world, and refuses to allow Hypothetical Woman to hug her goodbye when she goes to class – Hypothetical Woman’s co-worker, Random Guy, glares at her when he sees her trying and demands she gets her CRB check renewed. All parents are checked, all contact with children is viewed as bad and everyone is seen as a potential pedophile.

Finally, Dr. X. Ample takes over the country and passes a new law, demanding that all children be brought up by the state unless the parents can pass a vigorous test that proves they are fit to raise their children in the sterile, unfeeling way the government demands.

Yes, this is an extreme image. But instead of being innocent until proven guilty, this law assumes that everyone is a pedophile and so must prove that they are not. SERIOUSLY, the problem is NOT as widespread as the papers would have us believe. I got through childhood without being molested, so did my five siblings and all my friends. If I were to believe the media, statistically speaking at least me or one of my siblings should have been abused in childhood. Not every corner has a pedophile on it, and – especially this – not all men are kiddyfiddlers. Seriously, is anybody surprised at the decline in Scout leaders when every Scout leader is painted as abusing the boys in their charge? It’s become almost as bad a stereotype as the Catholic priesthood, with not nearly as much justification.

But I’m ranting. I started college this morning, I’m quite tired and this issue makes me quite angry.

* – Childfree post likely coming eventually.

REFERENCES:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/6179983/Why-the-Vetting-and-Barring-Scheme-is-pure-madness.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8156124.stm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00mj16f (programme may become unavailable)

Hypothetical Woman and the Intersex Olympics

Posted in Sport with tags , , , , on 13/09/2009 by phyrbyrd

So possibly it’s a good thing that my first real post in this blog is about a real issue, and not a craft post or how boring my life is – it certainly gets the ball rolling. If you haven’t heard about this particular issue lately – where have you BEEN?! Have you been researching clams in a remote area of Wales like my uncle?* For Uncle Doctor, and others like him, I’ll recap.

Caster Semenya, a South African middle distance runner, won gold in the 800 metres in the 2009 World Championships in Athletics with a time of 1:55:45 in the final. This is the fifth fastest time ever run by a woman, and has caused the International Association of  Athletics Federations to accuse her of being a man, and to demand gender testing – a horrifically complicated procedure which takes several weeks and five different experts. Why, I am not entirely sure, since apparently we can now tell all this about a person from a DNA piss test – but I am not an athletics standards officer so nobody’s asking me.

Apparently nobody asked Ms. Semenya either, and the results of said test were leaked to the media even before she knew – according to Netland, she is intersexed, with both sets of sexual organs and three times the level of testosterone a woman would normally have. This is way below the level a man would have, and she identifies as a woman, so it shouldn’t matter. Should it?

See, this is being touted as a racist issue, a feminist issue, a trans issue and a class issue. People are saying that it’s because she’s a black intersex woman from a rural background. And yes, many of the slurs that have been hurled in her direction – ‘hermaphrodite’, ‘that’s a man’, even ‘it’ – are horrible things to say to anyone. And yet somehow I feel the issue is being missed here.

So Ms. Semenya is intersex. This is a very rare condition, but it makes her stronger, faster than her peers. It has been said that the kind of improvements she made to her time were the sort that would normally trigger steroid investigations. How can any cisgendered woman compete? So what then, is Semenya to go race against the men? Is she up to the same standard? However much feminism might say that whatever a man can do, a woman can do too, men are still, on average, faster and stronger than women, and at their peak, faster and stronger still. Plus, I have an inkling that it wouldn’t be allowed. So now what? There aren’t enough intersex athletes for a category of their own and even if there were, that would require them to out themselves whether they liked it or not, and the taboo is still far too high for it to be truly safe.

But Ms. Semenya’s fellow athletes must be feeling rather put out about it all. If her gold medal is taken away and given to Kenya’s Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei, who currently holds the silver, and the silver were passed on to Britain’s Jenny Meadows, it would be a phyrric victory at best, one assumes. Everyone would be saying ‘Yeah, Janeth’s got gold – but everyone knows Caster really won.’ Because you just can’t win. The media’s a bitch like that.

Anyway, in a little whimsical aside, fastforward a few years if you will, to the 2016 Olympics. Hypothetical Woman, who is intersexed,** is entering a new category for the athletics – the mixed 800 metres. She competes against Caster Semenya, double-leg amputee Oscar Pistorius, and several male, female, trans, uncertain and disabled athletes.

Who wins? I don’t know. Personally, I’m betting on Oscar Pistorius. I know that a lot of people called him a cyborg and that it’s been taken as not a nice thing to say but I think it’s unbelievably cool. I do know that Hypothetical Woman won’t win, she’s never been much of a runner…

* – Yes, I’m serious, I have an uncle who is the foremost researcher of global warming indicators in clams. He is very cool and shall henceforth be referred to as Uncle Doctor, if I refer to him at all.

** – Of course Hypothetical Woman’s power, like the rest of the cast, is to fit the needs of whatever point I’m making.

REFERENCES:

http://www.sportsscientists.com/2009/08/caster-semenya-male-or-female.html

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/09/11/caster-semenya-case-opening-old-wounds/

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-south-africa-runner21-2009aug21,0,5294672.story

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/aug/19/caster-semenya-800m-world-athletics-championships-gender

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caster_Semenya

This looks like a job for Hypothetical Woman…

Posted in Introduction with tags , on 12/09/2009 by phyrbyrd

Greetings one and… well, me, and welcome to the initial tester post of the Hypothetical Woman blog. My name is Liz, I’m a 27-year-old, epileptic, English art student and this is pretty much my first stand-alone blog, so let me outline what it’s for.

This blog is not simply to post my rants and opinions about politics, science, media tropes, and anything else that might spring to mind, after Livejournal just became restrictive. It’s not just to show off my original art, craft and writing after DeviantArt and Y!Gallery became both restrictive and depressing. It’s both these things, plus whatever else I might need it for at any time.

The idea of starting a blog has been on the back-burner for a while, but the Hypothetical Woman idea came about while I was thinking about how I would go about explaining what was needed to design timelining software specifically for fiction authors*. The concept is quite a difficult one and I often have trouble explaining things verbally, so I came up with this superheroine, Hypothetical Woman, and her foe, Dr. Xander Ample, as illustrative aids. Beware, you’ll be seeing more of them as I use them to explain more points, I think they’re more interesting than Alice and Bob, or Character A and Character B.

I do my best to be open-minded and level-headed, and most places on the net I find myself playing Devil’s advocate. This is my blog, though, where I get to say what I please. The rating currently is PG, I will up it if necessary. Some of my opinions are not socially accepted, and could also be thought by some people to be unreasonable, overly cynical and, in some cases, downright hateful. I make no apology for this here, in my blog, but I will try and explain. Outside, in other people’s spaces, I try to see their point of view. If you don’t do that here, fine – but spam me and I’ll kick you right out.

*=There will probably be a post on this in future. Or possibly not, I can be quite inconsistent like that.