Anonymous Asked:
hey,ive been thinking about something and i want to know your thoughts because your analysis is usually insightful. can a person really call themselves queer when they dont face any of the systematic oppression queers do? your situation came to mind, for exmple. it is true your partner is marginalized for their gender, but you as a cis guy still recieve straight privilege in every respect,or am i wrong? if you do,can you then be queer w/o appropriating anti-queer oppresion? what do you think?thx

Hello, Anon.  I hope it hasn’t inconvenienced you that it’s taken me a few months to answer this.  Your Ask came at a very busy time for me (for the record, it’s dated 22 November 2011), and since it didn’t sound urgent I wanted to wait until I had time to reply carefully.

I wrote a first draft of this answer that tried to get into theory and analytical categories and stuff, but to be honest I’m not qualified to attempt that.  I see your point, because sometimes ‘queer’ (and other identity terms like it) is used in a way that by definition refers to membership of a marginalized / oppressed group.  Can you be a member of an oppressed group if you aren’t personally affected by oppression?  It’s a fair question I guess.  On the other hand what am I if I’m not queer?  Straight?  Can a man be straight while going out with (or even just being sexually attracted to) someone who isn’t a woman?  Not by any generally accepted understanding of the term.  Not without invalidating my partner’s gender, and I am not okay with that.

Do I benefit from straight privilege in every respect?  Well, I can tell you some things that are true for me that wouldn’t be true for me if I were going out with a woman.

  • When I fill in demographic monitoring forms that ask about my sexuality, there is usually no box that I can tick that gives an accurate answer.
  • When I hear or read jokes or derogatory comments about people who have sex with or have relationships with trans* people or with people who are not the ‘opposite’ gender, I know that those jokes and comments are at my expense.
  • When I’m talking about my partner to people they aren’t ‘out’ to, I have to avoid using pronouns at all so that I neither out them nor misgender them.  Talking about someone without using pronouns, especially if you’re trying to do so in a way that doesn’t sound weird and arouse suspicion, requires fairly intense concentration and can be tiring.  Try it some time.  As a result it makes me less inclined to talk about my partner than I would otherwise be, which is a bit sad for me because I love them and want to tell people about them and boast about them and stuff.  It can also make people think I’m being secretive and anti-social.
  • People who do know about my partner’s gender sometimes think that this makes it okay for them to ask me questions about our relationship, our future plans, &c. that it would be considered impolite to ask if we were a male-female couple.
  • People make incorrect assumptions about me, such as the assumption that any partner I currently have, have had in the past, might have in the future, or might want at any time must be a woman.  Because these assumptions are in line with social norms, people don’t treat me badly because of them, but I find it uncomfortable to have people make false assumptions about me even if they are ‘favourable’ ones.  It can also put me in the position of having to decide whether to correct the assumption (and risk an unfavourable reaction) or let it stand (and risk difficulties later if it becomes necessary to clarify one way or the other).
  • In order to get married we would probably have to pretend that my partner’s gender is the same as their assigned gender.  That doesn’t mean we can’t get married, but it isn’t ideal.
  • There are people who would think me weird / immoral / perverted / sinful if they knew my partner’s gender.  My friends who follow Abrahamic religions might add it to their mental lists of reasons why I am going to hell.
  • Anonymous people send me Asks on Tumblr questioning the validity of my identity.  Don’t worry, Anon, I’m not angry or upset.  I’m just saying.  ;)

Now, I’m not going to assert that all this amounts to oppression or qualifies me to be a member of the queer club, let alone an expert on anything.  I’m honestly not too bothered.  Not that these things aren’t important: they’re extremely important to a lot of people, it just happens that I personally am fairly relaxed about them.

Kinsey Hope wrote some time ago that our whole terminology for sexual orientation is poorly equipped to handle the fact that there are more than two genders and you can’t tell someone’s gender by looking at them.  If you want, let’s just say that I’m a man who fancies some women and some non-binary people (and doesn’t rule out the possibility that there might be some men he’d fancy too).  Or if you want to say it’s nonsensical that we use the gender of the people you’re attracted to as an important identity category, I won’t even fight you about that, as long as we can agree that, logical or not, it’s going to be an important identity category as long as kyriarchal society treats some people worse than others on the basis of their partners’ genders.  Which brings us back to your point that these categories are, at least to some extent, defined by the oppression that’s brought to bear on them.  But are we really saying that that makes me straight?  Does it matter?  Do we need some new terminology to distinguish between ‘political’ identities defined by social forces and ‘personal’ identities defined by our self-identification, or is it important for us not to let those two things become separated?

A lot of my followers are probably better situated to give us insight on this one than I am.  What do you think, folks?  Ask, submit, or fan-mail me.

Summary:  I butt in on a conversation about the character Shane McCutcheon in the television series The L word.  Spoilers up to about the end of season four.  Press J to skip down or K to skip up.

· • ·

silentpunk:

step by step by step: silentpunk replied to your post: I think: Bette’s going to cheat with…

wishingthehoursaway:

silentpunk:

wishingthehoursaway:

[Earlier conversation omitted]

tbh I know that loads of people love Shane but I think people love her for the same reason people love bland male characters, her character is written like a male character, which means all she has to be is not a total douche and be kind of stoic and people will read between the lines, like they only have to hint she felt bad about leaving Carmen at the alter and there was no fallout she just got on with her life. There’s no depth to her character, you get what all the others are feeling and I understand that some people hide their emotions from their friends but how is it that most of her day-to-day feelings are obscured even from the all-seeing viewer?

I think I like her but I’m still waiting for her to blossom, for them to do a proper episode about her and not just her screwing people. I’m guessing, given ALL THE SERIES I’m already watched, that tht’s not going to happen =p I feel almost like she’s written to seem like she has depth to her that you don’t EVER get to know about. I liked it best when her brother was around - at that point it seemed like she was going to have a personality and not be a cliche and then he was taken away, you never see him again, and she goes back to being just the one who sleeps around

Yeah it gets sleazy after that for some reason I feel like she’s some drunk single father that’s had her kids taken away and goes out on the prowl looking for young girls to fuck instead of properly mourning all the things she’s lost.

I really like Shane in the early seasons.  She has the ‘screws like a dude’ thing, which I’m kind of ambivalent about: on the one hand it’s nice to have a prominent female character having lots of casual sex with lots of partners and not being stigmatized for it; on the other hand her lots of casual sex is associated with her androgynous / butch presentation and the tendency of other characters to paint her as masculine, so it doesn’t really challenge the idea that casual sex is part of the masculine domain; then again although it doesn’t challenge that directly, it does indirectly undermine it by making it visible; and then again I dunno really.

But what I like is that, along with that, she’s a really caring character.  She looks after everyone.  A lot of the time she’s the most loving person in that group.  Combining that with the butch presentation and the commitment-averse ‘masculine’ sexuality makes for a really interesting character, as well as some nicely complex gender-politics.  On its own, having a caring and loving female character with a butch presentation would be an interesting challenge to the idea that caring is an inherently feminine thing (because although Shane is a woman she isn’t especially feminine and it’s hard to regard her care-giving as particularly ‘female’ or ‘maternal’), though possibly not a strong challenge (since she is still a woman, which weakens the point in the same sort of way that her masculine presentation weakens the challenge of her sexuality).  But when you have the same character raising both those questions at the same time — being caring and nurturing while butch, being sexual and unromantic while female — that gets really interesting for me.

As well as the immediate gender-politics of the combination, it brings up some nice stuff about love and sex and friendship and family.  The way Shane is loving to her friends and puts so much energy into making that group into a family, while being completely uninterested in romance, questions the assumption that love belongs primarily in biological families created and perpetuated by heterosexual reproductive sex (in contrast to Bette and Tina’s family-making, which tries to follow a more ‘traditional’ heteronormative model and faces different challenges).  I think that’s one of the reasons the plot with her brother works nicely and brings her appealing qualities out.

Frustratingly the series ends up rather slut-shaming Shane after all: not by condemning her casual sex in itself, but by increasingly depicting it as unambiguously destructive.  You can try to read it as a critique of the pressure on her to have a monogamous romantic relationship, but I think it ended up just being unambiguously about depicting Shane as some kind of walking disaster.  I think you’re completely right that the series failed to examine her emotions, especially when things get difficult.  On paper I could believe that she’d panic and run out on Carmen, but we needed to see her making that decision and, like you said, grieving over it, because nobody can tell me that someone who cares that much about people is not going to feel gutted for a long time about hurting someone like that.  And after that it just got more ridiculous — as my flatmate puts it, it’s like Shane just gets a personality reboot between each season and the next.  It’s a real shame.

(Source: fluffyfemme)

Summary:  I like Julie Crawford’s essay about female relationships and non-heteronormative kinship in All’s well that ends well.

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Sententiola: Doctor / River: what's the problem?

theunscientificmethod:

sententiola:

[Spoilers for new Doctor Who up to the latest episode, especially series 6.]

So I’ve heard a few people saying they find River Song’s relationship with the Doctor icky following the revelation that she’s the future version of Amy’s and Rory’s baby daughter and I’m now wondering whether I’m some…

I think that you make a lot of good points. I have no problem with the Doctor/River relationship as said relationship currently exists/has been presented (ie he’s only met her once as an infant and then the entirety of their relationship occurs while she’s an adult). What worries me is the idea of the relationship going, not Breaking Dawn-, but Time Traveller’s Wife-style, where the Doctor appears throughout River’s childhood with the knowledge of their future relationship (since their timelines seem to be running roughly opposite), thus removing some element of free will from River’s future decision to be with the Doctor. Now, I’m not saying this is what’s going to happen, but it is a potential development that I worry about. I hope this makes sense, I’m really tired and dehydrated. 

Hello!  Nice to tumblmeet you, and thanks for responding.

I definitely agree that there are many ways it could go wrong, and it may well do.  I haven’t seen or read The time traveller’s wife but yes, it might well become unpleasant if it turns out that River’s attachment to the Doctor began (will begin?) in her early childhood or something like that.  I mean, even there I don’t know whether that’s necessarily a problem in itself, but it would have a lot of potential for inequality and unhealthiness in the relationship.  (And it would also uncomfortably mirror Amy’s infatuation with him that resulted from her childhood encounter with him.)

I don’t know whether you’re using ‘free will’ in that sense — that her choice of the Doctor as a lover might be strongly influenced by encountering him when she’s a child — or whether you mean that River’s relationship with the Doctor might become literally predetermined.  If the latter, I’m not sure that’s how time-travel works in Who.  Which may not be very logically rigorous, but my reading has always been that nothing is ever predetermined, no matter how much you muck about with time (to the point where the Doctor could change major historical events like the destruction of Pompeii, he just doesn’t allow himself to do so because if he did the universe might break).

And actually, as long as the uncomfortable-childhood-influence thing doesn’t happen, the mere fact that he will encounter her with knowledge of their relationship that she hasn’t got is of course no more troubling than the fact that in the episodes we’ve seen so far she’s been encountering him with knowledge of their relationship that he hasn’t got.  (And in between there seems to be (going to be) a period of approximate equilibrium where they’ve both got the hang of it and each have a diary and can compare notes, as we saw River and future-Doctor doing in The impossible astronaut.)  And the opposite-timelines relationship has the potential to be extremely interesting because it lets each one seduce the other.  We’ve seen River courting the Doctor from her position of greater confidence and familiarity, and at the other end it could be the same, which is a nice sort of equality-by-averages.

Having said all that, yes, it does appear that River is going to be encountering the Doctor while she is still a child (and probably killing him, assuming it’s her in the space-suit emerging from the sea).  And that could be skeevy.  Although if at that stage she’s mostly trying to kill him, possibly not.  Who knows?  We shall see!  :)

Doctor / River: what’s the problem?

[Spoilers for new Doctor Who up to the latest episode, especially series 6.]

So I’ve heard a few people saying they find River Song’s relationship with the Doctor icky following the revelation that she’s the future version of Amy’s and Rory’s baby daughter and I’m now wondering whether I’m some kind of horrible person for not seeing the problem. Like… is it that he met her while she was a baby? That she slept in the cot he slept in when he was a baby? That she’s his friends’ daughter? I genuinely don’t understand.

Is it the age-gap? But, first of all, what’s wrong with age-gap relationships if they’re non-exploitative, consensual, mutually respectful, and the partners are on an equal footing (all of which is clearly true of the relationship between adult River and the Doctor)? And secondly, we always knew there was an age-gap: the Doctor is nearly a thousand years old and River, as far as anyone ever knew, is human and therefore probably quite a lot younger. Plus Alex Kingston is a fair bit older than Matt Smith, so just going by appearances there’s a gap the other way. Thirdly, they’re both time-travellers and their relationship is non-chronological so even applying the concept of an age-gap to them makes no sense. They’re each different ages every time they meet. Now that we know River is some kind of Time Lord, it’s quite possible that at some of their previous meetings she’s been several millennia older than the Doctor. And the fact that she was born at a certain point in absolute chronological time and he at another is completely irrelevant to everything because they move through time in a non-chronological way. I mean, unless some bit of Who canon that I don’t know about says otherwise, we don’t even know when, in absolute time, the Doctor was born. He may not be born until millennia after River is.

If the icky thing is that he’s met her when she was a baby and held her and stuff, well, okay, if the idea of that makes you feel uncomfortable then they’re your feelings and good luck with them, but objectively, what, again, is wrong with that? If you went back in time and met your lover’s baby self, and picked up and cradled the baby, would you expect people to say ‘ew’? Would you find it icky to hold the baby? That just seems weird to me. I mean, we’ve all been babies. Even the people we have sex with. If you go out with someone for a while there’s a good chance you’ll see photos of them being a baby. If you sleep with someone, go back in time and meet them when they’re a baby, and then go forward in time again and sleep with their adult self again, I don’t see how that’s any less okay than if you sleep with someone, look at baby-pictures of them, and then sleep with them again.

Some people have compared it to Breaking dawn. [Spoilers ahead for Breaking dawn.] They seem to me completely different in every important way. The icky thing is that Jacob falls in love with what’s-her-name when she is a baby. He is in love with a baby. There is, as far as I can recall, no indication whatsoever in A good man goes to war that the Doctor is in love with, fancies, or wants to have sexytimes with baby River. He relates to her like she’s his friends’ baby and that’s all. He doesn’t even know she’s going to be River until after she gets abducted so his interaction with her is in no way affected by the fact that he wants to snog her future self.

So. Help me out here. What is the problem with this relationship?

Thinking (too much?) about ‘genderfriend’

dinokitten:

sententiola replied to your post: pixyled replied to your post: You know what? I’ve…

To me ‘genderfriend’ sounds like a friend you do gender with, like a chess friend is a friend you play chess with or a cycling friend is a friend you cycle with.

But Jamie, I gender all the time! I gendered today, with my paramour as it happens. And we gendered last night too, until four AM!

(Herein using “gender” to mean “had a two-hour conversation about gender identity and the characterization thereof”. I just realized that the above statement began to sound very, VERY inappropriate…)

:)

Exactly.  I gender with lots of my friends and sometimes with people I’ve only just met.  Which is why I find it disconcerting that suddenly there’s a word that sounds to me like it means ‘person with whom you have a common interest in gender’ but is actually being used to mean ‘person with whom you are in a romantic and / or sexual relationship’.

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(via cumbersuffix-deactivated2011062)

So today a pair of people who wanted to get married got married.

That was nice.  I think it should always be like that.

WHO IS PART OF A COUPLE NOW?

criptheatrequeer:

I THINK

IT MIGHT BE

ME

:O 

Okay, you know what’s coming…  (I love how often I’m getting to use these!)  Ahem:

Image is a still from the film Grease, specifically from the musical number Summer nights.  About a dozen high-school girls are crowding round a widely smiling Sandy, asking for details of her summer romance.  The caption reads ‘TELL ME MORE, TELL ME MORE, LIKE DOES HE HAVE A TUMBLR?’

(I’ve used the ‘he’ one because the original post was tagged ‘#Attractive gents’ but sorry if that’s wrong.)

(Source: hypotheticalthalamus)

By request.

I’ve tried doing image-descriptions for these but I just end up smiling a lot and being incoherent.  Sorry.

It is, of course, Gratuitous Picture Of Yourself And Your Personfriend Whose Birthday It Is Today Friday.

This is also my 500th post.

Happy birthday, my love, and thank you for choosing me.

Image is a screen-capture of a text-based conversation — what is this set-up, anyway?  Everyone seems to have conversations that look like this, with the different coloured speech-bubbles coming from opposite sides of the thing.  Is this how text-messages look on an iphone, or is this a popular IM programme, or what?  Anyway, yes, it’s that thing.  Good grief, I am clearly the world’s least suitable person to be writing this image-description.  Sorry.  Ahem.  So there’s a grey speech-bubble coming from the left saying ‘Can I tell you something?’ and then a green one on the right says ‘yea’ and then a grey one on the left says ‘You’re the most beautiful human being on this earth. <3’ and the green one says ‘i know lol’.
torayot:

This sort of happens with Jamie on occasion. Hee.

As you can all probably guess, in these conversations I am the grey speech-bubbles.

Image is a screen-capture of a text-based conversation — what is this set-up, anyway?  Everyone seems to have conversations that look like this, with the different coloured speech-bubbles coming from opposite sides of the thing.  Is this how text-messages look on an iphone, or is this a popular IM programme, or what?  Anyway, yes, it’s that thing.  Good grief, I am clearly the world’s least suitable person to be writing this image-description.  Sorry.  Ahem.  So there’s a grey speech-bubble coming from the left saying ‘Can I tell you something?’ and then a green one on the right says ‘yea’ and then a grey one on the left says ‘You’re the most beautiful human being on this earth. <3’ and the green one says ‘i know lol’.

torayot:

This sort of happens with Jamie on occasion. Hee.

As you can all probably guess, in these conversations I am the grey speech-bubbles.

Alex Alex Alex Alex you have a boyfriend?! We must discuss this development! :D Get your ass on Skype.
 tchy

Yessir!

Pardon me for intruding on your colloquy, good sirs, but may I just enquire…

(Source: dinokitten)

I Feel Like

sadydoyle:

Everyone is a dick sometimes. But the best and most profound thing that happened to me recently was that my boyfriend made risotto — a key dish! It’s so fancy, and yet so easy! — and we watched the Joss Whedon joint “Roseanne” on Netflix streaming, and I thought it could use pepper, so I got up to get the pepper grinder, and he gave me a really genuine smile when I brought it into the living room for him to use also, and he said “thank you” like I’d done something incredibly considerate. It’s not one of those moments you can quantify. It was like, “oh, right, I love and am loved by another person, and love is often something that lasts for a while and then fails, but in this moment, another person loves me enough to be overcome with joy that I brought him a pepper grinder which is pretty insignificant, and I know probably the worst parts of him, and he knows probably the worst parts of me too, and we’ve both behaved badly (pettily, selfishly, over-reacting-ly) in each other’s vicinity, and also we know weird not-for-general-consumption shit about each other, like: I will spend money I don’t have on expensive bath stuff, and: he does really terrible impressions. And right now he’s beaming because I brought him a pepper grinder of all things, so no matter how much either of us has the power to suck, we also both have the power to be genuinely liked and loved by another human being who knows us well, and this has happened before and I’ve subsided into either not really knowing the other person or having a distant but deeply felt friendship with them, and in either case if this doesn’t work we might also hate each other pretty profoundly for a while, so it’s not like this is a guarantee of anything that will happen in the future, but also: Both of us are human beings worthy of love, me included, so that’s something, I guess.” And then I thought about why this was a surprise to me, and it was the fact that I anticipate that not even the most public parts of me will be accepted by the world at large. Some people will say things about loving me, and some people will scream at me; you enjoy the love, you get ready for the screaming. And then I wondered why that was, and it was like: Oh, right, I am a lady on the Internet and/or a feminist on the Internet, MY BAD. And I thought about how surprising it was, to me, that another person could get actually close to me and not revile me. And I was not pleased, with the state of the world, in which this could come as a surprise.

(via sadydoyle-deactivated20110608)

Highly necessary

It has come to my attention that situations like this may occur.  In such situations it is plain that there is one overwhelmingly necessary response.  I have therefore taken it upon myself to make the following images for general use.

Credit must go to leavethewhite.com for having a truly massive compendium of screencaps from an impressive array of films and television programmes, including the one I’ve used here.  Credit also, of course, go to the makers of the film Grease.  You can watch the original musical number here.

As far as I’m concerned you can redistribute, re-use, and edit these as much as you like without crediting me, because I really haven’t done much.  But I would ask that you also use the image-descriptions provided, or add your own, for the benefit of people who find image-descriptions helpful.  If you would like one with a different pronoun, do let me know.

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Oh yeah, and…

… I totally wrote this a couple of days ago when I was internetless and then forgot to post it when I got back online.  So here it is.

· • ·

I was thinking the other day about the end of my relationship with my ex.  When I think about that I try to think about what I did wrong.  When it was happening, and after it happened, I spent quite a lot of time thinking about what *she* did wrong and my mind is fairly clear on that point.  But thinking about that isn’t going to make me any better, so now I try to think about what I did wrong.

I started making connexions between things I hadn’t connected before.  I realized that I should have anticipated things that took me by surprise.  I dug a little trench and discovered that the way she behaved and the way she interpreted my behaviour at that time were outcrops of the same bedrock that formed other, familiar, harmless little humps and hillocks in her landscape.  If I’d understood better how she saw the world, my behaviour would have seemed less reasonable.  These were thoughts I should have had before now.  But I never really grasped how unlike me she was.

You know how it is when you invite a past failure in for a chat.  The others come to peep in through the windows.  I thought about one of the episodes in my life that I’m most ashamed of.  I saw the same failure to connect, and the same failure to empathize.  No, ‘empathize’ is wrong.  I want a more specific word — a word for when you not only try to think and feel from another person’s perspective but try to think and feel *about you* from another person’s perspective.  Is there a word for that?  For ‘If I were her, what would I think about me?’  I think there should be that word.  Making a word for something helps people think of it as a possibility.

Tiger and I once had a conversation about why we like people.  She thought there was something odd about the way I like people, and the kind of people I like, and what I like to talk to them about.  The best hypothesis we could come up with was that I assume everyone I meet is basically like me.  In her opinion, most people look for, and enjoy, the things they have in common with each other, whereas I look for and enjoy the things that make people different from me.  It caused a bit of friction between us at first: for example, I’d point out when she used phrases that I wasn’t familiar with, and I was doing it because I like phrases I’m not familiar with and find them interesting, but it made her uncomfortable because she felt it put distance between us and she suspected I was disparaging the way she spoke.

This train of thought led me to thinking about privilege.  Because that other episode I thought about after thinking about my ex — that episode I’m ashamed of — well, a lot of what I did wrong there was, not to put too fine a point on it, rape culture.  I didn’t do the lady any harm.  But I made her uncomfortable, and I didn’t mean to, and I didn’t understand why, and now I do and it makes me sick.  There was Nice Guy stuff in there, and there were things I did that I now realize would have seemed borderline threatening, and she gave me so many polite and subtle indications that I should Go Away and I didn’t notice any of them.  And part of the problem was that I just didn’t know how a woman, and particularly a woman in her situation, experiences things, because patriarchy is very careful not to teach men how people who aren’t men experience things.  But the other part of the problem was that I didn’t even try.  I didn’t try to do that thing there should be a word for.

Which is I guess what happens with privilege.  You’re the norm, on whatever axis it is you’re privileged on.  I’m privileged on absolutely every axis I can think of.°  So of course I assume everyone is like me.  Of course I have to make a conscious effort to consider how things might seem different to someone else.

If my thinking here is along the right lines, then here is a way privilege does harm even when that harm isn’t your classic oppression.  My relationship with my ex didn’t fail because I was sexist.  But it did fail, in part, because I didn’t try to imagine how her perception of things might be different from mine.  And if I’ve tended to lack empathy I can’t blame that entirely on privilege, but I do to some extent.  Because privilege teaches you that you don’t need to put yourself in other people’s shoes.  You’re already in the best possible shoes.  It’s everyone else’s job to empathize with you so you don’t need to empathize with them.  Television and films and books and plays and music don’t teach you what it’s like to be anyone else because they’re too busy teaching everyone else what it’s like to be you.  You learn to have relationships that depend on others accommodating you and not on you accommodating them.  And sometimes those relationships break down.  You end up hurting people, or you end up forcing them to hurt you in self-defence.

Sometimes I feel like if privileged people understood how much their privilege costs them — never mind how much it hurts anyone else — they’d be queuing up to get rid of it.

· • ·

° (Or at any rate I was then.  Strictly speaking I may be shifting a little on some axes.  But it hasn’t yet made any difference to the way anyone treats me or to the way I feel about being treated like that, so I’d say in effect I still benefit from all the privilege ever.)

The thing is, Tumblr, I think I need to be nosier.
For some reason I have a real block on asking people what&#8217;s going on with their lives except in the broadest and most general terms.  (Yes, this is going to be yet another post in which I worry that I am not a very good friend.  Why, can you think of something that&#8217;s more worth worrying about?  No, I didn&#8217;t think so.)  I sometimes sell myself the idea that this is just being respectful, and that if people want to confide in me they will, and if they don&#8217;t then it&#8217;s because they don&#8217;t want to and I shouldn&#8217;t mind about that.  And if I were the sort of person who asks questions about everything then there might be some merit in telling myself that.  But I&#8217;m not, and it&#8217;s just a way to avoid facing a problem.
Sometimes people want to be asked.  I ought to know, because I&#8217;m one of those people.  If someone says &#8216;How are you?&#8217; I&#8217;ll try to answer truthfully but vaguely, and if it&#8217;s an answer that isn&#8217;t wholly positive I&#8217;ll instinctively try to down-play it or obscure it in case it&#8217;s a conventional &#8216;How are you&#8217; that isn&#8217;t actually meant to start a conversation about how I am.  Even if the other person inquires further I&#8217;ll usually be a bit cautious.  But often I would actually quite like to talk about it to someone I feel comfortable with.
So why don&#8217;t I ask these questions?  &#8216;Hey, you seem a bit down.  Is there anything wrong?  No, seriously, if you feel like talking about it, I want to know.&#8217;  &#8216;So you and X seem quite cosy — is this a thing?  Would you like it to be a thing?&#8217;  &#8216;Z told me about that thing that happened to you, but I don&#8217;t really know the details.  What happened?  How are you feeling?&#8217;  These are things friends should say to each other, isn&#8217;t it?  And if they don&#8217;t want to talk about it, they can say so, can&#8217;t they?
And even when I do find myself having these conversations — which is actually not that rare, because a few people have somehow figured out, without any clues from me, that despite being a very bad asker I am quite a good listener — why do I so often have them in code?  I once managed to talk to have a half-hour conversation with a friend about our love-lives that was conducted entirely through some elaborate metaphor involving theatres and cinemas and team sports.  It was fun, and it made some sense in that context to do it that way because there were other people around, but I do this kind of thing far too often.  Why not just say &#8216;Okay, are we talking about W?  And what actually happened with you and W anyway?&#8217;
I don&#8217;t know what stops me.  Maybe it&#8217;s something that&#8217;s trickled down from my Kennedy relatives, who have a grand tradition of not talking about things.  Maybe it&#8217;s because I&#8217;m a boy and grew up with society telling me that gossip and feelings are for girls and that the nearest I should be getting to these conversations is &#8216;Hey I totally scored last night!&#8217;  &#8216;Awesome, high five!&#8217;  &#8216;So did you see the footie?&#8217;  Maybe it&#8217;s a facet of the thing I picked up somewhere along the line that makes me afraid of people thinking I don&#8217;t know something.  Maybe it&#8217;s something I picked up from the first of my school-friends who ever actually had a love-life to gossip about and who insisted on doing it in cryptic allusions (which was, in turn, maybe because we still live in a culture where there&#8217;s plenty of sex in advertising and in fiction but HEAVEN FORBID WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT OURSELVES OR EACH OTHER DOING IT OMG).  Maybe it&#8217;s because I&#8217;m never drunk.  I don&#8217;t know.  It doesn&#8217;t matter.  I need to kick it.
And I think it will be good for me too.  I rather suspect that if I were asking these questions people would feel more comfortable about asking them back.  You can&#8217;t expect to get care without giving it.  So I guess this is a sort of resolution.  More nosiness.  More personal questions.  More reaching out.  More follow-up when I hear news about people.  More dragging people into cupboards to interrogate them about their crushes.
You have been warned.

The thing is, Tumblr, I think I need to be nosier.

For some reason I have a real block on asking people what’s going on with their lives except in the broadest and most general terms.  (Yes, this is going to be yet another post in which I worry that I am not a very good friend.  Why, can you think of something that’s more worth worrying about?  No, I didn’t think so.)  I sometimes sell myself the idea that this is just being respectful, and that if people want to confide in me they will, and if they don’t then it’s because they don’t want to and I shouldn’t mind about that.  And if I were the sort of person who asks questions about everything then there might be some merit in telling myself that.  But I’m not, and it’s just a way to avoid facing a problem.

Sometimes people want to be asked.  I ought to know, because I’m one of those people.  If someone says ‘How are you?’ I’ll try to answer truthfully but vaguely, and if it’s an answer that isn’t wholly positive I’ll instinctively try to down-play it or obscure it in case it’s a conventional ‘How are you’ that isn’t actually meant to start a conversation about how I am.  Even if the other person inquires further I’ll usually be a bit cautious.  But often I would actually quite like to talk about it to someone I feel comfortable with.

So why don’t I ask these questions?  ‘Hey, you seem a bit down.  Is there anything wrong?  No, seriously, if you feel like talking about it, I want to know.’  ‘So you and X seem quite cosy — is this a thing?  Would you like it to be a thing?’  ‘Z told me about that thing that happened to you, but I don’t really know the details.  What happened?  How are you feeling?’  These are things friends should say to each other, isn’t it?  And if they don’t want to talk about it, they can say so, can’t they?

And even when I do find myself having these conversations — which is actually not that rare, because a few people have somehow figured out, without any clues from me, that despite being a very bad asker I am quite a good listener — why do I so often have them in code?  I once managed to talk to have a half-hour conversation with a friend about our love-lives that was conducted entirely through some elaborate metaphor involving theatres and cinemas and team sports.  It was fun, and it made some sense in that context to do it that way because there were other people around, but I do this kind of thing far too often.  Why not just say ‘Okay, are we talking about W?  And what actually happened with you and W anyway?’

I don’t know what stops me.  Maybe it’s something that’s trickled down from my Kennedy relatives, who have a grand tradition of not talking about things.  Maybe it’s because I’m a boy and grew up with society telling me that gossip and feelings are for girls and that the nearest I should be getting to these conversations is ‘Hey I totally scored last night!’  ‘Awesome, high five!’  ‘So did you see the footie?’  Maybe it’s a facet of the thing I picked up somewhere along the line that makes me afraid of people thinking I don’t know something.  Maybe it’s something I picked up from the first of my school-friends who ever actually had a love-life to gossip about and who insisted on doing it in cryptic allusions (which was, in turn, maybe because we still live in a culture where there’s plenty of sex in advertising and in fiction but HEAVEN FORBID WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT OURSELVES OR EACH OTHER DOING IT OMG).  Maybe it’s because I’m never drunk.  I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter.  I need to kick it.

And I think it will be good for me too.  I rather suspect that if I were asking these questions people would feel more comfortable about asking them back.  You can’t expect to get care without giving it.  So I guess this is a sort of resolution.  More nosiness.  More personal questions.  More reaching out.  More follow-up when I hear news about people.  More dragging people into cupboards to interrogate them about their crushes.

You have been warned.