(This is a post originally posted on my tumblr, but I bet it gets better comments here!)
Here is an example from my life.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its associated audience callbacks is, arguably, homophobic, transphobic, slut-shaming (in that the audience yells “Slut!” whenever the female lead says or does anything), rape-apologistic, probably classist, has almost no representation of characters of color, and so forth. The end of the film very firmly reinstates the monogamous, patriarchal norm: the queer characters are dead and the leads are shown crawling through desolate ruins singing the take-away message that “all I know is/deep down inside I’m bleeding.”
I’m pretty sure that if it had not had all those elements to reassure the mainstream viewer, it would not have been popular enough to be shown to high-school kids in Wisconsin in 1995.
Because in addition to those things, Rocky was also the first time I had ever seen on-screen:
two women kissing
two men being sexually intimate
a “man” dressed in “women’s” clothes who was portrayed as sexy rather than as a joke
a same-sex wedding-type-thing
a female character talking about sex as something she enjoyed for her own fulfillment rather than to look attractive to a guy
And it was also the first environment I was ever in that encouraged me to play with sexuality and gender.
We’re doing better now than we were twenty years ago, and that’s awesome. The internet creates amazing spaces where we can connect to each other without needing to go through something that’s making a profit for someone who will be worried about being too controversial. I’m delighted about that. And I think it’s great that we’re being thoughtful about our fiction, taking it seriously enough to critique it.
I just also think it’s really important to notice the multiple, multi-layered personal meanings that we as individuals associate with works of fiction. Because when I was a little queer in Shorewood, Wisconsin in the 90s, if I hadn’t had Rocky and Dan Savage (then called “Hey, Faggot”) and Buffy and The Birdcage, I wouldn’t have had much of anything. The problematic stuff was what got through the gate-keepers, I think in no small part because its problematicness made it less threatening to them.
But it was still enough to get me thinking about the world outside those gates.
al Theories (what do you mean, the title of my entry is too long?)
FLAWS OF PSYCHODYNAMIC THERAPY
Client: The lightbulb is burned out.
Psychodynamic Therapist: Hmm. How do you feel about that?
C: Um, I don't know, annoyed?
PT: Is this feeling of annoyance familiar? When's the last time you felt this way?
C: ... probably the last time a lightbulb burned out?
PT: Interesting! What sorts of things do you associate with a burned-out lightbulb?
C: Darkness. Look, could we just change the lightbulb?
PT: Huh. I mean, yes, we could, but it seems like you're feeling a lot of resistance to talking about your annoyance about lightbulbs. I wonder whether there's something more complicated going on here? Let's explore it!
FLAWS OF COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
Client: I'm mortal, and I'm going to die.
CBT Therapist: All right, let's look at this logically. What are some challenges to that thought?
C: ... there is no challenge. It's a fact. I'm gonna die.
CBTT: So the automatic negative cognition that comes is "I'm gonna die."
CBTT: So let's look at some ways that we can interrupt that automatic thought. Here, take this worksheet, and write down a detailed description of what's happening before you have that thought. And then take this worksheet and write down some challenges to the thought, like "I'm not dead right now," and "I've never died before, so why would I assume I'm going to die later?"
C: That sounds completely pointless.
CBTT: Okay, I know this is hard work, but we can't do much unless you do it. What are some things getting in the way of your being able to do the worksheet?
C: ... I mean, nothing. I can do the worksheet. It's just dumb. Because I am mortal, and I am going to die.
CBT: All right, well, give it a try and see what happens!
Is there more snow? Since thou dost give me pains,
Let me remember thee what thou hast promised,
Which is not yet performed me.
I mean, seriously, dude.
Reading: Hostage, Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith
A few years ago, I wrote an entry called Advice to a Young Therapist. I've learned some things since then, so it seemed like a good time for another one.
In looking these over, they seem a lot more grim than the last set I wrote. The odd thing is, I think I'm happier and calmer and less in danger of burn-out than I was when I wrote the last one by a factor of about a million. I think that's because I really, really believe #10. So maybe skip to that one, if this is depressing?
( Your client sees you through the same lens they see everyone else in their lives.Collapse )
( Your goal is not for you to be the most important person in your clients" life; it"s for them to learn to build other relationships that they can rely on instead of you.Collapse )
( 3. Know your frame.Collapse )
( 4. Also, pay attention to what the frame means to the client.Collapse )
( 5. One of the hardest things about recovering from/leaving abusive relationships is that they are relationships.Collapse )
( 6. Your client getting better at being in therapy is not the same as your client getting better.Collapse )
( 7. Learn the difference between anxiety and fear, and stay safe.Collapse )
( 8. No, seriously, self-care.Collapse )
( 9. You are a conduit for wisdom to flow from one survivor to another.Collapse )
( You don"t have all of the power or none of the power. You have some of the power.Collapse )
*This point was driven home by reading The Flock: The Autobiography of a Multiple Personality by Joan Frances Casey, featuring the journal of her therapist, Lynn Wilson. In this memoir, Casey describes how her therapist, and her therapist's husband, became substitute parents for her to replace her abusive ones, complete with hugs, cuddling, trips to their lake house, etc. Casey finds this treatment wonderfully restorative until the point where Wilson, pretty abruptly, decides that this is too much for her, and suddenly places boundaries. For a while, she and Casey continue to work together, but then Wilson and her husband die suddenly in a boating accident. After that, Casey declares that she is suddenly completely integrated! And totally fine! And living a perfectly good life! Well, except for the alcoholism and depression. But basically fine!
So, like, don't try to be everything to your clients. Because what if you die in a boating accident?
** There are some therapists who think that the client should start talking at the beginning of the hour, so that they talk about what's important to them, not just what they think the therapist wants them to say. That's all well and good, but you need to for the love of all the gods TELL THE CLIENT THAT. They can't telepathically divine your intentions, they haven't read the same books you have, and they have no flippin' clue why you're just sitting there staring at them. So they will come up with an explanation for it-- that you're putting them in a stressful situation to see how crazy they are, that you're a creep, that you're too uninterested in them as a person to bother simple politeness like "good morning"-- etc. This is not conducive to good therapeutic rapport!
Happy birthday, jinian! May you have a year of love and friendship and interesting genes in interesting plants and cheerful-colored hair and better weather and health to you and all you love and purring cats and good books and music and movies and cool crafts projects and fun and play and good days and tasty food and interesting cooking and general cheer!
Wherein A Hemoanomalous Mutant Summons A Group of Misfits, Including Crippled Cullbait, a Sopor-Addict, An Unfit and Politically Incorrect Heiress, A Feral Lowblood, and Various Other Disreputable Sorts, to Join A Plot Which Will Destroy Alternia and Wipe Out the Troll Empire, Allying Themselves With Enemy Aliens, and Rampaging Across the Universe Until Her Imperious Condescension Herself Battles Them One on One and Defeats Them. Featuring Scenes of Graphic Conciliation, In-Depth Descriptions of Two Major Heresies, Interspecies Relationships in Multiple Quadrants, An Unspeakably Large Cast More Than Half of Whom Are Aliens, Too Many Deaths and Resurrections to Count, An Unreasonably Casual Approach to Metaphysics, and A Lot of Swearing.
(Homestuck would SO be banned for half of its characters...)
Reading: Steven Brust, Iorich. Carla Speed McNeil, Third World. Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Saga.
Lord of Boundaries
Boundary Bob's Guide to
Getting the Fuck Off His Lawn
( Here is everything I"ve been able to figure out about How Boundaries Work. Suggestions and additions would be awesome.Collapse )
Oh, hey, look, it is an opportunity to explain how people look to me!
As I've mentioned before, I have prosopagnosia, or face-blindness. I think it's hard for people who don't have it to understand what that means. I mean, Hannibal had a character who had it, and tried to replicate the effect by always blurring everyone's faces whenever they appeared from that character's point of view, which is entirely wrong. "Face-blindness" doesn't mean I can't see faces, I can see faces just fine. They just don't make more of an impression on me than anything else I see-- trees, furniture, hands, etc. I think that most people with a functioning fusiform gyrus don't realize when you're using it, don't realize that you perceive faces differently from how you perceive everything else.
But here is an incredibly useful visual aid. This artist, Sandro Miller, has recreated iconic portraits with John Malkovich as the subject.
So: I can tell that John Malkovich is not Che Guevara (I think because the photo quality is too good) or Marilyn Monroe, or probably Arbus' identical twins, though I don't know the original photo. But the rest of them, I would instantly identify as whoever they're labeled as. They have all the right cues-- hair, clothing, facial expression, background-- that would tell me who they are, plus their names are helpfully at the bottom of the photo. So I would have no reason to think that they are John Malkovich. They don't look like John Malkovich.
I'm curious-- can other people identify him from these pictures?
Wherein I have acquired a tumble-blog!
It is here:
It is not a replacement for DW or LJ in any way, as it is exactly what it says on the tin: a collection of things that are cheering, lovely, powerful, funny, and otherwise great. I've maintained it for a week to make sure that it keeps being a good idea, and thus far, it has seemed to be, so there it is.
It's also a way for me to follow the tumblr's of other excellent people. So if that's you, and I don't know what your tumblr is, I would really like to hear it so I can follow it!
Cuz, like, pictures of things are cool, you know?
Reading: Steven Brust, Dzur.
I don't normally do these, but I am reading books again! So perhaps I will mention some things.
Read Steven Brust's Issola, and it is nice to know what kind of Dragaeran I would be. I would so totally be an Issola, there is no question. I would have thought an Athyra just based on the kind of work they do, but their attitude is so terrible.
Also, I particularly recommend Lia Silver's Prisoner to anyone who liked Laura's Wolf despite it being a romance novel. Like, if you are like me, and you're like "romance novels are a perfectly good genre, I guess, but I rarely find one that doesn't hit me over the head with gender roles and heteronormativity, so I don't read them much, but I really liked how Laura's Wolf countered those things!" Prisoner's got the same sort of excellently well-worked relationship, but adds in a lot more sfnal/comics elements, and they're great. Characters I relate to more on a sf/fantasy metaphor/emotional/id level, as opposed to the characters in Laura's Wolf with whom I identified because their lives shared tangible aspects of mine. Good stuff!