Talk about pathetic (on the topic of “hobbyists”)

Ya know, no human is an island.

Had a lot on my mind for a long time. Used to write anonymously, trying to work out the emotions. Now feeling the need to just go ahead and pipe out loud and in the flesh. Feel the need to confess what I’ve been up to, and also feel the need to talk about stuff that messed with my head.

The sex industry, at least on the escorting level, has been on my mind since the day I first stumbled across it when I was 21. Taught me all sorts of things, both good and bad, about myself as well as others. Haven’t felt like saying a lot on the subject because I still and probably always will have a lot of mixed feelings. But one thing I know for sure is that so-called “hobbyists” are a fucked up lot. Men who bond with other men over the use of women as sexual props is a very weird thing to observe, and anyone can get a glimpse of it on the boards of TER and TBD (those being the most popular national sites).

Funny thing is I happen to see a bit of an overlap in the mindsets of some of the folks on YT who group up under the men’s rights cause but who really only use that as a cover for bonding with other men over the bashing of femininity. Sick way to get your jollies, if you ask me.

Because I met my share of hobbyists and learned that their online personas usually were 180 degrees from their real-life actuality. Found out a lot of them are some of the rudest, most unattractive, most petty, and most concerned with the opinions of other people than all others I met both in and out of that so-called “hobby.” They had money, but not much else, especially in the way of bringing quality to any situation. I found those particular men to be so consumed with their status as men in the eyes of other men that they played these elaborate games and really worried over the online politics of their little groups. The women they paid for sex and attention were secondary, and I don’t even think half of them truly enjoyed their time with us, or at least not in the way common men did. It’s like they were always thinking about what they were going to run back and report to the rest of the herd in their fantasy-laden reviews. Made them feel big, bigger than they actually are, because so far as I could tell many of them were lower than nearly anybody else out in society.

And before somebody gets it twisted and thinks I’m picking on men in general, understand that I visited with men from various walks of life who were in all kinds of situations, sporting all kinds of attitudes and personalities. I met men with serious health problems who just needed affection from someone who’d take up time with them one evening or on a regular basis. Met men who just wanted to have a good time and leave it at that. Various levels of attractiveness and friendliness. But what I found and remain glad to have learned is that plenty of men I might have previously mistaken as not being my “types” or not being appealing on the surface turned out to have a lot to offer in terms of personality and spirit. After getting to know the people in mind here, I came to appreciate a much wider spectrum of men and to not be so quick to judge a book’s cover, so to speak. So when I speak about “hobbyists,” I am speaking about them particularly, separated off from others who don’t deserve to be tarnished because of the behaviors and shallowness of those jackasses.

Hobbyists treat women like some sort of team sport, something to partake in because all the other guys are doing it. Not for their own pleasure and desires, sadly. Because they’re petty and overly concerned with how they stack up against other men they wish they could be like. Well, normal guys out and about in society may share those views from time to time, but they aren’t consumed with that one-upmanship mentality when it comes to “conquering” and bonding over women. Not bonding with, mind you, but over. Gives them some trifling sense of power, of meaning to a life that otherwise is apparently devoid of it. It’s true objectification carried out by men who can come up with nothing better to aspire toward.

Thankfully most of my clients weren’t like them and regarded them as a strange lot too.

Perhaps knowing people like that has bittered me a bit toward those on the online “manosphere” who act in similar fashions. Kinda reminiscent. Figured I’d point it out. Maybe I’ll go into more detail on the topic another time, as in discussing how they’re rats who’d snitch on anyone else to save themselves from decisions they willfully make, or how they occasionally openly confess that they’d want better for their daughters than what they come to you for, or how they sit on the phone kissing ass to their wives while you lay on the bed beside them. Because it’s all about keeping up appearances in their little worlds. Yet you, the whore, are the bad guy, the “home-wrecker,” the “cheater-enabler,” the one deserving to be looked down upon by all of society.

Another funny thing is how many of my clients were Republicans and Christians, some even actively involved in their churches (and it goes without saying that nearly all were middle-class and the majority were married). Hypocrites. All about appearances.

But I was there and I saw and listened and was impacted.

Yeah, maybe I’ll feel up to talking about that some other time.

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Later in the day… Returning with a thought that deserves mentioning, for levity’s sake. Five of the worst clients I can think of off the top of my head actually weren’t hobbyists. They were lone jerks, which the scariest types of people often are. Hobbyists aren’t known for being violent (from all I knew or heard about them), just disrespectful in their typical ways and consumed with petty bullshit. But they are also active reviewers who are concerned about being reviewed in kind. So a bad review against them could lead to them being blacklisted, and they know it. They’re just monied bro-club members caught up in ridiculous fantasies mostly.

It’s trifling, but they are changing the face of the online escorting community, and not really for the better. I don’t doubt currently-working escorts would speak in their defense, but that’s to be expected when those guys can be counted on for bringing regular income. Guess it’s fine for those who don’t mind working for weasels. It personally taught me how some folks, no matter how much money they offer up, don’t really deserve to get laid. It is possible for a man to get spoiled in that stupid game and to grow an overinflated ego that just makes him a big pain in the ass, and I probably wouldn’t complain if the game didn’t involve younger women trying to take care of themselves. Gets to a point where it’s as soul-leaching as any cubicle job can be IF you play it their way (though much more so if you wind up badly harmed or exposed to extreme exploitation, which happens far less frequently among indy escorts who attract and screen clients online). Potentially corrupting for all involved.

God, I’m tired of people. In general.

“The Politics of American Fundamentalism”

Watched this video tonight:

A few years ago I read Chris Hedges’ book American Fascists and appreciated it for what value it did bring to this discussion. I disagree with Chris Hedges in places as well, but he’s on to it with understanding that people are breaking down without support networks and thereby are turning to churches since who else, besides family, are likely to accept you like that? Nodding along with Tooltime. A big problem though is these folks are by-and-large being used to serve these churches’ power ambitions.

We got a megachurch in a nearby suburb that honestly kinda freaks me out. I went in there once to sit through a service after it was mentioned by a friend and I’d listened to a few of the sermons posted on the church’s site. A bit weird. Had a huge canopy and a bunch of big screens and a waterfall scene at the pulpit and fancy acoustics. Didn’t find the people there to be too friendly though. But apparently lots of folks are interested in joining that church. Fully packed.

Plenty of people are in desperate need of a sense of belonging, and besides churches, what else really offers that? People need to belong to some sort of tribe and will settle when quality options aren’t available — this appears to be the present-day situation.

Have plenty of thoughts on this matter, but they’ll need to wait to another day. Nearing bedtime now. Super brief: we live in a super exploitative society. No fun waking up to realizing you’re treated like just a number today.

For good measure, here’s another video by Tooltime9901 titled “Arguing With Honey VS Vinegar”:

Documentary of the night: “Hot Coffee”

Currently watching the 2011 documentary “Hot Coffee” that begins with the famous lawsuit of the woman severely burnt by McDonald’s coffee and sued:

This is a case that most of us assume we’re familiar with, though we really aren’t. Several years back I was yammering on about frivolous lawsuits to my stepdad one night and mentioned this case as an example when he emailed back links outlining what actually happened there. Read about it and changed my views. Truly astounding how it’s been played up in the media as purely frivolous in nature and without basis, with most of the details changed so as to sway public opinion.

So I came across this film tonight and decided to see what all it had to say on the matter. I’m about 22 minutes into it right now (watching on Netflix — also found it on YT for free viewing if others are interested).

Glad to hear Clinton did something decent during his presidency by shooting down tort reform at the federal level.

Also interesting to note how many corporations were backing that propaganda to push for tort reform in an effort to reduce their own liability to consumers, including most notably major insurance companies and Big Tobacco companies. I’ve typically been on the side of defending Big Tobacco seeing as how I did research into their labeling and feel what they put on their packaging since the 1950s did indeed indicate health risks are associated with smoking. BUT, further research since shows me time and time again where they’ve stepped over the line and funded projects such as this to where I must revoke my personal defense. Not planning on suing them since I’m aware of my risks, but I wouldn’t go so far as to offer those corporate giants my compassion. Because here they weren’t only defending their own empire but also every other major corporation, no matter how shady their dealings might prove to be.

Glad to see the organization Public Citizen up in this mix. I’m a subscriber to their mailings and an occasional donor to support their causes. Definitely a group worth looking into.

Should’ve known Karl Rove would have his grimy fingers all up in this matter. That scumbag is relentless.

The Citizens United ruling is involved where major corporations were allowed to buy off elected judges.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce up in the mix helping major corporations spread propaganda. Damn. This topic is far-reaching.

Then we wind back around to arbitration clauses imposed by major corporations like Halliburton (and Wells Fargo and many others — see the small print on practically anything you sign these days, both on and offline — even Netflix stipulates this for whatever reason). (The lease I was initially offered for my latest apartment even had an arbitration clause due to possible asbestos problems, said to only be a real concern at one of my landlord’s other properties, and I had it stricken from my rental agreement before agreeing to sign.) Bastards are trying to maneuver us away from even being able to seek legal remedy in a court of law every chance they get. That should worry the hell out of us.

On a sidenote, my problems with arbitration are also a big reason for why I cannot support anarcho-capitalist schemes like that advocated by Stefan Molyneux since he envisions arbitration replacing our courts entirely in a setup where the government is completely done away with and citizens must contend with corporations directly. That’s a losing proposition for average people.

Back to the film…also good to see the Mississippi Innocence Project mentioned in there. That organization has offices all around the country and they’re all doing extremely important work.

Just finished viewing. What a very good film. I’ll be sure to add this one to my documentaries tab up above.

Damn near lights fire under my ass to want to get back into local voting once again. But it’s so incredibly difficult to make sense of the laws and to be aware of all of their riders before heading to the voting booth, and this gives me great consternation over possibly voting the wrong way. With the presidential elections I ask for an absentee ballot that I can work through at home and research candidates and judges as I go. Without that ability, so much of it turns into guesswork, and that isn’t acceptable. The process could be made a lot easier if proposed legislation didn’t take up as many pages as a novel and weren’t worded in indecipherable legalese — why we allow that alone to continue is anyone’s guess. But so long as people can’t comprehend so much of this nonsense we’re not in a good position to effectively call out the bullshit, which I believe is precisely why it’s all been rendered so confusing.

“How America Became a Nation of Victims: Culture of Victimization & Personal Responsibility (1992)”

Currently watching this 1992 footage from CSPAN2’s BookTV:

“The rise of the therapeutic state”…yes, that’s what we’ve got. I’ll go a step further and say we’re witnessing the rise of the Administered Society to boot. “…use litigation as the tool of choice in order to advance causes.” Very strange to observe, that’s for sure.

I’ve heard about that Bradshaw guy and his infantilism “therapy” they’re speaking of around the 23-minute mark. Weird shit that began with the Baby Boomer generation since they were the first to take flight from reality en masse (at least in the 20th century). People like to claim that television plays no major role in shaping people’s imaginations and that most are able to keep reality and fiction separate, but take note of all the evidence defying that. Boomers were raised up on televised fantasies that colored their worldviews and gave rise to the notion that they deserved to have their wishes brought into fruition, even if through political means. To simply dream something could be possible became commonly accepted as proof enough that it can and should be brought about — nevermind any potential negative consequences; leave those to be ironed out by future generations.  disapprove

What we’ve discovered in the decades since is that those fantasies very often aren’t realistic, not in full, not how commonly expected, from the dreams of ever-higher standards of living to 100% equality across the board to eliminating all sex- and/or race-related prejudices through legal and organizational means. Because human life is far more complex than that and legal measures aren’t adequate to overhaul hearts and minds. Arguably, using coercive legal and organizational strategies and encouraging an atmosphere of censorship has led to more social divisions and bred greater resentment. Ambitions of attaining and maintaining la-la-land standards of living has driven deeper wedges between socioeconomic classes that, on the one hand, produced many spoiled, historically-ignorant, idealistic youths geared toward suburbanite fantasies, and, on the other, has helped to exacerbate the erosion of already-impoverished communities. The aim to bring about some sort of utopian society has backfired and instead has ushered in a web of contradictions and exploitative wishful thinking, without end in sight.

When asked who is responsible, the typical answer is to point to the other guy, those people over there, those institutions, those politicians, that race or class of people. Always somebody else. But we were all born into this and make of it what we are able. Helps to strip it down to the fundamentals. If influential parties and groups aim to undermine others through legal manipulation, we have the choice to respond in various ways, not merely to wage war on the political battleground or to give in to being miserable and powerless. The way shit’s been framed has gotten into our heads and is limiting our imaginations and therefore our possible responses. It’s a mental matrix determined by what have become cultural, political, and economic and social norms — but those are still only human constructs, not immovable obstacles or unchangeable facts of life. Not when it’s contradicting so much else that too appear to be facts of life.

Kind of like when people say the only things certain in this life are death and taxes (which I actually heard repeated, yet again, earlier today). I’m quick to correct people who say that and to explain that no, taxes are not an unavoidable, ever-present fact of life. They are not. Taxation is a human construct that we abide by, for better or worse, but most certainly isn’t on the same playing field as death. Financial taxation is not a guaranteed condition of living. To equate these two is to grant taxation a higher status than it’s due, and I don’t think that’s come about by accident or oversight. No, the two are equated intentionally so that citizens accept taxation as just as inescapable as death and impresses on us that we should then give in to it, even when too much is taken from us and is used to fund programs and whatever else that further violate us and others against many of our true wills. That’s stupid to accept as a fact of life, and it’s stupid to behave as if we’re powerless in the face of it and that all we’re capable of doing is sitting here and pointing out others to blame for it. Yet that’s become the American public’s modus operandi. Rather than alter or go up against what we’re able, it’s easier to cast blame and expect somebody else to do something about whatever’s going on. And I’m not claiming to be a saint here myself.

“…bogus victims drive out real victims. And if everybody’s a victim, nobody’s a victim.” So true.

Anyway, gonna finish listening to this man before heading back out for my last appointment for the evening.

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[Updated Aug. 22nd, 2014: Edited for typos and greater clarity.]

“The Revolution Continues”

Josie the Outlaw talking about the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and our founding fathers:

Josie has a handful of awesome videos totally worth checking out.

“This Makes me Embarrassed to be an Atheist…”

Jordan Owen’s latest video:

I get where he’s coming from there and very much appreciate his stated position on the subject.

Winston Wu on social dysfunction in America

Currently watching this interview of Winston Wu on social dysfunction in America:

According to the video’s description, that interview was conducted by Robert Stark on March 19th, 2012.

Actually was filing my taxes while listening to this talk, because why not heap more salt on the wound?  american_smilie  ack_smilie

Wu makes a good point about so-called “liberals” that I’ve found to be true as well. Though I disagree on hundreds of matters with self-described conservatives I’ve met or befriended, they seem generally way better able to tolerate a standing disagreement than the liberal folks I’ve known. Which is probably why I take up more time with self-described conservatives despite me being someone openly critical of both duopoly-supporting political camps. And it’s kinda goofy considering where I stand on various issues; for instance, I’m pro-choice when it comes to accessing abortions, I’m extremely resistant to ideas and legislation pushed by neoconservatives, I support gay rights to marry and adopt kids, and also I take issue with criminalizing drug use, prostitution, and other matters of personal choice engaged in willfully by adults.  And yet, I’ve run up against liberal angst more times than I can count simply because I don’t toe the line the way they do or I approach a concern from a perspective they’re not as familiar with. Another example here is I also defend the right to self defense and believe that maintaining gun rights is as essential as protecting free speech and the right to avoid illegal search and seizure (or, more accurately, the 2nd amendment allows other rights to stand), and upon hearing that they tend to treat me as if I’m insane.

The message I’m taking away from these battles with self-described liberals is that they have a set “code” they abide by and expect all others to embrace as well, and if you don’t fall in line with all of it, you’re somehow branded the enemy. That’s ridiculous, but it seems to be the attitude, and it’s quite true that after differing opinions on matters such as these come to light, my liberal pals tended to walk away and even sometimes cut off contact. Not helpful or open-minded, to say the least.

That actually bugs me a good bit. Because then there’s the other side of the fence where if you say you support Ralph Nader or think Venezuelans have the right to manage their own country as they see fit, then you’re dismissed as a “radical,” nevermind that holding these views is consistent with a liberally tolerant ethos. There’s definite hypocrisy sown there, yet most liberals I’ve met won’t acknowledge it. We’re only supposed to be open to what the majority or them are open to, and that’s dependent on whatever Democrat president or congressperson has to say on any given day? Bullshit.

I never forget how crazed people acted the night Obama won the election in 2008. They literally acted star-struck. I was sitting in a small bar where everyone there were huddling around the televisions, and apparently myself and one other man in the place were the only two people who hadn’t voted for Obama. I recall piping up about how people were behaving as if they were witnessing the second coming of Christ, and some guy replied back, seemingly in all seriousness: “It might be.” That was just fucking spooky, so I headed out for a smoke with the McCain-supporter who considered me an ally purely because I wasn’t caught up with the rest of the herd that evening who were stuck fawning over the tv screens in awe. He said something about flowers sprouting out of the pavement, alluding to those folks believing now that the impossible will somehow magically become possible all because Obama had won the election. And it was true…those folks were just that wrapped up emotionally that they were pretty much worshiping the man. And these were the same people who had been ridiculing Bush-supporters for the last 8 years. They could see no irony in their own shift toward completely idolizing a political figurehead of their own.

That was one eerie evening. And it only got worse after that. The peace-building organization I was volunteering with at the time lost its mind and began backtracking on their stated commitments in an effort to accommodate whatever seemed in line with what Obama’s crowd was up to. Once it became apparent the man had lied and blown smoke up people’s asses to win their support, they utterly refused to accept it. I had gotten involved in that volunteer venture thinking I was supporting a nonpartisan organization that stood on Quaker principles, when unfortunately it turned out that plenty within its ranks were zealous sellouts in lockstep with the Democrat Party. Very disappointing. And when I’d occasionally voice disagreement or try to get us thinking outside the two-party box during meetings, a few seemed to resent my involvement. After 3+ years of that I said “fuck it” and moved on. Life’s too short for such nonsense. Why hand over blind adoration to any political leader? And why aim to silence any and all dissenting views, especially when you claim to be dissidents yourselves? That’s plain wacky, if you ask me.

While I have met my fair share of freaky Republicans and right-wing bible-thumpers, I’m tempted to claim I’ve met even more intolerant left-wingers over the course of my life. That claim should raise eyebrows considering this is coming from a Deep Southerner who willfully re-transplanted herself north of the Mason-Dixon line many years ago. [Not that I’m necessarily proud of that fact, but it is indicative of what it is.] I’ve managed to have hours-long arguments and discussions with libertarians, anarchists and neocons, and not always by my (initial) choosing — yet those interactions more often felt productive and openly-engaged in than what’s transpired between myself and many claiming to be liberals. They don’t like my answers and questions and tend to just shut down and walk off, frequently enough attacking my character and insulting me as ignorant and backwards before departing. That’s a pain in the rear to keep dealing with. If you’ve got a beef, let’s discuss it. Just lay out your positions and I’ll counter and we’ll talk about it. But no. That’s so rarely how it goes.

Back to the video…”fake optimism” — yes, that’s totally an expectation in the parts of the U.S. I’ve lived in. Deep conversations are discouraged. As people keep repeating to me: folks around here would rather not be serious and they find the topics I bring up “depressing” and “negative.” It’s frustrating to keep running into that. Heard it from my latest romantic partner (who hates hearing about anything he considers remotely political in nature — he totally opted out of all of it, including voting), heard it again recently from a female friend I’ve known since 5th grade (the same one who in the past has referred to my political writings as “offensive” and twice called me a “Debbie-Downer” doh ), heard it a while back from my Adderall-prescribed male relative, heard it at least alluded to from the last three pothead galpals I used to hang out with (the last of whom was an active and vocal feminist), and don’t get me started in on what all’s been said at bars (though it’s worth mentioning I’ve had some memorably lovely and interesting conversations struck up with strangers at bars…just never at sports bars, which are taking over).

So I turn to the internet and write here and in others’ comment sections. And what do we encounter? Too much blocking. Everybody thinks they’re supposed to be a censor these days.

Social networking sites and apps have a serious downside, as we’re discovering. Through them, we’ve invented new ways to chastise, ridicule, and ostracize one another. But on the upside, these venues offer the opportunity for outliers and “oddballs” to share views and interact with willing others, and that’s nice. It all boils down to how we as users choose to handle these technologies as to what potential winds up being unlocked.

Pausing at 46:49…I gotta say, I only partially agree with him on the dating scene. IME, men (especially young men) are prone to being every bit as narcissistic as women. What I’ve noticed, particularly during my time working as an escort, is that plenty of men expect their partners to look better than themselves. From what I gather, some seem to think they’ve earned the right to keep an attractive female partner, likes it’s some reward they deserve. When it comes to casual sex and most especially the bar scene, I think men generally keep a more open mind when it comes to appearances, but I do think those same men tend to hold higher standards for their romantic interests.

What I didn’t like there was Wu making it seem like all women are vying for the (supposed) top 10% of males in this country. What I do think is going on is we women have gotten caught up in thinking the grass is always greener on the other side, so we have a hard time being content with our lives and relationships. Another casualty of the era of information overload is that women seem to feel bombarded by demands and contradictory ideas and televised fantasies to where we’ve become paranoid about not receiving what we perceive are our dues. This ties back in with feminism so far as it flavors discussions with the notion that we womenfolk are being screwed and that we shouldn’t accept our “plight.” In other words, feminism has helped to supply an unending list of complaints and grievances that get us thinking we’re getting the short of the stick and are “settling” when we should be aspiring toward something greater (whether that be a prestigious job or a more romantic partner or the acquisition of status symbols). In short, feminist influence has sown seeds of discontent where they otherwise might not have emerged. That’s a problem for all involved.

Well, we are being screwed, but not by men in general. It’s like our attention is channeled toward viewing our anxieties and frustrations as resulting from our relationships, which then leads to thinking that if her partner would change this, this and this, she’d be satisfied. But it’s not true. Satisfaction won’t come that easily, and it’ll just turn into more demands and more concern over disappointments. In reality we’re all facing bullshit in this country that’s driving us all a bit batty in whatever which ways, and that’s putting a strain on each of us. A partner’s concessions alone—or replacing a partner, or finding a partner, or scoring a better-paying job, or accumulating more material goods—cannot remedy what ails us collectively. These are cultural and societal problems bearing down on us. But we tend to like to blame those closest to us, and this is tearing us apart and breaking down needed social bonds.

Crazy times we live in. Not sure if I buy into countries in Europe being on so much of a better track than the U.S., but then I’ve never traveled to those countries to get a feel for myself. Haven’t so far had the opportunity to make it past Tijuana.

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Update the next day: Ok. I admit it. I’m biased when it comes to “liberals” since I associate them primarily with people outside of the South, especially really “progressive” types. Whereas “conservatives” live everywhere (though obviously not all are of the same stripe) and I came up familiar with interacting with them.

For me there’s turned out to be a lot more guesswork that goes into communicating with liberals, because even when we superficially agree, we frequently come at a given situation with very different reasoning, which seems to irritate many of them. As someone who’s used to not being in agreement with anybody 100% of the way, it confuses me that they’re blown away by the fact that I don’t also support this, this, and this just because I’m sympathetic to that, that, and that. (There the contention often boils down to my disinterest in focusing primarily on seeking legal remedies and forming coalitions to address all possible “inequities.”)

But I’ve verbally tangled with folks across the spectrum and can drum up gripes about them all.  ha

(Last updated: 4/24/2014 for enhanced accuracy.)

Continuing the inquiry into what is religion

Continuing on in this inquiry into what is religion, others jumped in to share their views.

Anekantavad offered up this response:

The issue I take with Anekantava’s approach there is he’s locked into looking at very modern times and here doesn’t acknowledge people’s inherent religiosity. Instead he’s coming at religion as some sort of strategy those in power impose on the people, rather than religion organically rising among and within us down here on the ground, dating all the way back in human history.

Then Matt (0ThouArtThat0) had this to share:

In this line-up, I personally got a lot out of Matt’s video and his way of explaining the origins of religion as one of the earliest products of humans, it being one of the major features that distinguishes humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. Here religion is discussed as existing on a continuum spanning throughout human history that is indicative of our unfolding consciousness leading up to modern scientific exploration. He explains it well enough that I won’t attempt to summarize it any further than that.

And Prof. Corey Anton’s reply to Matt’s video:

Those of us who refer to worshiping science probably should more accurately use the term scientism, which isn’t about worshiping the scientific method but rather “bad science” in a dogmatic fashion (as prof. Anton explains there).

I find the new popular debate between atheists and creationists to be a foolish waste of time since creationists hold extreme views that most religious persons do not embrace, yet that caricature is being applied blanketly to all religious devotees. Beyond this being offensive, it’s a straw-man of religiosity, making that focus very unproductive. It discourages people from engaging in meaningful dialogue when one side paints the other in such a wacky way. The religious impulse (or whatever we want to call it) has been with humans since the dawn of our species and it’s a part of our core psychological makeup, whether we acknowledge this or not. Seems nowadays it’s more of a question of what we place faith in rather than people entirely losing faith altogether. The focus shifts while the impulse remains, and because of the shift in focus to secular concerns and scientific analysis, the truth of our religiosity is being obscured. But it has not left us. It’s a question of what we do with it and where we allow it to take us. Humans have been down dark rabbit holes in chasing religion many times over, and I don’t believe we’ve come to the end of doing so just because the game looks today like nothing that’s ever come before. I argue that the game really hasn’t changed as much as we might like to think, because we humans haven’t changed as much as we may like to think.

Thousands and thousands and thousands of years of being sculpted by primitive tribal conditions can’t be done away with in a mere 4,000 years, no matter what technologies we create or how sophisticated our reckoning has become. This is one of those fundamental truths that many humans seem to be running from, but I’m not convinced we’ll be able to run fast enough. Truth has a way of circling back around and showing itself, whether we like it or not.

And the natural world is about striving for the power to overcome, not about seeking truth. So this truth-seeking ambition we humans are embracing is running up against the drive for power among us, and I get the impression power will win out, even if ultimately humanity’s detriment. Not that Truth necessarily could save us anyhow, seeing as how so much can’t help but boil down to subjective perspectives, particularly in our social realms. While some seek Truths, others seek power over the rest. Ideological narratives do prove helpful toward the power-seeking end.

That’s enough to say about this for now.

One inquiry into what is religion

Tonight I came across Suicideforcelluloid’s video “What is religion?”:

Have only maybe maybe watched a video or two by him in the past, so not too familiar with that YTer. Mostly I viewed that in preparation for listening to Prof. Anton’s reply:

I’ll post here what I left in a comment on that video:

Wow. You said it ALL in this video! Thank you for responding on this topic — this inquiry is so important for all of us right now.

“Dogmatically committed to a hyper-hyper-rationality” — very good way to state it plain.

“Hyperationality…it’s imagining what will never be. To that extent it’s an irrationality…There’s more rationality in the person who accept the limits of rationality.”  Great explanation there.

That’s the problem in a nutshell with so-called “scientism” and is why atheism is coming to look like dogma dressed up in scientific cloaks. People collect and then conform and before you know it turn dogmatic in their share beliefs. Appears it goes hand in hand with rising populations and widening the net in how we’re affiliated.

“What is community?” really is the deeper question. We as individuals can’t survive without some form of community, yet what we’ve created is now causing us so many problems and is breaking up tight-knit communities everywhere. They’re rapidly going extinct—first tribes, then towns, then neighborhoods, now families are feeling the pressure—leaving us all out here to float around looking for what feels missing in our lives and trying to figure out how to connect and bond with very little knowledge of wisdom that might help. Instead we’re flooded with insecurity-poking magazine articles and fiction.

I really liked what you said about kids and parenting, because it is true that some people are made better people by becoming parents, and their children benefit from this. Love is what it’s all about, it’s what we need more of. Just sucks that there’s so much pressure on everybody to breed, as if that in itself is the key unlocking a meaningful life. Winds up becoming about adults using kids to satisfy their own longings, which rarely works out well for all involved. Would be ideal if we saw less of that and more parenting that comes from a place of wanting to pass on love and guidance and being able to do so.

You spoke about people being “sentenced to life” and on putting more weight on the death that will inevitably follow — that ties into my own views on abortion and why it can be seen as merciful (though many people react badly to hearing that). Life is sacred, so bringing people in willy-nilly without much forethought, not caring if they wind up raised by the foster care system because they weren’t adopted out, leaving them to the mercy of society without any promises of love and devotion from the people who created them — that’s just so incredibly harsh. If we accept that and wish to prize life, it seems to follow that it’s also our responsibility not to bring new life into being if we can’t provide love. To do so is cruel and creates broken people who then may turn around and take out their pain on others.  And being reminded of that by the news nonstop makes us feel all the more cautious and untrusting and disconnected.

What do you think the future may hold in store for communities?

Naomi Wolf, Karen Straughan & Antigone Darling discuss feminism (plus my personal thoughts)

This evening I’m watching:

Pausing at 11:30… I actually do like what Naomi Wolf said in that the feminist lens can serve as a useful tool for analysis. That’s true, it can. Theoretically, though acknowledging all analyses not being equal. The trouble is when someone winds up so limited by such a lens that their outlooks get skewed to the point of becoming unfairly biased. We all obviously have our biases and none of us can claim a fully objective perspective, but the stated aim in movements of this nature is to examine society through particular lenses in an effort to understand and perhaps work toward remedying social injustices. My own interest is in better understanding what’s going on without looking to be prescriptive, whereas many involved in these gender-bent movements are pushing for political change and select legal action, that being where I wind up in outfield in these sorts of discussions. But regardless, it’s good to see this panel come together to lay out their perspectives.

Anyway, carrying on…

Pausing at 20:22. Seriously wish Antigone Darling had held her microphone a little further away. Her voice comes across booming on my end and is most difficult to understand.

But I like what she’s saying about how the term “feminism” shouldn’t dominate the dialogue since it’s not supposed to be about either sex lording over the other. It does boil down to individuals ultimately, even as gendered perspectives can prove useful in examinations of social phenomena, just as racial and socioeconomic focuses add to our understanding as well. But, ultimately, these are human matters experienced in whatever which ways by us as individuals. That’s the fundamental starting point.

Pausing at 31:07… Back when I was a freshman and sophomore in college I too looked into the organization N.O.W. and actually donated a little, that being during my own first “wave” of interest in feminism, and I have to say that members within that organization did state some pretty hostile shit. It’s been a long time and I can’t recall anything clearly, just that the sentiment expressed seemed decisively hostile toward males, especially toward those males not closely associated with the feminist movement. That’s just the nature of that organization, and it wound up personally turning me off, for one. Even during a time when I felt pretty hostile about men my damn self, and justifiably so at that point in time IMO. Probably for me it came down to seeing N.O.W. representatives were acting rabid and figuring eventually they would wind up trampling on the rights of women too if given enough power. Just because an organization claims to advocate on behalf of women doesn’t make it any less vulnerable to corruption, most especially if it’s angling for political clout.

Pausing at 40:48… Gotta say it — I get where all of them are coming from. Both Naomi and Karen make good arguments, but what seems to be lacking from Karen’s analysis is just how much of a role Abrahamic religions have played over the last nearly 4,000 years and in how they absolutely have redefined many people’s gender roles accordingly (as determined by their interpretations of scriptures, which has, over time, divvied up in different ways). That’s no small matter. Because religions have been losing their stranglehold on humankind since the Enlightenment Era that still in no way eradicates prior history which, for several thousands of years, was patriarchal. Not everywhere on the globe necessarily, but notably where Abrahamic religions had influence. The documents themselves (e.g., the Bible and Torah) may be interpreted differently, but for the vast majority of people subjected to it it was taken as placing males in leadership roles in most (if not every) aspect of society. It cast the role of that which they call “God” as male in the image of male-dominated hierarchy structures that had arisen somewhere within the 3,000 years leading up to the formation of the major Abrahamic religions.

Humans are evolving, both socially and biologically, and the rise of domineering male-dominated hierarchies are a notable part of our not-so-distant history. It’s still close enough in the rear-view mirror that these religions continue to exert influence (though it’s morphed into a bastardized political power-grabbing vehicle since its inception, practically devoid of its spiritual content by this point), obviously, hence why there’s this big “war” being waged between atheists and various types of theists across societies nowadays. Those religions proved bigoted (particularly in practice) on every level and in one form or fashion against all groups of people, but so goes the evolution of social dynamics during the rise of civilizations. Economics were a major factor as well, and I’d argue men originally played into that scheme better than women did or could have, they being unshackled by the physical limitations imposed by pregnancies and child-rearing. Biology dictated so much until just a very short time ago when advanced technologies afforded women unprecedented control over our fertility (which then called for political action to get laws to recognize and protect access to). That was a significant game-changer.

As was the reign of patriarchal religions and their spread via imperialist endeavors. To acknowledge the gains achieved legally in modern times while saying nothing about the social setup (other than the purely biological component) that claimed dominance over many cultures dating back hundreds or thousands of years that had a profound influence on how roles divvied up and impacted human psychologies to the core is, I believe, disingenuous and just as biased as feminists who focus on history over a century ago and then skip back to talk of our primitive pasts without appreciating what political feats have been accomplished in most recent times. Both wind up being skewed perceptions because they’re geared toward standing in opposition to one another rather than assimilating data so as to form a more well-rounded comprehension of events leading up to where we stand today. Not all of us have come to stand in equal places, and I’ll argue class divisions remain extremely relevant, perhaps now more than ever as we’ve experienced power centralizing in organizations, businesses, and the State (welcome to the Heyday Age of Economics as ruler of all); and though I don’t personally subscribe to the notion that equal outcomes on all conceivable matters is the ideal, the level of disparities made possible in modern times is simply astounding (namely between the haves and have-much-fucking-less) and will prove to be unsustainable. Humans are too jealous to accept that outcome — blame evolution there too and look into literature on primate behavior to see relevant similarities.

This is why I say that what we call patriarchy isn’t so much about each individual man being invested with greater power over women and children (though that slant is most definitely central to Abrahamic religions, at least in terms of fathers and leaders), it’s about there being a shift toward more of a masculine-oriented style of organization of societies during the rise of civilizations. Likely because the masculine orientation could be harnessed and utilized to build up these civilizations at that stage in the game. Nowadays we’re confronted with different demands, namely conformity, and that’s where utilizing womankind (and feminine-oriented styles) generally proves more advantageous (at least for those standing to benefit from such a construct, depending on how we wish to look at this matter). From my own view, this is more a story of how power concentrates and culminates into making modernity possible, for better or worse, and both men and women, generally speaking, have been and will continue to be used along the way in satisfying these objectives.

At some point it almost seems irrelevant whether wealthy interests are steering this ship or if the hand of fate is doing so. In a real sense, it’s virtually all the same.

Pausing at 44:04… I didn’t find the audiobook Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus useful either.

Pausing at 48:12… I don’t like how the moderator cut that conversation off about rape, and I also don’t like how Naomi Wolf jumped to calling Karen a “rape apologist” without hearing out her assertion. The thing is that Karen’s right there: oftentimes rape does wind up coming down to a he said/she said matter so far as legality is concerned. There really is no crystal-clear, unambiguous definition of what might be considered “rape” today. It’s one of those subjective claims that can be very difficult for outsiders to assess given that we weren’t present for whatever transpired. False claims of rape can and do occur. Also, bonafide rapes can and frequently enough still do tend to go unreported (noting that reports of sexual attacks from complete strangers very often are reported to police, just not so much when between intimates and acquaintances). I personally blame (at least in part) the focus shifting to expecting legal measures alone to remedy these problems when it’s undeniably a moral and spiritual matter at its core. It’s a question of respect between individuals, whether male or female, flowing in both directions. The problem is with people using one another, either because they’re intoxicated and can’t put up effective resistance,  or because opportunity knocks, or because one wishes to extort money through chicanery, or whatever. All are examples of serious disrespect, and both males and females have proven willing and able to exploit one another. That’s the underlying concern here, so far as I see it.

Pausing at 50:00… Yes, I agree with Antigone there. Hormonal contraceptives are a serious issue impacting women specifically but also appears to be impacting society more generally too. We as Americans (and perhaps Canadians can relate too) are being over-saturated with hormones, from oral contraceptives to foods to plastics (and even marijuana as well, since weed contains phytoestrogens). That’s an important consideration, though I don’t think it needs to be addressed by feminists alone. Especially considering the impact such hormones appear to be having on offspring. Much more research needed there.

The concern about American people’s—and mostly especially women’s (since more females willingly go this route than males thus far)—reliance on anti-depressants/anti-anxiety prescription pills is pointing out a worrisome trend, I agree. And if people do their research and delve back into the history of the field of psychiatry, they will learn how women had been its preferred guinea pigs for many decades. That’s a major concern, and it impacts men too seeing as how they have to live with and/or around us (not to mention now many young boys are being targeted for psychiatric diagnoses; plus, returning soldiers are being increasingly medicated for PTSD). Men also work with us women. They must share a society with us. And we’re being fed a dangerous lie based on largely unsubstantiated quasi-scientific “theories” that are proving extremely profitable for those tied in with the fields of biochemistry/pharmacology and related marketing/advertising.

Strongly agreed that those are both serious issues begging to be reckoned with that potentially impact us all.

Finished viewing the video. On a final note, I agree that weapons deserve to be brought up on these topics if we’re going to focus on concerns about safety and protecting our rights and well-being. Feminists are especially prone toward dismissing that option, IME, which has for a long time blown my mind. Why wouldn’t women want to do what is in their ability to ensure that they don’t wind up victims of unwarranted violence? And nothing spells out equal quite as succinctly as an equalizer, which firearms indeed can indeed be. They (potentially, if successfully executed) bring stopping power to the situation, whether when defending against a bigger and stronger attacker(s) or one individual wielding a weapon himself/herself. There does come a time to take matters into our own hands instead of waiting for the State to fight our battles for us. Granted, it’s bullshit that opportunists try to take advantage of others, but that’s unfortunately an inescapable fact of life and it won’t be eradicated any time soon. Might help to curb that end of spectrum of the gene pool if it refuses to act respectfully. (But even there I realize it devolves down into a he said/she said dispute in the legal system in trying to prove one’s right to utilize lethal force allegedly in self-defense. If the supposed offending party is rendered dead and there were no other witnesses, who then really knows what was what?)

Anyway, very good video and discussion. Body language gave away that Naomi and Karen weren’t too fond of one another, but so be it. Still seemed productive that they all sat down and at least tried to broach these topics.

[Lightly edited once again 1/31/2015 for typos and greater clarity.]