Sudden Descents

Image Desc: A black and white image of half of a face. The subjects eyes and forehead are obscured with black lace.

You know those days… you’re minding your own business and doing housework or working on a project when suddenly Anxiety, Depression or Misery grabs you by the shoulder, whispers (or yells) “Time For An Adventure” and whisks you off somewhere until you’re looking at the world through their veil, or up at a distant light from the pit they dug for you.

Or both.

With all the triggering stuff going on in the world right now I am not surprised this happened to me. The news and how it’s presented is kinda violent for survivors, and I’ve had some unpleasant reactions to a bunch of it.

But DAMN do I want some kind of mechanism where I can get back up to that light, or out from under the veil, just as fast as they can swoop me down.

That Trump Statue (And Varying Reactions)

CW: Discussion of current events in the context of certain forms of sexual violence.

I know most people who read this blog already know the statue to which I refer. Skip past the next pgph if you already know. But for those not in the know, and for those who might find this post a year or so from now and have forgotten (bless!), here’s a recap:

An artist/activist group called INDECLINE commissioned a statue of Donald Trump and put copies of the statue up in several large cities in America. The statue was a representation of the subject in a stance of power, while also making guesstimates as to what his naked body looks like. The statue was titled ‘The Emperor Has No Balls’ and expressed a vision of Trump’s nudity that included pink manicured nails (and, oddly enough, a Masonic ring) on the hands folded over his large belly, dark blue veins visible under his skin, curly gold pubic hair and a penis about thumb-size. No scrotum. It has been the source of public comment and mockery for a week now.

I’m having a pretty tough time with this one. There is so much that is drastically wrong with the sculpture that has been covered better than I can formulate. Encouraging people to body-shame, encouraging toxic POVs about human worth in relation to their physical existence, encouraging the imaginative plunder of someone’s privacy. At the same time, I am a fierce believer in free speech in art, and this sculpture is, despite my revulsion, art. (Sorry, The Guardian. You’re wrong about your categorization.) It’s also art that might have changed the artist from a Trump supporter to a Johnson supporter, per an article by Nicole Levy.  I don’t know how true it is – seems kind of convenient but there are plenty of times I hadn’t heard something dreadful about a public figure.  So two fundamental rights are at opposition – the right to privacy (including the right of publicity) and the right to free speech.

If I look at it only from the POV of the rights, I cannot choose between them. The cognitive dissonance just grows. However, I have a ton of comparisons I can make that angles me in various directions. I’ve thought through a lot of the ones that are out there on the think pieces I’ve seen (particular thanks to The Stranger and Slate) but they’re still not quite enough to make the dissonance go away.

The one that sticks in my craw? The one that pushes me fully to “this is too fucked up?” The one I haven’t seen so far, which is why I’m writing this now?

This reminds me a LOT of revenge porn. A lot a lot a lot.

Someone doesn’t like what an ex did/said/whatever so boom, nude pics go up on a site/usenet channel/etc with mocking commentary and sometimes their personal info. When this became a thing online, there were no specific laws about it, so it was super-tough to get the content taken down. Since then, 34 states and DC have created laws against it, along with Canada, the UK, and a few other countries … which kind of shows you how much is out there. The impulse to humiliate those with whom we’re angry by displaying their nudity is a sickening one, and right now, unlike people who are victims of revenge porn in the US, Trump has little recourse to get these images off the ‘net because they’re NEWS.  That’s a violation of privacy I can’t stomach.

Pardon me while I go puke at the thought.

(For those who like the statue and don’t understand how I feel – imagine that’s your dad on that pedestal, there. And there’s no way he can get those images off the news websites we all read.)

What’s more sickening is that I felt such deep sympathy for Trump for having this representation out there – not that there’s anything wrong with the naked body, regardless of configuration, but that he was stripped* of the choice to reveal it or not, and to whom. This is a guy who I think of as one of the most awful humans of my generation, so to feel that level of sympathy and compassion for him was grosser than I ever thought it would be.

‘Scuse me again. *retch*

So, yeah, THANKS INDECLINE. You’ve made me feel sympathy for someone you call a monster. I don’t think that’s the result you wanted.

Now I’m off to watch the Tragically Hip’s last concert… *sob*

 

(* I swear to all gods I didn’t mean this as a pun when I first wrote it.)

This Is A Post About Pain

Consider the title the content warning. It’s all about pain.

Feel warned enough?

Okay. *deep breath; squares shoulders*

Yesterday I experienced a terrifying moment where simply attempting to stand up from a crouch hurt so badly I was momentarily blinded. It was in the backyard of our apartment building, and Jon and I were taking Kizu for her midday morning walk. I was literally just crouching to pick up after the pup – attempting to stand back up initiated a whoosh of pain so severe I couldn’t breathe for a millisecond. When the pain increased as I tried to return to the crouch, rather than subsiding, I cried out for help from Jon. He was about 10 yards away, and I had to repeat myself because it hurt too badly for me to even think of raising my voice.

Yeah. That bad.

And I keep on thinking about that. That there was a level of, or kind of, pain where my brain was so shut down, I could not scream.

That’s scary, you know?

I remember the first time I herniated a disc. That feeling of being stabbed in the back. I ended up kneeling in the tub, repeating “Oh my god, stop, stop, oh my god, stop.” But my voice was loud and strong at the beginning, only tapering as the pain continued at the same level. Therefore I knew that if someone had been close by from whom I could request help, I could have called out. Also, I wasn’t blinded by the pain. I could see where to place my hand to give myself support.

In the park I needed desperately to lean on something and had no idea where to go. Jon heard me at the second “help” and came to support me, but for that split second I was freaking out.

I honestly never knew there was a state of pain where one’s senses turned off, but you retained consciousness.  I am hoping that I’ll be able to forget it.

*

It took me until around 9 pm to return to my standard “I’m in constant low-level pain” state. Even with taking double the amount of pain medication I normally took. And it was absurd to feel such a huge surge of gratitude when the label said 1-2 pills every 6 hrs instead of 1 pill every 6.

It’s been interesting, this past week, to be off my fish oil and valerian regimen and to see exactly how much pain that was covering up.  I figured there would be a little masking, but this much?

It has me REALLY looking forward to my surgery on Thursday.

 

TV’s Game of Thrones might be better than A Song Of Ice And Fire

Though after the 1st season, I never thought I’d say that. And until last night, I would still have held up the books as a better entertainment experience.

TRIGGER WARNING: I’m talking a lot about the sexual violence in the story and in the show.

I’m writing this after spending a lot of time thinking about the episode two weeks ago, in which a main female character endures a violating wedding night… and we get to witness it through another character’s eyes. And for a while, I was wondering “where’s my outrage? As a survivor, where’s my intolerance for this moment in the story?”

I realized very soon that my outrage had been used up in a few things:

  • I’d already started calling GRRM’s ASOIAF “A Tale of Rape and Food” long before the TV show. Seriously, the man can wax lyrical about the menu at a buffet or the body horror in a scene. I always wondered why he had to spend SO much time with the stuffed swans and the… well, I’ll leave that language out.
  • I was already insanely furious at the TV series episode in which Daenerys marries Khal Drogo, where their wedding night goes exactly opposite what the book says. In the show, we have the intense misfortune to actually witness it. In the book, Daenerys and Khal Drogo have a beautiful, extraordinary exchange which is short, but really encapsulates how she can quickly envision a life in which people are given choices, starkly (pun not intended) different from how her brother and his cronies had treated her. Khal Drogo treats her like a person, with her own opinions and preferences, and it’s a new experience for her. It is INSTRUMENTAL for her character. And we’re denied it, why? And we’re given what we’re given, why? What does it do for either character? NOTHING.

I stopped watching the show for two years after that episode. I didn’t want to know; I didn’t care. It was stupid, lazy storytelling. Where GRRM was “A Tale of Rape and Food,” GoT became “The Rape and Food Show.”

Then I read a news item that Emilia Clarke insisted she wouldn’t do nudity in the show anymore. And some time after that, I heard that the show was catching up to the books. That some storylines would be trimmed.

At this point, I had been waiting for Tyrion and Daenerys to meet as equals for ten years.

Yeah, ten years. That’s a long time to wait for two cherished characters to meet in a series. In the books, I always felt their arcs were very similar – unfortunate children finally given love and respect from an unexpected place, and that love taken away too soon. When I could see in Storm of Swords that the meeting was coming, I was on tenterhooks. I was incredibly disappointed when they weren’t in Feast for Crows. And after waiting 6 years? Soooo many “almost…ALMOST…nope!” teases in Dance with Dragons. The last scene in Daenerys’ arc in DwD was so infurating that I threw the book across the room. Tyrion’s scenes were, at best, a struggle to read. I wasn’t looking forward to whatever would happen in Winds of Winter.

Yet I still cared, a LOT, about these characters. That alone indicates how successful GRRM is in his writing, and before last night, I’d give him tribute for the world he built and the storylines he crafted in the 1st three books, despite still calling it a Tale of Rape and Food.

So when I heard the TV series was catching up to the books, I caved. I went back, with my spouse, to start watching season 4.

OH did I love Dinklage’s Tyrion.

And much to my surprise, I found both Cersei and Sansa (and Stannis and Tommen) easier to care about in the TV series.

I have also appreciated the streamlining, and Brienne sticking around, and I could deal with the issues of Daenerys a bit better.

But, and here’s the third factor:

  • There’s some sexualizing bullshit nearly every episode. I mean, prior to the wedding night violation in the same episode, there’s a scene in which a peripheral character is naked through the whole scene, and the important supporting character supposedly has sex with her on camera, but she is obviously VERY uncomfortable, and she’s in no position to withhold consent due to their history, his violent character and his place in a royal house.

That, my friends, is also a sexual violation, and I found THAT more uncomfortable because there was no easy way to distinguish between lack of consent and providing consent in a scene where the female character is visibly not happy with the situation. (see also: Cersei and Jaime.) It also wasn’t important to the motivation of either character at ALL; it was a scene like the one with Viserys in the bathtub, many moons back. It’s like the horrific Joffrey scene. It’s like all the body horror we’d seen so far. It’s like events in so many other episode when I wince and look away and think “Jesus fuck what was THAT for!?”

(Don’t get me started on how many times children are threatened with particularly nasty sexual violence. With weapons.)

With that in mind, not SEEING the event was a relief to me. I was like “fucking finally it’s behind the camera.”

I didn’t have any illusions that it was supposed to be a crux moment for the character who DID witness it. I didn’t think it was instrumental for anyone, and I knew that it was strictly done as a lazy-ass mechanism to escalate the “OH IT’S NOT JUST WORSE NOW IT’S DIFFERENT” moment of her story (hat tip to Chuck Wendig) and give her a supposed motivation to do something she didn’t want to do. Leading to more escalation and yadda yadda. Which of COURSE I agree was lazy and not important to anyone’s arc and could have been done a thousand times better and of course it was gross ….

but it’s grossness that the show has been slathered in for seasons upon seasons. It’s grossness the BOOK is dripping with. If you haven’t been noticing it, you’re ignoring the lesser supporting characters for the POV ones, and that’s another level of grossness in and of itself.

Given that, and given that I’d been so uncomfortable with the other scenes in this season – especially earlier in the episode, and given that I’d been uncomfortable with GRRM’s writings…and knowing that in a few episodes, I’d see the event I’d been waiting for for years? Yeah. No question I was going to wait it out.

Finally, after last night’s incredible ZOOM BANG of several storylines whipping along at breakneck speed? I am starting to wonder whether the abbreviated storylines have given us a better story experience with less overall sexual violence than the books. I’ll have to go back into the books and verify.

So, yeah. I think the show might be better than the books.

I reserve the right to change my mind if GRRM does something wonderful with Winds of Winter that allows me to ignore Dance of Dragons exists. ;)