Savage Love Jul 30, 2019 at 4:00 pm

Hard Truths

Joe Newton



Like others, I skip Harriet's posts after the first couple of sentences, when the "muddy, insubstantial, and odd" (per curious2) content makes it obvious who is writing.

Harriet, if people ignore Mr. Venn's more obscure posts do you assume they are homophobic?


Regarding NoCuteName and writing ability... I'm agreeing with Curious here. NoCuteName is obviously a good writer- I remember the conversation with her and Ricardo regarding editing and the English language, etc. I'm always in awe of such people, such a skill set. But I think what sets her comments apart is that she's honestly engaging and usually able to stick to the point in a way that always opens channels for thought rather than ways that lead to conflict or that try to shut down / overwhelm the conversation. That is itself a real skill, above and beyond the technical and artistic skill of writing. Aren't you a professor, NoCuteName? These are the skills that "get people thinking". But on top of that, she adds personal and heartfelt accounts when they are relevant, and she's not afraid of confrontation when it's necessary but she's smart enough to not court it. The reason I notice most of these things is that basically none of the above are my own qualities and I've often contrasted them with my own flaws and motivations here.

Yes futurecatlady, I agree- especially with regards to having spent so much time in the caregiving role myself. Though it is scary to imagine oneself at the mercy of caregivers you don't fully trust without advocates for you. But to clarify (since I've said a lot here, sorry, and you might have missed it- understandable)- I'm not contrasting partnership with lack of partnership. I'm contrasting traditional family with building some future and wide-reaching replacement. I feel like we have to shape a society that gives people a place to belong and takes care of most of their material needs as an alternative to family. It can't be left up to individuals to figure it out since most will fail for a combination of factors, including the ones you named. If the only way to age with dignity is to have a lifetime of good health and decent earning without raising children and all the while build long-lasting friendships that will result in a community of mutual aid when you are old, then most people will have a terrible old age. Nuances beyond our control, yes exactly.


Maybe I was wrong and it /is/ just Harriet's writing (as I said @199 "I'm not sure").

  • "odd" *

I struggled at length to articulate what it is about Harriet's Comments that I can't connect to...

And after struggling some more I wanted to elaborate that by "odd" I meant that Harriet's Comments talk about things in a way that not only doesn't do a good job of delivering concepts to me, it is so strange I wonder if it could be only about writing skill, and not also about the thinking being expressed.

Tangentially, I have always appreciated that Harriet is (er, was, until tipping off BattleaxeGate) polite. I appreciate when people talk to me politely, and I like to be polite back (er, unless they are otherwise, then maybe not).


OMG I got a bullet to appear!
(I did so by surrounding "odd" with one space on each side, outside of which were a pair or asterisks on each side.)
(Incidentally, weeks back wrote to the webmaster for guidance on what formatting works, and they said "none works" which as we can see is not strictly true.)


Also Harriet, are you a trans woman? Because you have described yourself as a gay man, as gender fluid, as femme, and now trans? I understand and respect that your gender fluidity does not fit any label and that it takes a paragraph for you to answer the question if you are trans or not, fine- in fact I sympathize with the desire to live beyond labels and create more liberating and personally honest ways of experiencing life and sexuality, etc. But then you can't call people transphobic for not listening to your stories of life as a transwoman when you also don't call yourself a woman but instead maintain a certain level of gender fluidity. You speak of your experiences as a gay man, as a woman, as gender fluid- no doubt we are going to have trouble accepting you as an expert on them all. You are saying now it's transphobic that people didn't read your comments since you are trans, but I don't recall you ever saying you are trans, though it's true I don't keep up with everything about you. You can't have it both ways, and if you want to have it both ways and just assume that everyone else is too stupid or bigoted to comprehend the depth and uniqueness of your experience, then you can't likewise claim to not understand why so many people can't relate.

Nonetheless, Daddy sometimes says things that are misogynistic and has butted heads with people here plenty of times, including the same people you mention. Yet his comments of sexual interest in marriage especially after years and children are relevant and sometimes insightful. Note the difference.


Ok, lets see what happens when I type asterisk asterisk space X space asterisk

** X *


Curious, you are doing the Extremely Online Lord's work. Please keep it up and then type us up a primer. If you can figure out italics, I'll have a drink on your behalf this evening.


@EmmaLiz @215 Thank you for clarifying. You're correct that I haven't read every comment and therefore likely missed the nuances of what you said. Sounds like we are very much in agreement, actually. Also about @nocutename's comments which I always find valuable for the same reasons you mentioned.


Test *
"TEST" *




They all had asterisks on either side, for the record.


Actually, the first and fourth did not have ending asterisks.


Oh, I forgot one:

"test" *


My experiment has failed to yield usable data. Though I suppose any data is significant. * sigh *


Hey, SL servers, gimme my comment! There's something wonky going on. First, there's no page 3 to load and my comment that I believe was a much-desired double Hunsky is missing. Yes, I'm pouting.


@227 CalliopeMuse
Despite my preference for using asterisks, their undependability has led me to using slashes for /emphasis/.

@228 Helenka (also a Canuck)
Oh that reminds me, back on 16 July when I wrote asking the webmaster about formatting, my primary topic was:
"FYI there are some bugs with page changes in the comments webpages.

For example today:

ends at comment 199 and

starts at comment 202

IIRC, after some hours the missing Comments start appearing on one or the other of the pages.
And it takes about one hour for the button for Page 3 to even start appearing on the bottom of Page 2.

Additionally, after a Comment is made on page one, the Commenter is redirected to a link to their comments. (This is nice.) But Comments after page one are directed to page one, which is not so convenient."
////////////////// Here was the reply: /////////////////
"Thanks for the detailed and kind email.

The issue of which pages comments appear on is a bit thorny, and has to do with caching. On an article that receives a lot of comments in a short time, we have to manage serving those pages efficiently with updating the information as new comments come in. Add in pagination and things get pretty complicated. The caches are updated frequently, and explicitly when new comments are posted, but because of how they traverse the page boundaries, there can sometimes be some lag for all the pages to agree on where a given comment displays.

Sorry for the blah blah. Short answer is, we'll look into improving how quickly these changes appear, but it's unfortunately not a simple fix.

For comment formatting, at the moment we're not allowing any formatting at all. We may restore some very basic formatting, but for now the easiest choice was to just disallow it. We'll look into adding a note there to make it clear though.."

So for now, perhaps everyone--like me--will just keep an eye out for your no-doubt priceless @200 to eventually appear. Yes, I am a sad case for watching for such things, but details are one of my things.


Helenka, I can see your comment @200 and though it's not my domain (that's auntie griz) I feel certain you won the double hunsky fair and square. As for menopause, not sure yet myself as I'm not quite there, but there has definitely been an uptick in my horniess starting in my late 30s and continuing into perimenopause though as late it seems to be declining again back to baseline (which for me is hormonal fluctuations). I'm curious what will happen into my 50s as menopause really sets in.

Back to the LW and the enraging aspect, plus John's disbelief that people enter into these marriages, I'm not sure the LW said that this man always excluded foreplay, just that he does now. They married too young regardless.


@230 EmmaLiz
"Helenka, I can see your comment @200"

And I still can't even with reloads. I guess EmmaLiz' ISP is more something than mine.


Curious, it is on page two in my browser- 200 is the last comment. I don't know if this matters for you, but I do not see it on page three which starts (for me) at 201.


Cheer up, Helenka@228.~ You got screwed on Savage Love!


Two Hunsky?


Cheer up, Helenka@228.~ You got screwed on Savage Love!...Make that BRIEFLY screwed ~ your @200 shows up for me. Call it a quickie.


@234 DonnyKlicious: LOL Donny, you're priceless. :)
@235 was just a test---I couldn't get to Page 3's comments. Nonetheless, without further adieu....

@200 WA-HOOOO!!!! Congratulations, Harriet_by_the_Bulrushes, on scoring this week's Lucky Two Hunsky Award!! May abundant good fortune head your way very soon. :) Sorry about your missing @200 comment. That is indeed, a mystery. But you won fair and square. Savor the honors.
Is anybody up for a Double Hunsky + @69? It's my humble pleasure to help fuel the SL comment threads.


And I /still/ don't have @200 on either my pages 2 or 3! I guess my ISP is might also cache them. I can't wait to dump Comcast at the end of the month for gigabit fibre!


Thank you futurecatlady, interesting comments.
Yes, EmmaLiz, western humans are living longer and needing all that attention as their bodies fail.
My ninety eight year old mother, who has been in a good home for just on two years, she had a stroke on Monday, and though conscious, can’t speak or move. I’m heading down now to see her.
She has money, so can afford decent aged care. Her quality of life for the last two years has been tragic, and now this. I’d be searching for a morphine or heroin hit to go out way back.
I hope for her, death is soon.


Helenka @228, I also don't see your post @ 200.

Auntie Griz - Wanted to say thanks for marking my "Double Whammy" @169 and wish you a belated happy birthday!

LavaGirl @239 -- sorry to hear about your mother's stroke. Hope your visit goes well.


@200 finally showed up here on Comcast California. I had no idea that my huge delays weren't universal.


DonnyK ... you're hilarious!!! This isn't the first time I've screwed (or been caught in compromising positions) in public, but it's certainly before the largest - thankfully, virtual - audience.


@LavaGirl @239 I'm very sorry about your mother. I hope she experiences little suffering and that her pain can be managed as humanely as possible.


@237 auntie griselda. I think you mean Helenka (also a Canuck).




How heartless I sound, my mother had the stroke yesterday, Tuesday and I’m down with her now, Wednesday. Some consciousness there.


Lava solidarity to you and strength to you too as caregiver, and I hope for the most peaceful situation for your mom with the most dignity. I've been through it recently (on your end) - gives me so much to think about. Life is hard. You don't sound heartless- on the contrary, you sound human and compassionate.


@240 EricaP: Thank you. It was an amazing day. :)
@245 & @246 CalliopeMuse: Whoooops! I stand corrected. Thank you for catching it.
@200 Sorry, Helenka, (also a Canuck)--? I did not see comment @200. If that was you, I am awarding the Double Hunsky to both you and Harriet bythe_Bulrushes in a tie win. Sorry for my mistake, and savor the well-earned honors.
@239 and @247: Lava, I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's stroke. I hope her pain and discomfort are minimal. Sending big hugs, positrons, and VW beeps.


FutureCat @213: Absolutely; that includes myself, and in no way did I intend my comments to apply only to poly people who cohabitate.

EricaP @214: Yes, great example. Hunter's comments frequently make no sense either, see @241. Are we heterophobic if we skip past those?

Helenka, I can see your post too. It may be a glitch in the software. I remember a few weeks back, I had a double hunsky post which I made twice and didn't see for hours, though I kept returning to see if it had shown up. There was also no Page 3 button at the bottom of Page 2, I could only get to Page 3 from Page 1. Thanks for another reassurance that my sex life won't end after menopause!

Lava @239, I'm sorry about your mother. 98 is an incredibly good run though. Your mother is a good example of how we as a society seem to fetishise life at all costs, even when that life is no longer of a quality that makes it worth living. I hope it's not insensitive of me to use her as an example. I hope she passes on peacefully and with you by her side. Sending hugs.


Thanks Fan. We have our differences, ha, I still think of you as a mate.
I agree.. my mother has clung to life, at all costs. So scared to die, scared to face that Catholic God of hers. Now, you can see in her eyes the disbelief her body has totally failed her. She can’t swallow, and gave instructions not to tube feed her.. which is great. She is in palliative care, and it could be a week or so, her starving to death. One quick shot of morphine, and all this torture for her would be gone.


The Catholic Priest came today, and gave her the Last Rites. I found it was all much more poetic, when it was in Latin.
She was awake when he did it, aware of what it was. I hope it brings her some inner calm.


LavaGirl (@251/252)

{{{{{Hugs}}}}} from across the ocean to you as you attend your mother in her final days. You're an incredibly strong woman (which in no way diminishes the emotional toll).


Thanks Erica,, futurecatlady, EmmaLiz, Grizelda and Helenka. I sat with her today and said the rosary. I’d forgotten the prayers so had to look them up online. Then I chatted about our shared time together.. few years to cover. I interspersed all this with a little singing. All the while she slept,
or so it seemed.


Birds of a feather, hunter. You mean re Harriet.. you defending him/ her/ them? How sweet.
No. The gig is up.


@LavaGirl: Sending virtual hugs to you as you go through this difficult time. I'm an atheist, so I hope I'm not appropriating anyone's language and being offensive, but it's a blessing to be there as something so momentous is happening.

@auntie grizelda: Belated happy birthday wishes!


My heart goes out to you and your mom. It sound like you have a very healthy approach to this, and to helping your mom through this.
Simply because I think that taking a healthy approach to this stuff is an important step on a journey of growth, long ago I read a (parts too long but) great and wonderful book on this stuff from a Buddhist perspective:
Who Dies?"

One point the book made is that (understandably in the context of my society where most everyone is in fearful denial about, and can't bear to think for a moment about, death) it's heartbreaking that people frequently die without ever having one moment to connect in saying goodbye because everyone around them insists on pretending they aren't dying until they do die.

More recently I read another great book:
"Being Mortal"

Half the book talks about assisted living/nursing home communities; in too many the goal is to eliminate all risk no matter if doing so eliminates everything that makes ones life worth living in the name of safety.

The other half talks about the tendency to prolong life by means that make it not worth living. I agree with the MD who wrote the book that people have that right...but I wish he'd recommended "Who Dies?" because it could steer people toward choosing a more sane path.


My condolences LavaGirl.


Helenka - now I can see your post @200. And simultaneously I can now see a "Page 3" button at the bottom of page 2, so I don't have to get to page 3 from page 1. (Mirroring what BDF described @250.)

curious2 @257, thanks for the book references. Re this bit -- "it's heartbreaking that people frequently die without ever having one moment to connect in saying goodbye" -- tastes differ. I hate intense goodbyes, such as where a friend is returning to their home country, and one doesn't know if one will ever see them again.

Personally, I'd much rather die without saying an explicit goodbye. Instead, i focus on telling my loved ones that I love them, in hopes that whenever I die, they can look back on the "I love yous" in place of a formal goodbye.


@259 EricaP

I really could have said it better. To elaborate, now I'm remembering examples in the book that often people know very well they're dying, and would dearly love to speak that truth both to help themselves process it and connect with their loved ones in so doing, but everyone around them keeps insisting on telling them they won't have it, they're wrong, they aren't gonna die, so they ultimately are left utterly alone in facing their fear; they're most alone at the very time they least want to be despite the ostriches that might even be physically all around them at the end. (Because in my crazy society everyone behaves/thinks as though they're immortal.)

I bet you wouldn't like /that/. I hope that when our times come we'll have people in our lives that are more functional than that. That we can express love to, instead of hearing insistence that that is the one time /not/ to (express love, please forgive my oversimplification "goodbye") because they want to insist we are not dying when we are.

In other words, it need not be about a goodbye at all let alone an explicit one. What's heartbreaking is this common insistence upon denial, distancing loved ones from the dying person at the worst possible time (probably because the loves ones fear their own loss) for everyone.


@260 "...everyone around them..."

Including their doctors!


Thanks nocute, curious and RE.
It is such a shock when someone suddenly dies, curious. My mother is giving a long long goodbye. When she was talking, though often it was to tell one to stop talking, I tried to talk about death with her. She refused.. yet as a Buddhist one is told to be prepared for death, to meditate on death. My wish is to drift off during sleep and dreamtime, cruise on out.


As I understand it the crucial thing for a Buddhist is to leave in peace instead of fear; that that is each lifetime's last opportunity to not just automatically get channeled towards one's next incarnation. Talking about death might have just made her afraid. Not talking, just being present with her in any way she could, was probably as good as anything you could have done.

From what I've heard/read, as the final moment comes some part of them may already be beyond our plane...perhaps from there even while she slept she heard you connect with and sing to her.

"Birds of a feather, hunter. You mean re Harriet..."

That would be better than my theory (which is HORRIBLE, please let me be wrong):
In the preceding two comments, (1) you shared your mom's trouble and (2) EricaP wished you two well. I thought Hunter might be pained that our community was flocking together in support of you, LG. And I quietly wondered if he wouldn't be happier to fly off to flock together with birds of his own feather, instead of being bitter about togetherness between the birds here /not/ of his feather.


Who knows re hunter, curious. My theory all along is that Harriet and hunter are the same person. Hunter has stalked here forever, like the flea you can’t find. His sexism got too too much and he’s been sidelined. So, he invents this other person, and starts to forget what he’s said.. hence so many holes in Harriet’s story. Then I might be the unhinged person, and it’s all my imagination.
I wasn’t intense with my mother curious, the mention of being prepared for death was all I tried.
Given what Fan said above, I wonder if it’s a particular issue with the West. This grasping at life, it’s like grasping at money and objects. I thought my mother was close to death two years ago. She has hung on, as each body part gave up. She’s adapted though, didn’t complain, amazing woman. Now, now, her eyes tell.


People grasp at life everywhere from all backgrounds, Buddhists too. The difference regarding the West IMO is that so many people here have a field of medical options to prolong life and the industry to support them makes a lot of money too, etc. It's the medicalization of death (and extended old age) that's different.


I don’t know EmmaLiz. Spiritual countries, like India, know all along death is inevitable, whereas in the West we treat it as an inconvience.
‘ I have to die,’ well that’s not convenient.
Yes, medical progress helps, no risk.


People like to romanticize about India. People there "accept" death because they are in poverty and have no other options. Everyone with any choice seeks medical care. What is not normalized is the breadth of medicalization of life in India for everyone- though it is for the cities and middle/wealthy classes. But again, that's not about clinging to life or not. It's about access to health care. Dying is inconvenient to many people, including the one doing it. I've seen several elderly Indians in my family and among my friends die, including my auntie/grandma recently, and they cling to life as much as anyone anywhere. Especially the men. I don't think the women accept death any more - they are just more socialized to not make a fuss about things. It's not peace with death, it's having spent their entire lives expecting to sacrifice for their families. People are the same everywhere. The drive to stay alive is amazingly powerful in most living things.


curious2 @260 "I hope that when our times come we'll have people in our lives that are more functional than that."

I hope that when my time comes I can find compassion for people around me who are struggling not to accept my impending death. I'd rather be filled with compassion on my way out than irritation. Having compassion, something to practice in the meantime!


Hmm, if I could, I'd edit that to: "people around me who are finding it hard to accept..."


Congratulations Erica .. also Helenka.
Yes of course people seek medical attention EL, that’s not what I’m saying. I sure don’t romantize India, I haven’t been there, I’ve seen many pictures of the poverty.
Perhaps the poverty joined with the spirituality and the extended family environments, death is woven into life. The disbelief about death, which is visible in the West, that’s more what I’m referring to.


@199. curious. People are making incompatible criticisms of my comments. You're saying they are 'muddy' and 'insubstantial'. Bi thinks I interpose myself, and what I might feel, into the context of LWs and their problems. Not really the same thing. Your expectation seems to be that I will write about myself and open my GQ/trans/bigendered experiences to people not like that (what Bi thought I shouldn't do).... But what if I don't want to! I like losing myself in others' problems and trying to see what is fair or equitable in these cases. My 'tl;dr' s tend to be the same as everyone else's--everyone signed up to some essential maxims of Dan Savage. In order for me to say anything, I have to be more subtle or qualified, which usually involves taking stock of what we don't know in any situation.

Yes, I've been a big-organisation lawyer all my working life, and am currently training junior lawyers.


@201. Bi. Now you are painting yourself as long-suffering in dealing with me. It's typically your MO (and why not?) to pick up on a number of other comments in your contribution and to specify why you think they're wrongheaded or slightly wonky. Well--if your view is that mine is tendentially obtuse, is imbalanced by my weighing too heavily my own experience, just say so. In a sentence. And leave it at that. Nothing more is required of your civility.

The reason you don't, most probably, is you don't think that--that you tend to agree with me. (In the 'wife-implicitly-promised-to-cuck-but-won't-cuck' thread, we started out saying exactly the same thing). This forum is a case study, for me, in how people can manufacture discord out of substantive agreement. All of Dadddy, nocute and I agree that 'time and familiarity can be factors in wives going off sex with their husbands'. Yet somehow this coincidence of view isn't emphasised and celebrated.

As to nocute's personal story being of more relevance to the weekly letter than mine, well, it always will be--this is the greater salience of cishet themes; why society is structurally transphobic (and certainly not through the views of any cisperson, in this case). You're refusing to engage with my calling out your assumptions regarding my 'monogamous marriage' as transphobic. You thought it was just a scene for me, when it was as much (?) and as seriously-intentioned a monogamous marriage as yours. I guess no one likes having their prejudice called out. Your distinction between a current SLLOTW and a past one seems pretty tenuous, given that 70+ comments have been posted on this long-running thread since I last looked.


@203. Registered_European. Nocute writes for undergraduates. She works in a liberal arts college. Yes, she writes clearly. Tell me how far down I have to write for you.

@204. Nocute. You have said worse things of me. You just have to live with my thinking you a transphobic battleax.


@205. curious. Oh, come on. Surely you know I write grammatically?


@265 EmmaLiz
I think you have a good point that having medical options (that can be used dysfunctionally) is an additional challenge.

@268 EricaP
I think that is also true and healthy.

But a little less responsive to what I replied to you than I might've hoped.
I was hoping what when I communicated my original point better I'd get a bit more recognition of it. And you know I hadn't said a word about dying people being "irritated" by how the common sad dynamic I described affects them.

@271 Harriet_by_the_bulrushes
You should know that that we aren't saying the same thing doesn't mean both aren't true. You mention comments by BiDanFan and I: don't think I disagree with what she said just because I haven't +1'ed it. I'd have to read more of your comments to say more on her point. I will say that her criticism doesn't seep into every single sentence you post, though. And I doubt she ever says every word you post is projecting. As for my criticism:

You left out "odd"/"strange".
Maybe it is just that (despite somehow training lawyers, for whom analysis and communication are usually extremely important) you're a very poor communicator here. Your writing comes at things in a way that's difficult for me to describe, but after more pondering I'll try yet again: where important it's stilted yet shallow, so in looking academic-ish, it manages to fall flat.

I think your point makes sense that you're doing what you like, and what adds to instead of repeat (er, like myself and BDF) others in Comments. That's fair. But don't be surprised if people aren't reading your comments because we feel what we see is not adding /anything/.

I feel bad to be writing this, I do. But recall this all started because you thought people didn't react to your story as they did to nocute's because everyone here is transphobic (whereas honestly I think this Commentariat and myself are the opposite of transphobic). And when you attacked with that, and called some good people battleaxes*, I felt I needed to address why I think it's really just that people didn't read your story.

*which you have yet to apologize for, unless one counts claiming you use a completely different definition than everyone else, and that your facial expression made it acceptable.


@209. Emma. You 'disagree' with me on a political/worldview level? No, you agree with me on a political level--this is what you find hard to process. 'Various identities'? No, I have one identity and have always presented or divulged a consistent story. The fact its non-cisnormativity makes it hard for you to grasp just shows up your prejudice. Anyway, I'm a 51yo French-Californian, a lawyer, living in continental Europe, GQ, possibly gender-ambiguous in biology but raised male, effectively bisexual, living with an older gay male partner part of the year, having sex (not so much now) with men as old fuckbuddies and in a gay-male way, and with MF couples and women very occasionally in a grouping context.

Just to make that visible for those craving visibility.


By "jumble"@205 I was referring to meaning, not grammar.
After my criticisms I must say that maybe you just need to put some extra effort to write better. Perhaps you did here, because "salience" was a good word choice. (Though I think "relatability" would have been better. I know I'm not the best writer [I'm primarily a techie-type], but I do try hard. And I have spent years writing for and editing newspapers.)


@275. curious. Well, I do have a Sociology PhD, too (queer theory and the law; I went back to school after briefly practising out of enthusiasm for Judith Butler and the wave of queer writers in lit./cultural theory. You mentioned 'academic'). It could be you provide valuable feedback. I could try saying what I thought about specific lw s in a more emphatic sentence or two out in front of the rest of my response.... But, honestly, I think I would be saying the same as everyone else.


@212. Dadddy. 'Did I enjoy a satisfying sex life before I transitioned?'. In my early 30s I made the decision to live as a woman in intimate contexts and enter a monogamous relationship. (I'm now much more GQ in every setting). Before this (failed) monogamous commitment, I had a lot of sex, really a lot, on a gay scene, but had come to find it increasingly emotionally empty.


@Lava- hope your mom had a peaceful day. I've never thought of Americans (don't know about Aussies) as having a disbelief in death- only the very young, and feeling invincible is what it's like for young people everywhere. Americans experience sickness and death up close in my experience, and likewise there are cemeteries everywhere. Here's something that I think is an interesting difference though and this might be what you mean- in the US (as with every other aspect of life) the care for the dead person's body and the vigil/grieving process for the family has mostly been taken over by private businesses and made much more expensive than it need be and then this process is sold back to Americans as if it's normal and there's no other way to die and then the laws of most states require it. A side effect of that is that even people who have cared for their dying loved ones and arranged their funerals are unlike to have interacted much with the dead themselves. So in India (a diverse place btw and really the only Buddhists are Tibetan/Nepali immigrants though Hindus have a similar conception of death), in India most religious traditions including Hinduism and Islam require a family member to prepare the body. And the accompanying services (burial or cremation) take place quickly without the intervention of an event manager nor an attempt to make the dead person look alive for a viewing, and family members play a part in the process depending on their kinship usually. Then there are rituals at intervals throughout the following years to help the family along with their grievance- something I think Americans without such traditions could use rather than just be expected to handle their grief alone privately. Though not to romanticise, historically some of this stuff has been extremely oppressive, especially for widows. Surely most Americans would've come from cultures that had similar traditions (sitting shiva, bedside vigils, wakes) all of which were free, required direct interaction between living and dead, and which families organized themselves. So the fact that this is not the norm for most Americans now makes me think this has more to do with the economics than culture- there is a funeral industry here and every aspect of the death has a private or state institution that intervenes from removal of the body to preparation of the body to delivering the actual service, etc.

@276 Exactly Harriet. Given that you are GQ and in a gay male relationship, you have no basis for telling people they are transphobic for not listening to what you have to say since you are in fact not trans. And no, we don't agree on things politically at least based on what I've read of what you've written here over the year or so. Frankly I doubt we even agree on what "politics" means though that is an assumption. We are both generally "on the left" in a broad sense, that's it. That doesn't mean we share much of anything in common politically nor in our worldview so stop doing that thing where you tell me what I think.

Curious the world is full of well spoken highly educated fools. It's part of the reason that I wanted to emphasis what made NoCuteName's posts so much more engaging as being separate from her (also real) skills as a writer. If I let myself get down in the weeds of this, I could go on about this for some time- how people speak with different registers and slang and yet are judged- not by the content- but by how much they conform to what we consider "proper" (which is usually traditionally educated upper middle class). And it's also why I don't give a shit about being polite or not. I try really hard to be fair and not abusive- as I think we are ethically required to be this way when we engage with others- and sometimes I fail at this due to my own argumentative tendency and underlying anger. But "politeness" is useless- often just a cover, a class barrier. You can politely explain why you are going to exploit or murder me, using logical reasoned arguments and all the while taking the high ground with assurance that you are correct. Well educated people do it all the time.


H_b_t_b @273 "@203. Registered_European. Nocute writes for undergraduates. She works in a liberal arts college. Yes, she writes clearly. Tell me how far down I have to write for you."

This must be a thinly veiled insult about how I am only able to understand texts written for undergraduates? Well, whatever. Have the last word if you want.


Also Lava, I might be skewed in my view of things, having lived most of my life in Texas where so many of my friends and neighbors are ethnically (sometimes many generations back) from Mexico or Central America- dia de los muertos is a visible tradition here, sugar skulls everywhere around Halloween. And the ash cross on the forehead around Easter, plus Mardi Gras is in the state nextdoor- so all around I can't relate to this idea that Americans don't see death. It might seem different to me if I grew up in a small white town in the midwest rather than in Houston.


@280. Emma. Heavens, there is a level of animus in your post to me @209 that's precisely impolite. I'd like to know where you think we disagree politically? Are you against comprehensive single-payer healthcare? Equal marriage?

It's transphobic to tell a bigendered person they should be more of their non-birth / non-birth-assigned gender--no? To tell me I should be more of a transwoman? I don't think my partner sees me as either definitively male or female.


Harriet, No one ever told you to be like any gender. As I said, I doubt we even agree what "politics" means and I'm not going to argue with you about it. Unlike Lava, I don't think you are lying, I just think you are a snob.


Harriet, dislike me all you want, but please link to the anti-trans or transphobic comments I've made. Being a cis-het person and responding to problems experienced by cis people (frequently, cis-het people) from my own perspective doesn't indicate transphobism. Finding your writing difficult to read and noting that you frequently make up counter narratives out of whole cloth and make suggestions based on interpretations no one else shares or sees also doesn't make me transphobic.

No doubt I have unthinkingly assumed cis normativity; occasionally, I know I speak from a heteronormative position, but I'm trying to be more aware of that and less presumptuous. If I have said things that were truly and explicitly transphobic, * I'd like to have them pointed out to me, so that I can learn from my mistakes. But I can't imagine what you're referring to.

within the last 7-10 years, as we have all been becoming more aware and trying harder to be inclusive, and I don't think you can hold someone's ignorance against them once they've educated themselves and tried to change.


curious2 @275 -- you want me to respond more directly to your point? Fine.

I have people in my life who do not deal well with death. I accept them as they are and don't want them to change their nature or vanish from my life just to give me more control over the manner & surroundings of my death. I don't plan on enjoying dying, and don't see why I would expect other people to be different from how they are, just to ease my dying. It's going to suck. That's okay -- it won't last forever. Nothing lasts forever.


Why do you guys indulge this troll, whoever they are. Can’t you see how they draw you into their slightly wonky web.. take over the thread.
Harriet, whoever you are, you lie and make up stories about yourself. I think you need some professional help.


IEmmaLiz, Harriet’s story doesn’t feel or sound like an authentic narrative to me. I couldn’t be bothered going back to when Harriet first joined and read them.. I know early on something didn’t seem consistent with this poster. Now it’s like gaslighting.


@286 EricaP
"you want me to respond more directly to your point? Fine."

I usually do like it when people talking with me are more directly responsive. In this case as much as I expected. Maybe I just don't recall you interacting with others this way, so I'm surprised by how this went. Maybe you do interact with others this way and I just don't recall; or maybe me generally or what I said here bugs you?

And maybe I see why (in either case, but as for the later): I observed it seems sad to me that fearful denial about death often results in people dying (terrified) in isolation.

"I have people in my life who do not deal well with death. I accept them as they are and don't want them to change their nature or vanish from my life just to give me more control over the manner & surroundings of my death."

Of course not. I accept people as they are too, but I also like the book "Who Dies?" because it can help people themselves be, and to help others to be, more healthy. And grow, which is I think a great goal. Sure here (since here is about discussion) I often go on about how things differ from an ideal world, but don't think that I would IRL, or that I'm recommending, doing any more than dropping one single gentle hint to see if a productive path then results with people like you mention are in your life.

"I don't plan on enjoying dying, and don't see why I would expect other people to be different from how they are, just to ease my dying. It's going to suck. That's okay -- it won't last forever. Nothing lasts forever."

No one wants to die less than me. I want to live hundreds of thousands of years. But as you say "Nothing lasts forever", so we will die.
Life is full of difficult times (dying for example). I believe in trying to make them less difficult (which tangentially is also one reason I'm really open to using what therapy can offer).

You're welcome to a death that you say is "going to suck" (or heck if you were to want, to even be in as much, I dunno, anguish or existential pain [or whatever] as you want during it). But why? And why be this way when I point out that it's more healthy for it to be less of a sucky experience for you if possible? The moments leading up to dying are moments I'll experience, and I'd certainly like my moments to be as good as, to suck no more than, they have to.

For probably most, just the idea of trying to find as much peace with the inevitability of death, is too scary. And as I've suggested trying at length, I can see why most might be angry with me. To all them I'm sorry that it was here I brought it up instead of IRL, where I would have done no more than dropping one single gentle hint, because I do accept you as you are.


Lava, I'm so sorry.


Erica is our special woman here, curious.
I’m hoping that, like with nocute, she writes. I’m fascination by how she and Mr P turned their monogamous marriage with children, into an open/ poly one. Yes, Erica has shared some of this process here, with us. It’s the nitty gritty I’m interested in. /
They have started giving my mother morphine, she didn’t open her eyes yesterday.


Thanks Muse. Good you’re here, I can’t work out what this cartoon by Joe means this thread either.
Who cuts off their nose to spite their face and why. Nothing jumps out at me. Unless it’s the cheating the LW did.


When someone is sitting shiva, it is traditional to be there and offer support but not to talk unless the grieving person wants to talk. Maybe a similar approach should be taken for someone who is dying?


In Judaism, traditionally the female relatives prepare the body for burial. This seldom happens anymore in America outside the ultra-religious groups. Aside from that, there is little contact with the actual dead body, as there is no wake or similar "viewing" ceremony before burial. (Wakes and embalming have always seemed gruesome to me. Let the dead be dead; don't try to make them look like they were still alive.) Funerals and burials are meant to happen as soon as possible. The more religious the family, the closer to death the funeral usually happens. The maximum I've heard to allow people time to travel is three days.

Sitting shiva lasts for seven days. The mourners cover all their mirrors, do not leave the house, and host community prayer sessions every day. After that, for one year you are supposed to stand in services while everyone else sits during the recitation of a particular prayer called the "Mourners' Kaddish." And you stand every year on the anniversary of the death, the yahrtzeit. You also light a special candle on that day that burns for 24 hours. Within a year, usually about 10 months after the death, there is a ceremony called an "unveiling" where the gravestone is placed (the grave is unmarked until that time). It is traditional for no rabbi or authority figure to be present during this ceremony, only the family.


curious2 @289 -- "I'm surprised by how this went. Maybe... what I said here bugs you?"

First you imagined your preferences as universal ("it's heartbreaking that people frequently die without ever having one moment to connect in saying goodbye") and then when I offered a contrasting perspective, you told me I was wrong about my preferences, and since then you've been doubling down on telling me I'm wrong about what I want, or what I should want.

"I do accept you as you are."


@LavaGirl, sending good thoughts to you both.


Thanks for that Muse. Some good and sensible grief rituals there. I’ll keep those in mind.
Yes, the talking is done, or maybe not done but time’s up, and I recite her prayers for her now. It’s a big family, four daughters, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren. Funeral planning and eulogy writing underway. How to write my part, about a such a relationship, as I’ve had with my mother. Ambivalent and Sturdy.


Thanks Erica. It’s powerful, similar energy to that which is around at a birth. She’s had a full life.


WOW--look at al the comments for this week's SL! Anyone for a Triple Hunsky?
Now for a little catching up...
@256 nocutename: Many thanks. It has been an amazing birthday. :)
@269 EricaP: WA-HOOOOOO!!!! Major congrats on scoring the Double Hunsky + Lucky @69 Award! Savor the highly sought after honors, and may true decadence come your way soon. :)
@291, @295 & @296 LavaGirl: Sending big hugs, thoughts, and love to you, your mother, family, and loved ones.


Curious, you might go back and reread the interaction between you and Erica which I have done twice. I think you are projecting a tad- for some reason Erica's stance seems to bother you or seem like a confrontation/argument when it doesn't actually read that way. Rather it just seems like she has a different idea of things than you do, but you assume she must just misunderstand rather than disagree.

I found the exchange interesting- both of you made me think about things from your various points of view and in both cases it led me to considerations I would not have if I'd rather either of you in isolation, and I appreciated your book recs - I looked at both and added the second to my to-read list.

However... there is a tendency among self-help mindfulness crowd (and I'm not saying you are there, though some of it seems adjacent) to insist that others make peace with things or see the positive in things or learn to cope with negative emotions. This is a tendency that I find intolerant and unrealistic despite claims to be about finding peace. Humanity includes a lot of shit, and dying is often shit for many of us, and losing people we love is even worse- everyone is going to handle it differently. And I have to say that while I sincerely hope that everyone who is dying has someone to talk to (I almost made a post in response to you about my recent experience with very skilled hospice workers but it's still too raw), I also come out on Erica's side and say that I think accepting people WITH all their flaws and denials and raw emotions and coping mechanisms is about grace and compassion and that dying is going to suck. To me, it like to look things straight in the face, and acknowledging that death sometimes (usually?) sucks a whole hell of a lot takes away a lot of my fear around it.


Thanks Grizelda. Dear sweet kind woman you are.


BTW Curious, have you watched many people die or been there in their final days? A few people do die peacefully, it sounds like Lava's mom might be one of them (hopefully) but for many, it's rather more painful, a real struggle, physical torment. I don't see any reason to make it sound more peaceful than it is- it's like denying people their struggles. And for early deaths- people who die younger than they should or before they've finished things in life or simply who wish to not be parted from their loved ones- why should they accept this? Rather than fight it tooth and nail and express their bitterness about the injustice of it? This is what I mean by the self-helpy intolerance type- it assumes there is a BEST WAY to experience the human condition.

Tangentially related... Have you read Colin Thubron's To A Mountain In Tibet? I think you'd like it. It's as much about grief as it is about mountaineering.


BTW Curious- I wonder how the desire to live hundreds of thousands of years colors your perception of death and how to deal with it? No one is angry and there is no reason to apologize and the conversation was not nearly so contentious as it appears to you to have been. I can't imagine living so long. Life to me seems to be very difficult though there's loads of joy and purpose as well.

Good luck with the eulogy Lava. Thank god for morphine.

Calli thanks for the description. I've only read about it in novels.


Both of my parents are still alive (baruch nonexistent hashem, if you will), but three of my grandparents are dead (one of whom was a Holocaust survivor; Hitler couldn't kill him, but cigarettes did -- don't smoke, kids!) and my surviving grandfather is 101 years old and in a decline, so I've watched my parents cope with grief. We don't really go to services anymore, but lighting the yahrtzeit candle in the evening and seeing it flickering all the next day is really important, especially to my dad, I think.

If anyone is interested in adopting the yahrtzeit candle as a tradition, it's very easy. The candles are easy to come by (at least in NY, lol). There's no real ritual around it. You just say that you wish for peace for the soul of [insert name] and light the candle the night before the anniversary of their death. It's a nice occasion to remember loved ones.


EmmaLiz, yes it’s a brutal reality, yet an inevitable one. Why fight the process, when thru acceptance and courage, a peaceful death would be prefable to fighting.. in a conventional understanding of that word. Strive to stay alive.. fight is a strange word to attach. Who is being fought?
Why deal with one’s own death at death, when fear and panic take over. And sudden death, like a heart attack or accident, such a shock to the person, more so if they haven’t contemplated and confronted the ego’s fear and rage at extinction.


Nah, Lava. I'm a combative person. And I like mythology. It gives me energy and meaning. When my time comes, I'd like to die on my own terms. I hope there's euthanasia by then. I don't know why our culture has decided that fighting is somehow less courageous than acceptance- there are all sorts of ways to show courage. I am not afraid to die. I am afraid of some of the ways I might die, of suffering, but I'm not afraid of being dead. It's just an absence of life- there was a time when I didn't exist and it didn't bother me any! I expect death to be like that- nonexistence. I am not troubled by this. A lot of existence is a burden and full of suffering anyway. I accept that I will die and that everyone I love will die because it's reality and I'm not insane. But yes, it pisses me off and yes this anger is a source of energy for me. The world is full of miserable suffering and injustice. The day I stop raging about it is a sort of death to me. I don't want to make peace with it. I want to fight until my dying breath. I don't know why you or anyone else would assume this is a fearful or panicked stance. To me, it is facing reality (life and death) and staring it in the face.

As for ego, I don't really care about that or see why it's a bad thing. Of course we humans have egos. The trick for me is to acknowledge it and understand it, not try to overcome it which would be impossible. Even the Buddha- it took trillions of births for him to extinguish his ego. I'm not so egotistical as to think I could do so. Monks who dedicate their lives to the dharma admit how small the progress is- they think lay people pretending they could achieve such things in their free time is ludicrous. We are householders, and ego is a part of us. If we tried to live with such detachment, it would be impossible to continue to be householders. And I'm not about to become a monk. Does my ego rage at extinction? Maybe? I don't think so. I think it rages at the pointlessness and injustice of it all. And the fact that each individual existence is so pointless, all that suffering and joy for nothing. Make peace with that and accept it? Why? No I'm going to try to make my life mean every bit as much as it can, and suck every bit of experience I can from everything. That I get to be part of all of this, whatever it is, and have to spend years dealing with the tediousness and suffering? That people I love the most are taken from me in their youth? Leaving grief and broken hearts with the rest of us forever? Yes it makes me rage. And I'm among the luckiest. I'm not dying in the streeets of Baghdad for lack of insulin after being deported to a country I've never been to, I'm not seeing my kids blown up in a schoolbus or hacked to death in a river. I hate all this "make peace with it" bullshit. I wouldn't find life worth living if it required making peace with that reality.

A peaceful death would be preferable for fighting to you. I'd like to spit on the grim reaper's face and he can drag me out by the hair, while I cuss him out like a mad woman.


Ok EmmaLiz, I’m sure those grieving your death will enjoy that spectacle.
Congratulations on the triple Hunsky.
It’s inevitable, EL, better to face the horror, horror I tell you, that I, me, myself will go extinct in this body, sometime soonish.
Being an old-er person, having had near sixty eight years already, I have felt into my extinction.
and am very thankful for having had a healthy body, mostly, for this long. My destructive karma re my body, will ripen, and I’ll take it on the chin. Just hope it’s quick.
Thank you all of you, for comments here.
It has warmed my heart.
My eulogy, yes, wish I could honestly say I could never have wished for a better mother, but that would be a lie. Then she was a courageous and inventive woman who rode thru near on one hundred years as a western white woman. Powerful in her ability to make whatever, work. Except her ability to mother without getting caught in competition with her daughters.
That is a big no no. Caused a lot of damage.
Then she was generous with her time, and money, which she wisely invested thru the years.
She and dad started off poor, and built up together. I think those who lived thru the Second World War, were tough people. Though of course Australia, like the US, wasn’t invaded.
Lots of friends, years long too. Gregarious, a wonderful cook and she liked a good drop.
Of course, I’d leave out the icky bits.
She stayed the course, she stayed the connections.. as tiresome as family and their demands can be.


People are complicated Lava especially in families. It has helped in my grieving to outline an account that included the icky bits and when the eulogy took it's form, to go back through and try to make sure I centered my loved one and took out the icky bits without also adding platitudes. It was the most honest way I could approach it. It's a really hard thing to do. Your brief description above makes your mom sound formidable- a real fighter, flawed like all of us, a full life- think of all the changes she saw! Best of luck to you, I'm sure you'll do a worthy heartfelt eulogy, your mom is lucky to have you even if she did feel the competition.


Thanks EmmaLiz. Yes, it is hard because with such an important relationship, one doesn’t want to gloss over..
I’ve organized Muse to wash mum after death. It might just be me though. I’ve put it out to the other women, no takers yet.


@214. Erica. Well, I would think it would go beyond merely several people's antipathy to me (to something like transphobia, to prejudice on the ground of the identity I belonged to) if, say, I repeatedly made points that were ignored, then seized upon with great approbation and made much of by regulars when reprised by a later commenter. (This is of course the regular experience of the world of a trans person, or maybe of anyone from a minority group in a majority setting). I do feel this happens fairly often.

You and others are saying 'writing style'. I feel you're making too much of it. My writing style, and headset generally, have not prevented me from getting a PhD, teaching in the Ivy League, preparing opinions and briefs at a fairly high level, preparing cases for prosecution, etc. I feel 'writing style' is a placeholder for something else. I wish people would tell me more often where (to their mind) I'm wrong in my characterisation of lw s' situations when, in good faith, I'm trying to help. Just tell me succinctly. And, yes, too, I should take criticisms of my manner on board and try to offer more recognisably signposted advice--be clear, rather than muddy, and substantial, rather than insubstantial.


@264. Lava. Thank you for at last coming out with your theory. It isn't so--I'm not the same person as Hunter.

Best wishes, too, to your mother. Wishing you both the best at this time.

@284. Nocute. I don't dislike you--it seems the other way round. When I first started commenting, I was more interested in exploring small points of disagreement than in adding my voice to any echo chamber of exhortation or execration in the comments. I identified you as someone thoughtful and articulate--with whom, I hoped, and more for interest's sake than anything else, I could have a discussion. But the spirit in which you received my remarks was not the one in which they were meant. You seemed to think that I was taking issue with your interpretations, rather than endorsing them, or using them as a basis upon which to suggest refinements--as if I was querying your expertise, pulling the rug from under your feet. I want to reiterate I find your advice substantially responsible and sound--befitting your being one of the warmest and most humane voices on here.

I have thought you had transphobic blind spots. Once you seemed to contest my right to comment from the perspective of a woman--though I was not laying claim to the status of a ciswoman. (I would think it's validly open for anyone to have a go, should they wish, at trying to characterise femininity: a ciswoman, on the basis of their experience; a transwoman, ditto; a straight man, on the basis of their perceptions of their lovers--and others, and gay men--idk--based on how they see their mothers and doubtless other women). You have said (correct me if I'm wrong) that you see humanity as falling out into two kinds, male and female; that you see members of the two groups as essentially having more in common with each other than with members of the other gender (to the extent of questioning whether Dan, as a man, could always speak to female psychology); and that the point of differentiation, for you, between men and women was levels of testosterone. These views would seem to me questionable. I do not know whether you believe there are genuinely GQ people, by inclination (well, need) and assignation, in the world. It's important to me to break with the assumptions of binary gender to affirm our existence.

Speaking less to you now than to Lava or EmmaLiz--to people who suppose I've put on 'various identities' or that there are 'holes' in my 'story--I'd say that trans trajectories often have a lower profile of visibility than straight, and are marked by missteps, discontinuities, self-doubt, sometimes self-loathing. The paradigm of 'transitioning' from one gender to another promises to dispel these--but delusively, all too often, in forcing GQ people to repress the ambivalences we feel about both genders. So often, in practice, you lurch from one presentation to another under personal, peer-group, societal pressure. Structural features of society, too, force you to whipsaw back to an assigned gender, disrupting any appearance of evolution or continuity--say when you have to take a plane after living en femme for a period. Being humiliated by guards over your bodyforms--that's the sort of thing that happens once.


It takes courage and presence of mind to make one's peace with death before one's terminal illness--more, maybe, than many people possess. Reflecting on the death of my parents, I would say a death is still a loss, however much it was a parent's time to pass--and for this reason, and generally, am sending strength to Lava.


@292 LavaGirl
"Erica...I’m fascination by how she and Mr P turned their monogamous marriage with children, into an open/ poly one."

Oh yes I think I recall that now. Right on EricaP!

@298 EmmaLiz
Our interaction was short enough I probably re-read it 5 times already.

Yes I agree "it just seems like she has a different idea of things than [I] do". I feel bad it took me so long to begin to see that, and that in the process I treated her really bad. Thank you very much for your deeply insightful post; I think I learned more today than I have in years (and there's nothing I value more).

@294 EricaP
Yes, I agree we should leave it at that. I'm sorry that we really didn't communicate on this; I know I caused that by not seeing your perspective. I hope this hasn't ruined our chances to communicate on another topic.

@300 EmmaLiz
"...have you watched many people die or been there in their final days?"

Not "many", though that is something I'd like to do.

I hate when laws force people go out, as LavaGirl mentioned @251, "starving to death". Thank goodness a law change in California means I won't have to see /that/ happen again here. That gruesome practice angers me.

Thanks I think I will read that. I may have told you of my interest in Tibetan culture, but I don't think I ever had cause to mention that coincidentally I'm a mountaineer.


@301 EmmaLiz
Life is indeed "very difficult". Before mine got a lot more difficult, I wanted to live twice as many "hundreds of thousands of years" as I do now. Now I couldn't bear anymore than half as much as I'd wanted.

@309@309@310 Harriet_by_the_bulrushes
Speaking only to writing, I think these comments were plenty clear, plenty coherent. I don't mean to insult by saying that; it's just that one of my principles is that it would be wrong for me to say negative things and not also say the positive ones.

I for one can't at all see you being Hunter. Not just that Comments by the two of you seem thoroughly different to me; I can think of no two people who I would guess would be /more/ insulted to be thought to be the same. (If that was a goal, LavaGirl certainly nailed that one I thought.)


@309: Harriet, you are referring to a conversation which was all about gendered differences. I vaguely remember it, but I am fuzzy about the trajectory of it--if you could link to it, I'd be grateful. But if I said that speaking very generally, I see there being 'female' and 'male' ways of being, then yes, I would say that again. I don't think all those differences boil down to testosterone--I think most are created or at least definitely enhanced by culture, but I can't overlook the effect that testosterone has on all kinds of behavior and I emphatically disagree that that makes me transphobic.

You took that and spun it into: "I do not know whether you believe there are genuinely GQ people, by inclination (well, need) and assignation, in the world. It's important to me to break with the assumptions of binary gender to affirm our existence."

Of course I believe that there are genuinely gender queer people--just because the conversation I was having wasn't about the GQ experience doesn't mean I don't believe in the existence of GQ people. I also believe that there are Catholic people, and if I were to have a discussion about the way that Evangelical Christianity has influenced American politics, the fact that I didn't mention Catholicism would mean that the parameters of the conversation didn't suggest there was a need to mention Catholics, not that I somehow question the existence or legitimacy of Catholics.

If that's all you've got on my supposed "transphobia," it's weak sauce.

As far as writing style goes, forgive me for saying this, but as an academic, and as someone who teaches writing, I feel I speak with authority: having a PhD does not necessarily by virtue of its existence, endow one with good writing ability and indeed, academia and academese can kill otherwise clear writing. You made a dig at Registered European a while upthread, and me too, by extension, saying that I wrote clearly because I work with undergraduates, and implying that your writing was for those at a higher level which you implied Reg.Eur. struggled with because he (seemingly, in your comment) lacked a post-graduate degree (something you don't know). I believe it is the job of the writer to communicate clearly, and a lot of bad writing takes refuge under the "too advanced for you ordinary folk to understand it." Then people, ashamed and fearful of seeming inadequate, just go along with the idea that "if I can't understand it and it has a lot of big words and a convoluted style, it must be really good and the writer, really smart" kind of Emperor's New Clothes bullshit. And a lot of academics, accustomed to writing in jargon-drenched academese, encourage that attitude because it makes them feel superior. Sorry, but I didn't drink that KoolAid and I call naked emperors on their lack of clothing when I don't see it.

Your writing is difficult for me to wade through, and I am not about to take the time to try to analyze it and figure out why it doesn't work for me. I mostly don't read your comments, but I saw someone respond to your use of "battle-axe" and then saw your defense of your use of it and your denial that it is by definition a gendered insult which includes a condemnation of a woman's age and appearance, in addition to her being domineering and shrill. This, and only this, was my reason for my comment that addressed you. I don't really spend a lot of time thinking about you.


Harriet @308
"if, say, I repeatedly made points that were ignored, then seized upon with great approbation and made much of by regulars when reprised by a later commenter"

Believe it or not, but I and every other poster share that experience. It's annoying, but normal. And of course it will happen more if many people have decided to stop reading your posts.

"Just tell me succinctly. And, yes, too, I should take criticisms of my manner on board and try to offer more recognisably signposted advice"

You're not entitled to free, detailed, succinct feedback from other posters.

Write shorter, less defensive posts, and probably people will engage with you more. No guarantees, though. People aren't required to respond here the way the court system requires each side to respond.


Curious, that phrase, life is for the living- it really gives me pause. Our deaths are about us internally- we have to do it alone too which is cruel. But externally, death is about everyone else- the living. When we die, it won't matter much to us, but life goes on and it matters to everyone else. It's such an amazing thing, losing people, especially if you lose them young and suddenly as has happened in my family. Because that person is just gone, like they were paused in a moment and never released from it and everything else just GOES ON. "Life is for the living" is one of those phrases that seems quaint at first but is really deep actually when you start thinking about it. Your death will impact other people more than yourself. Externally, it's not about you. Of course those of us who live well into old age may not have anyone around to care anyway. Lava's mom has a family of younger people grieving her. FWIW, the people who starve to death (no interventions like feeding tubes) are usually so morphined up that they don't feel it. Or so I've been told and need to believe. Barbaric, yes. Modern medicine is the miracle of our times, but boy oh boy do we need to do better with it.

Harriet I don't have any problem with you or anyone else being GQ and as I've stated in plenty of conversations with you and others, I think it's actually liberating for us to destroy a rigid gender binary. My problem is with you claiming to both be GQ and then later saying that I've misgendered an imaginary lover in your hypothetical fantasy or later claiming that I'm being transphobic by not listening to you or whatever. You can't have it both ways. And you don't realize this I'm sure, but your academic ivory tower superiority bullshit is EXACTLY what makes you hard to understand or relate to and also what makes you come across as such a snob. Anyone can deconstruct and argue for/against anything in the abstract as there is no reality to clash up against it. My problems with you aren't about your gender fluidity, though you won't hear this. They are with your insistence that you are somehow above everyone else, more knowing, and we just can't get it, wanting to argue in circles about abstractions that are irrelevant- the things you've told me: you've grown up with money and lived your entire life in urban liberal areas and spent a lot of time in academics, most (all?) of your long term relationships have been with gay men, your sexual encounters with women have been mostly in hookups and group encounters, you have no children, you've never had any financial difficulties, you've never lived among people who were not moneyed liberal urbanites, you've never dealt with the realities (first or secondhand) of female reproduction and childbirth/childrearing, and you've been trained to do most of your thinking in the abstract. Your experience of gender fluidity is only one thing to add to this list- but any time I push back against any myopic thing you say (usually about the implications of female reproduction) then your go-to is to claim that I'm dismissing your GQ experiences or that I don't know all the great things about feminism that you learned from books. And when I say you are dishonest, I don't mean by it the same thing Lava does- I don't think you are lying about who you are. I mean you don't engage honestly. You approach things from the point of view that you are trying to win and prove your point rather than to discuss. I know the signs as it's my natural tendency as well, and life experience has taught me that it's the default of people who are not as smart as they like to think they are or else who are trying to compensate for some other insecurity or failure. Self-awareness isn't always pleasant but IMO it results in giving more grace from others, and I can think of no other way to learn/grow.

As for the charge that I'm transphobic, I don't think I am. I do have some problems with some of the current emphasis on traditional gender roles whereas gender fluidity and GQ seems far more radical and liberating to me, and also more honest to individual experience as gender roles are themselves social constructs. So what is always ironic to me here is that you claim I have some problem with your gender experience when I do not, neither personally nor philosophically- my problem is with you. You say you are GQ and this includes experiences as a gay male and sometimes as a woman and that you should be able to speak on authority on all of these things. You are not of the female sex class and you have no experience with children, child birth, pregnancy, etc and you simply cannot speak with authority about that, period. You likewise have no experience with cis marriage nor with the financial realities of most people on this planet, and you cannot speak with authority about that. Stating these simple facts does not make me transphobic, and I don't care what a bunch of GQ theory has to say about those experiences in the abstract. I hope this clears things up though I suspect it's just a distraction.

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