Relationships and Politics

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Relationships and Politics

Post by jcorozza on Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:02 am

So I've been wondering about this for a little while. My boyfriend and I get along very well, and like a lot of the same things - animals, TV shows, board games, wearing costumes, etc. The one area that I really wish we could talk more about stuff is political issues. Now, I'm not saying I want to talk about specific races or politicians or that aspect, but about the more broad subjects. And it's not even that we necessarily disagree about them, he's just...not that interested. Like, he's 27, and he only registered to vote last summer when we found out he'd never bothered. And I think he only did because 45 is such a dumpster fire.

But there's just a lot of political stuff that he doesn't seem that interested in. He'll laugh at memes or comments about the administration, and knows generally about the Russia investigation, but he doesn't know what the alt-right is. He spends time on reddit, and somehow managed to avoid the Red Pill, MGTOWs, MRAs, PUAs, etc. And when I bring up that kind of thing, he acts like they are tiny fringe movements and that while they are terrible people, they aren't representative of people in general. I finally broke down and was like, "dude, enough of our voting population was okay with electing a man who said blatantly racist, misogynistic, bigoted things, and was *on film saying that he grabs women's genitals without their consent*. That wasn't enough to matter".

So, I'm not saying that he needs to be involved in a local action group, or read as much about current issues as I do, but has anyone else ever experienced this frustration that I have? I feel particularly strongly about it with women's issues. Like, I don't think he's sexist, but I also don't think he understands at all what kind of shit women go through on a daily basis just to live our lives, let alone to get important things accomplished. I've brought it up as something he should know about, and he tends to brush it off like "I don't want to read all that toxic stuff", which I kind of get, but at the same time, pretending it's not there doesn't make it go away.

Any thoughts on non-contentious ways I could bring this up, or good 101-type resources that would be a good way to inform him without being overwhelming?
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by Datelessman on Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:31 pm

I guess they say that religion and politics aren't topics to discuss during dinner parties for a reason. Wink

I am certainly going thru this sort of thing with my pro-Trump mother (especially this year), so I can certainly understand the frustration. Naturally, a romantic relationship is different.

Off the top of my head I can only think of two ideas. One is to try to frame it as something which frustrates you without sounding like you are putting him on the spot. You're frustrated that in this area, he doesn't seem to take your POV as seriously, right? While couples don't have to be lock step in everything, politics is an important one and there should at least be some degree of mutual respect even if there is disagreement on polities or details. Perhaps it is a matter of empathy, of trying to explain to him that how certain things he brushes off or feels aren't as severe you cannot because as a woman, you are the target of such venom. I suppose, then, it means a basic explanation of what male entitlement is.

The only other suggestion is that since you both are into things like games and other geek stuff, to frame it as something to learn on that level. Few couples are into exactly the same stuff, and there's a phase of education of each other's faves and learning the rules of certain activities. The biggest problem with trying to discuss politics is that it's easy for the other person to get defensive even if you don't intend to "go after them" as it were. I mean if he can learn the rules of SETTLERS OF CATAN, maybe he can learn what male privilege is and why certain things effect you more and why understanding your position makes sense if you frame it as something else to learn to make your already good relationship better versus it seeming like an attack. Since you don't intend it that way anyway.
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by jcorozza on Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:43 pm

The weird thing is, I don't think he necessarily disagrees. Like, he would consider himself to be generally liberal and voted a straight Dem ticket. It's just that he doesn't seem that interested in the actual issues. Maybe healthcare, because that's a pretty practical one. And if I tell him about things like the OR stabbing incident or one of the many police shootings of black people, he'd be like "yeah, that sucks". He thinks the things that our president says are gross and that he is a racist and unqualified dingbat. Once, I brought up something about women being harassed online, and he assumed I was upset because someone was harassing *me*. I tend to avoid reddit and twitter and most non-feminist friendly spaces, and my blog has never really had non-friends who read it, so I'm not in spaces where much harassment could occur. But once I explained that I meant women in general, especially ones in the public sphere...he didn't seem that concerned. Like, not that he didn't believe it happened, or that he didn't think it was bad, just...not something he wanted to know anything more about. I need something like the Unpacking the Invisible Backpack, but for other topics, too, especially feminism.
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by Datelessman on Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:13 pm

jcorozza wrote:The weird thing is, I don't think he necessarily disagrees.  Like, he would consider himself to be generally liberal and voted a straight Dem ticket.  It's just that he doesn't seem that interested in the actual issues.  Maybe healthcare, because that's a pretty practical one.  And if I tell him about things like the OR stabbing incident or one of the many police shootings of black people, he'd be like "yeah, that sucks".  He thinks the things that our president says are gross and that he is a racist and unqualified dingbat.  Once, I brought up something about women being harassed online, and he assumed I was upset because someone was harassing *me*.  I tend to avoid reddit and twitter and most non-feminist friendly spaces, and my blog has never really had non-friends who read it, so I'm not in spaces where much harassment could occur.  But once I explained that I meant women in general, especially ones in the public sphere...he didn't seem that concerned.  Like, not that he didn't believe it happened, or that he didn't think it was bad, just...not something he wanted to know anything more about.  I need something like the Unpacking the Invisible Backpack, but for other topics, too, especially feminism.

So, you would prefer he was more concerned about the various political issues you are in a circumstance which isn't immediate and personal?

Trying to increase someone's political concern beyond their sphere of friends and lovers is...not easy. I am not sure of how to do that beyond slow burning coaxing or low intensity chats. I mean if you're more politically active than he I can see how this would be a little frustrating.
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by jcorozza on Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:24 pm

Well, I mean, he has friends who are women, is dating a women, has a sister. So it's within his "sphere". A lot of my old blog entries were about terrible OKC encounters...it might be a bit surprising to him what kind of things some dudes thing think are okay to say, but also might hit a bit more close to home. He's also more of a youtube person than a "read a bunch of articles" guy, so something there might work. He's even occasionally commented on the ridiculouslness of women's outfits in certain video games, I think he just doesn't realize that those kinds of things, while individually small, compound to the point where they can make a lot of things exhausting.
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by Datelessman on Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:55 pm

jcorozza wrote:Well, I mean, he has friends who are women, is dating a women, has a sister.  So it's within his "sphere".  A lot of my old blog entries were about terrible OKC encounters...it might be a bit surprising to him what kind of things some dudes thing think are okay to say, but also might hit a bit more close to home.  He's also more of a youtube person than a "read a bunch of articles" guy, so something there might work.  He's even occasionally commented on the ridiculouslness  of women's outfits in certain video games, I think he just doesn't realize that those kinds of things, while individually small, compound to the point where they can make a lot of things exhausting.

You're right, it certainly is in his "sphere" as it should be for every man. However, a lot of men don't seem to see a lot of the concerns you mention as "real" or at least "more concerning" until it is very blunt and direct. Men are pigs when a coworker says something crass to their girlfriend, but they may not see that such guys are encouraged by, say, society, a forum full of trolls, the current President, etc, to think that's how to talk to women.

Honestly, the biggest point is that his lack of concern over these issues is causing you some frustration and other negative emotions. It sounds like what he needs is an education or re-education, at least on this topic or subject, which isn't easy. I mean, it's hard enough that we are willing to professionally pay people to do things like tutor or educate.

The tightrope here for you is approaching the topic of politics, specifically how his lack of concern makes you feel, in a way which doesn't make him go on defense and not learn anything. I think a part of it is being honest about these feelings to him if you haven't already. If you have, then maybe you need to frame it like one of the hobbies or likes you had that he didn't that he had to learn to do with you. "This is important to me, and I'd like you to be here with me doing this together, so let's learn the rules/discuss the rules, etc". Because while he's your boyfriend and you obviously like a lot about him, this one area exhausts you and it's worth it to try to explore that together to progress together.
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by jcorozza on Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:11 am

I think it's the problem that many Americans have right now - they write these people off as harmless because they think that their opinions are so obscure that they won't be able to do anything with them. Clearly, though, they're not as minority as most of us hoped. For all the joys of the internet, it's made what used to be lone horrible persons easily able to find other horrible people to commiserate and multiply to cosmic levels of assholedom.
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by Datelessman on Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:08 am

jcorozza wrote:I think it's the problem that many Americans have right now - they write these people off as harmless because they think that their opinions are so obscure that they won't be able to do anything with them.  Clearly, though, they're not as minority as most of us hoped.  For all the joys of the internet, it's made what used to be lone horrible persons easily able to find other horrible people to commiserate and multiply to cosmic levels of assholedom.  

If the book of Matthew is right - that God will make it so in Heaven so long as two men on earth agree on something - we're in a worse mess than you think! Wink

I do agree, that the Internet, especially within the last 10-15 years or so, has made it easier for those on the fringes to spread their ideology farther and faster. There have always been lonely, desperate men out there, and lunatic movements which always seek to manipulate them. The web's just removed a lot of the barriers between the two.

Trust me, there are days I am genuinely glad that when I was at my peak period of loneliness and depression during college, this was in the earlier 2000's so a lot of things (such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, 4chan etc.) simply did not exist. I avoided falling into a lot of those traps that angry lonely horny men seem to online. I mean I like to think I am moral enough and different enough - my hatred is more directed at myself or at greater, male created society rather than women - that I wouldn't have fallen into that trap myself. But I'll never know.

A lot of the major malfunctions out there are due to a lack of empathy. I'll never be a woman so obviously there are things I cannot understand about that experience. But I try my best. A lot of people, even good people, simply do not have the right kind of imagination to be able to do that without the bluntest and most direct of examples or circumstances. And our lives keep us going so many directions at once that it can be hard to focus on the "abstract". Unfortunately, the abstract and the direct can become one and the same very quickly.

Not just in America, but globally, there is a festering dissatisfaction with the lot of many in life. Too few have all the wealth, and too many are lost with few options or hope. And, as Frank Miller once wrote, men without hope are men without fear.
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by jcorozza on Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:03 am

"my hatred is more directed at myself" - this is probably a good indicator that while the MGTOWs/etc. might have had some appeal, they probably wouldn't have been a permanent place for you to dwell. What I'm constantly trying to figure out is why do some people chose to direct these things outward versus inward? How much of it is the individual, their immediate surroundings/upbringing, and how much of it is a function of how different groups are privileged above others?

On the plus side, we were having a chat with my sister and her boyfriend about male nerds and how they often act with lady nerds/gatekeeping, and my boyfriend had at least seen the recent post from a woman (either who wrote or review comics, I forget which) who was asked some clearly gatekeeping questions by a guy she met through an OLD app - and he seemed to realize that this was absolute nonsense. And he was able to participate in a moderately political discussion with them without seeming disinterested. So...baby steps?
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by Enail on Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:07 pm

Late to the party, but.. That sounds frustrating. Most of the people in my extended social circle are pretty political, so I haven't experienced that kind of thing generally, but I've definitely experienced it with sexism, that feeling that sexism is bad but usually rare and trivial so why do we have to make a big thing about it?

I think Datelessman's right in that the personal aspect is easier to have an effect with, especially since he participated in that discussion about gatekeeping. Maybe a kind of similar thing, I'd been having a lot of problems with my dad just not understanding how difficult some things can be when you're disabled, and no matter how much I tried to explain he just didn't or wouldn't get it. But more recently my mom started having some health problems that affected her mobility, and after a few months, he turned to me one day and said 'holy shit, I had no idea how hard things must be for you." And he's been a lot better since then. Seeing and hearing about things on the day-to-day can make a difference in a way stats and articles can't, so just having you in his life, mentioning things that affect you and people you know, over time, might get him to get it more.

The broader political part seems harder, if Trump being elected didn't make him realize it's not just a harmless fringe, I don't know what can Wink. But again, the gentle, gradual exposure might allow him to grow more interest because of your interest. It sounds like he dislikes the stress or negativity of political topics, so maybe trying to bring up more positive things would let him connect with the issues more (did you see they managed to shut down X awful bill? I heard about an anti-poverty group doing Y, that seems like a really good idea that could help people a lot?)
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by jcorozza on Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:42 pm

The negativity thing is big, and not just with him but a lot of my social circle. I had friends who consider themselves progressive or liberal but were annoyed that the women's march/other protests have happened because "peaceful transfer of power" and "well, this is the president". Some are constantly posting about issues, but other just do not seem to care at all. It's weird, because my mom generally stays out of political discussions (this is the first time I've known who she voted for) and every time I see her we spend half the time talking about politics now because there is just SOOOOO much going on that how do you not?

I can't tell how much is apathy and how much is people being too overwhelmed to even engage (I get that - I haven't met with my local group in a whiiiiiile because I just don't have the social energy for it), or if it's something else entirely.
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by Datelessman on Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:48 pm

jcorozza wrote:"my hatred is more directed at myself" - this is probably a good indicator that while the MGTOWs/etc. might have had some appeal, they probably wouldn't have been a permanent place for you to dwell.  What I'm constantly trying to figure out is why do some people chose to direct these things outward versus inward?  How much of it is the individual, their immediate surroundings/upbringing, and how much of it is a function of how different groups are privileged above others?

It's likely a mix of both depending on the individual. Which is a wishy washy kind of answer but I do think life is variable.

For me personally, nature played a large factor, I imagine. During many conversations, my mother has said that I was always a bit introverted as a baby. If I was sick or feeling ill I would almost never cry; she had to sort of "know" something was wrong and check it out. I never threw a fit over shots nor suffering any sort of injuries like skinned knees or so on. Part of it was due to her being attentive, but by nature as a baby crying for me was very rare. So I imagine that once nurture started coming in and I developed, that instinct to sort of absorb pain rather than lash out grew more complicated.

But nature is hardly the be all or end all. I mean, while I was always a bit shy, I was nowhere near as introverted until after being bullied in 7th grade, among other incidents.

Nature is potential, nurture is how that potential is utilized.

jcorozza wrote:On the plus side, we were having a chat with my sister and her boyfriend about male nerds and how they often act with lady nerds/gatekeeping, and my boyfriend had at least seen the recent post from a woman (either who wrote or review comics, I forget which) who was asked some clearly gatekeeping questions by a guy she met through an OLD app - and he seemed to realize that this was absolute nonsense.  And he was able to participate in a moderately political discussion with them without seeming disinterested.  So...baby steps?

A lot of times with areas like this with loved ones, baby steps are often key. You can't change someone's mind in one discussion; too many films or TV shows make this assumption. Sometimes a slow whittle is best. Especially to avoid arguments when possible.

Gatekeeping is absolute nonsense. So much so that if I ever went on OKC again I would deliberately state it or words to that effect somewhere in the profile. Wink
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by jcorozza on Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:18 pm

It's less about mind changing, in this case, than about exposure, I think. I'm just trying to figure out how to find little ways to do that without being like "read all the Red Pill subreddit so you can see all the awful!"
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by Datelessman on Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:20 pm

jcorozza wrote:It's less about mind changing, in this case, than about exposure, I think.  I'm just trying to figure out how to find little ways to do that without being like "read all the Red Pill subreddit so you can see all the awful!"

Tell him to read it and imagine it being said by the Joker, Red Skull, and/or a mechanically filtered voice being traced by the cast of CSI: WICHITA or whatever spin off they're up to on CBS. Grin
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by Wondering on Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:41 am

Very late to the party.

But, yes, jcorozza, I have had these frustrations. I had a white male friend who I would talk lots of politics with and he and I were both liberal and he hated Trump and didn't trust cops regarding black men and was super pro same-sex marriage, and all sorts of things. But he was also on Reddit, and really didn't get women's issues or how they played out in the everyday. We had a falling out over the new Ghostbusters, particularly the fact that its trailer was the worst rated of all trailers (because that was a targeted MRA campaign, which he refused to believe) and the abuse Leslie Jones was getting. He said he was generally ignorant about this stuff, after we'd talked about it ad nauseum. I was extremely blunt because I'd just had it and said it was easy to be ignorant when it isn't your demographic being targeted on the internet. He immediately blocked me on all media.

I had a bit of a tiff with my husband about the Access Hollywood tape and said I was judging men who were being silent on social media about it, who were not saying anything at all. Because that was tacit support. My husband never posts anything political on social media. He got mad. He finally posted a condemnation of Trump about it, but only after we'd had a blow up.

I totally get it.

So, I don't know that I have suggestions that will work for your boyfriend if he doesn't want to read. But...have you tried Feminist Frequency, specifically the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series? That's YouTube for him. Also, here's a good article that traces sexism to white supremacy. Give it a read and see if you think it would help. It's still reading, but it's not all of We Hunted the Mammoth or the Red Pill subreddit.
https://www.vox.com/culture/2016/12/14/13576192/alt-right-sexism-recruitment

And I totally get burnout. I've had to choose the issues I can focus on because everything is awful. I have had to pick healthcare and national parks. Other issues may be important to other people and I understand and agree with that, but I can't focus on everything. It's too draining.

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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by jcorozza on Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:40 am

Oh, the social media aspect definitely adds to it. Granted, he wasn't even on FB until we started dating, and he only ever occasionally posts pictures of our puppy, but it can definitely be frustrating that he won't post/share anything political at all.

I've thought about sharing the Tropes V Woman stuff (I tried to explain what GamerGate was), but I definitely worry that because he is much more into games than I am, he might not really get it. People who otherwise seem to understand that sexism exists or that privilege exists suddenly seem to deny it when it's pointed out all at once in video games. For some reason a lot of gamers have suuuuch visceral reactions to her that...I don't want to have to hear another argument about how that's not how Hitmen works and because she mischaracterized one thing slightly she must be both wrong about all things and not a *real* gamer (whatever that means) - I think it's something I eventually will need to show him, but probably not the first.

Will have to check out that article - it's so obvious to *me* that these different hatreds are linked and tend to fester in dark internet corners, but apparently these connections are controversial to a lot of people? I might even need to start with "this is who the alt right (ahem white supremacists) are", because he's somehow stayed blissfully unaware.
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by jcorozza on Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:44 am

Also, CSI Wichita sounds like by far the best CSI. Lower tech, and lots of tornadoes!
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by Wondering on Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:17 pm

I get it about video games and the visceral reaction. She has other videos than those, too. A two-parter about Legos and how they used to be for everyone and now are only for boys, for example. Take a poke around her YouTube history and see if you can find anything that might be more palatable. Smile

You might also point out that this isn't just a fringe group that does no harm. Maybe mention to him that Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn went to the UN to talk about the harassment. That's how serious it got.

And in current events, The Daily Stormer (Neo Nazi) is now threatening CNN reporters and their children over the Trump wrestling video, much in the same way Gamer Gate happened.

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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by jcorozza on Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:49 pm

Ooh, I did not know about the Lego one! On a related note, I was super psyched to see the NASA space ladies Legos that came out recently!
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Aug 09, 2017 4:17 am

Politics on the national and international stages have not gotten healthier or less concerning over the last month, so... Well, I hope things are still going mostly well between you two.

There's a somewhat contentious taxation proposal making canvassers busy in my city right now, and without getting too sidetracked on specifics, both sides of the campaign are loudly using arguments that I find either outright offensive or just kind of bad in general, so I don't really know where I stand. And when I first started trying to figure it out, I made the mistake of presenting my views this way to some of my friends. I still don't know what side of the issue they're on, if any. I'll probably never find out now, because if they were in the "aye" camp, I've inadvertently accused their side of being paternalistic, self-centered, naive, and possibly racist, so now they're on the defensive. If they were in the "nay" camp, I've inadvertently accused their side of holding up the interests of sleazy corporations, negotiating with terrorists, and having nothing but weak/bad/tautological arguments even after hiring think-tanks to work on it. So now they're on the defensive.

More recently, I've been just asking friends what they think. If I haven't talked to them about it yet, and I don't give them a lot of additional information about which side I'm leaning toward (or, in this case, way from in revulsion), they seem (anecdotally) more interested in talking about their perspective if they have any, and then we both get what we want.

This particular anecdote probably doesn't apply much to you, 'cause overall you're a much more positive-minded person than I am to begin with, and so your discussions IRL are probably also much less likely than mine to open with all the things you already hate about humanity. Wink On the other hand, it may still be relevant, because to me this doesn't seem like a totally dissimilar pattern from the oft-reported phenomenon of men who are trying to expose themselves to feminist blogs, read a phrase like "male privilege" n too many times, and find themselves unable to continue reading with a mind as open as when they started. (On the lower end of the self-control bell curve, add in one or more #notallmen comments to try to make themselves feel better.)

Also related: since childhood I've had a habit of wanting to share stuff I'd read that I thought was interesting, by reading it out loud and then talking about it for a bit. This is evidently not really something most people like, but friends and family will occasionally put up with it anyway for my sake. The thing is, aside from my mom, the length of time most people are willing to entertain me with something like this (and the degree to which they're even listening during that time) is proportional to how much they already think they agree with the thing I'm quoting. (In some cases, they decide the thing I'm quoting must agree with them, because why else would anyone think it was worth reading?) And there are probably confirmation bias and selection bias at play here, but I've also found that my partner in particular is more likely to listen to excepts from an article I'm excited about if I "reveal" up front that the writer or editor is a woman, or else conceal if they're a man (using gender neutral phrasing). Lastly, a handful of the sources I read from frequently are contrarian, right-leaning, or put an off-putting amount of emphasis on "rationalist" style rhetoric, and these in particular tend to go over better if I paraphrase and talk about it as more of a red-teaming thing than an actual signal-boost for someone who sincerely opposes "our" side. (For example, the phrase "signal-boost" sounds much too rationalist and requires paraphrasing or skipping entirely in order to become acceptable.)

My partner, incidentally, has super strong political opinions and describes herself as a radical leftist. She wants gulags and guillotines and a perfect utopia. She is a highly active member of a workers' union she helped organize and create. And she did not vote last November, because she felt like it wouldn't have meant anything. (And this is one of the hardest attitudes to argue against, ever, because the person holding it will probably never see an election in which they could have literally made the deciding vote, and so they are always "proven" right.)

I need to get better at listening to my partner. She wants to talk to me about a lot of the same kinds of things you wanted to talk to your partner about, up to and including those Sarkeesian videos. The problem for me is that it does make me bristle, for reasons that are definitely unfair to Sarkeesian but are also hard for me to totally let go of. First, I've played a bunch of the games on her list, but not all, and so when she occasionally makes a mistake or brings up something that can possibly just be a difference of interpretation, I'm setting the magnitude of my disagreement against the space of media I'm sort-of familiar with instead of the space of all the media she's found patterns in and reviewed. It's like she's filled out a worksheet of 100 problems, selected 30 or so to show her audience out of consideration for our time, and then I grade her just on the ones I recognize, so for all I know she just has a sort of weird interpretation of 3% of the games she spent all that time reviewing, but from within my own narrow perspective it looks like she got 3/10=30% wrong and I assume she did C-minus work on everything else too. I know this, but I still occasionally struggle to reconcile this truth with my own thoughts. Complicating this further is that I already am the sort of person who avoids games that are blatantly misogynistic and/or heavily marketed as hypermasculine, so if I'm only grading where the set of games I'm familiar with and the set of games Sarkeesian wants to talk about overlap, then I'm also unintentionally cherry-picking her weakest references to compare notes on. I know this. So it's weird that when my partner wants to bring it up, I still automatically find myself feeling defensive. If I come up with any other guesses about what's going on, though, I'll try to keep y'all posted.
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nearly_takuan

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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Aug 09, 2017 4:47 am

I guess my comment is already long-winded enough, but I did mean to talk about one other thing: it's often unclear, in discussions like these, what the initiator actually wants from the exchange.

I mean, I would think that the most reasonable guess is that in the overwhelming majority of cases, we all just want a little sympathy, maybe a slightly different take on the same subject that agrees with ours and just adds a new angle to how right we were all along. I think most of us are rarely looking for a commitment to action (we're talking to friends, not knocking down doors) or a heated argument (most in my friend-circles don't even argue at length with Trump canvassers or Jehovah's witnesses, so why on Earth would we deliberately initiate a hostile interaction with a friend?).

But it's also looked at as kind of crass to admit it; it's like fishing for compliments or asking indirectly for favors. The socially savvy (not I) seem to be able to pick up on this sort of thing, and respond appropriately without having to acknowledge the implicit requests. The rest of us have more trouble distinguishing.

In this, I regularly experience both ends of the problem, because my partner and I are both pretty socially awkward and bad at this sort of communication-by-subtext. So when I bring up something like how lame and soul-sucking corporate office politics can get, she often thinks I'm looking for some kind of immediate solution or, worse, humble-bragging about how I have a white-collar job with a pretty good wage. And likewise when she wants to talk about systems of structural oppression in the industry I work in, all I can really think is that I already said I agreed with all her principles (including the ones I don't really agree with), I've done absolutely everything I can (which isn't very much at all), and I can't imagine what more she can still want from me. As of just now, I'm pretty sure it's approval and validation, and I'll try to keep that in mind, but I'm also plotting to spend some time thinking about how to show sincere approval on a topic that matters deeply to someone else, and on which I have extremely limited control.
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Re: Relationships and Politics

Post by Enail on Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:22 am

Interesting thoughts, NT. Another thing I'm often wanting when I initiate the kind of discussion you describe, is an interesting discussion within fairly limited parameters - I want to talk about details or nuances with someone who basically agrees with me on the broader aspects.

Frex, if I discussed the Sarkeesian videos, I might want to talk about whether some example game or another really falls into the trope or if it's in some way subverting it, or if/how a pattern she describes plays out the same way in other media, or why some point she makes is simplistic - but only with someone who I know accepts the premises that feminist critique has value, it's okay to apply it to video games, video games have value, Gamergate is repulsive, etc. When I'm talking about political things with friends, a lot of the time, I don't want to rehash arguments I've already had or read online with people who share few common values or have to defend basic premises before I can get to my point, I want to get another perspective on nuances that require more starting common ground to usefully get into.

Obviously, this requires choosing a conversational partner who does agree with me to that degree - but I'm not sure I always know that that's what I'm looking for when I start the discussion, and if my partner had fairly different views to me on a lot of political topics, I'd probably run into this problem more due to lack of awareness of what I'm looking for.
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