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Birth.Movies.Death top editor Devin Faraci steps down after sexual assault accusation

Faraci, in happier times
Faraci, in happier times

After that now infamous tape of Donald Trump boasting about grabbing women’s private parts came out on Friday, film critic Devin Faraci — a self-described feminist and one of the more aggressive opponents of GamerGate — took to Twitter to excoriate Trump’s abominable remarks.

Then this happened:

devin faraci ✔ @devincf The most telling thing about the Trump tape? He wasn't talking with his best friends. He was boasting to a TV host. Follow INVISIGOTH @spacecrone @devincf quick question: do you remember grabbing me by the pussy and bragging to our friends about it, telling them to smell your fingers? 1:04 PM - 9 Oct 2016

In a series of tweets, @spacecrone told the whole story:

INVISIGOTH @spacecrone @devincf I've been forced to think about you a lot since these trump tapes came out. 1:05 PM - 9 Oct 2016 138 138 Retweets 405 405 likes Follow INVISIGOTH @spacecrone sitting here trying to remember if a man had ever grabbed me by the vagina against my will and, well, yes, a popular Twitter feminist! 1:09 PM - 9 Oct 2016 222 222 Retweets 428 428 likes Follow INVISIGOTH @spacecrone Literally stuck his hands down my pants at a bar while I told him to stop, then told our friends he had 'fingerbanged me'

The accusation stopped Faraci in his tracks. He didn’t quite admit that it was true, but he also kind of did. And he asked for forgiveness for something he said he couldn’t remember doing.

faraci4

This was on Sunday. Today, Faraci resigned as Editor-In-Chief of Birth.Movies.Death, saying:

This weekend allegations were made about my past behavior. Because I take these types of claims seriously I feel my only honorable course of action is to step down from my position as Editor-in-Chief of Birth.Movies.Death. I will use the coming weeks and months to work on becoming a better person who is, I hope, worthy of the trust and loyalty of my friends and readers.

He still hasn’t quite admitted to anything, but @spacecrone says she’s heartened that Faraci seems sincere in his contrition.

“I am really happy that it sounds like Devin is interested in getting help about this, and I’m open to any accountability processing that might be part of his treatment,” she told Variety.

I really hope this can be a moment of self-interrogation for all of us, myself included, about the ways we might use positions of power to silence people, and the ways we all turn away from things that might seem a little too complicated to deal with.

Faraci’s alleged assault is more proof (as if we needed any) that being on the “right side” on the issues — in Faraci’s case, taking on GamerGaters, calling for greater representation of women in the movie business, and so forth — does not automatically make you a good person. (Hugo Schwyzer, anyone?)

As it turns out (as it so often turns out) plenty of people — and not just GamerGaters — have been pointing out seriously assholish language (and behavior) from Faraci for some time. In the wake of @spacecrone’s accusation, writer and Bibliodaze co-editor @Ceilidhann set forth some of her issues with Faraci on Twitter:

(By “this site” she means Twitter.)

Naturally, the Gamergaters, have seized on Faraci’s alleged sexual assault as an excuse to attack, well, the same women they always attack.

Because of course.

H/T — The Daily Dot, NYMag, GamerGhazi

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Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
3 years ago

I believe this to be the usual mix of tautology (people who are in group A have characteristics necessary for fulfilling the definitions for membership in group A) and a lot of heuristics with way to many socially constructed parts. Acceptable for quick assessment but not something I’d want to use for refined speech most of the time.

I don’t see it as a tautology (which is a term I usually use in its philosophical sense, which isn’t the same as this one) so much as just a definition: a cis woman is a woman whose body matches the usual expectation for what a woman is going to be like. If we consider cis women to be the only women, then all of the members of “women” will have this typical configuration.

This is not a definition I endorse (obviously) but it’s the one that many, many people use, which is only one of the reasons why I think the sex/gender dichotomy is problematic.

I’m a bit at odds with the rigor seemingly required on the philosophical part of womanhood

I’m not a philosopher (I’m a political scientist and, as of recently, an urban planner) but I like philosophy and I have done some work on it beyond what I got as an undergrad. I try to look at things as rigorously as I can, and follow rules out to their most absurd extreme to see where they go. I’m never comfortable with rules that are applied inconsistently. “Women are people who identify as women” is a rule that can be applied with extreme consistency and its most absurd extreme is not very absurd. So that’s the one I like. That’s the kind of way I tend to operate.

and would prefer a softer approach as I find the requirement for exact definition to be politically motivated and at odds with reality.

Being female in the public world is a political act, regardless of how tiring and annoying that is. Working to improve the lot of women is also a political act. Feminism is political. So yes, I have political motivations, and so do you even if you don’t want that to be the case. I disagree that the definition has to be at odds with reality. It’s as easy as accepting everyone who identifies as a woman to be a woman, and reality hasn’t rejected that for me yet.

In my view, there’s more of a spectrum of inevitability in being and being perceived as a certain gender

I would not disagree with this in the slightest, and don’t see how that is in conflict with defining who is a woman. One’s feminism doesn’t have to be restricted to only women, and in fact it is somewhat self-destructive to exclude people who are perceived as women, or who are in other ways disadvantaged through structural gender power, from one’s feminism.

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
3 years ago

I don’t see it as a tautology (which is a term I usually use in its philosophical sense, which isn’t the same as this one) so much as just a definition: a cis woman is a woman whose body matches the usual expectation for what a woman is going to be like.

Which means that a wide variant of genetic and phenotypical varieties are declared to be of no significance, as long as they do not keep the person from performing the feminine gender role while people not being able to do this (e.g something as inconsequential as facial hair above the norm, but Skiriki’s link is a much better summery) are “other “enough to warrant suspicion. Instead of acknowledging diversity, a binary standard is imposed and declared to be so useful that further discussion is unnecessary. The significance of the term meanwhile is far broader than that (which is way the sex/gender dichotomy came about in the first place). On a rhetorical level, this is a deception accomplished by tautology. It is stated that cis women are people of a certain (and historically changing) body type whilst implying that the things associated with the “women” part of the term follow from that. More rhetorics than logics, but still philosophy.

This is not a definition I endorse (obviously) but it’s the one that many, many people use, which is only one of the reasons why I think the sex/gender dichotomy is problematic.

Me too. Feel free to stop me when I overindulge in analytics.

I’m not a philosopher (I’m a political scientist and, as of recently, an urban planner) but I like philosophy and I have done some work on it beyond what I got as an undergrad. I try to look at things as rigorously as I can, and follow rules out to their most absurd extreme to see where they go.

As one does. It’s cool for analytics.

I’m never comfortable with rules that are applied inconsistently.

Me either.

“Women are people who identify as women” is a rule that can be applied with extreme consistency and its most absurd extreme is not very absurd. So that’s the one I like. That’s the kind of way I tend to operate.

Me too.

and would prefer a softer approach as I find the requirement for exact definition to be politically motivated and at odds with reality.

To not mince words here: I meant that thanks to the existence of a canon of critical literature regarding sex, peoples indulgence in being right and the problem of the marginalized not usually having access to that much education, it is quite a common sight for trans girls to be turned away from feminist bubbles. All because people rather build abstraction atop abstraction than to question their beliefs. Meanwhile one can be a sexist, problematic arsehole and still be invited in, as long as one happens to be a cis able neurotypical woman. I can live with the fact that politics usually works that way but would prefer philosophy not to.

It’s as easy as accepting everyone who identifies as a woman to be a woman, and reality hasn’t rejected that for me yet.

That’s not easy, that was (and is) a steady uphill battle of binary-identifying transgender people for ages. It’s still considered radical. Now that we almost got there, we suddenly remember to also care for the folks who are not binary-identifying yet also need health-care. Oh yes and some of them might also be
disadvantaged in other ways that prevent them from getting help. This is an example of why feminism should be intersectional.

I would not disagree with this in the slightest, and don’t see how that is in conflict with defining who is a woman.

As self-identification becomes more and more political, it’s also getting an ever harder struggle. While there are rallying cries over sameness, people on the boundry are pushed away. Some never get quite manage it. This is why I would like a feminism less focused on group identity.

Sorry in advance if some of that was aggressive, I’m lacking sleep and my body has decided to be anxious about an exam for the first time in ages 🙁

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
3 years ago

I meant that thanks to the existence of a canon of critical literature regarding sex, peoples indulgence in being right and the problem of the marginalized not usually having access to that much education, it is quite a common sight for trans girls to be turned away from feminist bubbles. All because people rather build abstraction atop abstraction than to question their beliefs.

I would be really cautious about attributing this to lack of education. It’s sort of an activist axiom that the answer to discrimination is always education, whether of the formal kind or of the kind that simply exposes people to folks who are different from them. But this is just classism, and it’s not even practical classism because education does not actually change minds in many situations. College-educated whites consistently vote Republican in aggregate. TERFs are usually highly educated, not just generally but also in feminism. Something to sit on before we say that bigots are just uneducated, or that they need more or better education.

Meanwhile one can be a sexist, problematic arsehole and still be invited in, as long as one happens to be a cis able neurotypical woman. I can live with the fact that politics usually works that way but would prefer philosophy not to.

Philosophy is political. It was the domain of the independently-wealthy, generally male demographic for multiple thousands of years, with all the implicit bias that implies. Control of the agenda is an exercise of power, which is a type of politics. One can be a great philosopher and still bigoted simply by ignoring inconvenient biases, and ensuring that everyone else does, too. Science has the same problem, even though science actively attempts to eliminate bias from experimental results.

I’m not sure why you’re so adverse to politics. Nobody can get away from it, and no discipline can get away from it, either.

Now that we almost got there, we suddenly remember to also care for the folks who are not binary-identifying yet also need health-care. Oh yes and some of them might also be disadvantaged in other ways that prevent them from getting help. This is an example of why feminism should be intersectional.

Intersectionality is not uncontroversial. It can be viewed as a type of mission creep. It seems obviously correct (when the term is not misused to disguise actual mission creep) but saying that feminism needs to be intersectional is a political statement. You really can’t get away from this.

This is why I would like a feminism less focused on group identity.

Fair position, but when your reason for it is that you don’t want feminism to be political, you’re missing something important.

Sorry in advance if some of that was aggressive,

It wasn’t, but even if it was you don’t need to apologize for aggression.

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
3 years ago

Right, so I’ve gotten the exam behind me and…well passed. Probably going to have a short cry on it later then learn more for the second stage.

It seems we are trapped in something like the narcissism of little differences, since we seem to agree on most things but nuances. Maybe my communication skills are at fault (they nearly cost me the exam).

I would be really cautious about attributing this to lack of education.[…] But this is just classism, and it’s not even practical classism because education does not actually change minds in many situations.

I completely agree and was trying to say the same thing…

It was the domain of the independently-wealthy, generally male demographic for multiple thousands of years, with all the implicit bias that implies. Control of the agenda is an exercise of power, which is a type of politics

..this being (edit: one of) the reason for it, yes.

I’m not sure why you’re so adverse to politics.

Maybe it’s a phrasing problem. I don’t hate your field, my concern is that politics lead to all the problems outlined above. I know, not exactly an original problem and I promise to be a real adult with problems of (school)-policy implementation instead of just being a griping student sometime soon. I just hope I can find a balance between getting things done and keeping my job.

Intersectionality is not uncontroversial. It can be viewed as a type of mission creep.

This seems interesting. Could you elaborate please?

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
3 years ago

I don’t hate your field

LOL you can hate my field. Lots of folks do. Hating politics, however, doesn’t exempt anyone from being steeped in it, every day, all day. The only way to avoid that is to never interact with other human beings, ever.

It doesn’t upset me when people hate politics. What upsets me is when people use their hatred of politics to try opting out of it. You can’t. It’s impossible, and when you attempt to opt out, you’re just yielding the field to people who don’t have your best interests in mind. It’s like trying to opt out of the air; you can’t stop breathing air, and when you stop caring about it, all you do is yield control of air quality to polluters. It’s upsetting not because I’m just obsessed with politics and want everyone to share my obsession, but because it disturbs me when I see terrible people in control because non-terrible people decided to do some kind of futile protest boycott.

I just hope I can find a balance between getting things done and keeping my job.

To beat an old dead horse, the personal is political. Politics isn’t just about marches and visible activism. In fact, in my current job participating in a march would be an ethics minefield. That doesn’t mean I can do nothing, or that I, in fact, do nothing. If you stop and try to explain why trans people are human beings to another person, you’re doing political activism.

Intersectionality is not uncontroversial. It can be viewed as a type of mission creep.

This seems interesting. Could you elaborate please?

It’s mission creep when folks (usually men) move in and try to change the focus of feminism to something else, like race. Race in the US is absolute bullshit, and there is an intersection between race and gender that is a legit topic for feminism to criticize. But it’s way too easy to leverage that legit intersection into denouncing women for not putting more of their energy into race. I don’t know of any organizations that do this, but I’ve had non-white men as individuals tell me as much. Nope. Race is a real problem and it deserves real attention and real work, but telling women to put their problems on hold until men’s problems are solved is a very, very old derail.

There’s a balance there, because non-white women do have this very severe intersection between race and gender, and I would not (intentionally) tell them to stuff their race problem. But the focus, for me, always has to be how race intersects with gender, not the reverse. The reverse is mission creep.

A non-trivial number of feminists take it farther, and say that all talk of race is mission creep, which I don’t believe to be legit. However, given some of the conversations I’ve had, even though I don’t agree I see where they’re coming from.

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
3 years ago

@Policy of Madness

Thank you for your information, previous criticism and your kindness :’-)

Brony, Social Justice Cenobite

I want to apologize for the commenting confusion (I hope it was just confusion). When I’m doing something new socially it’s unfortunately common for there to be occasional “incidents”. The best way of explaining it is that there is a piece of circuitry in my head that has one range and polarity in 99% of people, and in me the polarity is reversed and/or the range disappears. What seemed like a good idea at the time ends up being the opposite. I’m pretty good at eliminating the problems after the fact, it’s just that there’s always a new social situation I’ve never experienced before. I get obsessive about the general regions of human behavior that I have to watch out for. I just learned that I’m prone to habitual defensiveness in a sex and gender discussion among people I like, I’m working out the implications.

@Axecalibur
I’ve read the whole thread.

Still working out if there’s a way to concisely and effectively refer to the jibblies, but that’s far less important

I actually think that information relating to the jibblies that I am familiar with (epigenetic inheritance) will explain a lot about why we are so sensitive about the jibblies. It’s not a complete picture but I have “placed my bets”.

For gender, I see it as an umbrella term for ‘gender identity’ (‘associated human instict’, I presume) and ‘gender expression’ (I assume that’s congruent to ‘gender associated behaviors’). Even that’s probably not good enough, but it helps me to view them as separate phenomena with separate terms but under the same roof

I can see them separated clearly. It’s just that to me they are separated on a very different emotional axis. I see everything in action oriented terms first and I naturally store information with a bias towards how and why it is used. What and where is still there, just quieter. I tend to see interactions bundle into types and many of those are ties into “sex” and “gender”. The neat part is that the sex and gender parts are logically different, that noun/pro-noun thing matters. Many things socially attached to sex and gender are bullshit connections.

@Lyzzy

Ok, first of all, you seem very abstract about the whole concept and anxious about maybe hurting people, but you probably know that. For what it’s worth, I’m fine and no apologies are necessary. If you want to, I can complain explicitly should I feel hurt by something you write so you don’t have to worry as much.Your experiences seem similar to some of mine and three other trans women I know. Of course that doesn’t mean you must be trans but I think looking in the ways that gender and being neuroatypical (if it’s an ok label to use) intersect might be beneficial to both of us.

I’m glad you are ok, I would like it if you were explicit. I actually consider that polite when directed at me, non-literal language tends to feel “loud” and it’s harder for me to work with in some forms* (too much info, can overload). I do understand the social sensitivities that lead to non-literal language use in general, and I’m pretty good at picking up the rules.

I am very abstract*. It’s a feature of mind that I cannot easily dispense with so I focus on properly controlling its use. “Getting it straight” when it comes to my behavior is one way. Sharing the social OCDs that many with TS are prone to is another. I would be very interested in you and your friends, and I make very few and tentative assumptions when it comes to trans people. Those are as simple as “involves the body” because I don’t like to take risks.

I’ve gotten a bit concerned on your plan of learning gender roles for reasons of politeness as well as usefulness. Please be aware of your feelings during that and don’t be dishonest to yourself just for the entitled expectations of others.

I appreciate the concern, but my lens is warped in some pretty specific ways. Adjusting to that warp requires paying attention to social roles in general. There is a bias in how those roles are shaped when it comes to things like sex but I believe that has elements of nature and nurture. I also find it impossible to ignore my feelings* and focusing on them is actually how people with TS figure things out.

Regarding sex you seem to understand it as a cultural concept avoiding the sex/gender dichotomy outlined above. I didn’t get what you meant about “functional concept” of sex. At other places, you seem to follow the traditional “gender follows sex” model of society. I would think that a descriptive and critical approach to sex works well to not get tangled up too much in it. I also appreciate you wanting to be more inclusive and use the words “male” and “female” like they where commonly understood to be a cultural thing. I’m afraid this will backfire in most social settings though as it will sound exactly like believing in the usual “gender follows sex”-belief to outside observers. I’ve found that being precise in ones terminology works better.

When I said “functional” I meant that I’m pretty well versed in systems that the variation exists within. I have a masters in Cell and Molecular Biology and some experience in both genetics and epigenetics labs, and I poured that into a lot of study in other areas. My studies into Tourette’s Syndrome required me to get some extra knowledge of hormones in development (and brain development). My view on sex and brain/mind includes on how the body becomes brain maps since my body is not entirely under my control, maps that everyone’s language use likely depends on based on how emotions seem to work.

It’s not so much that I want to only act like “male” and “female” are a cultural thing only, I choose which expressions of sex in language I to support or reject (I suspect there are “hardwired” parts, but they are not necessarily hardwired in everyone, or in the same way). In social conflict as it is expressed on the internet or in society at large the way sex is used contains many places where I choose not to cooperate with how society uses it. Others uses I try not to interfere with, the use of sex by other gender communities that are working on understanding themselves better for example. My interaction with language is a more deliberate thing than it can appear*.

Thank you for that 4-factor approach. It clarifies some things for me and I’ll think about it for a bit before saying much more.

Like I said, I would be curious if you had any ideas on the “neuroqueer” (feel free to substitute labels) part i.e. the intersection of neuroatypicality and gender. Also, I would be very curious of your perception of hormones/metabolism.

I’m willing to talk. I can talk about how my sexuality is shaped. I might need to think for a bit about how to best talk about it. The basics would be “hypersexual”*, and I have some ideas about childhood and periods of sensitivity to sexual role-modeling (I’m still collecting info there).

With respect to hormones in our case cortisol is not what it typically is*. We look like we have more intense cortisol rhythms, responses , and that seems to be related to a general increase in intensity in an entire segment of our nervous system logic* (many reflex actions activate more strongly for example). Neuroactive steriods* also seem to be involved (steroids that are also neurotransmitters).

>”If you’re interested, we could also talk taboo sex/anatomy stuff by email or via etherpad.”

Brain anatomy and function I’m not really uncomfortable with* (outside of finding acceptable ways of mentioning it when relevant to others), I spend time trying to understand the functional consequences of my own altered brain anatomy*. But for other anatomy or any other subject if you think that a particular topic of any kind should be explored in email feel free to tell me.

*Can link papers if interested.

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
3 years ago

Ok, I’ll try to be explicit.

Sharing the social OCDs that many with TS are prone to is another.

Please elaborate

I would be very interested in you and your friends, and I make very few and tentative assumptions when it comes to trans people.

Ok. One basic scheme I’ve noticed is that for a lot of trans women (i.e women whose anatomy is or once was conflicting in non-intersex ways) in my social group, there’s a huge tendency to overcomplicate gender expression. I believe that this is partly due to conflicting societal expectations (“be normal” and “be honest”) and due to societies idealization of hegemonic masculinity (think Sherlock Homes, Iron man, every nerd who’s an asshole but delivers good code…those guys). It leads to extremely formalized speech that effectively works as a tool to subdue emotions regarding the issue. In one rather extreme case a friend wondered if her wondering about the effectiveness of her deliberating her gender issues had started to become less useful. I told her she was probably being so abstract to avoid facing her problem and should be more courageous. She was like “Well, you know, I’ve thought of that […] and it probably has implications regarding…”. So at the next opportunity, I grabbed her by the ankle, dragged her to the ladies bathroom (at a trans party) and told her to try on my bra and top, look at the girl in the mirror and tell me her feelings. She did and couldn’t stop talking about how liberating and great the experience was. Now, someone with less of a background in formal logic, computer science, scientilism in the public sphere etc. would have had such an experience decades ago, but thanks to people largely eschewing emotions in favor of facts (while still subconsciously clinging to traditional narratives) she needed to have some girl who was both clever enough to see the logical fallacies and weird enough to just do what was right.

The same girl had had the same problem previously: Getting her gender problem ever more complex, even though it was increasingly clear to everyone around her what was going on. Even today my experience is often similar: Under stress I often decide to be more normal and thus neglect expressing my true feelings (also for fear that people will want to help me be comfortable, yet will mostly make it worse). This leads to me increasingly acting out a role of normality (masqueraded as trying to be polite) and can sometimes blend over to some variation of the hegemonic masculine form (i.e being a though bitch and proud of it). Unsurprisingly, the other way round (boosting my uniqueness) eventually leads to pretty much the same result. I’ve found that what works good is admitting to but underplaying my quirks so that people have a way of interacting with me, including ways to hurt me, should they feel that necessary. Basically, if I feel that I have to choose between acting human or like some faulty AI in a flesh body, the humane thing to do is being the latter and telling myself that I’m human till it’s mostly true.

Or, for a more generalized approach: Being above it all is something I aspire too, but I have to be honest with my feelings so it’s really breathing “hohe Luft” and not just hot one.

I appreciate the concern, but my lens is warped in some pretty specific ways. Adjusting to that warp requires paying attention to social roles in general.

Alright, I think I get it now.

It’s not so much that I want to only act like “male” and “female” are a cultural thing only, I choose which expressions of sex in language I to support or reject (I suspect there are “hardwired” parts, but they are not necessarily hardwired in everyone, or in the same way).

I mostly agree in practice.

You mentioned a lot of papers and I hope I’m not being greedy, but since my clinical internship starts at the end of the week, I’m really excited about medical /semi-medical stuff that touches on topics I already find fascinating.

My interaction with language is a more deliberate thing than it can appear*.

I’m willing to talk. I can talk about how my sexuality is shaped. I might need to think for a bit about how to best talk about it. The basics would be “hypersexual”*, and I have some ideas about childhood and periods of sensitivity to sexual role-modeling

With respect to hormones in our case cortisol is not what it typically is*.

We look like we have more intense cortisol rhythms, responses , and that seems to be related to a general increase in intensity in an entire segment of our nervous system logic* (many reflex actions activate more strongly for example)

Brain anatomy and function I’m not really uncomfortable with*

I spend time trying to understand the functional consequences of my own altered brain anatomy*.

Those would be the ones of immediate interest.

You also mentioned this overload phenomenon and I wondered how common it was, because it sounds familiar. Is there some good EMT-level overview to those things?

Brony, Social Justice Cenobite

I’m almost done working on a reply. I just wanted to make sure I gave it careful thought so it’s taken a while.

I did have one general question though. What is the link limit? I’m working on referencing the brain-science in a way that contains links to common experience and cognition via the measurable alterations in TS, there will be more than five or so. Maybe ten but I want to make sure my reach does not exceed my grasp.
Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how their own personal brain anatomy affects their mind and TS has quite a collection of differences from “average”.
comment image

If no one knows I’ll muck with the urls to make it “legal” as I finish it.

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
3 years ago

Sorry no idea about the technical details of the forum but I’m thrilled for your posts.

Brony, Social Justice Cenobite

@Lyzzy
I’m willing to conceptually unpack anything and would be happy to consider and respect anything that is sensitive, easily explainable or not.

This is a long one but I needed a certain minimum to respect all of your comment’s places of interest for both of us. I start by responding to your comment where I give you responses that contain numbered items. Those items are related to brain science concepts that I have encountered while reading about TS research.

After that around item number seven I get into my experience of hormones so that we have a decent frame of reference. I have some pretty strong feelings about “sex hormones” so it’s fair that you get something useful from me if we “bump into” one another in some way.

Finally I am still working out how to talk about the “sexual urges” angle (sex as anatomy is about as complicated but with more useful info) The levels of appropriateness and guiding assumptions are a bit too blurry for my taste without some more thought. Social symbols are very important there for respectable good and bad reasons. So that might just have to naturally develop.

>Ok, I’ll try to be explicit.
Thank you. It’s not that often, but I try to catch on quick.

>Please elaborate
First, I’m not directly comparing the diagnosis “OCD” to anyone here but me. What I do is read about OCD because of mine and I have some knowledge about the “perception/instinct sensitivities” that they represent as a general human phenomena. It’s edging into territory that we would call personality and quirks when non-pathological so I tread carefully. How this stuff relates to you or anyone specific outside of me is for you and everyone else to decide.

TS has it’s own brand of OCD(1) that results in obsessions with aggression, violence, sex and social rules often enough to be significant. Compulsions result in activities that involve touching, hoarding, checking, counting, symmetry and ordering. That habit is often social too (2). While I have not been formerly diagnosed I can see how the general patterns in how I am sensitive to the world are influenced by the general “shape” of the brain processes in that list.

>Ok. One basic scheme I’ve noticed is that for a lot of trans women (i.e women whose anatomy is or once was conflicting in non-intersex ways) in my social group, there’s a huge tendency to overcomplicate gender expression. I believe that this is partly due to conflicting societal expectations (“be normal” and “be honest”) and due to societies idealization of hegemonic masculinity (think Sherlock Homes, Iron man, every nerd who’s an asshole but delivers good code…those guys).

Some of that is familiar. I also overcomplicate my behavior, but in my case it’s at a level that relates to the feeling of behavior. Since actions are tied to feelings, in TS when “feelings” turn on strongly and when we don’t want them to we feel the urge to do “something” (which varies a whole lot)(3). As a result people with TS in get “trapped” in habits of motion, perception, thought, and behavior. When someone like this does not realize that they have a habit system that works a certain way they are often at the mercy of reality. Now that I know what it going on I can actually harness the phenomena in interesting ways.

I can’t define what “normal” is for anyone. But I am obsessed with symmetries and you just presented me with one that I also have a lot of experience with, a “Normal”/”Honest” symmetry. While I cannot define your normal, I can sense something of how human social normalization works because of how my perception is biased. My language and behavior is focused on “normal” in a different but definable way, sensitivity to social/emotional expressions and information. The things considered “social standards” do stand out, but many of them are dispensable in who takes the role, what sex they are, particular combinations of sex and gender…it’s a mess and society likes to play pretend about permanence.

>It leads to extremely formalized speech that effectively works as a tool to subdue emotions regarding the issue. In one rather extreme case a friend wondered if her wondering about the effectiveness of her deliberating her gender issues had started to become less useful. I told her she was probably being so abstract to avoid facing her problem and should be more courageous. She was like “Well, you know, I’ve thought of that […] and it probably has implications regarding…”. So at the next opportunity, I grabbed her by the ankle, dragged her to the ladies bathroom (at a trans party) and told her to try on my bra and top, look at the girl in the mirror and tell me her feelings. She did and couldn’t stop talking about how liberating and great the experience was. Now, someone with less of a background in formal logic, computer science, scientilism in the public sphere etc. would have had such an experience decades ago, but thanks to people largely eschewing emotions in favor of facts (while still subconsciously clinging to traditional narratives) she needed to have some girl who was both clever enough to see the logical fallacies and weird enough to just do what was right.

How a person’s speech is formalized is as dangerous as “normal” to me. Your friend seemed to need normal so much that they did not know how to start leaving it behind when they could. That is where you were very helpful, you have a road map to enough of honest that you could help them get started.

I see those habits and sensitivities as a matter of instinct and emotion and while I would not be careless with how I applied instincts to people (I know mine well), I can get pretty creative with the word emotion. Societies’ use of “emotion” is really dishonest in many places. As a result I have put a lot of effort into understanding them in as objective manner as possible in order to sprinkle my rhetoric with knowledge of what emotions actually seem to be and the implications of that.

That “Normal”/”Honest” will involve instinct and I leave it to you to decide which ones those are for you and the people you know. For you, your friend and me I would argue that the times that we are willing to be “normal” and the times that we are able to be “honest” are driven by definable instinct. As a society we tend to act like the outward appearances of that instinct driven balance between normal and honest largely depend on the physical. We play lip service to the emotional but do not respect it enough.

Emotions are a process, not a singular object. They are like a computer program your body runs in response to what you are experiencing. The felt part, the feelings of emotion are only one piece that can be objectified as it is in our language and culture. There are over a dozen other parts of emotion that can be turned into objects and thought about. Five more are worth mentioning(4)(5): changes to patterns of thought, changes to how we perceive, changes to how our memory is read/written to, the output of emotion, and the categories emotions seem to take (and their interrelationships). Beyond that I can only talk about how my emotions are shaped and bent with any specificity, and how parts of our use of emotion in language and culture are bullshit.

I’ll touch on abstractness below.

>The same girl had had the same problem previously: Getting her gender problem ever more complex, even though it was increasingly clear to everyone around her what was going on. Even today my experience is often similar: Under stress I often decide to be more normal and thus neglect expressing my true feelings (also for fear that people will want to help me be comfortable, yet will mostly make it worse). This leads to me increasingly acting out a role of normality (masqueraded as trying to be polite) and can sometimes blend over to some variation of the hegemonic masculine form (i.e being a though bitch and proud of it). Unsurprisingly, the other way round (boosting my uniqueness) eventually leads to pretty much the same result. I’ve found that what works good is admitting to but underplaying my quirks so that people have a way of interacting with me, including ways to hurt me, should they feel that necessary. Basically, if I feel that I have to choose between acting human or like some faulty AI in a flesh body, the humane thing to do is being the latter and telling myself that I’m human till it’s mostly true.

“True Feelings” is another dangerous one. I think of them in more than one way because of how important that pair of words is. They are the feelings you want to be able to express as normal. They also have to be one set of feelings among many that one can experience. Because we shift from honest to “normal” we also have to have the “feelings that we need right now”, and the “feelings that we want right now”. The first is situational, the second is a goal.
Here is where the abstractness comes in. Symbols and symbolism can be used to manipulate feelings, ours and that of others. The level at which we do this is a heck of a lot deeper than most people think (there are hierarchies to it, and positive/good, negative/bad flavors…)) and as a result we don’t individually have a very good idea of how many ways the symbols in our culture can affect and effect one another.

Another way of looking at it is that we often get less literal when we are feeling stressed. I see it in political opponents that can’t bring themselves to get specific about what they characterize. But I also see it in people who have experienced trauma so I have more than one way of interacting with people who are less literal/more symbolic.

Your quirks are the same as your personality to me. Social normal should include them. I try not to judge what people have to do to function in terms of normal and I try to emphasize the values of honesty. The difficulty is that the social symbols associated with social normal are useful to people and they want or need them to exist in some form so that they have an interaction roadmap. That is why they are so sensitive about it. The instincts are just as sensitive to speculate and assume about, but it is still helpful to remember that they are there in when normal and honest are in tension.

I tend to have to be sensitive to that tension and to be able to sense it because of the way that urge and instinct function in me. That set of “obscene and non-obscene (6) socially inappropriate urges” is a bit more generalized than (but interrelated with) what we call “sex” and “gender” as it relates to society. We both see (and feel) patterns in how those words interrelate and are used. I make good use of the ones that I am personally familiar with but my experiences only go so far.

>Or, for a more generalized approach: Being above it all is something I aspire too, but I have to be honest with my feelings so it’s really breathing “hohe Luft” and not just hot one.

I agree. It’s hard in practice. It’s a good goal though.

>You mentioned a lot of papers and I hope I’m not being greedy, but since my clinical internship starts at the end of the week, I’m really excited about medical /semi-medical stuff that touches on topics I already find fascinating.
You are not being greedy, I think that a curiosity about brain science is something we all have and should have. It’s definitely needs some morals and ethics in how we use it though. I have a set but make no claims beyond the fact that I obsess about it.

I numbered a few things in my responses to you above. Here I thought I would give a short statement about where that relates to things I have read in brain science research. It’s a tricky thing to do but I do have a process for removing myself from the equation so that I have two ways of expressing the general human information. The [me]+[TS] way and the way that only attaches the general parts of brain science that are being tested or describes to other people. It’s an ever evolving set of techniques.

This part first.
>You also mentioned this overload phenomenon and I wondered how common it was, because it sounds familiar. Is there some good EMT-level overview to those things?
So by “overload” I am mentioning a word connected to a phenomena that is better known by its connection to people on the autism spectrum. “Sensory hypersensitivity” is also used in journal articles. It’s connected to “Ariana Effect (7)” here in measuring its impact on attention in autism and TS.

Here I tread very, very carefully. There are many places where autism and TS are compared and contrasted in the scientific literature. I have very few assumptions when it comes to how the similarities and differences play out. As a result I have few simple and easy ways of describing it outside of impressions from some conversations with friends, and I try to keep those subject to change.

We both have complications when interacting with society, and we both have sets of drawbacks that we try to monitor. But I also see us as having advantages in how we interact with the world and society. I can talk about my details but unless asked something specific by a person with autism I would encourage them to offer their own details. We are “ends of spectrums” of things that constitute “normal”.

***Anatomy and circuitry talk.
1) Repetitive behaviours in patients with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome: tics, compulsions, or both?
This paper gets into lots of interesting parts of human cognition. I see Obsessions and Compulsions break down into many things.
Obsessions are at their most simple habits of thought and perception. They are things that we can emotionally sense and ruminate about. “Obsessions as pathology” represent places where a person’s habitual perceptual and ruminative become harmful to themselves and others. If that person has a choice in the matter is a place with much abuse in society.
Compulsions are the instinct driven learned actions we take in response to the feelings that arise from the obsession.

Those two categories: “perceptual habits” and “ruminative habits”, also break down into other things. In this paper they break down into things like:
*”repetitive behaviors”
*”tic-like group”, “OCD-like” group, “mixed group”.
*”touching, counting, ‘just right’ and symmetry searching”
*”washing and checking rituals”
We seem to blur the line between “tics” and “compulsions” because TS in the mind and not just the body.

2)Scrupulosity
This Obsession has been called the “Religion OCD” but the reality has more to do with social rules and one’s place in society. There are atheists with scrupulosity.

3) Coprolalia and copropraxia in patients with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.
Society likes to pay attention to this one. We are part of the culture there. The subtlety of the reality makes us as dangerous as it does afflicted in time. When one has to be obsessed with one’s social interactions one picks up on subtitles.

This involves the involuntary expression of unacceptable words and gestures. You see the insults are verbal and physical, which implies that those are two very important categories of social information. I notice that insults that involve the body and one’s immediate social connections are two other important categories.

4) What Was I Thinking?, an article by Ned Block in the New York Times that is about a book that I mention a lot. “Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain” discusses what consciousness looks like in brain science in ways that combine personal, anatomical, computational, and evolutionary means. The implications as it relates to what emotion is lets me define five useful things that emotion consists of.
*A felt component (driving from anatomical maps and sensory maps)
*A perceptual component (incoming and outgoing sensory information)
*A component that relates to processes of mind (ways and means of thinking)
*A component that relates to memory
*A component involved in the execution of actions (physical and communicative)
It also divides the “self” into three kinds of “selves”: a “primordial self”, a “core self”, and an “autobiographical self”.

5) Robert Plutchik’s evolutionary theory of emotion. This is a theory of emotion that was developed by Dr. Robert Plutchik. It outlines a system for outlining what emotions seem to be in a hundreds of millions of years sense, what they seem to be in computational terms, and how they interrelate. Like any other theory it can be edited and updated as reality demands.

It provides a functional description of eight basic emotions and how they seem to blend into new emotions and emotional states. It contains information relevant to emotional intensity, good/bad, positive/negative types of computation, and how emotions seem to relate to instincts and dispositions. Each emotions has a structured relationship with the others and each has unique “action set” such as what relates the “Fight/Flight/Freeze” axis.

There seem to be three other axes:
*An “Anticipation/Surprise” axis/spectrum
*A “Joy/Sadness” axis/spectrum
*A “Trust/Disgust” axis/spectrum
This involves instincts related to four sets of “approach”/”withdraw” behavior. It’s pretty useful knowledge, but should be used with care.

6)On being your own worst enemy: an investigation of socially inappropriate symptoms in Tourette syndrome. It’s not just “socially obscene” urges. There is the whole class of “non-obscene” urges. And the acronym NOSIS.

7)Towards objectively quantifying sensory hypersensitivity: a pilot study of the “Ariana effect”.
In this paper physical contact is used to distract people with TS and on the autism spectrum in a way that allows the level of distraction to be measured relative to controls. We feel the sensory parts of our experience more strongly than most people. Interestingly sensory hypersensitivity is a factor in savant syndrome.

8)Hormones and TS. Since this involves Cortisol the “stress hormone” this suggests ways that your experience of hormones will be different than mine. I can unpack this farther if you want. This last section will get at reasons why my perception of other people tends to be so, tentative. One of the implications of what I have learned is that my knowledge and its own independent effect on me is a thing I need to objectify and control.

In general what is seen in TS suggests an alteration to the sensitivity of the stress response and rule-based processes in physical, spatial, temporal, and social realms. With interestingly specific manifestations like an increased intensity of the mammalian dive reflex, a decreased “pre-pulse inhibition to startle” (where a small puff of air before a big puff of air in the ear makes you startle less than just the big puff), more cognitive control over physical movements, estimations of time as the one second level, eye movements, rule-based language processes and I’m working on some more.

A reality is there are many roads to TS and they all seem to involve stress in one way or another. Inherited and non-inherited ways. It’s a cloud of measurable parts of stress and its effects Surgery can trigger TS. There is a nebulous connections with “infections + immune function” (with some neurological-immune a potential component). There are connections to cigarette smoking. There are “genetic connections” which actually expands into “heritability connections” if one takes non-genetic inheritance like epigenetics into account. There are “prenatal” (before birth) and “perinatal” (during birth) connections, connections to alcohol and marijuana.
Of particular interest to me is the one called “maternal psychosocial stress”. I try to let all of them constrain how careless I get with brain science related words in addition to many other things.

My experience of sex hormones has some specificity, but I believe your experience more relevant than mine in many contexts and for many reasons. TS involves a kind of molecule called a “neuroactive steroid” (NH). The hormones that also act as neurotransmitters.

http://i.imgur.com/UKgUbMp.jpg

In fact this little chunk of biochemistry is used in a review that discusses the role of NH’s in TS. It also does so in a context that mentions “gene x environment x sex” interactions, and it emphasizes 5-aplha-reductase, a single protein involved in the “rate-limiting step” (read: “excellent point to evolve ways of regulating here”) in pregnane and androstane (progesterones and other things with many metabolic effects). This protein is expressed in the brain in a complex way that has to do with the computational role that “sex hormones” have in the mind. Sex, gender, and its expression do have rule-based parts. Its’ hard to generalize past that except to say that local synthesis of of hormones in the brain is an extremely important part of this.

Brony, Social Justice Cenobite

@Lyzzy
Also please let me know if I did not respond to something that you wanted me to respond to.

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
3 years ago

@Brony

Wow, that’s going to be a lot to read ,but I look forward to it 🙂

Unfortunately, my internship is way more exhausting than expected (I get little sleep and a lot of stress), so I’m afraid I will have to cache those papers to read them later.

Thank you very much and I hope to see you (probably in another thread) sometime soon.

Brony, Social Justice Cenobite

http://i.imgur.com/b02SHcY.jpg
@Lyzzy
Sorry if any of it was a little excesive. Given the unknown territory between us I felt an adequate “conceptual space” to work within was needed. I’m willing to explain or expand on any of it.

Get rest and succeed at your internship. I’m fine with longer term conversations and I set up the email notification for this post.

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
3 years ago

I’ve skimmed over the papers you linked and found them quite interesting but have yet to read the book. The chemistry stuff is as frustrating as I remember it from school and probably hard to learn in the fast-decision-space of the next weeks. On the bright side one of my three internships is over and it turned out to be way less horrible than the first week implied. I even got compliments 🙂

What did you mean by

Of particular interest to me is the one called “maternal psychosocial stress”. I try to let all of them constrain how careless I get with brain science related words in addition to many other things.

?

Brony, Social Justice Cenobite

Hi Lyzzy,

Sorry if my reply took a bit. Being emotionally intense in communication in a political season is challenging. When I want to switch to a different “emotional mode”, I like to give other serious conversation some time to sink in when I reply. I have no idea how to be more objective about that habit yet but it seems to help me with my social anxiety.

I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed your internship. I hope the rest of them go well. What were you concerned about? If you got compliments I guess the concern paid off, you did a good job.

I’m glad you think my links were interesting. I realize that it can be a bit unfair to drop a journal article on someone so I can also give the gist on some of the themes that I find useful. The chemistry can be frustrating. Trying to understand brain anatomy is also frustrating. I can think of at a least 4 themes of research that a person should look at to gain an appreciation of what anatomy does on cognition. I’ve thought that some things needs at least four metaphors to get across an experience. The stuff involving the personal experiences of brain damage and conditions that are very unpleasant are critical and for me created a lot of empathy for the human side of this.

The chemistry can be daunting, but if you have any specific questions I do have an MA in Cell and Molecular biology. I can at least get the gist of things across for people to appreciate things better on their own. I see hormones for example as packets of information sent from one part of the body to another for a great many purposes and timing and development is only one patterned phenomena they are involved in. The public stereotypes of these things lend very real biases is how we see that information. The so called “sex hormones” have roles in really basic parts of how or anatomy and cognition function for both “sexes”. Looking at how each of them affect many kinds of people is complex but also highly patterned. Since it involves the way consciousness intersects with behavior social bias is to be assumed and accounted for.

I can see how this might draw some interest.

Of particular interest to me is the one called “maternal psychosocial stress”. I try to let all of them constrain how careless I get with brain science related words in addition to many other things.

This is one I am very careful with, and will always hope that I have been careful enough. I have ideas about what Tourette Syndrome is in a human evolutionary context, which is a thing fraught with bias issues for many good reasons. Being a person with the condition helps, but also introduces different bias issues (especially where cognitive benefits are concerned, hypothesis testing about the social senses is biased by definition in my case).

TS seems to be centered on issues related to stress, it’s inheritable, it involves both “sexes” having “masculine behaviors” and increased rate of gender dysphoria in people with TS and a womb, and other things that with connections to people around here. Social stress is a core phenomena in TS and there are many places where the way TS presents can be affected by social stress (rates of depression for example). Stress involving pregnancy is another one and maternal mood may be a factor.

It’s a really really sensitive thing, but I believe that TS may be a manifestation of an inheritable change in gene expression due to social experience. The “signal” is one that can be triggered as a developmental response in nature and nurture contexts. I can already imagine how some people might abuse such a possibility, but the reality would just piss me off about human nature in general. Of course it’s useful to give your descendants preparation for the kind of social world they will inhabit.

I have not tried connecting too many dots yet but other recent findings in TS and inheritance and the increase in interest in TS and genetics (non-DNA sequence-change-related changes in expression in cell-to-cell inheritance, including gametes) are consistent with it. Being human is complicated and I do sometimes feel a bit mechanical in good and bad ways.

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
3 years ago

@Brony, Social Justice Cenobite

Sorry if my reply took a bit. Being emotionally intense in communication in a political season is challenging.

I understand. Please take care.

When I want to switch to a different “emotional mode”, I like to give other serious conversation some time to sink in when I reply. I have no idea how to be more objective about that habit yet but it seems to help me with my social anxiety.

No problem. I’m used to textual communication delays ranging from ~5 seconds to about two months. Switching modes is something I do as well.

Regarding my internship, I worried (and still do) about mistakes that hurt my patients. Being a beginner is no excuse and I guess a lot of it is related to feminine impostor syndrome but that analysis doesn’t help too much either. Some days ago I was very tense because I thought I had fractured a damaged bone. When hours later we found out that I had merely touched a neuralgic point, I sorta cried in a professional way next to the patient. I tend to make my learning environments emotionally intense to increase retention but half my colleagues seem to worry about me being perfectionist and fragile. I’m really looking forward to working in a better defined position.

You piqued my interest but I’ll look more into it later — right now, I’m trying to focus on work related stuff like better understanding ECGs, cause I need them and don’t want to loose sleep or relationship quality over extra studies. I hope that’s okay for you, I look forward to ask you stuff.

Being human is complicated and I do sometimes feel a bit mechanical in good and bad ways.

Heh, great way to say it 🙂

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
3 years ago

Ok, so, my internship is over and went unexpectedly smooth. In the last few days I’ve had lots of de ja vu – experiences that sometimes hurt quite a bit, but luckily they never bordered on the dangerous for either my patients or me. I was characterized as “diligent, clever, effective but strange” which is not highly unusual for new surroundings but caused only little direct irritation I know of — yay, feminine gender role.

In reaction to that and to not hurt my mind further I will wait for a while before attempting to further study brain and psychology stuff and instead try to find something to read on the cassandra complex (the de ja vu stuff, my relationship is fine). If anyone had any links or pointers, they would be very welcome.

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