Spokane, WA —Doctors breathed a sigh of relief as newborn Amanda Dillard emerged from harrowing conditions during a hostage negotiation in St. Joseph's Maternity ward last Thursday. Dillard had been trapped inside of a pregnant woman, Wanda Dillard, for nine months.
Deliberations lasted for several hours, with heated exchanges on both sides. Before being convinced to go to the hospital, Wanda Dillard reportedly backed herself into a corner with a broken bottle of soy sauce threatening her husband, demanding, "Get this #$%*!ing monster out of me!", sources say.
"It's tough to say how she got in there, or survived for so long," Chief of Medicine Robert Galant told reporters. "We know where they come from, but if we miss the stork, sometimes they just wander into the strangest places."
"I just feel so lucky. Relieved," Ray Dillard, Amanda's father remarked. "She was really clawing her way out of there, she was really brave." Despite keeping baby Amanda hostage for almost a year, he does not intend to press charges against his wife. Dillard's mother could not be reached for comment.
I have two older brothers; and now that I look back on it, they taught me more about gender equality than any one else.
I'm suffering from the flu today; I have no voice, very little energy and have to stop typing every ten minutes or so because it's exhausting. I'm still writing because being sick is also incredibly boring and I'm a little behind. This completely unnecessary paragraph is my way of explaining how loose and possibly unintelligible this article might be.
Our concepts about what is masculine or feminine are largely shaped by our culture, and while gender is fluid, I find it hard to believe we don't inherently assign certain traits to each, at the very least on a social level. It seems like nature: people have ten fingers and ten toes, eyes and lips and limbs; man-people are built one way and woman-people are built another. We make distinctions by default because it's available to us and we're allowed to scrutinize. Blah blah blah, insert evolutionary psychological sentiment here. I've had a lot of cough medicine today.
It stands to reason that we continue this scrutiny both psychologically and socially; that man-people behave one way and woman-people behave another. Women are often thought of as emotional and chatty, and all men are secretly Don Draper while that reference still has some crumbs of relevance. If not; they're level headed, rarely emotional, rational beings. The separation between rationality and emotion we have in the US is appalling but to be spoken of some other time.
Where am I going with this? Sexism. So we learn to treat each other based off of these cultural assumptions of what men and women are like. Once you're released from your childhood into the adult world, you're forced to figure out what all these googly eyed motherfuckers are staring at and how you're supposed to talk to them.
We develop rifts as to what masculinity and femininity mean based on the roles they're assigned; Mother, Daughter, Sister was all women had for awhile. Men had Father, Son, Brother but they also had Doctor, Lawyer, and Guy Who Makes More Than You. Slowly though, we're working on bringing those roles to equilibrium. How long is that gonna take? Only the Moon Rabbits know. The point is we're trying.
Inevitably, as something becomes more acceptable, people become lost in the echo chamber, and utterly valid points suddenly seem like overblown arguments that aren't relevant any more because we see them 'all over the place' (IE our own facebook feed and nowhere else). We see this with the slow integration of anything; the lingering cries against racism and sexism are brushed off by many as the outcry of a few people who simply fail to accept that the fight is over and they're shouting only to hear themselves.
This includes bringing to light things that happen that people don't want to acknowledge are happening. For example, campaigns like Yes All Women made the uncomfortable point that rape and molestation can occur from any man in a woman's life; that's not saying every man wants to rape a woman; it's not accusing perfectly normal individuals of being monsters, it's acknowledging the very uncomfortable truth that it can happen by any one in our life, coworkers, friends, even boyfriends or family. You think that makes a dude uncomfortable, think about how it makes us feel. It's like Ratatouille but fucked up; Not every man is a rapist, but a rapist can be in any man.
Masculinity and Femininity have traits that are almost intrinsically associated with the words; Masculinity harbors aggression, femininity harbors sensitivity. We view the opposite sex through these ideals of what their gender represents. While this may not be a groundbreaking view, it's weird that we still seem to minimize our attention to the very common instances of these gender tropes being broken. There are many confident, aggressive women; there are also men who are sensitive and desire intense dialogue about what they're feeling. We all know this happens, but for some reason, we tend to be dismissive of it and reclaim the tropes anyways, consciously or unconsciously.
Growing up I was a tomboy. I wanted to be just like my older brothers. I remember being given dolls and losing interest in them quickly. I liked animals and playing in trees. I never really picked up on things that were feminine, and it wasn't a huge influence on my upbringing. I never had large circles of female friends, which never bothered me. For that matter, I never had large circles of friends so I think by comparison it wasn't much of a shocker. I picked up a lot of my influence (including being a fifth grader whose first CD purchase was Portishead Dummy) from my brothers; they taught me a lot about how to be human.
The cool thing about having siblings is you get to see the opposite gender in a completely desexualized context; it's not "men are from mars, women are from venus", it's "we're from earth and going to be in this minivan for the next eight hours." Growing up, I never saw their reactions to things and thought, "that's what boys do, and I'm a girl so that's why I do things differently" We were all just little people running around and figuring shit out.
As I got older, I got to see how my brothers were hurt by women. I got to see how they retaliated. I saw how their relationships formed and deteriorated and it appeared to have little to do with who had which sex organ. They were people, their respective girlfriends were people, and as they grew and changed they went through the same experiences I would later find myself going through. Masculinity wasn't some off putting toxic thing, it was just a different way the cards got shuffled. The fact that attached to it are certain privileges and attitudes shouldn't be ignored, but neither should the fact modern men can acknowledge it as an issue even if they don't know what to do about it.
I didn't meet too many strong women until much later in my life and it's been a great addition; I'm challenged on things and in ways I would have never considered. I'm a pretty passive person, and most of what I've learned about being assertive came from these badass women. What I learned about disarming people, how to not step on people's toes no matter what their personality, that was a gift from my brothers.
Feminism is about gender equality. It's unfortunate the word has been so tainted by the few irrational pubes who pull reverse chauvinism; in order for genders to be seen as equal, we need to consider both of them. You're going to run into well intended people with the wrong opinion and vice versa. There's no need to assume either way that someone can't be part of a conversation, understand something or even change their mind because of their sex. That's what sexism is by definition.
I feel like there may have been more of a point to make, but maybe not. Let me just include this completely unnecessary sentence and the equally unimportant one before it.
If I am fascinated by lies, I have equal antipathy for the truth.
We have such a bitter image of the truth; it’s cold, hard, and brutal. Even so, we think we want it, that the emotional turmoil that comes from learning the truth is worth the pain. “Because I’d want to know” is one of the most common motives for coming clean, the belief that we’re better off operating with accurate information when it comes to making decisions.
I don’t think that’s wrong, but I empathize with those who create intricate alternate realities through their lies to avoid getting hurt. The truth might set you free, but it can drive you insane.
People who are intolerant of falsehood seem like they’re fooling themselves into thinking they have some superiority over the gullible, when in fact all they’re doing is marinating themselves in pain. Some level of deception, at the very least self deception, is required to begin anything that’s difficult. Believing you have talent tends to hold you over as you hone a skill. There wouldn’t be a point in trying to develop it other wise. The truth is sterile; it breeds little imagination. We don’t daydream about what’s real, we lie to ourselves because lies are rife with possibility. Maybe that’s how we achieve the extraordinary, believing a lie into existence.
I don’t see falsehood as such a packageable thing any more. For one, our brains are champions of not working the way we want and we fool ourselves via logical fallacies and cognitive bias, and no matter how self aware or well read you consider yourself, it’s still likely to happen to you. We’re influenced by other, equally malleable people. It’s tough to consider undeniable truth, which is why we turn to the verification of facts and knowledge; you can know knowledge, but you can’t know any certain truth.
It’s both frustrating and freeing to know that the boundaries are fluid. To me, It’s harder to write about honesty because honesty is, ironically, a trickier concept. Lies need a purpose. Truth doesn’t. Truth simply exists with the burden of interpretation left to our skittish little minds. In the moment, the truth, to me, is a yes or no question, and the answer depends entirely on desired result. If I think I’ll spare someone’s feelings and I don’t anticipate any particular backlash, I’m more than willing to lie. It’s force of habit at this point.
Things are seldom just true or just false, and I think that kind of finite dualism is a luxury of the naive. For the most part, we run ourselves ragged trying to align events into one of these camps but always end up somewhere in the middle. Lie to yourself long enough, and you’re stuck believing them like it really happened.
I’ve had to face some hard truths about myself. I hate them and I’m skilled enough at lying to myself and others that I could turn the truth into a memory that will rot off in my mind, separate and unimportant to everything else. Here’s where I admit the truth and stare at it for awhile.
I cheated on Jay. That’s one of those sentences I rewrote a few times, hoping to make it vague, insightful, or somehow less painful. But the truth doesn’t lend itself to those things, does it?
I never saw myself as the kind of person to do something like that, and the real joke is that somehow my self perception remains the same. In my mind, I’m not a cheater, whatever that means to me, despite the fact that I know, understand, and admit that that’s something I’ve done.
By my counts, I did this four times; one was some sick (and retrospectively, very degrading) view that if it were a woman, it wouldn’t be cheating. Another was a bout of loneliness when we lived in different cities ,and one, which I considered the most dangerous, never got physical; it was a purely emotional connection that got much deeper and important to me than I anticipated. The very last time, which is what ended our relationship, was a bit of both.
In all of those situations, there were moments of clarity where I could have bowed out, I simply chose not to. Not because I didn’t love Jay, either. I don’t know if I’d correlate any time I cheated with a time where we were also rock solid, but he was always first and in my mind. I knew what I was doing was wrong but I wanted to do it anyway. Maybe I simply lack self control, or was drunk and easily led. Maybe it’s more complicated. Doesn't matter if you justify it or not, it happened.
The only thing that pacified my guilt about doing these things was that I was pretty honest about them immediately. I never had any prolonged secret affair. Well, not physically anyway. the ones that I considered dangerous were the ones that I suppose did have that element; because if nothing physical was going on I didn’t see the need to stop doing it, or tell Jay. So they grew into these confusing things that I don’t think anyone involved knew how to handle.
Some could read this and pity him, think he got walked on by an asshole and wonder why he’d put up with it. Could he have just left? Sure, but he was hurting, I’m manipulative as fuck and it’s not like he wanted things to be terrible. None of those things on his part are character flaws, they’re circumstances. It’s pretty easy to see how liars and cheaters get away with what they do. Being duped doesn’t make you foolish, it means you believe in the good in people, people you love. It’s not your fault that sometimes that belief winds up as you lying to yourself.
As for my motives, I don’t know if I could honestly tell you. I’ve read some articles where men cheat for the excitement and women cheat because they desire emotional fulfillment they’re lacking in their present relationship. I feel like it was both and neither. I did what I did because I wasn’t thinking about the consequences; at least I wasn’t thinking they were anything I couldn’t talk my way out of, erego, if I were patient, there were no consequences. I did it because I could. Fucked up, sure, but that’s honesty for you. I like to push things, to see how far I can take them, to see what’s dangerous, to see how close I can get to someone. I struggle with feeling connected to people and often I find myself isolated and lonely even around my good friends. That gnawing feeling drives you pretty insane, and you look for anything to make it stop.
If you’re curious, cheating is just a stopgap; it won’t really stop that emptiness inside you, but you can convince yourself that at the very least you’re being proactive about it. It’s hard for me to believe anyone who does that doesn’t hate themselves at least a little for doing it. I sure do. If you're even moderately functional I don't think you willfully practice hurting someone's feelings.
I’m at the point now where I don’t really know what I want from someone else. I have this incredibly strong sense of emptiness and longing, but I don’t really know what action another person has to take to make it better. You can’t really start off a conversation with “MAKE ME FEEL WHOLE AGAIN!” and somehow expect a result. The reason Jay lasted as long as he did was he effectively answered that question with, “Okay, how?”
Most likely this question is going to be answered with the movie trope, “The answer is in you all along” or some bullshit like that. No one can love you until you love yourself, blah, blah blah. I don’t really have a response for that. I see very few people who aren’t insecure about themselves, sometimes at least. Even so, until I have some sense of control over that seething void, I'm not willing to get close to anyone. It's not even as noble as not wanting to hurt anybody; I'd like it to be, but this is the one about honesty, not the one about lies. Getting close to somebody who you think can take care of or fix you only gets brutal and messy once you both realize you can't save someone from themselves. Ironically, being alone is just self preservation in the face of loneliness.
So is that the truth? I do things I know are wrong because I don’t like myself, and I think I can get away with it? What kind of sense does that make? And by knowing that, does that make the truth malleable, do I have control over it, or how much?
If there's any benefit to the truth, it's that it provides a level of certainty. I don't really have that quality in anything in my life, and the more stable something is the more inclined I am to rip it to pieces. Chaos is easier to maintain; that's physics. I don't really know what to do with being the kind of person I am, but I guess it's my job in life to figure that out, no one else is going to...
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.