One of many awesome things about being queer is spending an entire morning naked wrapped around your husband playing “Fuck, Marry, Airlock.”

<a href=”http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2011/06/july-7-what-tami-said-and-shakesville.html”><img src=”http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v642/shakespeares_sister/shakes3/mypp1.jpg” title=”My Planned Parenthood icon” alt=”My Planned Parenthood: raise your voice. tell your story. July 7.”></a>

I’ll be telling my story twice, from the inside and from the outside. If you have a story, please tell it.

If you or a loved one has ever used Planned Parenthood’s services, please donate to Planned Parenthood of Indiana, or a Planned Parenthood in your state today.

I can neither confirm nor deny that I have spent a significant part of the day reading the synopsis of every single episode of Little House on the Prairie. I have never actually seen the show.

I’m a program advisor for a third-party study abroad provider. What this means is that I don’t work with the home university or the host university, but I work with both and offer the students extra support throughout the process of going abroad. Typically this means sending middle-to-upper-class white U.S.ians over to middle-to-upper-class areas in countries where most of their classmates are also white. The mix of students who (1) are really hoping to better themselves and increase their exposure to diffferent cultures and ideas, (2) feel their tuition checks entitle them to a six-month overseas vacation with straight As at the end, and (3) just want to party is about 30/40/30.

Today I spoke to an advisor at a U.S. university who heard from a student of hers currently attending a school in New Zealand. It’s my favorite school, actually, because I studied there myself. (I was mostly (1) and a little bit (3), so my grades weren’t stellar, but I knew that was because I didn’t put in the work that was required to get better ones. That’s pretty much how I roll.)

This student wanted to drop a class for several reasons, he said, including the fact that each lecture was given by a different person, and they were all “biased.” I wasn’t entirely sure what that word meant in this context (how can a university lecturer be biased, much less a dozen of them?) until I realized that the class the student wanted to drop was an intro to Maori studies class. And then I thought, well yes they’re biased. They’re presenting a minority view.

I can’t even begin to imagine what this student means when he says that the Maori lecturers are biased in an intro to Maori class. He’s entirely new to NZ culture, so he hasn’t had the chance to determine that his experiences contradict the claims of the lecturers. So I have to wonder, what the heck was this kid doing to earn poor grades that he thinks he can blame on the lecturers biases?

With Comic Con approaching, CNN.com is taking a closer look at the influential women of science fiction.

Ladies, we want to hear how watching sci-fi television shows and movies has changed your life. Did you get inspired to become a pilot because of Star Trek? Did you learn how to stand up from yourself by watching Battlestar Galactica?

Take a picture of yourself with memorabilia — or dressed as your favorite female character — from your favorite sci-fi show and tell us how it has influenced you. –  CNN.com

First of all, who wrote that copy? It’s terrible. Star Trek and BSG are the only references you can think of? Do you know, like, ANYTHING about this topic? Really, CNN. Fire that guy and hire me.

Secondly and more importantly, fuck you CNN. Would anyone ever ask men if they had learned to stand up for themselves by watching TV? Hell. no.

Exploring the influence of media on our lives can be fascinating, from finding catchphrases and references that have embedded themselves in the culture (Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!” immediately comes to mind) to stories of fans who recreate Hobbiton in their backyards or whatever. Sci-fi fans get singled out because their interests are blatantly outside of the mainstream – no one would blink at a Sex and the City fan collecting Samantha-inspired fashions, but anyone wearing a Starfleet uniform outside a convention is an easy target. (Yes I knoooooow this is a terribly dated reference but I don’t actually have live TV, I only watch DVDs. What’s a current popular show with constant gender policing? Mad Men? I don’t even know.)

But to ask women how a particular genre has changed our lives, implying that if not for sci-fi, we female fans would otherwise be entirely ignorant of the possibilities of, say, being a pilot or standing up for ourselves (SERIOUSLY CNN WHAT THE FUCK), now that’s just insulting. I can’t talk about the ways in which sci-fi has changed my life. That’s like talking about how being a woman has changed my life. This is my life, as a woman and as a sci-fi fan.

I have been inspired by dozens of characters, from Deanna Troi to Cordelia Vorkosigan to Aeryn Sun to Donna Noble. My husband, who is a man, has also been inspired by those characters, because that’s what characters are for. Fandom has been a big part of my life, contributing the majority of my close friends and even my husband. Without those things, I’d have something else. Probably not fashion or shoes or going to the gym, because that’s not who I am. But some women are, and some of those women are sci-fi fans, because women are not a monolith and people can have lots of interests.

So, in conclusion, with more passion than rational thought, shut up CNN. Also that bit about making sure the contributing “ladies” only dress up as their favorite female characters is some extra bonus bullshit. Anyone else get the feeling they just wanted an excuse to sift through sexy cosplaying photos?

My parents’ divorce is supposed to be amicable. Dad was a computer consultant/trainer for many years and made (and spent) a lot of money. He went on disability about ten years ago, having saved nothing for retirement. Mom just retired after 35 years as a teacher and has a decent monthly pension – enough to pay most of the bills – and a lump sum sitting in the bank to accrue interest. Dad racked up a lot of credit card debt while Mom paid for his health insurance, medications, several ambulance rides, a heart attack and heart surgery, a broken ankle, and extensive dental work including upper dentures, also paying all of the regular bills like mortgage and utilities. Dad did not contribute to the household.

They made a deal that Mom will pay off Dad’s car loan and credit card debt and then give him an allowance for a few years. This means she has to cut into the money that was supposed to keep supporting her, and she has to substitute teach to pay the bills rather than doing it to keep from getting bored. Mom was satisfied with this arrangement (I think she volunteered for it) because it’s still better than giving Dad half the house and half her retirement benefits. Dad seemed satisfied too. We all knew he was getting more than he deserved.

Yesterday they went to the lawyer and Mom served Dad with divorce papers. Dad said he wasn’t going to sign until his lawyer looked at them. I’m not sure why he didn’t have his lawyer at the meeting in the first place. Mom is now worried because of course the lawyer is going to push for half. Dad came over for dinner yesterday and didn’t talk about the divorce. I talked to Mom after Dad had left, which was probably good because I might have been mean to him otherwise.

I couldn’t sleep last night, and I haven’t slept much for a while, so it was odd to lie in bed wide awake. I was a zombie at work this morning and left for the afternoon. I came home and ate lunch. And it finally just hit me that I’m absolutely furious. I’m mostly angry with my Dad for not saving for retirement, not being a good partner to Mom, not treating her better, not working harder to make sure they were both happy (they haven’t been for a long time), but I’m also angry at Mom for putting up with it all and not issuing an ultimatum years ago. She’d said a few times that she wouldn’t divorce him because he has no one else and he couldn’t make it on his own. She thought her parents (in their late 80s) would not understand if she divorced him, and she had a strong aversion to divorce because of God and vows and blahblahblah. (I don’t mean to dismiss something important to her, it’s just not something I can understand or access.) And then something happened and she is going through with the divorce and she wants the divorce and she needs the divorce, and if I could go back in time I’d say to her 10 years ago, “You’re getting divorced. Get ready for it.” And then maybe she wouldn’t wait so long.

Actually, if I could go back in time, I’d go back 30 years and tell Dad to start a damn retirement fund.

I’m glad that Mom is keeping the cat. She doesn’t like having pets because they’re messy, but this cat is the softest, sweetest, cuddliest kitten-sized furball, and Mom could use the company.

It’s storming here so the dog is wandering around, and I’ve had a stressful week so there’s not a lot of sleep to be had.

I’m curious about helicopter parents and privacy. Today, one of my co-workers talked to the parent of a 20-year-old girl who has been accepted to a prestigious university in England – we’ll call it Smockslord – and yet the mother says that her daughter is away at camp, so she is answering the daughter’s cell phone and email. We 25- to 28-year-old advisors weren’t surprised that the mom called to try to manage her daughter’s acceptance (that, unfortunately, happens all the time), but that the girl had voluntarily given her email password to her parents. None of us could imagine our parents having that kind of access to our lives at age 20 (especially not then!) or earlier.

And then I thought, but the parents do that on purpose. They probably set up their kids’ emails for them, teach them how to use it, and get their kids used to the fact that everything they send is monitored. These kids grow up thinking it’s totally normal for their parents to do everything for them, even in college. I hope that the kid picks up a hidden email account at some point, so they can send dirty jokes to their friends and complain that their lives suck etc. without their parents breathing down their necks. But for the most part, the kids just expect their parents to be calling the travel agent to book the flight, calling the advisor to ask how the grades will transfer and if insurance is included, and figuring out what to pack. The parent has to know these things because the student has to know. Not only do the kids have no sense of self-efficacy, they have no expectation of privacy or appreciation for it.

Of course I’m talking about a small percentage of students in a high SES (high enough to be aware of and find money for study abroad opportunities); I’m sure the majority of 20-year-olds out there are conscientious, capable kids. But some of them call their parents from Australia to say that the rest of the orientation group left them behind when the group was around a corner five feet away (true story), and it’s because their parents made them that way.

I once knew a girl who started dating a guy she’d known for several years. The couple met online through mutual friends as teenagers and later met in person at various sci-fi conventions.

The guy attended college after high school and graduated in four years, spending two semesters abroad. After college he moved to another state and lived with his college roommate, working full-time. He had relationships with men and women, ranging from long-term long-distance affairs to one-night stands.

The girl lived at home with her parents, commuting to college for a few years before deciding that the university she attended wasn’t working out for her. She worked on the family farm and had a couple of online boyfriends, one for more than two years. She never met the boyfriends in person and only rarely went on dates with acquaintances.

On a whim, the two decided to meet in a city halfway between them, just as friends, and have a fun geeky time together watching DVDs and visiting a science museum. At the time, the guy identified as gay and had no romantic interest in the girl. However, their weekend was such a fantastic meeting of minds that they went home and spent the next several weeks chatting constantly, online and on the phone, and decided that they wanted to be closer to each other. After a few months and several visits, the guy got a job and moved two states to be near the girl’s new university, about 30 minutes from where she still lived with her family. The guy was thrilled to spend time with his girlfriend, but was reluctant to ask her to move in.

Unfortunately, the girl’s family didn’t like the guy. They objected to his bisexuality, his weight, his past alcohol use, his past struggles with mental illness, and the fact that he moved across two states but wouldn’t ask his girlfriend to live with him. The family told the girl that she could no longer date the guy and live at home. Hurt and angry but unwilling to defy the girl’s family, the guy told the girl that they should break up until she was done with college, and then they’d try again. Instead, she chose the guy, and moved in with him that day.

Stop for a second and think about these two people. What assumptions are you making about them based on this story? What do you think of the family? Do you think this couple had a healthy relationship? What predictions would you make about everyone involved?

Now go back and switch genders. How does the story change when the girl moves across two states and the guy’s family doesn’t approve of the relationship?

In case you wondered, the couple married three years later and are celebrating their second anniversary this summer. They’re very happy and have no contact with the disapproving family, but plenty of contact with the other family, which adores them both.

So my parents are getting divorced. I’ve been out of the house for 10 years and am now married myself, and also we saw this coming from a mile away, and also also my dad has health issues that makes the midwest not the best place for him so he’s moving to Florida, but still. It’s a thing.

Yesterday we had lunch together, just the immediate family (parents, brother and his girlfriend, me and husband) and had a really cool awesome day. My mom says she feels like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. She took off her wedding ring (Dad hasn’t worn his for a while due to weight gain/loss). My dad is (pretending to be?) excited about planning the move. I kicked ass at poker, which is fun because my brother likes to pretend he’s good at shit like that.

My brother also is really annoyingly privileged. He’s used to being the smartest guy in the room and making sure everyone knows it. However, I’m more educated on topics like gender and feminism and intersectionality, and he’s still at the stage where he thinks his experience (as a white dude) is the experience of all people, and also he’s totally not privileged because he’s not rich. Also, I’m smarter than he is.*

My brother is a sous-chef and once worked at a restaurant with a chef he admired greatly. In honor of this chef, my brother branded himself. The brand is visible on his leg, so this came up in a conversation about tattoos and body modifications, with my brother assuring us that Chef was flattered. He went on to say that he admired this chef for many reasons, including the fact that he was “a homosexual,** but still very masculine.” If you’ve been reading this blog, you might have guessed my reaction to that statement.***

After a bit of back-and-forth about how sexuality and gender performance are not and should not be related, we started to zero in on the idea that admiring someone for masculinity means valuing stereotypically masculine traits over feminine ones. My brother couldn’t seem to get that (he said he values masculinity because it’s like him, which is an instinct, but he admires femininity because it’s contrary to him and thus alien), and started to venture into evo-psych territory before I cut him off.

Finally I said, “So when you say Chef had masculine traits, what do you mean?” And my brother said, “Good leadership.”

This was the point at which I ended the conversation. Because my brother, a man who has lived in this world as long as I have (plus three years) and shared many experiences (we went to the same university), still honestly believes that good leadership is a masculine quality.**** I said that I would say that a man who is a leader is a masculine leader, good or bad, and a woman who is a leader is a feminine leader, good or bad, and he looked at me like I’d grown another head.

Husband and I left the room and brother went outside, where we could hear him ranting to the rest of the family. (Not sure what he was yelling about but probably not that he was sorry he’d perpetuated a gender binary and would be better about it in the future.)

Unrelated but on the same theme, I had a conversation with a casual acquaintance on facebook. It was the day my parents told us (me and brother) that they’re getting divorced, so I needed a pick-me-up. Click to embiggen, if I did this right: (image description provided on request)

*I debated including that part because I’ve always been told it’s not polite to brag, but then I realized it’s because women aren’t supposed to be smart, and if they are smart they’re not supposed to talk about it, and fuck that noise. I’m smarter than my brother. That doesn’t make me a better person than him, but it’s true.

**We had a little go-round about this, with me saying, “The preferred term is ‘gay,'” and him saying, “Is the word ‘homosexual’ offensive now?” and me saying, “I assumed you used the word out of ignorance. Continuing to use it once you have been educated shows that you don’t respect people for what they wish to be called.”

***Hint: It pissed me right the fuck off.

****More accurately, he believes that there is a masculine style of leadership that is more effective than a feminine style of leadership.

*****Yes, arguing with ignorant d-bags is a guilty pleasure of mine. I take great pleasure in being right.

Yesterday my mom said when she was with my brother, she used the word “renege.” My brother apparently laughed at her and was incredulous that she didn’t know the word’s racist origins. He was so insistent that he made my poor mother doubt herself. She learned the word as it is used in euchre.**

1. My brother can’t spell.

2. I can’t imagine who told him that the word was racist but it was probably someone who also thought “niggardly” is racist.

3. By contrast, my parents were discussing a local immigration issue and using the term “illegals.” I requested that they use “undocumented” instead, because after all a person can’t be illegal. My dad, who is kind of a conservajerk sometimes but does like to use the right terminology for things, thought about the logic behind the term and agreed to switch. My mom got a bit flustered (this was what inspired the renege discussion) but said she understood the difference. So obviously, laughing is not the way to inspire change.

4. But of course, my brother doesn’t care about change. He’s pretty racist himself, as only a white dude who doesn’t believe in privilege can be. He just wanted to feel smart.

5. I don’t know why my brother and I are so different, but I’m okay with it.

*Unless you are being racist, in which case, stfu.

**If you throw off-suit and later realize that you have a card of that suit after all, you’ve reneged and the other team can choose to redeal the hand. Or at least that’s how we play.