Occasional Link Roundup

First of all, I have an announcement! After a lot of planning, some friends and I have launched a Facebook support group for atheists struggling with mental health issues. It’s called Help Without Heaven. In just a few days, it’s grown to over 100 members and is really active, supportive, and helpful. It looks like this was really a need that hadn’t been filled, and we’re really excited about how it’s going.

Soooo unfortunately, our community being what it is, we (the admins) can only accept members we know personally, or who can get another group member or a mutual friend to vouch for them. This is to ensure as much safety for the group members as possible, and it’s unfortunate that this means that much fewer people can benefit from this group than if we let in anyone who wanted to join.

However, if you’ve had a good record of commenting here and you’d like to join, you can email helpwithoutheaven[at]gmail.com from the email address you use to comment, and I can send you an invite to the group. You can also take a look at the group and see if you have friends in it, or if you have mutual friends with one of the listed admins, who could maybe vouch for you.

And like, I just gotta say for the record, if you try to sabotage this in any way or use this as further ammunition in some dumb vendetta against “FtBullies,” you are really, really sad and pathetic. This has nothing to do with FtB and everything to do with atheists getting the help they need to be happy and healthy.

Anyways! On to the links.

1. Angele on Thought Catalog writes about depression:

But see, that’s the thing — depression doesn’t care what life looks like on paper. It doesn’t give a damn about what you tell yourself about how great life is and could be. What it does is slams the sheer gravity of being down upon you when you least expect it, ties weights to your ankles and drowns you in a sea of anxiety, of “what if”s and “not good enough”s. And that is something that took me a long time to understand and an even longer time to talk about.

2. Janani on Black Girl Dangerous talks about the intersections between eating disorders and race (TW):

I remember being hugely troubled by the language many of the speakers and health educators would use about their experiences: that ‘eating disorders were about power and control, not beauty’.  As if this were a dichotomy. As if beauty were something other than a system of control and domination.  There is nothing shallow about beauty; I have drowned in it. My anorexia had everything to do with affluent white womanhood, something not available to me, but that I was systemically surrounded by.  It had everything to do with heterosexuality: an aspiration for ‘proper and dignified’ white womanhood – that is ultimately desirable to white masculinity.

3. People love to claim that nonbinary gender is some dumb #firstworldproblems thing, but Foz put together this amazing list of nonbinary gender identities from cultures around the world. There’s even one from Jewish religious texts. (By the way, even if nonbinary genders only occurred in the Western world, that wouldn’t mean they’re not legitimate and worthy of respect.)

4. Captain Awkward has some wonderful advice on first taking care of yourself in order to be a better friend when things aren’t going well:

You are the only person who understands me!” “You’re my only friend!” sound like compliments, but they come with too much pressure and too much…self… to actually be compliments. Your friend, even if she promises to be your best friend forever, can’t actually fix your bad feelings about yourself or fill up all your lonely places. I get why you feel abandoned, I get why you are panicking, I get that you would do anything to make this right, and I have oh so much love and empathy for you right now. But my honest advice is, take massive, radical care of yourself and do what you can to comfort and distract yourself  until you can meet her on more solid emotional ground.

5. s.e. smith discusses all the snark about women saying “I’m fine” and not really meaning it:

There’s an almost hostile attitude behind the frequent demands for “women” (as though women are an amorphous, interchangeable mass) to explain why they say, “I’m fine.” It’s a sharp reminder of the demanding tone that tends to prevail in situations where women are pressured to talk when they’re not ready or need time to deal with something before they can approach a conversation. There’s an expectation here that women should be ready on everyone else’s schedule to deal with everything, including their own emotions.

6. Heina writes about being labeled “angry” when she isn’t:

He was hardly the first or only person to dub a carefully-worded, cautiously-approached conversation an expression of anger, despite my avoiding of words like “sexist.” Being read as angry when you are not does not require bad faith on the part of the person interpreting your words. All it requires is the skewed perspective bequeathed to us by the world: that anyone not upholding the status quo is disrupting it, and that such disruption is, by nature, angry.

7. This article from the Belle Jar about men who ask women to debate feminism with them is simultaneously a steelman and a snarky rebuttal, and I love it:

After all, if you’re going to call yourself a feminist, you should be willing to back that belief up with facts, right?

And if you’ve got all the facts, it should be easy enough to convince him, shouldn’t it?

And after all, how is he supposed to understand anything if you won’t educate him?

He just wants so badly to understand.

If you don’t mind, could you start by providing him with some kind empirical data that women continue to suffer from systematic oppression? He doesn’t care about the past, and doesn’t want a history lesson. He wants to talk about the here and now. And from what he can see in the here and now, women are doing pretty well. Just look at you! Smart, well-educated, pretty. What about your gender could you possibly imagine has ever held you back? If anything, it’s probably done you a few favours!

8. Another one from the Belle Jar, that I can also relate closely to:

If you live with a volatile person for long enough, it’s hard to maintain a consistent personal narrative. Every event is re-framed by how they saw it, and no matter how hard you try to hold on to your version of events, the force of their overreactions starts to erode your confidence in your own perspective. Trying to fight against them begins to exhaust you – they’re too good at pushing your buttons, know too well exactly what to say to hurt you most deeply, and you can’t keep up, can’t maintain that level of mean-spiritedness. You start to accept what they tell you, because it’s just easier. It’s easier to be wrong all the time. It’s easier to apologize. It’s easier to lie down and let them walk all over you. Of course, you lose yourself in the process, but what does that matter? By that point you believe that that self was worthless anyway.

9. This sexual boundaries checklist from Scarleteen is one of the best I’ve ever found. I love how many things the author considers a necessary part of a conversation about boundaries.

10. This piece by Gaby Dunn is amazing:

I used to think I was getting away with something.

“Girls don’t count,” I’d say, running my fingers up her arm at the bar. “Don’t you know that?”

We both had boyfriends. Long-term boyfriends. Mine had introduced me to the concept.

“I wouldn’t feel threatened,” he’d say. “I know they could never compete.”

He meant that a woman, no matter how attached I got, could never “steal” me away from him. He meant that he’d only care about male penetration, about “sex” in the most typical terms. I was young and I didn’t value myself and I hadn’t been taught a lot about feminism or how relationships should work. I said nothing, because I wanted it to be true.

What have you read/written lately?

Occasional Link Roundup

9 thoughts on “Occasional Link Roundup

  1. 1

    On the I’m fine topic. I’m fine can mean a lot of different things in different situations. If I see someone I care about in distress, I want to help, usually either by leaving them alone or listening to them and letting them vent.

    I just get annoyed when someone says that they’re fine and sometimes it means leave me alone and sometimes it means I need to talk. I’m perfectly willing to do either but I can’t read minds. It’s frustrating when I’m fine meant leave me alone the last 10 times but this time it means I really need to talk and somehow magically I should have known that.

    My default when I don’t know someone well is to leave them alone and tell them I’m willing to listen if they want to talk.

  2. 2

    I read the entire post and all of the comments.

    Many times people don’t know why they are feeling the way they are feeling just yet or they aren’t up to discussing it or many other valid reasons. To me the words I’m ok are a pretty clear and polite sign that says back off unless you know the person well enough to say otherwise.

    I understand where women especially can be caught in a catch 22 situation. If they hold in their emotions they are called a bitch or worse but if they show their emotions they’re called unstable or worse.

    I was just expressing my frustration about getting conflicting messages from people that I care about. I understand that emotions are not always logical and predictable. It my frustration talking where I know that there are several things that I can do that might help someone that I care about but I have to guess which one to use. If I guess wrong I can do more harm than good but doing nothing is still making a choice that may help or harm.

    I don’t expect this level of communication from strangers or casual acquaintances but I would like it from people who are close to me.

  3. 3

    As a newby to Brute Reason and a non-atheist, I’m obviously not going to be part of the community in mention.

    That said, I can identify heavily with #8. I went to read the citation just to make sure I was on the same page.

    During childhood, teenage years especially, and to a lesser degree in my adulthood I’ve had to endure “volatile personalities”. I don’t know what’s worse–the physical abuse, constantly being called stupid, or all the “rule changing” and “gaslighting” that one might endure. From what I’ve experienced, these unstable, oppressive people can’t be wrong about anything. Anyway, I tried to learn to “fight fire with fire” and what I found is that even if I came out ahead my vindictiveness drained me and left me with a petty sense of power but a profound sense of guilt.

    I’m not a psychology student/expert and I could have some misguided notions on the issue, but the oppressive personality type that Belle Jar describes sounds kinda like somebody who potentially has NPD; or has strong narcissistic traits, at least. Even if I’m wrong about that, the end result for me was similar to what Belle describes–this bizzaar state of being in which you don’t know who you really are.

    Not only do I experience frequently a sense of worhtlessness and the feeling that I’m not a real person, but something else about my personality is that I have a hard time making life decisions. For example, I seem to prefer jobs where either a non-volitle boss says, “Go do this, then go do that”–or at least structured environments with an easy to understand routine laid out.

    I’ve babbled enough and perhaps made this a little too much about me; but I wanted to talk when I read what Belle said. Thanks for the opportunity, but if this comment is too long or isn’t carrying the conversation in a direction you want it, feel free to delete it. I really shouldn’t be writing books on other people’s blogs.


  4. LP

    Thank you so much for posting these. Especially the Belle Jar one about living with volatile people. I was with one for 4 years before I got out, and some Belle Jar’s words could have come from my own brain. Feeling erased from the world is a suck-ass place to be. And like rapiddominance mentioned above, my therapist thought that she showed traits of narcissistic personality disorder. Those folks can be so charming, so witty, so exciting… but it’s like living with a vampire constantly sucking your energy, happiness, and well-being out of you.
    It’s good to have my experiences validated.
    Thank you, Miri!

  5. 7

    Right now, I’m about halfway through The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides. It’s a great book. I was eating lunch and reading today, and suddenly I looked up and realized my sandwich was cold and it was 2:00 PM. I wish I could write like that.

    I’ve also started looking at some of the other blogs on this network, because midterms are over, I have some spare time, and why not. I especially like the “Butterflies & Wheels” blog. That lady has an engaging style.

    I forgot PZ Myers was on this network. I used to watch some videos featuring his mug when I was in high school.

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