Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Depression is a gravity well

I once read a story about a famous violinist. He was approached by an up-and-coming youngster, and asked for a critique. The youngster played for him, and the famous violinist told him he was rubbish, not to bother trying to play professionally.
Another musician asked him what he was doing - the kid was fine. The famous violinist said 'if he's got the heart for it, if music is in his soul, he'll ignore me and go on to become great'.

I think that's horribly unfair. It might work fine for neurotypicals, but it could absolutely crush a depressive.

I have depression. Someone - Spike Milligan? - called it 'the black dog on my shoulder'.

For me, it's a black hole inside me. A great black pit, and it eats everything. It eats light first: hope, self-esteem, belief in myself, faith. It eats wishes and dreams and desires. It absolutely destroys happiness, or any sort of sense of achievement.

I've thrown away a lot of my work. To other people, this might be a disaster: I know many people who have told me they love what I write and want to see more of it. To me, the work is just trash. Something that kept me alive for a few seconds more. Something that distracted me from the black hole that is the centre of my existence.

I exist for my family. If they were to die - a car accident or something - I would collect the meds in the house, check the medical sites, and come up with a cocktail that would put me out.

The black hole takes everything else away. They are outside me: they escape the black hole. As long as they keep giving me their love, there is something that passes through me before it's drained off. Some light. Some joy.

It's a Renaissance cliche: the melancholic poet. Well, I'm a writer, and I'm extremely afflicted with melancholia.

I don't know where I was going with this. I'm sorry.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Why some diabetics won't exercise

On a forum I'm sometimes in, I ran across this comment from someone in a class for exercise instructors. He's talking about these students discussing diabetics.

This is a class of people honed in to health, exercising, being fit. They couldn't comprehend the mentality of "I'd rather take some pills to sustain me for a little while and die horribly". I get it. People really are that lazy. They really are that resistant to change. "Exercise" and "diet" really are THAT much worse for them than a horrible death.

Which is to say, I understand THAT people choose that. I don't necessarily understand WHY.

I can partially explain it.

I'm insulin resistant, aka pre-diabetic. This is partly genetic, and partly a result of PCOS. So I know what it feels like to have insulin problems (though not full-blown diabetes) and try to change your diet.

A diabetic/insulin resistant person has blood sugar which seesaws violently unless externally controlled. The most obvious way to control it, and one which is easiest to develop independently, is to take frequent small sugar doses.

In other words, to keep a can of soda or a bag of lollies next to you, and take a sip or eat a lolly (candy? sweet?) every five to fifteen minutes.

This keeps your blood sugar kind of even. Rocky-even, but enough to keep you functional.

Take the candy or soda away from a person who's doing this, without replacing it with a proper low-glycaemic-index diet, and they feel AWFUL. Absolutely rotten, and effectively non-functional. Their blood sugar spikes after a meal, then within half an hour they're sluggish, they can't think, they can't focus, and their body is telling them they're starving.

And a single glass of Coke will make them feel good again.

Even converting to a low-glycaemic-index diet, under controlled circumstances, knowing what you're doing, feels ghastly. I've done it several times, and had to repeat it because the temptation to 'just have a small glass of soda, it can't hurt' is so strong.

A low GI diet works, and keeps you functional, but it feels very, very different to the lots-of-small-hits-of-sugar diet. And any time you forget to eat on time in a low GI diet, you know that peanut paste sandwich on multigrain bread will take at least ten minutes to kick in, but a small glass of soda or a couple of lollies would make you feel good almost instantly.

It takes a lot of willpower to keep to the proper diet. I can only do it with a bag of nuts or seeds kept close at hand at all times.

I can also only do it now that I've found foods that count as good AND satiate me - like dahl, or vietnamese rice paper rolls with a lean meat inside.

My first tries failed miserably because I couldn't figure out a low-GI diet that actually had enough protein and healthy fats to keep me functional; other than one which included a lot of meat. And whenever we had a lean time financially, I felt so guilty about dominating the food budget with meat that I'd try to stop eating it so often, and thus get all low-blood-sugar awful, and the cycle would resume.

As for the exercise: that feeling of new muscle developing, that I'm told is kind of pain and kind of not? To me, at least, that's painful. Okay, I have a pain disorder, so that doesn't necessarily correlate to everyone.

But it is a strange feeling to someone who's not used to it. On top of that, there's the fact that the novice is probably overextending themselves anyway and thus getting 'real' pain. Plus they don't know how to avoid chafing or blisters.

Plus there's probably no sweat-wicking clothing available in their size anywhere (except PERHAPS specialist shops that you athletes know about but we don't), and they may not have ever heard of sweat-wicking clothing anyway.

So exercise means pain, blisters, chafing, unpleasant sweating, probably fungal infections in the folds of their skin (they also probably don't know about the truly effective antiperspirants, only the supermarket ones), and no pleasant results that they can ever detect.

Noone ever teaches these people about proper effective blister preventions, or sweat-wicking clothing, or the truly effective antiperspirants, or effective anti-chafing and anti-fungal treatments. The only reason - ONLY reason - I ever learned about them was a friend who was into athletic things, and was horrified that I didn't know.

On top of that, exercise doesn't feel good for them. It's difficult and heavy and they don't get any feeling of accomplishment. If they're trying dance, they don't feel pretty. If they're trying to run or power walk or something, they don't feel fast. They don't feel strong in the gym, or skilled in 'fitness karate' or other 'skill' sports. You'll have to help them learn to feel pleasure in exercise, it doesn't come naturally for them.

So to you, the choice is serious medical problems, or fun exercise and yummy foods like Vietnamese rice paper rolls, dahl and saffron rice, and tofu or lean meat stir fries.

To them, the choice is serious medical problems, or serious medical problems aggravated by a life of torture (the exercise), and where they're denied the only foods they've found that make them feel anything near 'okay'.

It's not laziness. Okay, it's not necessarily laziness. It's actually a sensible quality-of-life decision when you really learn about it from their point of view.

If you really want to help a diabetic friend (of the 'doesn't exercise or eat well' type), try this:

1. Help them explore low-GI filling foods. Don't try to make them change their diet yet. Instead, help them find foods they enjoy, can afford on a long term basis, and will make for themselves (or can reliably find in the supermarket).

2. In the course of this, help them explore exercise. Go on a picnic and throw a frisbee with them, even for only two or three passes. Park a little further from the entrance to the supermarket. Or park at the same distance, but walk with them through one or two more shops than they'd normally walk. Have your coffee at a coffee shop rather than in their kitchen or yours.

Make it VERY small amounts of exercise at first. They need to learn what their body feels like when its moving, and to learn that it's okay.

3. Get them 2 litres worth of glass resealable bottles, and have them fill them with water every morning and empty them by the end of the day. They might need to squeeze some lemon into them, or have a water filter, or make some sort of tea, but anything like that's fine. Plain water tastes icky to some people.

4. Help them gradually swap high-GI regular meals for low-GI ones. Switch their evening meal from white-flour pizza or KFC to dahl and buryani or a home-made roast with all the (healthy) trimmings. Encourage them to make hummous from chickpeas and have it with chopped veg for lunch.

5. Continue the exercise. Expand it until they're the one suggesting you go fly a kite in the park. Keep an eye on them for signs of blisters, rashes, chafing, and other problems, and help them get those dealt with and prevented in future. Help them find affordable exercise-appropriate clothing in their size: that will be challenge enough for you, much less them.

6. Get them to keep nuts and seeds and other convenient but healthy & low-GI snacks on hand at all times.

7. Once they're comfortable with all of that, NOW you can take the soda and lollies away. Some of them will have dropped them already. If not, support them through the transition.
Let them know it's normal to feel awful, or just strange, during the transition, and be there for them while they go through withdrawal. It really is a kind of withdrawal.
Let them know that they can expect to feel different once it's completed - they're switching from one type of blood sugar control to another, and they're going to need to adapt to the new 'base metabolism'. But once they're used to it, they'll actually be more functional and more comfortable than with the old system.

8. And with the new base metabolism, they'll have more energy for exercise. Now you can introduce formal exercise.

I hope this explains it, and that you find this helpful.

Monday, 3 March 2008

On Applying Makeup

(Written for people who don't know how to use makeup.)



Sunscreen is a must. Either built in to the foundation or tinted moisturiser, or used underneath. As high an SPF as possible. Be careful of built-in sunscreens, some aren't anywhere near as good as a product intended solely for sun protection can be.

Foundation and Primer

Test several types of foundation. Even if your skin is smooth and near-perfect, foundation helps other makeups stick properly. A good foundation will either feel good on your skin, or feel like nothing at all once it's dried.
If your skin isn't near-perfect, a foundation will usually smooth out the colours of your skin and leave you with a much more even-looking skin tone. It can also reduce the visibility of broken capillaries or other blemishes.
Go to many makeup counters, and get the staff there to apply foundation, telling them you're trialling foundations. Leave the foundation on at least half the day, and keep notes on what they feel like and look like. (If you prefer ethical stuff, research which makeup companies you want to use before you start testing.)

There's also primer, which is usually a cream and it helps keep foundation and other makeup on your skin. It doesn't colour your skin. I'm not aware of primers which include sunscreen, but if I found one I'd be on it in a flash.

Primer options:
  • primer only.

  • primer then foundation. Any foundation type.

  • no primer. Primer is optional, and many people don't use it or don't like it. When trialling foundations, if the company has primer, have them put primer on one side and no primer on the other.
Foundation options:
  • Tinted moisturisers. These have the least colour, but will smooth the appearance of your skin to some extent. If you want to hide broken capillaries or other blemishes, use a concealer under them. Many have sunscreen built in.

  • Cream foundations. Colour in a cream. Many include sunscreen, some are their own primer.

  • Mineral powder foundations. Colour in a powder. The powder often acts as a barrier-type sunscreen, which is the highest SPF possible. However, to get the barrier effect, you need to apply enough powder to completely cover your skin. Many people love powder foundation - including me. Since purchasing it, my skin has become less tanned (great!) and I need to replace mine with the next shade paler.

  • 'face powder'. Some people get shiny-faced with a cream foundation, and this is just a coloured powder in a matching shade. Face powder isn't intended for covering facial colouration or blemishes, but is great for making a shiny face look more naturally matte.


When testing your foundations, if you mention an interest in concealers, you'll discover many blemishes, marks, and variations in skin tone you never noticed in your own face. The makeup sales staff will have concealers in a bewildering variety of colours and intensities of concealment. Decide which, if any, blemishes or colour variations you actually want to hide, and use whichever concealer/s hide them to your satisfaction. The rest of the markings you can consider of no more significance than the unique patterns of colouring in your pets' fur. They make you you, and not some photoshopped barbie doll.


To start with, buy an inexpensive kit with lots of colours - there are always some around. You'll play with them, and decide which colours suit you best, and what types you like to use.
There are a lot of options in colour and shape. For eyebrows alone, you can dye them, or use eyebrow pencils, or eyebrow powders. You can pluck them or leave them natural, or even take them off completely. And there's no 'right' way, it's all to your personal taste. That's just the eyebrows!
Colour and shape is all down to your artistic choice. I'll speak more about colour and shape in the section on application.


In Australia, there are a couple of companies that produce makeup tools aimed at the low-middle end of the market. They do reasonably good tools, certainly good enough to get started with. There are probably similar companies elsewhere.
  • Pick up a sponge set for creamy sunscreens, primers or foundations. You'll learn which shape and type of sponge suits you best as you try them, so if there's a bag of mixed types, go for that as your first sponge purchase.

  • Pick up a big brush to use for powder foundation, face powder, or blushes. If you chose two or three of those, buy two or three big brushes.

  • Pick up a stiff-bristled brush for eyebrow powder, if you want to try that.

  • Pick up a set of eyeshadow sponges and a thick and thin eyeshadow brush, if you can get both sponges and brushes cheaply. You'll decide which you prefer after you've used them for a while. Otherwise, get the brushes - most eyeshadows come with sponges. Lousy sponges, but good enough to decide if you want to get your own later.

  • Pick up an eyeliner brush, some people love them, some hate them. You won't know until you try.

  • Pick up a lipstick brush. I've never met someone who started using them who didn't love them.
Cleaning, moisturising and caring for your face (and your tools)

Personally, I use baby shampoo (no more tears!) to remove makeup. You need to use something that will take even waterproof mascaras and long-lasting lipsticks off, but honestly I've found soap or shampoo gets rid of almost all makeup. The shampoo is gentler on my skin and eyes than soap, so I use that. When I brush my teeth, I also brush my lips lightly. That gets rid of lipstick and any dry, chapped skin on my lips.
Sales staff will promote the virtues of their cleansers - frankly, use what works and leaves your skin in good condition. Even if it's soap or shampoo.
Skin that has been stripped of its sebum by soaps and cleansers needs replacement sebum. Myself, I use a vegetable-oil based massage oil (or even olive oil from the supermarket). I put a few drops on my palms, and lightly rub it over my skin. An avocado mask is also an excellent sebum-replacer. Peel an avocado badly (so you keep avocado on the inside of the peel), eat the yummy bit, smear the skin with the avocado and avocado oil inside the peel. Wash the avocado off your face with water when you're sick of it sitting there.
I never exfoliate my face with anything more harsh than a facecloth. All you need to remove are the actual flaking-off cells - the rest of the dead cells are supposed to be a protection for the living cells underneath.

I clean my brushes and sponges with either soap or baby shampoo, rinse them with water, and leave them where they'll dry thoroughly. I ensure the brushes are placed so the bristles will dry smoothly and in the right position.
If you use natural bristle brushes, a weekly smear with a light massage oil or a little bit of olive oil from the kitchen will help keep them in good shape. Put a drop in your palm and lightly brush each side of the brush over your palm. Start with the big brushes, you don't want a whole drop of oil on a tiny brush! With the big brushes, work the bristles lightly with your fingers, to try to spread the oil over the whole brush.

When to throw things out

Never keep an opened mascara longer than 3 months. (For this reason, I don't bother to use mascara. I don't use it often enough.)
Liquid eyeliner also touches very close to the eye. Toss that every three months too. Pencil eyeliner is less vulnerable to bacterial propagation, as every time it's sharpened the outer layer gets taken off.
Get rid of any cream that looks like it's separated, or that has started to smell.
Get rid of any lipstick with a taste or texture that's changed from how it started out.
Get rid of anything that's a different colour from how it was when it was new.
Powders and pressed powders (like eyeshadows) last longer, but don't use anyone else's, and don't use them if they look, smell or feel 'off' or odd.

You can see lots of different 'when to discard' articles on the 'net. Some will say to get rid of even your powders every six months. Other than mascara or eyeliners, I'm not that vigilant - if I was, I'd never use any makeup! I certainly don't use anything often enough to use it up in six months, and I won't buy things that are mostly wasted.

Using testers

  • Always use hygiene and courtesy when you're using testers.
  • If there are applicators provided, take your sample with the applicator, and don't reuse an applicator that's been on your skin. This is usually how blushes and concealers are tested.

  • If a foundation is in a common-use tester, apply the foundation to the base of your cheek, where the jawbone is. You can check how well it matches the base shade of your skin, and still stay clear of your eyes, mouth and nose.

  • Test lipstick shades with the skin on your hand, usually the skin between your wrist and thumb. Never use a tester lipstick that's available for common use on your lips.
  • If you want to test a lipstick on your lips, go to a makeup counter where the staff apply the makeup. They put a sample of the lipstick into a clean dish, and then apply it from the dish with a disposable brush. That level of hygiene is necessary.

  • The hygiene rules for your lips are even more important for your eyes. Common use eyeshadow, eyeliner or mascara never goes onto your eyes. Always test the shades on your arm - usually the underside of your arm is a decent approximation for your eyelid colour.

  • If staff are applying eye makeup for you, ensure they use the dish-and-disposable-applicator method. If they don't, leave. You don't want an eye infection!

  • Anything applied by putting a sample into a clean dish and using a disposable applicator is safe. For any common-use tester, use an unbroken stretch of skin that is not near your eyes, nose, or mouth.

  • If you're using testers yourself, only use enough to determine whether you like the product.

  • At a makeup counter where staff apply the testers for you, it's generally good manners to at least consider making a purchase. The company is investing staff time and makeup on you, and deserves to have you be a real prospect. However, I have a personal rule: I'm honest with the sales staff and tell them the reason for my visit. If they know that I'm intending to try at least a dozen foundations, they can choose for themselves how much time to spend on a one-in-twelve chance that I'll buy from them.
    If I ask for a full makeup test, or ask them to teach me how to do a particular look, I feel it's only fair to buy at least one thing from them, usually more.
    However, if they take it on themselves do to a full makeup, then whether or not I buy anything depends on how nice they are, how I like the product, and what my finances are like. I've let them know my intention, and I'll remind them a couple of times, but some people are just pushy. I'll buy from the nice ones who are trying to share with me something they like or think will help me, but the pushy ones don't get anything.

Wash your hands and face. Always use clean hands to apply makeup, and apply onto a clean face. Baby shampoo or mild soap is fine.
If your hairstyle is going to go over your face anywhere, brush your hair back and use pins, a hair elastic, or a hairband to keep it out of your way. Do your hair after the makeup.
If your hairstyle isn't going to go over your face, do it either before or after the makeup as you prefer. Keep it out of your face while you're applying the makeup, though.


If the sunscreen isn't built in to your makeup, apply the sunscreen. Blend it in to the hairline, actually in among the hair. Make sure to apply it thickly enough to do you good - instructions will be on the bottle.

Follow the sales staff's instructions. There are so many concealers, and so many methods of application, that I can't be more precise.

Foundation, primer and/or tinted moisturiser: creams
Squeeze some of the cream into the palm of your off hand or into a clean dish. How much depends on how thickly you like using it - if you don't know, start with a bit the size of an Australian 20c piece or an American quarter. Using your dominant hand, dab your finger into the cream on your palm and smear that onto the tip of your nose, then another dab's worth into the middle of your forehead, another onto each cheek, and the rest onto your chin.
Get a sponge, and using smooth strokes of the sponge, spread each of the five dabs into their area of the face - nose and its immediate surrounds, forehead, chin and mouth, and each cheek area. Spread it right into the hairline. Then pat the sponge lightly over each eye area, getting foundation onto the eyelids and the skin between eyelids and eyebrows. Pat the sponge over your lips, you'll want some foundation or primer on your lips for lipstick.
Finally, stroke the sponge along your ears, the underside of your chin, down and around your neck, and along your decolletage all the way to beneath the neckline of the shirt or dress you'll be wearing. The point of this is to blur the edge of your makeup - you don't want a noticeable line where the makeup stops.

Foundation powder
Tap a bit into the lid of the powder container, or a clean dish or bowl. How much depends on how thickly you like using it - if you don't know, start with a bit the size of an Australian 20c piece or an American quarter.
Using your powder brush (you bought one, right?), dab the brush into the powder and brush it lightly onto the tip of your nose, then another dab's worth into the middle of your forehead, another onto each cheek, and the rest onto your chin.
Using smooth strokes of the brush, spread each of the five dabs into their area of the face - nose and its immediate surrounds, forehead, each cheek area, chin and mouth. Spread it right into the hairline. Then pat the brush lightly over each eye area, getting foundation onto the eyelids and the skin between eyelids and eyebrows.
Finally, stroke the brush along your ears, the underside of your chin, down and around your neck, and along your decolletage all the way to beneath the neckline of the shirt or dress you'll be wearing. The point of this is to blur the edge of your makeup - you don't want a noticeable line where the makeup stops.
If you run out of powder at any stage, add more to the dish and lightly touch the brush to the powder.

Colours: general

The fun part.

Study your face, and think about what part of your face gets the most compliments. Maybe you have amazing eyes. Maybe your lips are perfect. Maybe you love your high cheekbones, or the shape of your jaw, or the curve of your eyebrows. Maybe you have two or more features you love. Those are the features you'll highlight.

It's usually a good idea to only go all-out on one feature. Strong eye makeup and bright red lipstick can be too 'busy', with each distracting the viewer from the other. Even worse, it can make you look cheap. Make it a rule: go all-out on one feature, and make all the rest only an enhancement of nature. It's the makeup equivalent of Coco Chanel's rule: When you're done dressing, you should look in the mirror and take one thing off before you leave the house.

Before you start playing with colour, look at people. Not in magazines or on TV, look at people in the street or at the mall. In magazines and on TV, eyebrows are evenly coloured all the way along, and never meet in the middle. Real people have eyebrows that thin on the outer edge, and some meet in the middle. Models seem to have perfectly symmetrical lips and relatively even upper and lower lips. People in the street or shopping malls don't. Magazines portray people with smooth, even skin and delicate lines of blush precisely placed wherever the current fashion is. In the street you see people with cheek colourations ranging from none at all to the entire cheek a dusky rose set in an alabaster-pale face. (I've only seen the extreme version of rose-cheek/pale skin in one person, but I've seen a lot of less extreme versions of it.)

Now you can look at magazines and TV. Look at how differently the professional make-up artists colour different people. A dark-haired dark-eyed woman might get smokey eyes and rich, deep colours; while a pale-skinned redhead is more likely to get a pastel look. However, even the pale-skinned redhead can have smokey eyes, they just have to be a different sort of smokey.

Use the professional looks to see what's likely to be possible on you, and to see what's less likely but are looks you love. Use your research in the streets and at shopping malls and other public places to see what you can really expect, and to see what's normal and human and doesn't require professional techniques, lighting, camera work and photoshopping to achieve.

Colour: main face & blush

There are three reasons to add colour to the main part of the face (as in, not the eyes, lips and eyebrows). One is face painting - playing with adding colour in unexpected places, or intentionally painting ourselves with butterflies or the colours of our favourite sports team.

The second is to simulate or enhance natural colouration. People with little natural colour on the cheeks, chin or forehead may prefer to add some, or those with colour may want to vary the intensity or tone of theirs. If this is your goal, look for people with a base skin tone similar to yours, notice where they have colour and what shade it is, and play with putting similar shades of powder on the same places in your face. Or if you prefer, just use the blushes in your colour kit, or testers in a store, and play with putting blush on your face until you find a configuration you like.
Applying blush to enhance natural colouration is an art - you just do it until you like it.

The third reason is to enhance or highlight contours. This requires subtlety.
The human face is usually lit from above - this is why as teenagers we hold a torch beneath our face to make it look spooky. However, holding a torch beneath your face is a good exercise for learning what our face contours are.
Study your face in many kinds of light, and also with a torch under it. Notice the cheekbones, the jawline, the lines between the nose and the mouth, the shadowing and highlighting around the eyes.
The basic rule to enhance a contour is this: apply light colour to the place where you want it to look like light is falling directly onto it, and darker colour to the place that you want to look shadowed.

Colour: lips

If you decide to use lipliner, one good technique is to put a dot each on the two points of the 'cupid's bow' at the top of your top lip, a dot each at each side of the lower lip below the 'cupid's bow' points, and a dot near each of the four corners of the lip. Then look at yourself in the mirror, and wash off and redraw any dots which look wrong to you. Then join the dots.

Lipliner should be on the edge of the coloured part of the lip - don't go past that, it'll look odd. You can apply lipliner as a drawn line around the edge of the lip, or all over the coloured lip - it's your choice. I often use it as a base layer of lipstick, covering my whole lip with it.

Use your lip brush to paint lipstick on your lips: on the coloured part, and if you used lipliner, right over most of the liner. Don't leave yourself with a blatantly obvious line: that only looks good on drag queens.

To make lipstick last, do several light layers of lipstick. Apply the lipstick, pat it with a tissue, apply another layer, pat with a tissue, repeat. Three times is a good minimum.

To prevent lipstick from sticking on your teeth, wrap a tissue around your finger, stick the tissue-clad finger into your mouth, close your lips around it, and pull it out. That will remove the lipstick that would have stuck to your teeth.

Colour: eyebrows

Your eyebrows have a natural line and colour to them. Try to mostly match this line and colour: it will be most appropriate to your face. (Unless you're doing a dramatic look like a Gothic or Punk look, then you can do whatever you want.)

Hold a pencil (or a brush) up beside your nose, vertically. The eyebrow should start about where the pencil crosses the eyebrow line.

Hold the pencil beside the base of your nose, tilt it so that it crosses the eye at the outer corner. Your eyebrow should end about where it crosses the eyebrow line.

Use the eyebrow colour to thicken or darken any thin parts of your natural eyebrow between those two points.

If you're using a powder, just lightly brush it where you need it. Rather than dumping a lot on at once, lightly brush it once, look at it, brush it again if it's not dark enough, and keep repeating until it looks even with your naturally darker sections of eyebrow.

If you're using a pencil, draw thin, short lines. Try to mimic what eyebrow hairs look like, and the angle of those hairs.

Colour: eyes

There are many, many ways to colour your eye area. I'll describe a classic 3-shade method.

Start by making sure you have a little primer and/or foundation on the eye area. This will help the colour stick.

Using eyeliner, draw a line around the rim of your eyes, just above or on the brow line. If you're going for a natural look, make this a thin line of a colour similar to your eyelash shade, and either leave the lower lid bare or have a line that starts thick at the outside and fades down to nothing. If you're going for a dramatic look, this line can be thicker - as thick as you want it.

For the eyeshadow, use a brush, sponge or your finger, as you feel most comfortable.

Apply the palest eyeshadow shade you intend to use over the whole upper eyelid area, all the way up to the eyebrow. If you wish, apply some below the eye itself: especially on the outer edge.

Apply a median shade on the eyelid and the fold, letting it go onto the upper eyelid area but leaving the most prominent part of the brow bone pale. Let it smudge in the outer corner of the eye.

Apply the darkest shade on the eyelid itself, and smudged slightly into the outer corner of the eye.

If you want to use a fourth shade, have an even darker shade which you apply only into the fold itself. Or you can have an even paler shade, which you apply in a vertical stripe along the very centre where the brow bone and eyelid are most prominent.

Using a brush, sponge, or your fingers, smudge all the shadow colours so they're blended into each other.

Apply mascara with a mascara wand. Pull the wand out of the mascara tube, brush off the excess mascara on the end onto the edge of the tube or onto a clean tissue. Lightly stroke the wand along your eyelashes. Put the wand back into the tube, pull it out again, wipe the excess off, stroke the wand along the eyelashes on your other eye. Repeat until you like the look of your eyelashes. Use lots of light applications, rather than one thick one. And never 'pump' the wand into the tube, that introduces air into the mascara and can make it go off more quickly.

Look: enhancement of nature

To have a look that's very natural, search for lipstick, foundation, blushes and eyeshadows in colours that are already on your skin. If you study your skin, you'll see that you actually have a lot of different shades, especially around your eyes.

Once you have these, apply them lightly.

For a less natural and more 'enhanced' look, choose your eyes or your lips (or some other feature), and apply your makeup a little more strongly there - or in a colour that's a bit stronger than your natural shades.

Look: dramatic

Decide on one feature, usually your eyes or your lips, and apply makeup in very strong shades on that feature. Use strong shades on other features, but not quite as strong as those on your chosen feature.

For smokey eyes, use dark grey (not black) eyeliner and apply it heavily, apply the mascara strongly, and use eyeshadow colours that range from charcoal-dark to mid-shades. People with darker skin can use darker colours, alabaster-pale redheads should make their smokey eyes in middle tones.

For lips, use a very strong shade of lipstick and definitely use lipliner.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Open Letter To Bad Customers

Dear Bad Customers,

Recruiting and training a new staff member costs us $X in salary and recruitment costs, and $Y in opportunity costs - that being things the management and senior staff could be doing instead of recruiting and training.

If you wish to drive our staff away, please be advised that we require an absolute minimum of $(X+Y) in profit for each staff member who quits because of you.

Being rude to our staff, arguing with them about things they have no control over, criticising them directly or in their hearing, or insulting them will be considered an attempt to drive our staff away. As will anything other than being a polite, reasonable human being.

If you have a problem with a staff member, request to speak to a manager. It is our job to train and discipline our staff, and we wish to have the opportunity to do it well. That is an opportunity you deprive us of when you try to do it yourself - and since you are usually unaware of the full circumstances, you do it badly. This also costs us money.

So to repeat: if you drive our staff away, we require an absolute minimum of $(X+Y) in profit for each staff member who quits because of you. If you merely participate (along with others like you) in driving our staff away, we will prorate these costs based on the percentage of responsibility you have in our incurring these costs.

You may be unfamiliar with accounting terms, so I will clarify: profit is the difference between what an item or service costs us to provide, and what you pay. It is insufficient for you to spend $(X+Y) in our store, you must spend $(X+Y), plus staffing costs, plus a share of utilities, services, depreciation and rent, plus a share of taxes and administrative costs, plus the wholesale price and distribution costs of any goods you purchase or which we expend on your behalf. We would be happy to provide an estimate of the total amount you must expend, but we will also require you to pay the cost of that service.

Be advised that if you only provide $(X+Y) profit, we will still fire you because of the sheer frustration you cause, the fact that we would not then gain anything from serving you, and the fact that it is better for us to spend our time and effort on customers who are pleasant and who we actually do obtain value from.

We leave it to you to decide how much extra you will need to spend in our store to make it worth our while serving you.


The management and senior staff of This Store.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Recipe: White Sauce

This is one of the basic tools I use for cooking. I've explained how to use it before how to make it, because I think it's easier to understand that way.

Using white sauce

The basic sauce with no modification can be used as a sauce for vegetables or pasta. It's fairly bland unless you add herbs or spices for flavour, however.

Melt cheese into the sauce (at any stage, probably best done after the sauce itself is made if you're a beginner) to make a cheese sauce for pasta, vegetables and some meats.

Add frozen vegetables and let the sauce heat them, or add tinned or cooked vegetables after the sauce is made, to make a vegetable mornay. Tinned asparagus works really well. You can substitute the liquid from tinned vegetables for some of the milk to add more flavour.

Add cooked white meats to a vegetable mornay to make a chicken or fish mornay. Very yummy. You can substitute stock or dripping (the liquid from cooking the meat) for some of the milk to add more flavour.

(If you use dripping, look to see if it has two layers. If it does, the top and comparitively clear layer is fat. Skim that off and use the lower layer only.)

To make lasagne, make a white sauce with cheese melted into it, and make a saucepan of your choice of meat (I cook fat-trimmed mince with a can of chopped tomatoes and a bunch of mixed veg). Layer the lasagne with lasagne pasta at the bottom, then repeat a pattern of mince mix, lasagne pasta, cheesey sauce and lasagne pasta, topping with cheesey sauce. Bake as directed on the lasagne packet.

To make a gravy instead

Substitute the milk for stock (or dripping, see above) and water.

For 'white' gravy, use stock and milk.

For vegetable gravy, use vegetable stock (purchased or home-made).

(To make your own veggie stock, use the water your veggies have been boiled or steamed with. Or save the offcuts of your veggies - broccoli steams and celery tops and carrot tops and the like, and boil them. Keep the water, throw the solid stuff into the garden as mulch. That water is your stock.)

Making white sauce

Approx 1 tablespoon olive oil (or your preferred alternative)
Approx half a cup of flour (or gluten-free flour or anything like that)
Approx 1 litre milk (or soy milk or stock or water or almost any water-based liquid)
Salt, pepper, herbs and spices to taste

Into a large saucepan, put the olive oil and the flour. Mix them together with a wooden spoon (or other stirring tool) until they're fully mixed, then put the saucepan on a hotplate at medium heat.

Add a small amount of milk and stir it in. Keep adding milk and stirring for a while - see below.

Here's the tricky part: you've got a chemical reaction going, and you want to control that reaction. You do it by controlling how much heat you apply. I recently realised that what I do is hold the saucepan with my off hand and stir with my right, and I keep moving the saucepan to get a fine level of heat control.

Watch the mixture when you add milk and stir - you'll see that there's some areas where the milk is truly blended in with the thickening sauce, and some where it isn't. You want to get the milk all blended in, which is part of why you stir.

You'll also notice that where there's more heat, the sauce is thickening faster. This is the other reason you stir - to try to get it to thicken evenly.

If you find you get it lumpy, take it off the heat and stir it smooth, then try adding a little more milk before you put it back on the heat. Turn the heat down, and make the sauce with lower heat until you get better at it.

As you get good at making this, you can use higher heats. If you're not so good yet, you can slow it by using lower heat.

Continue adding milk and stirring it in until the sauce is at a thickness you like, and if it hasn't boiled at that point, turn the heat up just a bit and keep stirring (and adding liquid to maintain the right thickness) until it does.

Add the salt, pepper, herbs and spices at any stage. As a beginner, add them when the sauce is almost ready.
As an expert, put herbs and spices in the oil and heat the oil before you add the flour. This brings out a bit more of the flavour of the herbs and spices, but can add a bit to the challenge of keeping the sauce smooth.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Explaining feminism to people who don't 'get it'

Equality is not when a female Einstein gets promoted to assistant professor; equality is when a female schlemiel moves ahead as fast as a male schlemiel.
-- Ewald Nyquist

One of the ongoing problems I've encountered in being feminist is explaining feminism to people who don't understand. This became particularly noticeable when I took over as coordinator of Linuxchix.

This particular article was inspired by one too many men coming into Linuxchix (a place made by women, with a focus on women's needs), and wanting to help, but ending up derailing a lot of conversations and making a lot of women uncomfortable. The situations mentioned below have all happened many times, and my responses have been refined over time.

(I shouldn't need to say this, but I have found that I do. This is a document aimed at helping people who want to teach men to improve the results of their interactions with women, especially women who have been raised in a European or European-derived culture. There are many resources available for women who want to improve the results of their interactions with men. That is out of scope for this particular document.)

Over time, I've noticed that there are certain problems which crop up repeatedly. So it's worth noting what those problems are, and how I've overcome them (or failed to).

It's news to me

This is the category of people who, for whatever reason, haven't encountered the problems that feminism is trying to overcome. Women who've not yet personally been discriminated against or harassed, women who assume the harassment they have encountered is individual and personal, men who've never been harassed or denied jobs, or who've never wanted to go into traditionally feminine fields, men who've never had women tell them about their experiences, and people who've never seen the statistics of gender bias.

Watch for these people when you're writing 'how you can help' posts, or posts about one potential solution, or one aspect of the gender bias problem. They'll be falling all over themselves saying the usual things: 'I've never seen this problem', 'I wonder if (other solution) can help', 'is (whatever you're discussing) caused by (any of the reasons you're not addressing)'.

Take a deep breath. Resist the urge to scream 'are you blind?'. Inform these people that you're sorry, but this is not news. And send them to some place like Finally Feminism 101 for a primer. Or to a particularly patient friend who knows what's going on.

Be specific. You'll come across as dismissive if you do nothing other than send them there randomly - find a particular section that addresses their specific question, and make yourself (or your friend) available for informed questions. If you are patient, and they're genuinely new to the whole idea, you can develop an ally.

Communication Breakdown

These are the men (it's almost always men) who, when someone (we'll say Diana) complains about them 'always talking about wanting dates' respond with 'but I never asked Diana to go on a date with me'. Or when someone else (Lisa) complains about them never getting the hint to shut up about sex talk when she tries to give such hints, responds with 'noone ever asked me to shut up'.

The sad thing is that in a sense, they're both right. But only in a sense. The man never did ask Diana to go on a date with him - he just talked about wanting a date in front of her, to the point where she felt harassed and pressured. He also never stopped when she hinted or even directly asked him to. Lisa did ask him to shut up - but not in language which he understood.

Unfortunately, this type of man (usually it's men) is used to much more direct language than most women are used to. I've found that the best solution in this case is to have examples of the situation that's being complained about, and to actually demonstrate to the man what he's doing that upsets women, and what women actually say to indicate they're upset. This, naturally, works best in IRC or mailing lists or some other way in which the communication is stored.

If you can't do that, and even if you can, you need to explain that males and females are socialised differently, and trained to use different forms of communication. You need to explain that the strongest 'shut up' a female-socialised person is likely to give is 'would you shut up already!' - and that you understand that he's used to seeing that as a weak signal, but if he wants to associate with women, he's going to have to retrain himself.

(I have had men tell me that 'that's not a serious "no"'. When I asked what was, they tell me that the "no" message should have included a threat. It took a great deal of explanation to inform them that women, in general, don't see a threat as necessary to a "no" message. Just "no" will do.)

If you want the man in question to change their behaviour, you're going to have to let him give himself excuses for his behaviour, and for his not having seen on his own that he's being an ass. Noone likes to see themselves in a bad light. It's very satisfying to yell at someone that he's behaving horribly, but it's not going to get them to change. They have to see benefit for themselves in changing.

You are inevitably going to be asked "Why should I change? Why can't women change?" The answer is obvious, but try to lead him to figure it out for himself. Try to get him to realise that he's asking three billion women - or perhaps only the few thousand he'll associate with in his lifetime - to all change for the benefit of someone they barely know.

This will frequently get the response 'but you're asking me to change'. Remind him that he is the one who wants a different result from his interactions with women. He wants a different reaction from other women - and neither you nor he have the power to change other people. The only two people the two of you can change are him and you - and you're not going to be there every time he talks to other women.

The other thing - and this is going to be difficult for him to understand - is that his behaviour is making people feel uncomfortable, discriminated against, hassled, harassed or even unsafe. This is especially so in cases where someone is talking about dating or his sexual needs and desires, and not taking a hint to stop.

This leads us neatly to the next problem:

Different Perceptions

People like to feel good about themselves. They like to have self-images in which they're the good guy, the nice person. It really upsets them if they're told that they're making people feel scared. Every single one I've spoken to about this has said 'but I wasn't going to hurt anyone!'

The problem is that the people they're talking to don't know that.

Piaget's theory of child development states that young children are egocentric, that is that they think of things from only their point of view. They grow out of it somewhere around pre-adolescence, but can revert in adolescence for a time.

Sometimes I think that the people who say 'but I wasn't going to hurt anyone!' have reverted to egocentrism. It can be very, very difficult for them to understand that the people they're talking to aren't telepathic, and don't somehow magically know what they intend.

You need to try to get that through to them, before you can get to the next stage. I find that it's very effective to say something like 'unfortunately, good guys don't wear halos, and bad guys don't wear horns'. Make a joke of it, let them laugh.

The next stage is to show them that they, personally and individually, are scary. Especially if they've been ignoring women trying to get them to stop talking about sex (or dates, or whatever). Explain to them that women who've used their strongest 'stop' and failed to get them to change their behaviour in conversation are going to be justly afraid that their strongest 'stop' won't work in person, either.

And this, I am very afraid, may be one of the ways in which date rape occurs. Women say 'stop' in a way that men don't take seriously. And the women in question don't have a stronger 'stop' to use short of actually fighting. Yet if the man isn't physically forcing her, just ignoring her 'stop', she doesn't feel that she has a right to physically fight him.

Unfortunately, if you actually tell the man that last paragraph, he'll probably try to say you're calling him a rapist, and will shut down and stop listening to you. Again, it comes down to people wanting to think well of themselves. So just teach them that they have to listen to weaker 'stop' messages than they get in all-male interactions, and to take the weaker 'stop' messages seriously.

I'd be flattered

This is another egocentric argument. The speaker says that they'd be flattered if they were hit on, their breasts (or crotch) were stared at, or they were incessantly hassled for dates or sex.

You can sometimes partially change their behaviour with a simple "yeah, well I'm not you", or "yeah, well some people like haggis, too. You know, sheep stomach filled with offal?". (Feel free to replace haggis with something you know to disgust the person. Especially if they're Scottish.) Unfortunately, this sort of argument doesn't really improve their understanding, though it may put a crack in their egocentrism.

The only way I can think of to get through to these people is analogy, which means you'll have to find an analogy that works with the particular target.

Much as I hate to do it, appealing to homophobia works with many men - asking if they'd feel comfortable in a gay bar, having their butt groped and their crotch stared at, being approached for sex several times an hour. That can backfire, unfortunately - they'll assume that 'being hassled by the wrong gender' is the problem, rather than 'being hassled at all'. Which, of course, leads to the 'you're all a bunch of lessos, REAL women enjoy it' assumption.

Another type of analogy is the interruption one - ask them to imagine themselves trying to concentrate on something difficult and important to them (or if you're in person, get them to try to concentrate on something). Then get them to imagine being poked in the arm every few seconds (or poke them in the arm). Ask them how they feel about being poke in the arm.
Or if you think they'll just say 'but noone wants a poke in the arm', bring them something good. Demand acknowledgement every time. 'Hi, I've brought you a cake. Tell me how wonderful I am.' They'll soon get sick of it.

Of course, they then might decide it's only the attractive women who don't enjoy it.

Another approach is to try to explain that it doesn't matter why a particular person doesn't enjoy the attention, it only matters that they don't. Which goes right back to the analogy about the haggis.

In case it helps, though, here are some reasons women don't enjoy inappropriate sexual attention:
1. It distracts the woman from the matter at hand.

2. It distracts other people in the area from the matter at hand.

3. It is evidence that the person giving the attention isn't paying attention to the matter at hand. (And if he/she says he/she is, rephrase to 'it makes it seem to everyone else as if the person giving the attention...')

4. In situations where women are a minority, it reinforces that the woman is 'other', an outsider to the group, by demonstrating that it's appropriate to act towards the woman in a way different from how the group interacts on their own.

5. In cultures which have a madonna/whore dichotomy (also known as virgin/whore dichotomy), sexual attention directed at her can make a woman be perceived as on the 'whore' side of the dichotomy, regardless of her own actions. And in such societies, a 'whore' is treated very, very differently from a 'decent woman' (aka a madonna).
Note that modern western society has a lingering madonna/whore complex, despite over a century of feminists trying to break that.

6. In societies with the sexual double standard, young girls are taught that it's their responsibility to control the urges of the men around them. In Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Meatloaf expresses the roles male and female are expected to play, according to the double standard. The male is free to express his urges and desires, and the female is required to take responsibility to control them - or at least, to obtain the male's commitment to her for life. Otherwise, she'll be 'ruined' and placed on the 'whore' side of the madonna/whore dichotomy. (In some cultures, failure to control a man can make her the subject of an honour killing.)
Quite frankly, controlling the urges of all the men around a woman gets extremely tiring. Explain to your target that he needs to be careful if he's in any culture with the double standard (for example, any culture where promiscuous men are studs and promiscuous women are sluts or hos). Expressing his sexual attention to a woman is placing yet another burden on her - he just become yet another man who expects her to be the one who controls the situation.

Respectfully asking a woman out in a business setting

A suggestion: if the person you're talking with is a man in that culture, and he wants to be attractive to a woman, tell him to express his attraction in a way which demonstrates that he chooses to be in control of his own urges.

1. Choose a place and time which is as appropriate as possible, then offer her his business card and a polite 'I find you attractive, but this isn't the place or time. I would be honoured if we could go out for coffee sometime." And leave it at that.
Note the choice of coffee - a short, non-threatening meeting in a public place, and at a time when she can legitimately cut it short if she chooses without having to make an excuse. (Going out for drinks is completely out. It's in the evening, so excuses are fewer. And it's in the presence of a noted disinhibitor - alcohol.)

2. If she doesn't react positively, or accepts the business card but doesn't contact him, or even gets annoyed, he needs to be content to leave it. For all he knows, she may have just come out of a frustrating session where someone has just been trying to flirt with her while she was trying to give a serious presentation, and wouldn't stop when asked.
He may follow up once or twice, after a suitable period - preferably a week or so - but needs to be prepared to drop the subject and look elsewhere. She might not be interested in him, she might not be interested at all this point in her life, she just might be the wrong woman for him.
I have also had some women point out to me that even this approach is more than they want - that they're at a business event for business, and don't want the distraction of being asked for social contact. Please point out to the man you're speaking with that even this low-key approach is a compromise, and is the best balance I can make between the many, many men I know who say 'but I want to ask her out!' and the many, many women I know who say 'but not at a conference!'

3. He needs to try to find the balance point between expressing interest and being pushy. It varies from person to person, of course. This should be done at the coffee shop - he shouldn't be expressing any interest (other than the business card) in a business setting or at a conference.

4. He needs to be very sensitive to indicators of displeasure or disinterest, especially if he has a problem akin to the ones in Communication Breakdown or Different Perceptions.

5. He must demonstrate clearly that she doesn't need to fear him - that he is one of the men who can actually hear a 'no' (unlike the men in communication breakdown). He should do this in speech and mannerisms, and not wait until he's actually got his hands on her - if she's smart, she won't let him get his hands on her until she is comfortable that he listens to her.

6. Once he has his hands on her, he still needs to listen. He'll need to listen for his whole life - and she'll need to listen to him, too. It's that 'respect' thing. Comes in one flavour: mutual.

The man needs to understand that women have learned that men come in two broad categories: safe and unsafe. We've also learned that men aren't branded with a label saying which category a particular man is in. Men who want to be with smart women have to demonstrate, to the woman's satisfaction, which category they're in.

The 'get a thicker skin' joker

This is perhaps the most egregious, insulting and nasty type of person to explain things to. I saw a sig line once which I loved: "I was going to be offended, but since you said 'no offence meant', I guess it's alright now."

A lot of people seem to think that 'it was just a joke' is a "get out of jail free" card for social interactions. It isn't. Offensive behaviour remains offensive behaviour, regardless of what other behaviours are tacked on beside them. Saying 'it was just a joke' is like putting seatbelts on the Titanic - it's going to go down anyway.

Women (and blacks, and jews, and disabled people, and even Rich White Males) are tired of explaining why they get offended by certain jokes. Its not how the joker perceives it, rather how the target feels that counts; and that varies across individuals for various reasons.

However, if the person you're speaking to refuses to stop making the jokes without hearing reasons, you can point to the reasons (above) why harassment is unwelcome - most of the reasons also apply to jokes.

I find 'can't you take a joke' or 'get a thicker skin' just compounds the insult. There's the insult itself, then there's the implication that I'm somehow inferior to the joker because I happen to have the social sensitivity to understand that belittling another person is offensive - no matter how it's framed.

Of course, an awful lot of humour is, consciously or subconsciously, intended to divide the world into us (who get the joke) and them (who don't). When someone with the potential to be a them is added to the group (for example, a woman to a group which has traditionally been male), they are tested with the group's jokes: most especially the jokes which target and belittle the type of person the newcomer is. If the newcomer doesn't enjoy being targetted and belittled, they fail the test - they're clearly part of their 'type' and not one of us at all.

And then those groups say, in bewilderment, 'why don't women join our group?'


Anyway, most people who seriously believe 'can't you take a joke' is a reasonable response are very difficult to turn around. The best I've managed is for them to decide that, if they think someone might perhaps be offended, they shouldn't say the joke.

I've never managed to get any of them to understand why. If anyone has a method, please include it in the comments!

But you say 'just treat us like one of the boys' and now you want to be treated differently

When I got hit with this one, for many years I was confused and couldn't figure out how to respond. Recently, I've figured out what is going on.

Women ask to be treated 'like one of the boys' because many men treat women differently. Some think the only way to talk to a woman is to flirt. Some think the only way to talk to a woman is to dominate and command. Some think the only way to talk to a woman is to treat her as a lover, or a mother.

Women, of course, want to be treated as equals and as individuals. Just like men treat other men as equals and individuals. And that's what's meant by 'treat us the same as men': don't flirt with us, don't think of us as a different species that all want the same thing, don't treat us as subhuman, superhuman, or in family roles.

Try to explain what it is we don't mean, as well: we don't mean that we want to participate in locker-room jokes. For the most part, we're not impressed by farts, belches, or how high you can pee.

Explain that we definitely don't want to be the butt of jokes - practical or otherwise. Yes, men sometimes do those to each other. But when I asked a group of men to think about how frequently any particular male in their work environment was the butt of humour, then how frequently the women were, they were shocked. Typically, they would report that there were one or two men who repeatedly made the women their preferred target; and that even if everyone else joshed the women no more than they did the men, the women had a much larger burden to carry.

Ask the man you're explaining this to how to think about their own work environments, then lead them to realise how the women in their environment probably feel. See if you can get them to understand that because they, themselves tolerate this overload of targetted humour, the women who are the butt of the jokes probably feels unsafe or unwilling to complain to them.

See if you can get them to volunteer to try to ease the burden somewhat. Suggest that even something as simple as 'ease off, Joe. It's time you picked on someone else for a while, she's had enough' is going to help. Get them to try to make the 'butt of the joke' load more even.

The wastes of time

I have been reminded of other categories:
1. People who are saying 'I don't get it' or 'I don't understand' specifically to waste the time of the person explaining.
2. People who are acting like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and are trying to say 'oops, did I do something wrong?'.
3. People who are fine about feminism, as long as they don't ever have to change their own comfortable lives.
4. Outright anti-feminists (who usually have completely incorrect views of feminism), misogynists, and the like.

None of these groups have any intention of changing their behaviour, nor do they care to understand. For these, I can only recommend a strategy a friend explained to me: don't speak to them, speak to the audience.

That strategy is only helpful in public, of course. It works best when they address you in a way which has the potential to look unreasonable - you simply take a deep breath, and respond to them, publically, in as calm, reasonable and moderate a way as possible. Keep yourself firmly grounded in reality and calmness, make sure everything you say is reasonable, and looks like the 'moderate' or 'middle ground' view, and let the other person take the extremist viewpoint.

You're never going to change the extremist, the fanatic, or the person who thinks they're absolutely right. But if you act calmly and look reasonable and rational and like a good person, you might change the minds of some of the people watching the conversation. That's your goal.

Monday, 21 May 2007

A comment response

Chris Clarke wrote a wonderful piece called How not to be an Asshole

The sixth comment from the bottom is an ignorant comment from a man called Peter. There were other ignorant comments, but they were well replied to. However, comments are closed now. I take the liberty of replying to Peter here.


I'm actually unaware of anyone who uses sexual harassment or rape to support feminism. Nor do I personally know anyone who wants all men dead. Or even most men.

The definition of 'feminism' that I use, and that I live, goes roughly like this: 'I believe this truth to be self-evident, that all people are created equal'.

All people. Male, female, black, white, yellow, red, pink, green with purple polka-dots. In a wheelchair or on crutches or walking tall on two feet.

I will always regret that fear of being labelled a pedophile stopped my brother from becoming a kindergarten teacher. I regret every man who has chosen not to be a nurse or a teacher for reasons of gender-based discrimination, just as much (no more, also no less) as I regret every women who has chosen not to be a crane operator or an engineer.

You (Peter) said:
"Rape and harassment is not useful as an argument against men, but a fact only women are able to solve. it’s not men who have to solve it. and if women really want to get rid of the fear, they have to swallow it or kill all men. because harassment and rapists are a fact like drug abuse. you can’t get rid of it."

Actually, women alone can't solve it. Men alone can't solve it. The people who can stop it are the rapists and harassers. The people who can most influence it are the peers of the rapists and harassers. The people the rapists and harassers are most willing to listen to.

In the case of female rapists and harassers, that is largely going to be women. In the case of males, that is largely going to be men.
If a woman is making a nuisance of herself trying to seduce a male co-worker who's making his disinterest clear, she's more likely to back off if a female co-worker says "Hey Jill, quit it. He's not interested."
If a male is making a nuisance of himself trying to seduce a female co-worker who's making her disinterest clear, he's more likely to back off if a male co-worker says "Hey Joe, quit it. She's not interested."

You'll note a distinctive similarity in the previous two paragraphs. That's because my experience has shown that the type of person who doesn't read their target's disinterest as a signal to back off is more likely to listen to someone they perceive as a peer. And for the most part, they perceive their own gender as a peer, and the other gender as 'not a peer'.

(I initially included gay/lesbian options, but I have too little experience of gay/lesbian harassment situations to reasonably include how to stop them, so I took it out.)

Basically, Peter ... I think you've got an extremely different definition of feminism to the one I, and all the feminists of my acquaintence, use.

And my experience indicates that you're wrong about how to stop harassment and rape. It has nothing to do with killing all the men: the best way to go about it is for non-harassers and non-rapists to make it clear to the harassers and rapists of their own gender that harassment and rape are Not Okay.


Continuing to read your stuff:
"being dismissed latently and being a slave to her will for all of his life. that’s indeed the same as being raped"

Well, MY marriage is nothing like that. We're equal partners. I wouldn't accept a marriage like that, it's anathema to me. In either direction. My brother's marriage is a partnership of equals. So's my parents'. I know such unequal marriages exist, and that the inequality can go in either direction. If it's willing, it's none of my business (but creepy). If it's unwilling, it's a problem and should be addressed - presumably by the police and law enforcement agencies in the region of the participants.

"you forgot the women who sleep with men only because they feel the power, her body has over them. doesn’t she use him as a material for her?"

Out of scope for this discussion. If it's between consenting adults, it's none of my business. If not, it's another case for police and law enforcement, and it's rape.

"yes she does. and she can. he can’t"

Some men have the same level of attraction as beautiful women, and some women the same vulnerability to that attraction as the men vulnerable to female beauty. But see above: if they're consenting adults, it's none of my business. If they're not, police and law enforcement need to deal with it, and again, it's rape.

And it's out of scope for this discussion.

"you forget that sexuality is much more complex than ‘is it rape or is it not"

Sexuality between consenting adults it out of scope. Rape is not.

"It’s only women who have to understand, understand the nature of power. not the power men have over women (in fact, they don’t have), but power itself. I am still waiting for the feminists to understand."

Males have, on average, greater upper body strength, greater speed, and greater overall strength than women. Yes, small men and large women reverse that. But the dynamic exists that males have greater physical power, and the statistics bear out that (reported) male sexual violence against women is more common than (reported) female sexual violence against men.
This, plus cultural and sociological factors, means that in general, women feel a need to be cautious around men who they don't know well and have not yet chosen to trust.

This is the current situation, and is a large part of what has been discussed in this thread. (This and the consequences of it, anyway)

If you are meaning some greater definition of power - something more akin to Machiavellian politics or Sun-Tzu conflict - then that, again, is largely out of scope. If you're meaning sexual power, I understand it. I choose not to use it. If you're meaning the power a manipulator or abuser has over their victim, I again understand it and choose not to use it.

If you're meaning the power of standing up and saying 'Enough!', I do use it.

If you're meaning the power of looking at a man who's got his hand up the thigh of a twelve year old girl and telling him to stop - well, when I WAS that girl, I wish someone had used it to spare me the humiliation and shame. Humiliation and shame which I shouldn't have felt - I should have felt righteous anger. But society had taught me it was MY fault. That I was, purely by being female, a sexual lure that men couldn't resist.

I have since realised that men are stronger than that. That if just being female makes me an irresistable lure, men must be weak-willed creatures indeed. I think that that point of view is horribly insulting to men, and totally untrue. Men are as human as women, and deserve to be thought of better.