Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Nightbot, gamers and gendered slurs.

Note: this has been sitting around for a while and apparently never got published >.< since It's there I might as well share it with everyone. <3

So I am a gamer and am involved in many different communities around gaming. One of these is online where we all play in the beta of an indie game (SpyParty), stream together, chat with each other and even are doing a table top RPG via stream and teamspeak. We use a service called NightBot so we can have music in our stream and also because the ability to add custom commands is funny and handy. 

For example in one of the streams I moderate if you type in "!entertained" NightBot responds with "The stream is entertained! (for the xth time)" We use it as a source for explaining games, inside jokes and general hilarity depending on the stream. We also really heavily rely on the music abilities to create interesting playlists that are viewer created. 


That being said recently we tried to create a joke command that was "... YET." Innocuous right? 


Apparently not. 


When I went to use the command this is what I got in reply from nightbot: (Buananoche is my name on twitch)

Buananoche-> Do you REALLY think I'm going to allow YOU to execute commands on MY behalf? Fuck YOU bitch!
Woah. Really NightBot? What is going on?

Because I had no idea why I got this response from my command I tweeted the guys at nightbot. Like you do.

So I asked why me using ellipses led to that response and this is what the conversation looked like:
if a chat line starts with a period it is interpreted by the server as a chat command 
   and so it calls the person a bitch? That seems extreme
Because people normally try to do abusive things like make it change its /color or /ban folks 
 @buananoche:  it's just rather rude and was an unwelcome surprise in my chat, I'm not a fan of being called a gendered slur. Multiple streams I mod use nightbot and it really turns all of us off of the service. Especially for me, being a female gamer I get called that a lot-It's not welcome where I mod and in our community. Do you have any reason for that response (this was 3 tweets)
Big surprise... that's where our conversation ended. My (male) buddy also tweeted them, he was less annoyed than I am. I don't exactly what he said but he did tell me their response:
"Gamers in general aren't offended by such a statement, or at least I nor friends.  The statement fits along with its timeout msgs."
 Good to know that according to the people at NightBot I am not a gamer in general. And that they think that calling a random person a bitch fits with their other messages. I've used nightbot in various capacities for quite a while now and this is the first time I have EVER seen something like this. Snark? fine. Gendered slurs? Color me surprised.

Am I surprised by TheNightBot's response? Nope. I wish I was though. This kind of thing is so common for me in gaming communities that I just can't bring myself to be surprised when it does. That's why I love the SpyParty community - when I comment about something not being okay what happens? They apologize and actually try to fix it. I have been in the SpyParty community for over a year now, over and over things that are endemic in our society, and especially in gaming society, that I don't stand for the other gamers and the developer himself have made sure to change their unacceptable behavior. Ranging from fat jokes to gendered slurs and more they have taken what I said, maybe questioned the 'why isn't it okay' type things, but they changed the behavior. Even when they admitted to not understanding why it wasn't okay.

Oh, well. Nightbot just responded to me:
Your interpretation of the response is of your own accord. The response serves to defend the bot when people try to undermine it.
Oh thanks NightBot twitter person. I really appreciate being told that

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Twitter, report tweet button and trans phobia

So twitter has finally caved in and is adding a report tweet function to android and the web (why this was rolled out on iPad first I have no idea). This is in response to Caroline Criado-Perez's hoard of harasser that sparked a petition on Change.org to ask twitter to ya know... Make it so people can report rape threats like the ones Criado-Perez was getting. I am not going to hold my breath about how long it will take for this function to be implemented but at least they have said they will.

So why am I posting? Apart from going yay Caroline for successfully campaigning to keep women on the British pound Ophelia Benson's blog posts over at FtB have made me ponder another issue with this. Well, the comments on this made me think. 

Will this report button be used to promote anti-trans action? 
The first comment from jade hawk:
"I agree that twitter needs an easier way to report threats of violence, but I agree with the many trans people and women of color on twitter who have points out that an "abuse" button will be used by e.g. TERFs to kick their critics off twitter, in effect becoming more marginalizing than empowering. Many of them already get silenced by abuse of the spam reporting button. Unlike YouTube, twitter is largely real-time, so having your tweets restored after a day or two, when its disappeared from everyone's feed, protects the abusers of the reporting system... And this... Is why the community of minority women on twitter has been reacting very negatively to many of the suggestions made by white cis feminists on how to make twitter safer: because they experience many of these actions as being thrown under the bus, since they're expressed in these wide-sweeping terms."

Natasha:
"Thank you jade hawk, those are my concerns too, I know a number of trans women whose accounts would have been deleted for abuse because they stood up to trans-misogynists online.
Too often the cure for abuse just makes it worse."

Ophelia responded:
"Why are those concerns more important than the concerns of women who do want a way to report abuse?" 

Erinnikla:
"Who said they are more important?
The point is that they should not be less important"

I can't help but think that the concerns voiced are valid. Silencing via false reports of abuse is a common tactic against trans people and WoC. It's an issue that I've found is rarely discussed outside of these two groups and something that cis and white people don't recognize far too often. Abuse reporting mechanisms are often used to silence - especially when I report of abuse ends up with the post or comment being removed immediately until the reported abuse can be confirmed. This, as jade hawk says, is a way to remove that person from the conversation in a complete and immediate manner. It's a concern that needs to be addressed that I don't have a good answer to.

However, not implementing an abuse reporting system isn't the way to fix the problem. I signed the petition to ask twitter to put the button on the web and android platforms because I think that we also Ned a way to report people that are abusing others on twitter. I've gotten my fair share of harassment on the site and I know others have had it worse than I. Look at Criado-Perez's situation - receiving 50+ rape threats per day with no on site recourse. Look at the situation that happened with mabus, death threats and harassment over years. Both of these situations ended up with police involvement. We can see there is a real problem here. 

Will a report abuse button deter such voracious attackers? No. But it will help with the smaller attacks and may help with a reporting paper trail for larger cases. Someone who is abusing others via social network shouldn't be allowed to continue and blocking or spam reporting doesn't cut it. Blocking just forces the abuser to target the victims friends and colleagues or for others to retweet or post their own vitriol and so long as the person isn't saying the same thing of and over spam reporting isn't exactly effective. Beside, it isn't spam - it's harassment. 

What can we do for trans people and WoC though? A possibility that comes to mind is to have the reported tweet removed from the reporters feed but not the overall conversation, and prevent it from being retweeted until such time as the case has been reviewed. Ideally we would have a quick view system in place too - like under 24hr not days. This would make it so the person doing the reporting has some protection, the case would be reviewed and in the event of a false report to silence the conversation can still go on. Another addition might be to impose a mute on someone with multiple abuse reports, or to have a twitter restraining order in place while the report is being looked at. These still have issues but I am just brainstorming here. I wish I had better answers but abuse and harassment need to be able to be reported, it's important and trans people and WoC could also use it to report their abusers. Like any system set up on a social network though it can be abused and it's hard to have an effective, non-problematic system implemented. 

Any thoughts on a way for abuse reporting that doesn't silence people who are being falsely reported while still protecting victims of harassment and threats? 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hiatus

As some of you know my health isn't so hot these last six months. I'm sorry for the long gaps between posts but I just don't have the spoons to keep up with my daily life let alone blogging. I will get back to it and hopefully my health will improve sooner rather than later but for now - I am going to have to continue my unplanned hiatus as yet another thing has failed on me that requires yet another specialist and even more medication.

Cheers and thanks for the patience
Lee

Update aug 26:
I've gotten a discogram and have essentially confirmed that I'll have to have a disc replacement. Well, likely at some point four of them but here in the states I can only get two at a time so I'll get two replaced then later the other two because they are all dead. I don't recommend a discogram, they suck horribly.

Update jul 30
I'm starting to feel better and while I'm far from 100% I am working regularly again and am getting out a bit. The deep depression I've been in is fading back away so I feel like I should be around again. I've been working through some posts for asexy on sex, and am working on ideas for queer transformations and a good night for science. I'll be trying to write a post during work for at least one of my blogs every day. I may resurrect on dread more to write about games. I am actually feeling excited to write for y'all so look for content soon!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Herpes good food/bad food response



This is a response to this tumblr post as reblogged by fuckyeahsexeducation. It appears to be sourced from e-how. I have posted each section in the article, then my response below it. 

Foods to Avoid
When a herpes outbreak occurs, you should do your best to avoid foods with a high arginine content. Arginine essentially provides the food necessary for the survival of the herpes virus. High-arginine foods include coffee, chocolate, nuts, oatmeal, raisins, seeds, whole wheat bread, brown rice, coconut and lentils. You should also avoid eating fruits with high citric acid content, such as oranges and grapefruits, during an outbreak. In general, you should avoid processed foods and artificial cola drinks.
This is an area where it's a bit more complicated than you think. Dosage matters. Take over what you should or under and you run into problems. A study by Naito et. al. Found that Arginine suppresses the growth of HSV-1 but only up to 50-60 nM. They also found that it is time dependent and that it doesn't directly interfere with the recurrence of the virus. SO what does this mean? It means that you can have your mocha and not really worry about its effect on your herpes. Should you binge on them? No, but in moderation your coffee, brown rice, whole wheat bread and coconut shouldn't do you any harm. As for the claim about citric acid I couldn't find any studies on that – positive or negative. As far as I can tell this came from nowhere.

Good Foods to Eat
Lysine, on the other hand, serves to combat herpes when an outbreak occurs and helps prevent outbreaks as well. Foods with high lysine content include cheese, chicken, eggs, fish, milk, potatoes, beef, brewer’s yeast, yogurt, sprouts, avocados, papaya, mango, apricots, apples, figs, beets and lamb.
Lysine – according to Griffith et. al. Lysine does indeed seem to suppress the clinical manifestations of herpes virus infection. This means that it helps speed up recovery and helps suppress another outbreak. HOWEVER. These results were found with a daily dose of just over 1,000 mg. The lower dosage studied in McCune et. al. Study on the same therapy (around 600 mg per day) found no results. While consuming these foods might give you an increase in lysine intake – you're better off talking to your doctor about options for when you get an outbreak and how to prevent them. If your doctor agrees that a Lysine dosage might help – they can assist you in getting a safe, reliable dosage so that you don't need to gamble on the unknown dosages you might get from foods. Remember – the amount you take matters. A dose too small might not do anything and a dose too large could do some serious damage. 
      Sour
Other Dietary Considerations:
Broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts contain a compound known as indole-3-carbinol (I3C) that may be effective in suppressing herpes. Green tea is also a good thing to work into your diet, as it contains antiviral and antioxidant properties. Most organic herbal green or white teas are good. Consume lots of sprouts as well, because sprouts contain powerful enzymes and vitamins, even more than the actual vegetables themselves. Try to consume fruits and vegetables in raw form rather than cooking them, as cooked vegetables usually have lower vitamin content. Drinking fresh vegetable and fruit juice can do wonders for the immune system and your overall health. There are also some good enzyme and vitamin supplements on the market that can help control herpes. Vitamin C, B5, B6, zinc, and magnesium are all good choices.
Here's the deal on this portion. Have a healthy diet and you don't need to worry about any of this. Yes, green tea is lovely but the research is mixed, we can't say that it will do any good to help with HSV-1 because we don't have results showing this. Based upon the scant evidence I have been able to find in reliable places I am inclined to lean toward this not helping anything save a very minor effect in oral herpes infections that are currently active. Of course there is a huge placebo effect there still.

Consume lots of sprouts as well, because sprouts contain powerful enzymes and vitamins, even more than the actual vegetables themselves.” What does this even mean? How can something contain more “powerful enzymes and vitamins” than the actual vegetable? I don't get it.

As for the cooking vegetables claim to somehow reduce the vitamin and mineral content in vegetables the evidence is mixed. The method of cooking, the type of vegetable etc. all make a difference. According to Masrizal et. al. Microwaving or steaming most vegetables retains most of the vitamin C, iron, and beta-carotene content. Other studies, one such conducted by Leichter et. al. Shows that what reduction there is in boiled vegetables is usually merely leached into the water it's boiled in. My conclusion from this? If you want to keep your cauliflower nutrients make a stew or soup out of it and poof, you still have them.

There are also some good enzyme and vitamin supplements on the market that can help control herpes. Vitamin C, B5, B6, zinc, and magnesium are all good choices.” Or, take your valtrex, and talk to your doctor. If, and only if, you have a vitamin deficiency do you need supplementation and your doctor can help you with that. Otherwise you will merely have at best expensive pee and at worse too much of the vitamin's which can be harmful. Eat a healthy diet, get a bit of sunlight and drink water – the vast majority of people don't need supplements and if anyone other than your doctor (mind you that's a real doctor not a naturopath, herbalist, nutritionist or other such bunk) tells you to take a supplement because you're somehow needing supplementing get a second opinion from your doctor. For some more information about supplements check out the amazing work done by the Science Based Medicine people –  Here,  Here and Here.

As far as the whole “Drinking fresh vegetable and fruit juice can do wonders for the immune system and your overall health.” thing – yeah, fresh vegetable and fruit juice is a great way to get your daily intake of fruits and vegetables but what do they mean 'do wonders for the immune system'? What part of the immune system? How does it help? Does drinking your fruits and vegetables make any difference when compared to eating them? Yes we do need them to help keep up our health but it doesn't do anything different than consuming those particular edibles would anyway. You need the nutrients and your stomach isn't particularly picky about how it gets them. The immune system is complicated and saying things like it 'can do wonders for the immune system' is an immediate red flag for something not to take particularly seriously. Especially without a decent citation.

Other:
I took a look at the citations e-how provided (which don't show up on the tumblr story) and they were sketchy to say the least. Is it surprising that “global herbal supplies” is recommending supplements? Or that the naturopath over at herpes coldsores has a whole host of diet changes with no supporting evidence to recommend? Or that a site flogging books and herbs is recommending something similar with a similar level of evidence? I'll stick with the literature. I personally get oral cold sores and have my whole life, I do indeed practice what I preach and go to the doctor (again – a real one, a MD) when I have an outbreak. She gives me Valtrex – my outbreak goes away in a day or two. It's a virus, we have it for life and pseudoscience trying to persuade us to change our quality of life on the abstract hope that we can somehow prevent an outbreak is ridiculous. Go with the evidence, talk to your doctor and work with them to manage your progress. If you think you are deficient in a vitamin – again, talk to your doctor. There are simple tests that can be done to see and if you are a proper, safe supplement can be prescribed. Thanks to the lack of regulation in the supplement industry on the shelf pills may not actually contain what they are claiming. Some have been seen to have more or less of the dosage, some have other contaminates in them, some herbal supplements have even been found to have high levels of heavy metals. You can take your chances – I'll stick to something that is regulated and has been tested. Overall it comes down to your choice – do you go with something that isn't proven, has clear biases in the recommendations, and isn't regulated well or tested, regulated medicine given by a properly trained MD?

Have evidence I missed? Let me know. I would love to be wrong.

Sources:

Griffity et. al. A multicentered study of lysine terapy in Herpes simplex infection. Dermatologica. 1978;156(5):257-67.
McCune et. al. Treatment of recurrent herpes simplex infections with L-lysine monohydrochloride. Cutis. 1984 Oct; 34(4):366-73.
Naito et. al. Antiviral effect of arginine against herpes simplex virus type 1. Int. J Mol Med. 2009 Apr;23(4):495-9.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A few definitions

I had someone call me on the fact that some of the words I use aren't always in common usage so I thought I would start a definitions list. Given how busy this last weekend has been and my upcoming surgery this seemed right up my alley for something I could do during the 6 hours or so of riding in a car I had over the last weekend. If you see any errors in this list or have things you think should be added, let me know! I am always up for corrections and comments. 

Asexual - a person who doesn't feel sexual attraction towards other people
Agendered - a person who feels they have no gender
ASAB - assigned sex at birth - afab or amab for female/male
Appropriation - taking something from another persons identity that isn't a part of yours.
Body map - a persons internal map of what their body should look like. A person generally experiences some level of dysphoria if this doesn't match their body.
BDSM - bondage, discipline, dominance/submission, sadomasochism
Busted language - language that is oppressive to another group of people
Cis - an overarching term for people whose asab and gender identity match
Cis sexual - a person whose body map matches their body
Cis gendered - a person whose asab matches their gender identity
CASAB - coercively assigned sex at birth
Demisexual - a person who is sexually attracted to people only after getting to know them
Dysphoria - the feeling that something isn't right with your body, either something is there and shouldn't be or something is missing
Erasure - the systematic failure to have things a person can identify with in the culture, e.g.  Not having trans* people represented in schools
Fetish/paraphilia - something that is typically non sexual that arouses a person or is required for sexual gratification
Grey-asexual  - a person who isn't sexually attracted to people the majority of time
Gender fluid - a person who feels their gender is variable and doesn't fit in the binary
Gender queer - a person who feels their gender doesn't fit in the binary
Gender fuck - a person who intentionally expresses their gender to play with people's preconceptions
Heterosexual - a person who is sexually attracted to what is considered the opposite sex
Homosexual - a person who is sexually attracted to the same sex
Intersex - a person who, at birth, the doctors determined their genitalia was "ambiguous." typically doctors would "correct" the ambiguation, thankfully this is being done less and less. Often this leads to ASAB becoming CASAB.
Misgendering - not using the correct gender signifiers for a person
Neutrois - a person who is agendered and experiences dysphoria
Passing - trying to appear as another gender than your asab, e.g. Afab Trying to pass as a male
Queer - a person who feels that modern societal norms don't fit them for their gender, sexuality or expression thereof. Also a political ideology
Sapiosexual - a person who is sexually attracted to intelligence
Sadomasochism - a person who enjoys giving (sadism) and receiving (masochism) pain
Trans* - the overarching term for a person whose asab doesn't match their gender identity
Trans sexual - a person who is trans* and has or intends to have gender alignment surgery or hormones
Trans gender - a person who is trans* and does not intend to have gender alignment surgery or hormones at this time
Tokenizing - having one person represent a whole group

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On Passing



Why do so many trans sites and trans people seem so concerned with “passing?” I don't get it and yet I fall prey to it as well. Sometimes the overarching concern is to be attributed as cis but sometimes the effort seems to be in deliberately being either misgendered or confusing. I know the second part if a choice (though in my gender classes I have felt pressure to 'show' my gender fluidity, which is ridiculous) but it's the first one, the pressure to be attributed as cisgender that really gets me.

I understand wanting to appear cis for safety reasons. There is a huge privilege you gain by being perceived as a part of the typical cis binary. This helps smooth the way in so many ways that cis people likely don't realize. Just not having the thread of being harmed, verbally or physically, by appearing cis (or at least lessening that threat) is likely worth it for many trans and non-binary people. There isn't anything wrong with choosing to accept a certain level of misgendering and dysphoria for safety reasons. That being said, it is an individuals choice to make and one which shouldn't be a decision which others try to influence.

Unfortunately the pressure to 'pass' is something that a lot of people, trans and cis both, put on trans people who aren't passing or who don't 'fir' a mold for their identity. For example, currently the 'in' thing for gender queer people is a kind of hardcore androgyny. Those who don't fit that are questioned to see if they are “real” gender queers or if they are faking it. Unfuck that, a person's gender expression doesn't necessarily equate to their gender identity for one and for two holy no true Scotsman fallacy badman. They aren't “real” gender queers if they don't “fit” a preset idea of what a gender queer person “should” be. That's bullshit flat out. The range of “acceptable” presentation for cis males and especially cis females is massive. Why do those who aren't cis and who aren't binary have such a narrow range of acceptance?

Just look at the difference between a cis female and a trans female. The cis person can range in gender expression from a super femininity to the most hardcore butch and they are still accepted as female. Their femininity, may be questioned, their orientation may be questioned, but almost never their gender. Now for the trans person, unless their gender expression is what is typically considered feminine or they pass well and no one knows their trans history their gender is regularly questioned and is often rejected, even by other trans people. Hell, likely especially by other trans people. I have heard more trans people accuse those of us who aren't trying to pass of “making trans people look bad.” No we aren't, those who insist on being in a box of trans expressions with no deviations are.

This behavior is ridiculous, those who are trans have every gender expression represented just as cis people do but this policing of what is a “true” trans or gender queer or neutrois expression is just horizontal oppression and merely perpetuates the idea that if you don't “fit” you are other. As a whole trans* people are already showing that cis ideals aren't working, non-binary people are showing that binarist ideals aren't working. Rather than accepting that peoples expression needs to “fit” to their gender identity we need to allow for people to express themselves and their gender how they feel is right for them not for some ideal of gender. The cis privilege of gender expression needs to be taken up by trans* people. No matter your gender identity cis male or trans gender queer you should not be condemned for your choice of expression of that gender. We need to move away form this oppressive dialogue of passing and allow people to freely express who they are.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A bit about reclaiming words



The only thing that gives me pause about reclaiming words that I, in my target group identities have had used against me is the fear that the privileged people who hear my reclaimed words will think to themselves “Well they use that word why can't I?”. Words have contexts, histories and meanings and we need to be careful of that. We need to realize that when people are reclaiming that it can be a perilous time for them because the words still hurt and the words are hard to use and the words remind us every damn time we use them that we are oppressed.

It is worth it though. It is worth taking back the power and the hurt and the glory and the pain to fully live. To not let a word with history and power over us hurt us anymore. It is not something that can be done for another person though. They have to do it themselves. A person has to find their words that they want to empower themselves with and if those words need to be reclaimed from their oppressors, more power to them.

It is their choice though. What words, what sounds, what sights, smells and feelings they want to reclaim. What they have the ability to handle right now to reclaim. That needs to be respected. For me, personally, I love the word 'cunt' for my reproductive organs because it's something that has been used to demean me in the past. HOWEVER I know that a lot of people, especially a lot of people with vaginas or who other perceive as having vaginas really really don't like that word. So I don't use it a lot and if I know someone has a problem with it then I will do my best not to squick them in their space.

On my pages, in my blog, and in my head however it is mine and because of that I am empowered.

If that is how a person is reclaiming then awesome.
If that is how a person is using it then awesome.
If that is how a person is being empowered by it then awesome.

I have however seen supposed reclaiming that is harmful.

I have seen people 'reclaim' words used against them and then turn around and horizontally oppress other people in their own target group, with their own identity, with the very word they say they are reclaiming. If the word is still being used to harm, to hold someone down, to trigger bad memories, to attack, then it is not being reclaimed it is being propagated.

Reclamation is not about stealing power from others it is about empowering ourselves so that the words with their whole history of harm and abuse of our own people aren't hurting. When we used these words to harm people who have had them used as weapons by oppressors already we are setting that process back.

That is the difference to me.