Feminism: Introduction

laracroft

I have made an attempt to write about feminism in the past, but got stuck on the fact that I really did not know too much about it. That is to say: I took a few gender classes in the university, but most of the books I read and things we discussed sort of disappeared from my memory. There were more urgent things on my mind.

Recently, I stumbled upon a YouTuber called Liana K. She´s a gamer, a feminist, and also open to honest debate with people from both conservative and liberal camps. In discussing feminism, she draws a lot from debates revolving around video games. Since I´m also interested in video games, I took to watching her videos.

In 2016, Liana uploaded a series called “A Gamer´s Guide to Feminism“. In fourteen videos, she deals with different subjects. I thought it was insightful and much more relatable than any academic textbook or impersonal online article about the subject. Plus, to be honest, I am more into YouTube than I am into reading.

In my “introduction to feminism” I´ll be widely drawing from her video series. Although this approach may cause me to miss some themes the literature has to offer, I feel her analysis is rather comprehensive. If you feel that I am missing anything or am wrong at any point you are free to fill me in and leave a comment.

In my series, the focus is primarily about feminism and not so much about gaming. Therefore I´ll be focusing more on her explanation of feminist ideals and different waves of feminism, than I will focus on gaming. However, if you´re interested, I absolutely recommend that you go check her out.

Supporters I

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Although I survived the events of 2013, and things went much better in the subsequent year, I wasn´t out of the woods yet. Starting testosterone in July 2016, after breaking several bones in anxiety attacks, things started to calm down tremendously. I felt pretty good, and suffered almost zero seasonal depression.

Mid February there were a lot of things causing me stress – quitting yet another gender-team (and looking for an alternative), the legal procedure involving my rent, as well as ongoing PMDD, urinary retention and stress incontinence. PMDD caused me to become near suicidal during the week before Shark Week.

This happened again two weeks ago, and again my uncle (the same as before) offered to take me in. He wasn´t home very often, but I could have the key to  his apartment, and take a break from my own place. Considering my constant quarrel with my roommates (they barely ever clean) this was a relief.

At first this went great. I rejoiced being able to take a normal shower, one that wasn´t smelly, and doing laundry in a washing machine that doesn´t smell of mold. I had to adjust a bit when my uncle came home, considering the amount of energy he brought (ADHD most probably).

I had been more keen on being honest this time. Rather than concealing self harm I wanted to tell him about it, rather than suffering in silence I wanted to show what I was dealing with. And I did, to an extent. He witnessed an outburst and I managed to calm down rather than harm myself.

That´s progress. However, yesterday, while he was at work, I had another day of urinary retention. Not being able to piss drives me crazy and simultaneously the sensation of my bladder pressing unto the female bits makes me want to hurt myself. This ended up driving me into spiraling anxiety and self harm.

Read the last part of my post here.

Newly Born

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Naaaaaaaaants ingonyama…. bagithi Baba, 
Sithi uhm ingonyama…

If you were born in the eighties, like me, this was hard to miss. My grandmother and grandfather took me to the cinema, and I blubbered like there was no tomorrow. Since, The Lion King stuck in my head – it became a symbol for the hardship I went through as a kid and the mindset I needed to survive. It inspired me to become larger than myself.

Looking for inspiration in the movie, themes such your inner power (“remember who you are!“) and the never-ending wisdom of Rafiki, including the scene where he whacks Simba and then tells him to get over it (“the past hurts“), I would never have imagined the uncanny ways in which I would indeed re-discover my “true” self.

In my head, I had imagined something else entirely. I thought that I would make an epic come-back to the scene of the crime, much like Simba had done, and then beat my past around a little bit and send it whimpering into oblivion. Instead, I left myself there – and stepped into a new skin, a new gender, a new role – even a new name.

It´s been less than two years, but already my “new” life feels so comfortable, so incredibly natural, that having lived before seems almost unbelievable. It´s as if somebody wrote a fiction story and inserted it into my brain, in lieu of actual memories -readers who have watched Blade Runner will get the idea. It´s as if my entire life before did not exist.

I am a newborn, barely there. Aside from some rusty old coping mechanisms, I can barely remember what it was like before, how I used to feel or how I used to think. The memories of being “her” are slowly disappearing – they are fading away in my mind. I find that I can think much more clearly now, that I am able to learn and remember new things.

It´s strange to be brand new. It´s strange to be old and yet new, the lines in my face attesting to the experiences she lived through. When people ask about my past, I want to answer that I have none. Because it´s the truth. Her past is not my past – my past is being written as I live and breathe.

Feelin´ Good

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I´ve neglected this blog for a little while, in the Christmas and New Year period (have a great one, everybody). This was partially due to the other stuff of life and partially on purpose. Mainly, I wanted to see if I would be able to keep my mental focus on one thing, namely keeping my brain in check during these months specifically.

Usually during this time of the year I´m a complete mess. For the last six or seven years, every January, February and March have been intolerable. In those years I had been severely depressive, cut-off from my friends, isolating, and sometimes even feeling suicidal or visiting the ER due to injuries that I sustained in anxiety attacks.
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Nothing of the sort is happening this year. To my own surprise, I actually feel normal. Like normal people do. This is nothing short of amazing for me, and I attribute it to a few different things. First, I am finally living in the gender I was always meant to be in. Second, I now actually have a hormonal system, ergo emotions, that match my identity.

Third, I am working like a madman to keep my mental health up to speed. I am doing this partly because I will not give the gender specialists the satisfaction of telling me that I am not strong enough to shoulder my transition. I will prove to myself that I can overcome anything they throw at me, and that their lack of faith in me is ridiculous.

I am also doing it because I feel I am headed somewhere different. I feel like I am needed – like I need to stand up now and demonstrate what I am able to do. For this reason I have been doing yoga, going on long hikes, working out, and meditating every day for the past two months. I am logging every bit of progress I make on a calendar.

It´s a lot of work. The funny thing, when you are on disability, is people think you sit on your ass all day and do nothing. This was certainly true when I was suffering from depression, when I was suffering from near psychotic breakdowns, and wanting to put myself in harms way. My mind did not allow for any possibilities then.

This mind of mine, including the emotions that are influenced by it, have changed immensely since I started testosterone, now six months ago. I feel more mature, more calm, more patient. Standing up and fighting for something, and being happy, has become something I can do, rather than a daunting and frightening task.

Surviving PMS

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I´ll to attempt to give you some insight in the techniques that I use to deal with PMS. Let me first say that the technique that I use to PMS really is a technique that you can apply to everything that brings you out of balance, from a shocking event to “sponsored” Facebook posts. Let me then say that my PMS is characterized by intense emotional discomfort.

While PMS often has a physical cause, for example – lack of progesterone prior to shark week – it might not immediately be possible do something about it (like in my case), and other times some experimentation with different types of medication is required before you find something that really works. In the meantime, you need to survive it and remain sane.

What I have noticed most about this type of PMS, is that it encourages thoughts which are similar to people who are kicking off from certain kinds of drugs, such as amphetamines. The style of thinking is very negative, overly monochrome, for example “everybody hates me”, and “such and so did something that hurt me”. The tendency is to feel victimized and angry.*

Unlike amphetamines, moods can also swing to the complete opposite end of the spectrum… making you feel like an adorable unicorn that would fall in love with anyone that came around. In the drug equation, this positive side of PMS is a little bit like being on XTC. Despite the happy feeling, it can reinforce the feeling of abandonment when it turns out to be illusory.

How, then, do you deal with a brain that behaves as if it were on dope? Anyone who has ever “done” dope knows that it has such an influence on your brain that just deciding to behave or think differently won´t achieve anything at all. Attempts to behave differently can even be dangerous in the sense of holding yourself up to giant expectations and then “failing”.

The only way to beat our brain at its own game is to disengage from it – to take a step back, stand still (literally, sometimes) and observe. Like in the post I wrote about dysphoria, we observe our mind, the thoughts that are in it. Nothing else. We don´t try to think our way out of it and we don´t try to force it in a different direction. Instead, we move out of it.

More about that in my next post.