Thoughts are not facts

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Once upon a time we used to believe that demons and evil spirits and hungry ghosts caused plagues, famines, floods, epilepsy, diseases, suffering and bad manners. We also believed in unicorns.

The scientific method opened doors to new knowledge and introduced us to the world of viruses and bacteria and weather patterns and alternate theories on what drives human behaviour. Not everyone is on board with the scientific method: it’s mainly the Western world steeped as it is in Greco-Christian-Judeo philosophies and beliefs. Still, it is a reasonable approach to distill testable flights of imagination, myths, legends and beliefs to assess what is fact, and what is fiction or fancy.

And yet regardless of factual, scientific evidence and regardless of law, there will always be people who believe what they think is the truth and is a solid fact, mo matter if it’s real or not: it is their thought, in their mind and that makes it a fact, a reality and a truth. Sometimes this is good. Like when engineers said there’s no way a 3D printer could be built for $100 and then a non-technical guy who said it could be done, went ahead and did it.

We’re beginning to understand some of the neurobiology behind how this works: habitual thoughts seem to create pathways in the brain, a kind of ‘neural rut’. As a result, when we run into situations that might be similar or even sniff of something similar, it triggers neuronal firings along the same old pathways, making the ruts even deeper and when those neurons fire, the body responds automatically and the same thoughts arise with the same reactions, often not positively: “I didn’t do anything wrong, it’s those other people!” or “It always happens this way!” or the ever-popular, “You always/you never ever!” or “lesbians hate men” or “I can’t ever do anything right!”

Some people hold their thoughts as irrefutable, solid facts, which tend to trigger  automatic behaviours and reactions which may or may not be to anyone’s benefit.  You know these people. They are Rob Ford supporters. They are placard-holding fundamentalists outside of women’s health clinics. They are white people from various Protestant sects preaching sanctioned hate and murder against black LGBT people in Africa. They are the people of intractable, ancient blood feuds in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. They are whites who hate blacks, blacks who hate whites, Asians who hate whites, whites who hate Asians, whites who hate whites, blacks who hate blacks, rich people who hate poor people, populists who hate socialists, liberals who hate conservatives, conservatives who hate everyone, atheists who hate religion, Christians who hate Jews, Jews who hate Muslims, Muslims who hate Jews, Burmese Buddhists who hate Burmese Muslims, Arabs who hate Westerners, Chinese who hate Japanese, Koreans who hate Japanese, Japanese who hate Caucasians, blondes who hate brunettes, drivers who hate cyclists, men who hate women, gay men who hate lesbians, lesbians who hate men, lesbians who hate women, women who hate women, people who hate children and dogs and cats and life and all sorts of people who go live by a motto of “my tribe is the best and only tribe”. The list could get very long.

These people, with deep ruts in their neural pathways and no inclination to change, are filling the airwaves, the papers and the internet news feeds. No surprise there: we are fascinated out of our mundane lives by the crazy goings-on of other people in the world, and our fascination is something that the business of media coverage has monetized.

Mainstream news is all about everything that is not common, not regular, not normal, not balanced. Mainstream media doesn’t sell product when things are working, when people get along, when no one is killed, when bombs aren’t going off, when the weather is good and peace is long and sustained. The news is based on everything that sniffs of conflict, strife, oddities, imbalances, stupidity and celebrity in all its forms including the notorious kind, such as when a populist Toronto mayor and his big brother — a city counsellor — are only too happy to show the world what rich, white, inarticulate bullies in their 40s look like and how they behave.

And so it is with that background of neurons firing and brain rut imagery, humans behaving badly and the media that I wish to share someone’s thought — stated as fact multiple times in the comments of this blog: “good straight men can’t find good straight women because good straight women are turning bi or lesbian … because some men must have treated these women badly.”

Oh  grrrr.  Because I try to avoid calling people names, I shall refer to him as Mr. American Commenter (MAC). Judging from his comments, MAC believes he should have access to any woman he wants and because that’s not happening, he’s blaming lesbians and the fact that a woman can be a lesbian as an impediment to his success in all things romantic. A woman saying no to him is because of lesbianism.

Perhaps MAC is just baiting me with his comments about how good straight men  like him (how ever ‘good’ is defined) can’t find good straight women because women are all turning into lesbians. If he isn’t baiting me it would seem he thinks that the only reason a woman is a lesbian or bisexual is because a woman can only be a lesbian because of a man. It suggests he thinks it’s not natural for a woman to love another woman.

MAC Newsflash #1: You’re gonna have to get used to the new facts. There are women who love women. There are women who love men and women. There are men who love men and women who love men and men who love women. In the middle of that, there are plenty of people who don’t know how to love anyone or don’t want to love anyone. This is the world we live in.

MAC Newsflash #2: If it is true that the impact of men behaving poorly or badly with women or abusing women in any way actually did turn women into lesbians, there would only be roughly 17,252 straight women left on the planet. The odds would never be in your favour.

MAC Newsflash #3: Thoughts are not facts.

We’re also learning that it takes a conscious effort to change how we react to our habitual thoughts. What we now now, is that it can happen. So I have some hope, if not for MAC, for the future. Hope for women to achieve equality to men in personhood and opportunity and law in all things including choosing whom to love. Sure it’ll take time — probably generations given what’s happening in Africa and Asia and Eastern Europe. But just as we got over learning that unicorns never existed, that not all germs are bad, that the war on drugs was stupid, that the body and mind are connected and that there are limits to what can be tested by the scientific method, people can get over thinking that women loving women is caused by anything other than women falling in love with each other, for all the reasons that two people fall in love with each other.

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The top four ways lesbians prevent straight guys from meeting women

on King Street West~~

There’s a belief that’s been around for a couple of thousand years that humans, in particular the males, are rational, logical beings. This ability to be rational and logical makes humans, especially the male, uniquely qualified to look at what’s going on, figure out cause and effect and provide rational explanations that the rest of us can use to make sense of the world. Thank Goddess that one of the (Western) world’s more recent religions, Scientism, is proving that belief wrong.

In fact there’s little about humans, including the human male, that’s logical or rational. I know this in my blood. I know this even as I have a heart filled with love and affection for my male friends, straight and gay. But even as I know this, I’m still surprised each and every time I get a comment on this blog from some guy who has noticed a causal relationship between lesbians and his ability to meet women. Why am I surprised you ask? These logical, rational men are insistent that lesbians are the reason there aren’t any women available to them. They say this as if women were flavours of gelati and somehow, the lesbian cabal has cornered the market on all available straight women, which means there are no women for straight men to have because as we all know, women are to be had.

Dudes! Want some beer with that whine?

It is so tempting to dig into the psychology of why any guy would think this, but I shall resist that temptation. And I am not going to get into how such thinking sets up a whole competitive dynamic between straight guys and lesbians that defies logic and sanity, not to mention that all too rare quality of common sense.

I can only guess why these guys think that it’s the fault of lesbians that they’re sans a girlfriend. Suffice it to say that there are people who find it necessary and natural to blame others rather than take responsibility and face the reality for what is or is not happening in their life. But I do feel for people who want to find love and can’t, even if I think that blaming other people or groups shows an emotional IQ deep in the negative integers.

With that feeling, let me start at the beginning. We humans — gay, straight, mixed or indifferent — often find it necessary to assign cause and effect even where none exists, or at least not where we can fathom it. Let’s imagine that there’s a grain of truth to what these guys believe, which is as follows: that the dearth of available women for straight men is a direct result of lesbians (and by association, lesbianism) taking all the women because as we all know, it’s those pesky lesbians who are stealing all the world’s women, who are directing the white slave trade here in North America and across the world, and implementing policies that are creating a shortage of women in China and Southeast Asia. Let’s add to that the other less evident circumstances under which a straight guy would experience a lack of available women that’s directly attributable to lesbians. Here are the top four:

1) these straight guys live in towns/cities/countries/continents/planets full of lesbians.

2) these straight guys are the sensitive type and women that they’re attracted to don’t want to hurt these sensitive guys’ feelers so they lie and say, “I’m a lesbian and am not interested in any man that way, but if I was, it would be you…” and not tell them outright that they aren’t interested.

3) these straight guys are actually magic talismans and any woman who interacts with them finds the veil of confusion lifted from her eyes to instantly realize that she’s a lesbian.

4) these straight guys are only and unconsciously interested in lesbians, thinking that they have some über power to ‘turn’ lesbians into straight women.

I could go on and poke fun at these comments and the commentators, but the truth is, they aren’t funny. It’s not just that these comments are unkind and blaming and illogical and homophobic. They are statements that reveal beliefs about the place and role and value of women according to some males of the human species. And might I say that these beliefs are not in the best interests of the personhood or well-being or potential self-actualization of any female, anywhere.

I get that dating is tough and that it’s hard to meet someone who fits with you. But blaming other people (or groups of people) is not going to transform any straight guy  into the kind of person that any woman would want to be around, let alone love for ever and ever til the sun explodes and we all go boom.

So I am going be as clear as I can in the language of consumption that some males of the human species might understand:

  • Lesbians are not to blame for you not finding any women.
  • Lesbians are not to blame for you running into the natural law of scarcity.
  • Lesbians are not stealing the affections of straight women away from you (but if you’re having trouble, you might consult a lesbian or two to get some pointers…)

Think of it like this: you know Italian gelato? The good kind? Well, the presence and acceptance of one popular flavour does not deny or preclude the availability or accessibility of the others. Got it? Good. Now get dressed in clean clothes, brush your teeth, have good manners, be fun and caring, smell sweet, have an open heart, great dance moves, be inscrutable and accessible, have a six-pack for abs and get back out there and as always, be nice and be you!

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cafe sign in Italy

Posted in lesbian, Lesbian humor, women loving women | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

A lesbian life

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Morningtime.

The alarm snaps on at precisely 6:10 a.m. The snooze button allows a few precious moments to come into the state of being half awake and half asleep; to stretch out to touch finger tips and entwine fingers and to curl in to loveness, knowing that these precious moments can’t last because little dog has heard stirrings of wakefulness and against all verbal commands to stay! little dog will leap onto the bed to worm her way in between two heartbeats. The day is launched.

Grind coffee beans. Make espresso. Sit together, sip slowly. Morning conversation. Notice the sensations of quiet, ferocious love that arises.

Time to get into the rest of the morning.

Tuck a ton of pills into a small slab of liverwurst (shuddering as it goops up fingers) and give to the big, dying poodle. Hear the sounds and smell the smells and stay in the moment of what is: don’t imagine life without him while he’s still here, still wags his tail, wants to go for car rides, wants to see all of his friends and wants cuddles and can stand up to go for short walks and has his spirit and his heart.

Check the weather. Get dressed. Do these pants make my bum look big? No, seriously, do they?

Time to take the dogs outside. Whisper words of love in poodle’s ear as he struggles a wee bit to stand up. Guide poodle down the front steps and let him walk for as long as he can. Back at home, give the dogs their morning meal.

Time to share a kiss, a smile, wishes for a good day and say goodbye. Wrap her in an invisible cloak of quiet, ferocious love.

Have a shower. Make calls. Check mail. Wash dishes. There’s more: classes to get to. Books to read. Food to cook. People to talk to. Writing to do. And other writing that wants to get done, that hangs in the air, wondering when it will be called to life, or wondering if it’s time to find another outlet.

Take poodle out. Heavy duty diuretics. Banking to do. Library books to get and some to return. Relatives to visit, meeting their new loves. Are we all really getting that old? New babies. Serious operations. Wills and funeral plans. Wedding season. Where to get a sari?

Friends and movies and dinners and plays and dance performances and TV shows and walks.

Working life in transition: what to do next? Teeny tiny bits of networking. Ugh. It’s who you know, even these days. Notice the tension and relax into breath. Do a yoga pose. Lift some weights. Get the bike ready for summer. Meditation practice. It helps.

Visits to the vets’ offices. Palliative care for the poodle. Prime directives of no pain, no suffering, no extraordinary measures and a good quality of life. The vets accept. Flirt with the cute vet for a teeny bit to hear more of her English accent and ignore all teasing about said flirting.

Let’s not forget immediate family, mostly sisters and one amazing — and gay — brother. Sisters can be scary, specially when there are a hundred of them. Remember the dates of parents’ passing. Feel the mixed feelings.

Paint the first floor hallway and the baseboard up the stairs because friends from Europe are coming to stay for a few days and it all could use a little freshening up. One of the hundred sisters offers to helps and ends up painting everywhere she wasn’t supposed to paint, like the banister railings. Notice upset tummy. Breathe.  

Later that evening, after helpful sister leaves, spill white paint on the stairs. Wait, not the stairs exactly but on the oatmeal-coloured wool carpeting that covers the stairs. Second silly spill of the day, but no matter: there are no tears of frustration in spur-of-the moment house painting, just one short, terse obscenity that attaches itself to the outbreath and is clearly heard in the other room which manages to tweak her curiosity and prompt a peek at what’s happened. Tender words and an offer of help. Lots of warm, soapy water and voila! No more spilled paint on the carpet.

Get out the calendars. Spring and summer birthdays. Christmas in July party. Who’s going this year? What to wear? Weekend brunches. Meet new partners of old friends. No trips planned because of poodle.

Discussions and decisions about Pride Week. Dyke March? Pride Parade? Dances? Events? Can we escape the straight tourists and the naked guys in cowboy boots? Do we go as a political act to celebrate our own mainstreaming? Do we go to acknowledge the activism that has given Canadians LGBTs the full range of legal rights that straight people have? Do we go to Pride Week events and the parades to honour our history in spite of its commercialism? Do we do something during Pride Week to acknowledge that across the world, it’s a very different and sometimes dangerous reality for LGBT people? 

Bills to pay. Veranda to clean. Car things. Laundry to do. Floors to wash. Dust to eradicate. Weeding.

Pay taxes. Vote. Try to not hit cyclists who can’t decide if they want to follow the rules of the road. Shop conscientiously, except when it comes to books and cafes. Be home at 3 p.m. to give poodle his afternoon pills.

Eveningtime. A smile to look forward to seeing. Dinner together. Tidy up and do the dishes. Share stories of the day. Play with words. Laugh. Or have dinner with friends and play with words differently. Laugh some more.

Slow, slow dog walks. Talk with neighbours. Head across the city for gelato. Go to the boardwalk. Walk across the sand. Listen to the waves. Ponder life. Meander back to the boardwalk, stroll under the trees. Worry about swooping bats. Look with wonder at the sky and the rising moon and where sky and water meet and feel it all.

Nighttime pills for poodle. One last walk.

Cotton sheets. Listen to her breathing: inbreath, outbreath. Flow. Notice the wash of feelings. Wish goodness for her. Wish goodness for this changing world.

Sleep comes and brings dreams. Flow. Colours. No barriers, just mindstreams, slipstreams, and multiple streams of multiple consciousnesses of an everyday, regular woman who’s just living her everyday regular life, including her everyday lesbian life.

Posted in lesbian, lesbian life | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments