firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
This is the second day in a row that I've been annoyed by something published by The Atlantic.* ETA: Mistake, turns out the other piece I was thinking of didn't originate in The Atlantic; they just published a comment on it.

This article is fascinating in the way it tries to invent a problem and then solve it.

"There's No Such Thing as Everlasting Love (According to Science) (Can't find a by-line. And forgot where I saw it, I'm afraid.)

The problem: Americans are "love-starved" and lonely.

The solution: Change the definition of love so that it means brief moments of connection we have with other people throughout the day, and has nothing to do with commitment, blood ties, or sexual desire. Now everyone can feel love(d)!

In her new book Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become, the psychologist Barbara Fredrickson offers a radically new conception of love.

Fredrickson, a leading researcher of positive emotions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presents scientific evidence to argue that love is not what we think it is. It is not a long-lasting, continually present emotion that sustains a marriage; it is not the yearning and passion that characterizes young love; and it is not the blood-tie of kinship.

Rather, it is what she calls a "micro-moment of positivity resonance." She means that love is a connection, characterized by a flood of positive emotions, which you share with another person—anyother person—whom you happen to connect with in the course of your day. You can experience these micro-moments with your romantic partner, child, or close friend. But you can also fall in love, however momentarily, with less likely candidates, like a stranger on the street, a colleague at work, or an attendant at a grocery store.
I think it's a good idea to emphasize the value of this experience, for those who are comfortable enough with face-to-face interaction to have it.

But I'm not in favor of making the word "love" mean this thing instead of the bundle of emotions plus ideas plus intentions plus (in some cases) sexual desire that go with a committed and/or romantic relationship. I'm also not sure I like the idea of having love mean yet another thing. It already means too many things!

And anyway, the solution doesn't really solve the problem that the article described. The article used this evidence that Americans are love-starved and lonely:
  • More Americans than before said in a poll that they had zero confidants. (But having micro-moments of positivity resonance wouldn't give you more confidants.)
  • According to one expert, 20–35 percent of people are "sufficiently isolated for it to be a major source of unhappiness in their lives." (Would having micro-moments of positivity resonance help with that? Who knows?)
  • Rates of depression are increasing (would micro-moments of positivity resonance cure this condition? Who knows?)
  • "Nearly half of all single people are looking for a romantic partner." (My reaction to that: Fascinating—more than half of single people aren't looking! And would having micro-moments of positivity resonance make them stop looking, or stop believing that having a partner would help them be happier? Who knows?
But to Fredrickson, these numbers reveal a "worldwide collapse of imagination," as she writes in her book. "Thinking of love purely as romance or commitment that you share with one special person—as it appears most on earth do—surely limits the health and happiness you derive" from love.
So OK, where's the evidence that these people without confidants, who are lonely, depressed, and or unhappily single, are in that condition partly because they think of love "purely as romance or commitment that you share with one special person"? No evidence? I thought not. (My own data point: I have depression, and I don't think that way in the slightest. For one thing, when my depression is well-managed, I fall in love regularly, not only with people, but also with ideas, things, activities, and experiences. For another, I'm poly, so I don't share romance and commitment with only one person. And finally, when my depression is not well controlled, then I can't feel love for anything or anyone at all, never mind what my beliefs are about what love is. My actively depressed brain isn't open to micro-moments of positivity resonance.)

There's also a problem in the article with how Fredrickson's research is said to provide evidence about this micro-moment experience. The article states that they only happen face-to-face (rather overdramatically: "You have to physically be with the person to experience the micro-moment. For example, if you and your significant other are not physically together—if you are reading this at work alone in your office—then you two are not in love. You may feel connected or bonded to your partner—you may long to be in his company—but your body is completely loveless") but none of the experiments described included that condition. In one, people listened to a recording and then retold it, but they were in an MRI machine, so they weren't face-to-face with someone. In another, people did loving-kindness meditation, which is something you do in your own head, not interacting with another person.

OK, now that I've said all that, the article reminds me of something else that I think about sometimes. One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Gil Fronsdal, sometimes says "Adult humans need to love, but they don't need to be loved."

I'm very fortunate that I've never done without feeling loved (have always felt that at least a few people loved me) so I can't speak to that part. But I have noticed that what I get out of loving someone or something is very different from what I get out of feeling that someone loves me. And what I get out of loving people/things is really important to me; I would say absolutely that I need it.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)

Via [personal profile] wordweaverlynn, very interesting conversation about relationships in which one of the partners is depressed.

My comment:
Person with depression here. (Although mine is somewhat better managed than that of the people discussed by the LWs (I do the dishes without being asked. Most of the time)).

I loathe the idea of a partner limiting zirself by staying with me primarily because zie feels sorry for me or feel I can't manage on my own. If zie feels burdened by the relationship then I want zir to leave.

I haven't ended my relationships over this, because my policy is to believe my partners are capable of making their own decisions about our relationship. And because "I should dump my partner because I'm bad for them" has the suspicious resonance of depression. But it's not depression talking when I say I truly want my partners to be with me only because they want to be.
firecat: anime head of person with cat ears looking sarcastic (sarcastic avatar)
@firecatstef: I don't want to listen to a "conquering jealousy" podcast. I want to listen to a "conquering the overuse of martial metaphors" podcast.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
From Sherlock to Sheldon: Asexuality and Asexual Characters in SF/F
Track: Feminism and Other Social Change Movements

Panel description:
We're all familiar by now with the sexual orientations homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual. Much less discussed are asexuals, persons who do not experience sexual attraction. This panel discusses what asexuality is and is not, and proposes ways for authors to explore this overlooked orientation in their characters. Is it enough that a character has no on-page sex life, or should asexuality be more positively portrayed? Asexuality in real-time fandom and asexual characters in fiction and media may also be discussed as time allows.

Jed Hartman
Liz Argall
K. Tempest Bradford, moderator
Rebecca Marjesdatter [I didn't catch her last name], who suggested the panel, but didn't sign up to be on it because she wasn't sure she'd make it to Wiscon. The panelists asked her to be on the panel because two assigned panelists were missing.

Tempest said that mostly the panelists would talk and for the last half hour there would be time for audience q's and comments.

[My notes aren't a complete transcription and may represent my own language rather than the actual words of the panelists. I welcome corrections. I did not identify most audience commenters by name for privacy reasons. If you said something I paraphrased here and want your name to be used, please comment or send me a private message.]

Read more... )
firecat: pink and blue triangles (bi triangle)
I'm pissed that the court did not vote to repeat Prop 8.

I'm also inclined to hope that this analysis by The Daily Kos is right and the court's decision basically amounts to "OK, you have to call it 'mawwidge' instead of 'marriage' but otherwise it's exacty the same thing." (I don't know enough to understand if that's correct. But if so it's pretty cunning.)

And I do think that by leaving the marriage rights of the 18,000 already-married same sex couples in place, they're pointing out that California is in a completely untenable position with regard to same-sex marriage.

I know full well that this will lead to at least two ballot initiatives in the near future, and I'm dreading having to go down that road again.

But since we have to go down that road again, at least the pro-marriage side appears to be better-organized now than it was during the prop 8 campaign.

If I were legally married to the OH, I would talk to him about getting a divorce in response to the court's decision. But we never did tell the government.

(However, an unmarried opposite-sex couple has more privilege than an unmarried same-sex couple, because people presume we're married unless we explicitly tell them otherwise.)

Incidentally, because it seems important to be out these days: I'm bisexual and polyamorous.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
These are the Wiscon panels I'm on. I've never been on a Wiscon panel before. I would welcome any comments about these panel topics and any ideas you would like to see addressed at these panels. And if you're at Wiscon I hope you come, but if there's something else fascinating going on at the same time, I hope some of you go to that instead, so I can find out what happened!

Romancing the Beast
Sat 4:00 - 5:15PM, Conference 4
Moderator: Vito Excalibur. Panelists: Catherine Cheek, Stef Maruch, Heidi Waterhouse, Janine Ellen Young

Paranormal romance almost always features the hero as a paranormal being and the heroine as an ordinary human. How does this resonate with gender relations and power relationships in our society? And is it emblematic of women seeing men as Other?

I wanted to be on this panel because the disparity has always bugged me. To give an example that has nothing to do with paranormal romance, I refuse to see Cyrano de Bergerac in any form because I'm not aware of any gender-reversed version.

Dealing With Your Male Answer Syndrome
Sun 10:00 - 11:15AM, Assembly
Moderator: John H. Kim. Panelists: Suzanne Allés Blom, Moondancer Drake, John Helfers, Stef Maruch

Although it's not absolute, there's a strong tendency among masculine people to always want to have the definitive answer for everything, even if they don't necessarily know. In panels and elsewhere in life, it can be hard for men to admit they don't know things. Why is this? How can men deal with the pressure (either internal or external) to always have the right answer? How do women and other non–masculine folks deal with Male Answer Syndrome? If you think the answers to all these questions are obvious, then you need to come to this panel!

I wanted to be on this panel because it's All Answer Syndrome All The Time at my house...and the XY person in the relationship is not the only person participating. So I have experience from multiple sides. I also have funny stories and techniques that you'll want to know about!

Wish Fulfillment in Fiction
Sun 2:30 - 3:45PM, Assembly
Moderator: P. C. Hodgell. Panelists: Beth Friedman, Anne Harris, Stef Maruch, Caroline Stevermer

What is the role of wish fulfillment in fiction? If you're a writer, what personal wishes do you want your stories to fulfill? Are they the same ones you want to read about? How do our fictitious wishes affect our everyday dreams?

I wanted to be on this panel because I fundamentally don't get wish fulfillment fiction, and I think that has something to do with why I find it difficult to write fiction, so I hope to provide an alternate viewpoint and I also hope it will shake something loose.

The OH is envious that I get to be on a panel with P.C. Hodgell. (He isn't going to Wiscon this year.)


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firecat (attention machine in need of calibration)

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