Advice for Julie Bindel

I doubt she will hear it, but I will try.

Julie Bindel is a gender-critical feminist often accused of being transphobic, including by me. There has been some concern about British gender critical feminists working with the hard Right in America against trans rights. Venice Allan went to America to make contact with hard-Right groups, and also apparently “laughed at a racist posh girl calling a feminist activist a Nazi”.

My advice is, don’t do this in public on Twitter. Phone her up, or just ignore it.

You agree about a lot. I don’t agree with this, but you both believe that trans rights conflict with women’s rights, and you both campaign for women’s rights against the encroachment of trans rights. You don’t campaign about all the same things, but most things one campaigns on, the other will be broadly sympathetic.

There are two views which a gender critical feminist might have. One is that the hard-Right is anti-woman, seeking to enforce regressive gender stereotypes, against birth control, and against bodily autonomy when there might be an embryo, and you would have nothing to do with them. The other is, while the hard-Right is wrong about almost everything, they are right that trans women are a threat in women’s spaces, and might provide useful support for feminists on the Left wanting to make that argument.

My personal view is that no feminist should have anything to do with The Heritage Foundation, but I can see why Posie Parker does.

I admire Julie Bindel’s integrity even as I disagree with her. I admire the directness of her campaigning. She uses words brilliantly, her polemic skewers her enemies, yet she should be able to make the leap of empathy with Posie Parker to understand why she has done what she has done, and (if she criticises at all) only criticise in private. You agree about almost everything. Do not let the one thing you disagree about come between you.

I agree with Julie Bindel when she said, in three tweets on 1 February,

Before anyone suggests that what I am about to say is in order to get myself a reprieve from the 15 years of hell being targeted by the trans lobby, I am aware that even if I set fire to myself in the street by way of ‘apologising’ I would simply be accused of causing the death of trans people who were in the vicinity and died of smoke inhalation – so not only do I feel I have nothing to apologise for, it would be a massive waste of time. But I want to say how I despise the latest tactics of Posie Parker and disciples, and want no part in it. As far as I am concerned, they are motivated by narcissism, bigotry, and ego. They are causing harm. THE END.

But I do not think she should have said it in public. It gives delight to her and Posie’s common enemies. Where do you think I found that screenshot above? On a trans campaign group. Everyone there is delighted at their- oh, I’ll be honest, our- opponents falling out.

In a similar way, the Heritage Foundation want to set gender critical feminists and trans people against each other. They are on the Right, and they recognise that gender critical feminists and trans people are on the anti-authoritarian Left, however much we might accuse each other of being right-wing. The Heritage Foundation is delighted that their enemies are fighting amongst themselves, for thereby we give ammunition to Right-wing causes and reduce the effectiveness of the Left. They might achieve that by funding trans women, so their choice to fund the gender-critical feminists is instructive: they believe that no-one will see the difference, and imagine that these women are standing up for traditional gender roles; and they believe that preventing the freedom to transition will lessen all freedom to express gender variance. That their desires are bad does not mean that their perceptions of the route to what they desire are unintelligent.

The Left is fractious. To the Left of the Labour Party, recently, there have been the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party of Britain, and the Socialist Labour Party, with clear differences between them a bit like the differences between the Free Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland. For me, Jeremy Corbyn and I don’t know, Chukka Umunna would be better PMs than Theresa May and I would leaflet and door-knock for either of them within the Labour Party. Twitter especially, and the internet more generally, makes the fractiousness worse. We have to find ways of working together.

Since writing this post, I have changed my mind. Julie Bindel is right. The hard-Right funding for gender critical feminists should be proclaimed as loudly as possible.

The edge of transphobia II

My friend wrote, I think there is a real discussion to be had about what constitutes a woman (I’m open to discussion but I currently think being a woman is an embodied state, so ones body is relevant to it) and calling people transphobic who think that differences between cis gender women and trans women are up for discussion transphobic or TERFs does not help reflective engagement in an open discussion about gender.

How can we show respect for women’s bodies? A woman spoke impassionedly to me about her body, about suckling with her breasts, about carrying a baby, about giving birth. These things clearly matter. We have no experience of them. There are many reasons why there should be women’s spaces, and the vulnerability of bodies which might give birth is surely a strong reason. I felt the emotional swings that progesterone could bring, and when I found them unbearable could simply stop taking the tablets. I remember the miserable pleading of a child, “Please, Miss, can I go to the toilet?” repeatedly during lessons, from nearly forty years ago, and realise I have no idea of the shame and pain of her experience.

Many on the other side see menstruation and penises as trump cards. That’s it, there is no further need for discussion. Trans women are men, and should be kept out of women’s spaces. Some tolerate post-operative transsexuals, some not even that.

I may have driven a woman into the arms of the anti-trans campaigners by my attitude to menstruation. I hated the thought that it was a trump card. Germaine Greer said, Being a woman is a bit tricky. If you didn’t find your pants full of blood when you were 13 there’s something important about being a woman you don’t know. It’s not all cake and jam. Well, no. Yet, if that means there should be female spaces where not even post-operative trans can go, it changes my life completely. I am afraid. I see myself as a harmless anomaly, one in a thousand, not really a threat, and wish feminists would devote their campaigning attention to the gender pay gap or sexual harassment, and not to me.

There was a loose group of bloggers, commenting on each others’ posts- queers, straight Lefties, and religious sceptics- and Roughseas’ first comment on my blog admired the portraits I had had taken expressing female when I was nerving myself to transition. She commented here from 2012-2016. Then I wrote on menstruation as a trump card, and she challenged me. And, as you’ve said you’ve lived as a woman for 13 years, I can take it you have no experiential knowledge of horrible bloody soggy knickers in your teens, leaking sanitary towels, leaking tampons and people making snide digs when you were ‘on’. Her last comments here were challenging my feminine presentation: Whatever you think and buy, you are supporting patriarchal imagery. It may be what you want. It still supports the idea that the rest of us should do the same. She started following and supporting anti-trans blogs. I don’t think I converted her to anti-trans campaigning, but what I said could have pushed her in that direction.

My friend wrote, I disagreed with a statement you made early in the gathering to the effect that objections to people with penis’s in women’s spaces is transphobia. I thought it was unhelpful and should have been publicly challenged at the time as I think that sort of statement serves to shut down debate.

There is a moment where slight discomfort with trans people, moderated with sympathy for our struggles, can become anger at “trans rights activists” and campaigning against trans inclusion. Looking into each others’ eyes, making an effort to understand the other, and being very careful with our speech we might still see each others’ humanity and accept the other; yet that is so difficult.

How can I accept your slight discomfort when I am sensitised by open hate? I see the disgust and contempt on twitter, and claim that all this talk of penises is transphobic. Well-

Having a penis is also a source of shame and pain. I was always sitting to wee long before I stopped presenting male. Like others, I was bathing with bubble bath to avoid seeing the thing. When presenting male is unbearable, and expressing female is terrifying-

I now fear my initial reply is not enough. I wrote,

I said it was transphobic to object to penises in women’s spaces because most of us have penises. To give myself as an example: I associated with transsexuals, and knew I wanted to transition, but took some time seeing if I could manage it before seeing my doctor. That meant dressing female and going in women’s spaces, first around Canal St., the gay area of Manchester, then the Bridgewater Hall, then supermarkets and other such places. Later, I had a diagnosis from a psychiatrist and had thrown out all my male clothes, but had not yet had my operation. Some people wait more than ten years for the operation. So although most of us want it, many of us have not had it.

There is a constant harping on about penises in the campaign against us, in stickers saying “Women do not have penises”. I find it dehumanising. I am so much more than a penis.

These things could have been brought out if we had a longer dialogue. But I take the point about dislike of the word “transphobia”.

I now fear that was not enough. A minor point was, what women’s spaces? Loos but not changing rooms, and only loos when I really needed them. Not changing rooms: I did not swim for three years. Though I think we should be in changing rooms, we do not want to show off our genitals more than any normal person.

But more, it does not address the discomfort. I am claiming a trump card of my own- because transition is more important to me than anything else in the world, I should be accepted. On the anti-trans side, there is the idea of “Peak trans”- you are a liberal feminist, or even a radical feminist, believing that trans people have a lot to cope with and should be accepted, and then you meet a few, or read what trans women write, and find that natural slight discomfort becomes campaigning energy against us. If that is true, then trans women have no hope.

There is so much fear and shame here. Trans women should never forget the depth of oppression of cis women by patriarchy. My own burden of fear and shame is so great! I hate the thought that I pushed someone to be against us; but if we cannot hear each other, and see each others’ humanity, across the divide between trans women and cis women, then trans women will not survive.

Yet- I am here! I cry, despairingly. I am human too!

Understanding, empathy, solidarity

Debbie [Hayton] understands the reality of who she is and the relationship that can exist between women and transsexual women if we have understanding, empathy and solidarity with each other. Understanding, empathy and solidarity are valuable. You cannot require them from anyone else.

Here’s an example. In Prospect magazine the former editor of The Tablet complains of anti-Catholic prejudice in Britain, and I sympathise. We should condemn the belief, not the person. Free speech of a Catholic kind is outlawed, she thunders. She is referring to anti-abortion campaigners handing out leaflets to women entering an abortion clinic in Ealing.

Those Catholic, Evangelical and perhaps agnostic anti-abortion campaigners are not just stating their beliefs. They might just hold out a leaflet, or they might thrust it at a woman in need. Some women’s lives could be ruined if the embryo inside them became a child. Some women carry deformed foetuses, for example anencephalic monstrosities that will die almost immediately if brought to birth. The campaigners seek to shame women and make them fear. This is not just a matter of freedom of speech. Catholics thunder against abortion in pulpits and publications ad nauseam, and here, in the sometime-progressive Prospect.

I know of no-one who seeks a termination frivolously. Perhaps some empathy is possible. I don’t know where it might start. I had a Catholic friend who was repulsed by abortion- we did not discuss the morning after pill or anencephaly, but at least I know she did not agree with the current laws restricting abortion, and wanted them stricter. Empathy can go so far. We can say yes, we find terminations unpleasant, not least for the risk to the woman and the unpleasantness of the procedure, and want easily-accessible birth control and a proper understanding of Consent and personal responsibility to reduce the number of terminations necessary, but if the “pro-life” side thinks that misses the point we can’t go much further. And if they say their empathy is for the Child being killed, and they imagine there is suffering greater than the woman’s, we can’t communicate further.

Understanding and empathy can go so far. Whenever I go into a loo, there is a risk that someone in it will read me as trans and be revolted or scared. I don’t know how big that risk is. I do not want to scare anyone and the thought that I would revolt someone makes me utterly sad. I might ask to join a particular women’s group, and would not push if refused, even if explicitly because I am trans, but I am not going to stop using toilets. I don’t know if that commenter’s empathy means requiring me to use the men’s, and a vague sense of regret if I am assaulted there. It is one or the other. Empathy cannot decide. I have been challenged, commenting in The Guardian: am I certain no woman was ever frightened by my presence? That is a fairly neutral space, where she would have been trying to appear reasonable and persuade undecided people. There is a time when I assert, “I exist”. I cannot make myself into nothing, for anyone.

I am aware of the gender wars in which I participate unwillingly. “Rape culture” and “Patriarchy” are meaningful to me, descriptions of the world as it is with the oppression of women, which matters intensely to me. I know it is nothing personal if a woman is frightened of me for what I symbolise rather than who I am. And yet, still, I exist. I cannot consent to a world which makes no space for me. Transition is a thing people do, however difficult it is.

“I am male” says Debbie Hayton, in the post that commenter admired so much. Well, that does not take us very far. I am a human being in a very complex culture, with particular gifts and qualities which have led me to transition- and she is the same. I imagine she goes to the loo when she needs, even to the women’s. For some people, it would not be enough that she reverted and never presented female again, as she had for a time claimed to be a woman.

“I accept women’s boundaries,” she says. Well, again. I accept the boundaries of some women. I cannot accept boundaries which would change my life completely, especially not from someone on the internet whom I will never meet. Even Debbie probably transgresses someone’s boundaries, simply by calling herself “Debbie”.

A feminist

I love what Dr Jen Gunter writes, on abortion, empathy, privilege, feminism, and incidentally on trans people.

An advert on facebook led me to an article from last month’s NYT on vaginas. Male partners sometimes criticise healthy vaginas as too loose, or smelling wrong, or tasting wrong, as a way of controlling women and making us feel insecure. This is not OK. I decide how I want to look. Women may actually harm themselves trying to make their vaginas acceptable. As a gynaecologist, Jen Gunter hears a lot of women describing the men’s manipulation.

In the comments here, I see different lines on “Not all men”. It gets clearer to me how that is offensive. Indeed, not all men rape women, and perhaps some men have never pushed women’s boundaries or wronged them in any way, but when a woman complains of shitty male behaviour, why should a man feel the need to say not all men? That’s irrelevant, she is not complaining of all men, but some men. The man may not be saying it never happens, but is derailing: it happens, it matters, and we should consider the experience of it, rather than judging the way it is shared. And, why feel any need to protest, if you do not feel guilty? What she wrote was “This is a form of control men often use”- not, all men; not, women don’t do something similar, though women may have less power in a relationship so might not, so much; but, men do it. Let us agree it is a bad thing, and try not to ourselves.

I dislike the line that “men suffer the same way”. Yes; but she was not claiming a right of retaliation, only saying it happens and is wrong. Someone signing a woman’s name accused Dr Gunter of an offensive, gross mischaracterization of an entire classification of people based on gender. That was not what I perceived. “Not all men” becomes a way of saying SHUT UP rather than a reasonable response.

She is worth reading for the facts on late abortions: after 25 weeks, a woman with a wanted pregnancy but health problems making continuing pregnancy too dangerous would have a C-section or induced labour. The child would be cared for. Concealed pregnancies, perhaps of a frightened teen or a rape survivor, are very rare. Sometimes a foetus has severe defects but the mother elects to carry anyway; but a foetus lying horizontally cannot be delivered vaginally.

She continually calls for our empathy. Some women don’t want a C-section in this situation for baby who can’t live. I think you can understand that. And Some women just can’t bear continuing. Imagine everyone touching your belly asking if you are having a boy or a girl and you know your baby has no brain? I have heard that story. It breaks people.

This post is particularly good on empathy, privilege, and thinking your way into someone else’s situation. You can’t experience the same situation, every situation is different, yet you should be able to imagine theirs. Assuming what someone else felt or might have felt based on your own experience (or wanted experience) is the opposite of empathy.

Once as a resident I rolled by eyes when discussing a woman who was presenting for her third abortion. I mean really, I thought. She’d been sent home after both of her previous abortions with 4 months of free birth control pills and here she was just six months later. My attending, an older man, took me aside and reamed me for that display of privilege. I’ve never forgotten that. In fact, it prompted me to design a study to look at that very question, why do women have repeat abortions? Guess what it turns out is a big factor? Domestic violence. Though empathy may be too much of a stretch for Republican authoritarians concerned for their own moral rightness.

I checked whether she had anything on transgender. She mentions it in passing, but always in a friendly way. The agency tasked with enhancing the “health and well-being of Americans” now believes that certain religious beliefs are more important than health care. This could apply to contraception, abortion, vaccines, addiction medicine, sexually transmitted infection screening, and transgender care just to name a few… government planning will be all based on some non science ideas such as life begins at conception, pre marital sex is wrong, anything but marital sex between cis women and men is wrong. If we think too much about the hostile people it colours our view of humanity. Here is a woman working for the rights of women, who is positive about trans people, and uses our words such as “cis”.


Other people think differently from me. I may not realise that. I may just generalise from my own thoughts and feelings, imagining others feel the same way, or project my feelings onto them. I want to understand more. That means learning how they think.

There are countless ways to differentiate one person from the next, but psychological scientists have settled on a relatively simple taxonomy, known widely as the Big Five:

Extroversion: gregariousness, social dominance, enthusiasm, reward-seeking behavior

Neuroticism: anxiety, emotional instability, depressive tendencies, negative emotions

Conscientiousness: industriousness, discipline, rule abidance, organization

Agreeableness: warmth, care for others, altruism, compassion, modesty

Openness: curiosity, unconventionality, imagination, receptivity to new ideas

I got that from The Atlantic on Mr Trump. My friend’s hands shook so badly for some weeks that I poured the tea for him: his psychiatrist labelled this an “Adjustment disorder”, a physical symptom of adverse circumstances. When there is no chance of changing the thing, and rather than serenity most people would feel long term shock and terror, “Pull yourself together” is the response.

Here’s a post on Personality change. Personality may change because we want it to, or because of brain injury or illness.

I am worried about that situation, and I should really pass it on to those people. The trouble is, I do not trust them. They are not like X, so I think of them as less. And- I do nothing, because I am not certain that what I imagine an optimal result will happen- but doing nothing may be worse. What do they think? What would they think? What would they do?

I want greater empathy. This is an introverted person. This is an authoritarian person. My moral judgment of good and bad gets in the way of understanding, and I am too quick to see something as bad, rather than different.

And I am paralysed from acting when “success” is too important to me. Rather than trying something in the hope of making things better I want to do something which will make things right. That’s impossible, so I do nothing.

Trump is a rich source of material on personality difference. Here’s Emily Thorson: those interested in politics are, on the whole, ideologically consistent. People who are ideologically consistent hold beliefs that line up with each other as we’d assume in modern party politics: For example, a liberal who supports gay marriage probably also supports government spending on social programs and protecting the environment.

Many of us intuitively believe that there is something “right” about these particular combinations of beliefs—that a liberal or conservative ideology reflects an underlying and internally coherent worldview. While that is not entirely wrong, it is also the case that our beliefs about which issues “go together” are shaped by political elites’ efforts to establish winning electoral coalitions. People not interested in politics aren’t “consistent” in this way.

Blake, the three Marys at the Sepulchre

Empathy II

Two dolls, Milly and Mandy. Milly places her marble in her basket, and goes out to play. Bad, bad Mandy takes Milly’s marble and hides it in her box. Milly comes back, and wants to play with her marble. Where does she look for it?

Quite young children will say, her basket. They realise she does not know Mandy has taken it. Some children with autism will say the box. They cannot conceive of other minds, with other understandings.

I was saddened when a woman said she would not walk alone on her local nature reserve- or any remote woods or lanes- because of fear of male violence; shocked when a therapist said she would feel a “natural stranger response (fear)” on the couch of a male psychoanalyst she did not know. I think of counsellors, certainly, but even analysts as strongly pro-social. I file away the fear of the analyst- some women? Most women?- as part of my world map.

I want you not to feel that fear, or need to.

This felt mindblowing, and after, I wondered why. Chatting with R in the caff, I suddenly imagined myself as him, looking at Clare and enjoying her company. Well, of course he would, or he would not do it; and he evinces pleasure. It was a moment of empathy rather than an Out of Body experience. I don’t know- perhaps I just don’t think about it, I enjoy meeting, he is willing to meet and that is enough for me, but right now I feel pleasure in the thought that he values my company.

Or possibly it is that generally with empathy I imagine myself in a similar situation, and imagining myself as the other is more empathic.

I imagined F at a radical feminist gathering, and when it became known that she persuaded a tranny to revert her kudos increased. This is paranoid. There is a difference between having an attitude to my transition and treating me as a project. I am not entirely comfortable with the thought, though.

Man convicted of manslaughter, only 19 years old. He drove a stolen van at a policeman, saying to his friend “Watch this!” Did he not care, seeing the policeman as an enemy, or imagine the policeman would get up after, like in an action flick? Imagine the exhilaration…

That blogger. She considers trans folk, my lot, sharing our joys, sorrows and fears, in disgust, and shares those comments which she finds most disgusting. It is a risk I take, sharing as I do here, possibly because I have difficulty imagining someone seeing things so differently from me. “I have suffered!” I would say, and of course your heart would go out to me.

Arthur Melville, An Arab interior

Listening each other into existence

I become real when you see me. I know myself when reflected in you.

We do not know ourselves as others do. Others see things in us which are too frightening for us, so we deny them. Then we cannot deny our characteristics any longer, and get to see them- which can be so painful it feels like being born again.

Yet we have unconscious awareness of those qualities, and when we see them in another and admire or despise that other that is a clue, that this is something in myself.

And I am simply myself, but if you name my quality- my “courage” or “confusion”, whatever- it becomes me, it is a label I must live up to or cannot escape.

David Bowie said, something like I am what the greatest number of people believe me to be. He did his thing, and others named it, understanding or not understanding, some interpreting him to the wider public in a way he might like or not.

Or we can listen and permit, and give the other space to simply be and know themself for the first time. We can listen each other into existence. If you can hear with all the Love you have in your heart, accepting me, then I can tell my story, and hear it too.

Feminist theologian Nelle Morton, quoted at length here: I knew I had been experiencing something I had never experienced before. A complete reversal of the going logic in which someone speaks precisely so that more accurate hearing may take place. This woman was saying, and I had experienced, a depth hearing that takes place before the speaking – a hearing that is far more than acute listening. A hearing engaged in by the whole body that evokes speech –a new speech—a new creation. The woman had been heard to her own speech. The first time Nelle experienced this, the woman began, hesitating and awkward, but became wonderfully coherent. This can be revolutionary, empowering the disinherited.

It appears to belong in woman experience, says Nelle. Not necessarily because women are different from men, but because women share the same oppression by Patriarchy.

Sister let me be your servant (or, Brother, sister, let me serve you/ Brother let me be your servant)
let me be like Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant too

That is a song by a man. Is it subtly different? How do we approach equality, suffering together? Nelle says a woman started in patriarchal culture, alien to her nature, and spoke from her conditioning- which is a lie: yet heard, she spoke true. We know and own the words and the images as our own words and our own images that have come out of the depths of our struggle.

Is this a uniquely woman’s experience? Possibly it happens at Alcoholics Anonymous.

In my own moving experience like this, more than a year ago, women and men- and one whose sex and gender is interpreted by others, in a way I might like or not- heard a man, and he confessed his Wrongness- as he had been conditioned to see it- and we told him he was Not Wrong. This is not quite the same, even if he heard our love, as I think he did. Or with trans women at the Sibyls, we spoke together- dialogue, not extended time as in Nelle’s groups- and accepted the impossible, accepted we had to transition.

Patriarchy lies about me too. Is my oppression my way in to women’s experience? Is its difference insurmountable, or can empathy pass through that? Oh, do not reject my Love, for my Love is all I have to give!

Monet, Canoe on the Epte


We have been discussing horrifying things, and we both have bad news, so why am I so cheerful? Trigger warning of extreme violence and a rape which child abusers might find appalling.

I did not get the job. He notes that this means I will not be leaving Swanston, and is happy about that. That’s OK, you are allowed to be selfish, and counting my blessings I note that I do not have to uproot myself again. I have friends here. We go on to the evisceration of social care. The Severe Disability Premium is abolished in Universal Credit, as “Social Services will address needs”. That is monstrous: they cut £61.85 a week from the income of disabled people on means-tested benefits, the most vulnerable group in society apart from the homeless. And Social Services, facing crippling cuts, cannot meet the needs they were juggling already.

He asks if he had ever said why he could not be a social worker. He has not: I would have remembered this story.

He had seen appalling things at the hospital. He had been able to continue working, and control his own feelings, after the case of a man who had broken into his former partner’s flat, smashed everything there, and broken just about every bone in her body. Then he was involved in a case where a baby a few months old needed reparative vaginal surgery after her own father had raped her. He was physically sick on the way home, and could not be involved in social work any more. So he changed his Master’s degree from social care to social policy.

I always seek empathy. I imagine the man, holding his daughter and not seeing her, holding a baby and not seeing a human being, but a lump of meat on which he relieved sexual urges. Or, perhaps, finding a way to attack the mother, and make her insane. My mind recoils, I cannot imagine it. I can imagine violent acts undertaken in anger- Hume’s example of preferring the end of the world to a cut on my finger comes to mind- but not that. I do not recognise him as a human being. I hope the other men in the segregation unit killed him. I want him crushed like a bug, expunged like a virus. My lovely, gentle friend- too gentle, perhaps, for his own good- had murder fantasies about him. I had heard of the lie that sex with a virgin would cure AIDS, and an epidemic of the rape of babies in South Africa; but even that has a motive, and is less monstrous than this.

Someone has to deal with such people- but not me, or my friend.

Why were we cheerful, after? Because he is still affected by it, decades after. He remains angry. I could hear his anger, and sympathise with my friend; and drain a little of his hurt. So I validate my friend’s feelings, and we feel together. And cheerful, after, perhaps because we could leave the abomination behind.

I will not be affected by it. I was not involved.

Another strong personality

Someone called me an idiot. I don’t mind. God protect me from people who think they know what’s going on.

Tim, an utterly sweet gay man with a great love and knowledge of Manchester- he was passionate about the restoration of the Victoria Baths– told me that he had had relationships where he was Top, and others where he was Bottom, and he found the erogenous zones on his body changing between the two. We change to fit other people. One highly empathetic woman, a life-long carer, told me that she had had a series of dreadful relationships because she liked dominant men and they overwhelmed her: they were the centre of their Universe, and became the centre of hers. She felt the same way they did. So now she has a partner who respects her and, aware she can change like this, they both guard against it.

The hierarchy in any organisation can set the tone of that organisation. This is how things are done, how we see things. This is how we all feel. There is great pleasure in feeling the same way as another: we feel together, so we feel closer. It is hard to change it from below.

Don’t do that to me. You attempt to exert the force of personality to change mine, my feelings, my opinions. That took me aback, actually. Is that what I am doing? It was more than disagreement- some shock, some distress. I thought, after, it might be evolved primate behaviour, just the way we are with everyone, influencing or being influenced. But I can engage my conscious mind to prevent it. Your freedom is important to me. You are far more beautiful, free, than anything I could control you into.

I distressed myself completely falling into what I imagine might be another’s mind set. It seems to me I can choose my feelings. So, man tells of triumphs from decades before. I can choose to see this as boring or pathetic, or I can share his joy in the triumph, however old it is. How lovely of him, to share with me something which still delights him!

I choose that feeling which most brings us together. I want that togetherness, here, now. How lovely of him.

And- I am myself. I will see the world your way only for the moment, then I am otherwise, for I am myself. I too am a strong personality.

Ingres, Louise de Broglie

Attempting empathy

window rightAs Sutekh said to the Doctor, “Your evil is my good”. I can only explain the attitude of the Catholic Truth blog to myself in terms of sickness, damage or sin. At best, they defend what they value against what I see as an unreal threat. Delusional, then. Can I begin to understand the sense of threat? Well, I know a lot about feeling rage and terror.

I have been doing lumosity problem solving games. In this thought process, I can make a sub-optimal move, but if I do, I am looking down on the person, and my aim is to avoid that.

Many people use alcohol to relax. Some people use alcohol to escape reality, to block out uncomfortable feelings, to turn away from the problems they should face. That harms them, and others. People also behave selfishly. I accept the reality of temptation and failing, even as I do not judge those who fall, because I do not know the pressure they were under.

Against this, there is the possibility of Sanctification- the human being behaving in the best way possible. The way to it is the Church, given by God.

In the best way of being, the human is always in control, always overcoming that Id monster or sarx/flesh or our sinful nature. Temptations feel strong but must be resisted, or you fall into that lesser way of being, outside the Kingdom.

I could attack this in various ways- it is Gnostic, I pontificate, spirit good matter bad; or it is setting your morality above that of all human beings, your understanding is better than theirs- but then everyone does that, or we would reject our lesser morality. I don’t accept the judgment that gay sex is necessarily always sinful, but perhaps the majority of humanity always has done.

I avoided the weakest moves. “So tempting to see onesself as better than others”- but that is not it, “There but for the grace of God go I”. It is not necessarily in-group/out-group thinking: We are Right, but accept everyone who will join our Right way, the strait and narrow path, because that is what Catholic means.

I feel there is rage and terror there, the fear of Falling Away, anger that things which should be Catholic such as the SVP and CAFOD and even the Pope aren’t, really, not properly, but in principle one might live like that without it. And on my side, of course I deny that my sin is sinful, because I like it and do not want to give it up.

There are places that I cannot go, places holy to Mormons or Catholics. It behoves me to accept the things I cannot change. It is not a threat really. They are not bad, just different.