Author Archives: swissmousie

About swissmousie

I love Swiss cheese! I live at the cottage, but I take trips to the moon. I am a journeying white-footed mouse, otherwise known as Peromyscus Leucopus. Happy tails!

Mindset

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Mindset by Carol Dweck. It’s a book everyone should read. You’re interested in philosophy, psychology, success, relationship advice, self-actualization, or mastering anything? Yes, you should read it.

It’s made me a student who achieves more and a teacher who has multiplied her reservoir of patience exponentially.

It’s the rare type of book that involuntarily achieves the purpose which most self-help books miserably fail at. I reached that disappointment after going through a phase of reading self-help books voraciously until I realized that the whole point of self-help books was consumerism. In other words, once you’ve bought the self-help book, its purpose was fulfilled. Whether or not you get any value out of the book from that point forward depends on whether or not you’ve effectively bought in to the concepts of the book. So if you’re not hooked after the introduction, the rest is just hogwash. Even ‘good’ self-help books are usually full of claptrap. It’s just an eloquent sort of balderdash which succeeds in giving you warm feelings.

Mindset can’t be shelved among this flimflam of pop psychology that could scarcely score any higher than grade four on the Flesch-Kincaid scale.

The most salient reason why I have been whole heartedly endorsing this book to everyone around me whenever it can possibly relate to the conversation at hand is because of the leaps and bounds it has helped me reach in my personal life (a bit of an ironic phrase – is there any other life that is impersonal?). Thanks to Dweck, and her warm tone with which she makes matters of mentality and achievement clear, the way she elucidates the causation and correlation that spring up between them, I’m now much further along in my sense of self.

Brief interlude: upon giving copious ponderance to what constitutes human personhood, especially in light of fetal and reproductive rights, I’ve come (rather tentatively) to the worldview that personhood, or a sense of self is constructed. It’s created over time, by the individual and their environment. I don’t have this weird need to divide nurture and nature. I don’t know if imputed personhood is anything more than an expression of the expectations of parents and society. In other words, ‘self’ is not the set of expectations that are set for you, but rather how you choose to conform or not conform. You are who you choose to be.

To give a rather relevant example, let’s say a baby is born. The clamor of ‘it’s a girl!’ comes flooding in from all sides is bringing societal expectations of how this new member of humanity is going to be trained to act, and what rights she will be allowed. Pink dresses and hair ties are bestowed upon her by friends and relatives who have been trained into being good consumers and are blindly equating materialism with true celebration. Is this child all the attributes that are being attributed to her? I would argue no, not at all, but they could become a part of her to the extent she incorporates them into her sense of self as she develops it.

I do wonder what would cross her parents minds if they took into consideration that her chances of being of being abused or assaulted in her lifetime are 1 in 4. What’s a parent to do if they realize that their child’s anatomy means that they will probably earn only 77% of what a child with a different anatomy will earn? Alas, I digress.

Future me feels the need to jump in here and stake out the right to change my mind after I know what it’s like to have kids. Speaking of which, when I have kids, I think I’ll wait a few months post-natum before disclosing the sex of my child. It will be a good exercise in ambiguity for all those who will be in my life at the time. Maybe this will be able to serve as a small wake up call that sex and gender mean WAY too much to us. I look forward to a Utopian society where the words ‘male’ and ‘female’ are not code for “shut your mind off now and treat this person according to thousands of years of belligerent misinformation”. A society in which the terms ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ are weightless in conversation due to the overwhelming majority of people realizing that gender is only one aspect of attraction. One is just as likely to be sapiosexual.

Given that these values are quite incompatible with religious fundamentalism, we might be in dire need of a change on that front as well. I wouldn’t advocate for any specific worldview, but what I do push for, is criteria which can be used to measure the soundness of a worldview. Is it ethical? Is it up to date enough to be relevant to a modern, technologically advanced society with more power to do harm than ever before?

You know how after the Paleolithic era, we stopped worshipping the Animal Master (peace be upon him may he live forever. Oh I was late to the funeral? What? He only ever existed in human imagination? And he’s not really there anymore? Huh?) because we were no longer living as hunter gatherers and had no more need of him in our dead animal rites because we simply weren’t killing animals like we were before? Along came the Neolithic age, and we turned to Agriculture and developed a new source of food and a new psychological need for transcendent feelings that would lead us to the idea that we had sustenance from gods who would bless our harvests and gladly scoop up our virgins for fertility rites in brothels. We stopped worshipping the animal master because we didn’t need him anymore.

At the risk of overextrapolation, I would like to point out that we are living in the information age, and if we are still going to choose to worship something, it should be something which advances the development of intellectual and ethical society. When you consider how much harm can be done so easily, you realize that archaic and destructive religious mentalities have no place in modern society.

I won’t endorse atheism openly, I’m a little too demure for that, but I will borrow the words of Paul the apostle, and say, “I wish you all were as I”. Embracing empiricism as a prerequisite for assertions regarding cosmology and biology, keeping self-prescribed dosages of spirituality that recognize the methodological concerns which arise from attempting to define such a term, temporary lapses into pseudo-neopaganism which includes and is not limited to the occasional trundle through Dianic wicca, the episodes therein having been terminated prematurely by an underlying derision of the human proclivity to drawing conclusions where none exists naturally and creating structure where there is none, partaking in well-planned debauchery being highly selective in your choice of cohort meanwhile cultivating an internal condition of compassion which is conducive to the most ethical behaviour patterns is quite a recipe. Such are my current religious views. I suppose you could consider my atheism a religion if you’re the type of magic person whose favourite tv show is off, or you regularly dye your hair bald.

Anyhow, go get yourself a copy of Mindset by Carol Dweck and READ IT!

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Skydiving

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I want to go skydiving. It sounds fun. It sounds dangerous. The good kind of dangerous, where you don’t necessarily risk losing your life, but what you do risk losing is your former perceptions of your life.

The only problem with skydiving is this: It’s morally wrong.

It’s prohibited by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who is looking out for you in its benevolence. The same bittersweet benevolence in which it gave us men with good taste in food, wine, and fashion, but that’s besides the point.

There’s a number of practical reasons why not to. You have a lot to lose by skydiving. After a girl goes skydiving, she has renounced the blissful status of never having fallen through the sky. And clearly, the more times a girl goes skydiving, the less of her there is left. She will wither away into nothing and lose her dignity and respect.

Inexperience is golden. Always. The less you have done in your life the more valuable you are. It’s so much better to stay in a childish state, infantilized by your guardians whose job it is to protect your innocence. They’re looking out for your own good. You need to stay pristine so that you will be a good wife when you are given in marriage (given? received? Cool! I’m an object now – awesome!). We know this is your end goal, whether or not you realize it yet. 😉 In other words, you’re far too young to realize how deeply this conservative religious bullshit will have stained you. You simply don’t know any better.

Stay young and innocent, and we will fetishize your stupidity. Don’t get contaminated by the wayward world, and learn to block out whatever threatens your worldview. We’ll gladly turn you into a sterile, angelic sex symbol. You can represent centuries of denial and repression. You’re welcome! Anytime! As long as you don’t expect any form of agency, let’s keep this up.

Inexperience will help you during mate selection later in life. It will help you rely on your spiritual guidance rather than sinful bodily cues like chemistry or rational analysis which might cause you to doubt your faith and stray from the yellow brick road, *er* ahem, my bad, God’s will.

Other virtues of inexperience are submission to the Lord’s will, malleability and lack of autonomy. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to not have your decisions made for you! Decisions made easy! Risk-free! Terms and conditions: you may be subjected to commodification as one of the Elect. Your deity may see you as an object which can easily become a gift to one of his servants. Sounds pretty good, right?

Other practical concerns about the dangers of skydiving is bird shit. You don’t want that all over you, do you? SO DON’T SKYDIVE! (Do I hear the sound of one hand clapping? When only one alternative is given, by very virtue of it being an alternative there must be OTHER OPTIONS waiting to be had. Bird shit deflectors, anyone?).

Obviously no one should skydive – especially not girls, because as the weaker vessels, they are the more vulnerable ones which need to be protected from the big bad sky. I’d never go so far as to say that this strikes me as possession masquerading as protection at all. After all that’d be completely out of character for patriarchal religion…

Well dear readers, if you’ve managed to swim through the sewers full of sarcasm this far, then keep in mind that these are legitimate notions I actually do face, even though it’s 2013 and women can be considered valuable for their contributions to society, their ethics, their brilliance, their problem solving, rather than whether or not they choose to go skydiving. It all comes down to agency. I’ve got two legs, two arms, and a good head on my shoulders. And there’s no chance in hell I’ll sit back and let myself be considered property. It’s all about agency.

I’ll go skydiving when I’m damn well ready and not a second sooner. Or later.

I Need Feminism

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Do this. Google “I need feminism” and you will find a roster of reasons, examples and stories about why people need feminism.

I thought I’d chime in my own reasons. I need feminism because:

  • I don’t like being called a bitch when I call someone out on their shit.

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  • Wearing an engagement ring is one of the measures I take in order to protect myself from unwanted advances. Someone please remind me why in hell my personal wishes to be left alone are never taken as seriously as some fictitious fiancé’s possession of me?

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  • Getting drunk has WAY too many risks.
  • My (male) relatives believe I should enjoy the attention of guys who hang out their car windows and holler at me. WTF and WHY?
  • I have given away apologies to people who never deserved them because I ‘friendzoned’ them. Friendzoning is bullshit. If you got your hopes up thinking  I would date you just because you throw compliments my way and try to engage me in conversation, then I refuse to take the blame for bursting your bubble. Wake up to fucking reality.

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  • Where I live, the more a guy has sex, the better track record he has. With a girl – it’s the exact opposite. I’m not advocating for either opinion, but a happy medium between the two would be great.
  • “Boys will be boys”. WHAT THE HELL? I sure hope not. Why does anyone even say this? Unless you really want a society filled with male bodies walking around with the maturity of twelve year olds. Oh wait… Isn’t that what we’re dealing with?

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  • Being a virgin is the holy grail of womanhood. For some weird reason, my value to society stems more from whether or not I’m having sex rather than whether or not I’m an innovative mind who will be solving the problems the generations before me started. What?
  • I’ve realized that I don’t take credit for my own successes when there’s no damn way I should attribute it to anything else than my hard work and tenacity. Watch this one minute video. It’s so true.
  • A man on the street who I’ve never met before thinks he has the RIGHT to talk about my legs (as some object like the weather which one casually brings up in conversation) and what’s worse than that is I’m supposed to enjoy the ‘compliment’.

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All these reasons about why I need feminism – while they’re valid, they’re also nowhere near the reasons many other people need feminism. My list here is a list of gender related problems I run into in a country where we would like to believe we have equality and it’s all good. My focus on my first world problems only has to do with the fact that these are the ones I know intimately, and I’m in no way wanting to forget about the serious issues feminism is combatting around the globe, sex trafficking, criminalization of rape and other shit like that which you really think would have been wiped off the face of the earth by now. Hello, it’s 2013. But no, as long as we have people writing laws based on men’s interpretation of religious texts, this bullfuckery will go down. I need feminism. You need feminism. You need feminism because you need me to have the empowerment to repair society from all the fuckups of patriarchy.

 

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Uni Life

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This school year was a little different. I was writing my final exams when a year earlier, I would have been just finishing midterms in high school. The year still feels long and intense though; the only difference is that there’s a four month summer yawning in front of me. Four month summers. Where have you been all my life?

When I think back to a year ago this time, I see myself as a completely different person – who had no idea what was ahead. Graduating from high school was one of the best things that happened to me in the last year. It’s been nice to get a change of pace in a new learning environment. Instead of being put into a big mass of people where everyone comes with different objectives and motivations, I’ve gotten to meet people with the same energy and direction as myself. This process has not only been such a great ride; it’s also been really informative about myself.

For instance, I’m going to brag here about a friend of mine who left school in order to tour the world with a famous metal band. Today’s the last day of her tour and she’s been almost EVERYWHERE. There’s also a really close friend of mine who during the first semester was being fought over by record labels in Nashville and New York. I know some pretty epic people. It’s such an awesome place to be becoming awesome.

When I was in high school I was pretty shy. I kept to myself. I often wondered to myself, “why am I even here?” and thought everything was so lame. Being in a room and waiting until a bell rings before you’re allowed to leave? WHY… But in any case, things have changed, I’ve become much more extroverted and I’ve been enjoying the faster paced environment. In secondary school – everyone pretty much HAS to be there. In post secondary people WANT and PAY to be there. It makes a huge difference. Being around like-minded people headed in more or less the same direction as you is great. I’ve become really extroverted  – to my own surprise even.

Needless to say the landscape has changed. Walking down the hallways is a little less like the nature channel, because people who are paying for education are usually trying to gain the most from their education. In other words, the need to procreate has become somewhat subdued under the need to be educated.

For those of you heading to some form of post secondary education, there’ll be a few things to adjust to. You’ll have way more responsibility, and way more to do. But the work will most likely be invigorating and enjoyable – especially if you’ve found the right program for you. You’ve got to love how after one year of university I’ve been transformed into a seasoned professional who can pepper you with advice…

In any case, closing remarks: I could watch this kitten all day. This is literally me adjusting to university. This is the perfect illustration of how you crash, burn, and figure it out. 😉

Such a Nice Day

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It’s such a nice day today. The sun is gently coming in my window, and I’m reminded of the words of a Messiah, “the truth will set you free”.

It’s such a nice day to wake up with an uncluttered mind. To remember that your parents tried to raise you to think for yourself, and well, this may not have been what they were expecting.

It’s a nice day to not blame whatever unfair things that have happened to you on God. It’s a nice day to not have to believe you need your head covered for the sake of the angels. It’s a nice day to not believe your chances of salvation were through childbearing. It’s a nice day to not condemn those who wear synthetic fabrics, eat pork, or are attracted to the same gender. It’s a nice day to know I can pull out my lunch and eat with a friend of mine who is Hindu, and not care that Paul tells me not to.

It’s a great day to not feel threatened by science. In as far as science seeks to know the truth, I will remain very fond of it and curious to know it. And furthermore, it’s a great day to not see Adam and Eve as anything more than literary archetypes symbolizing the historical assumption that women are to be blamed for the downfall of the whole human race. That women are more prone to deception than men. Not being prone to deception begins with questioning ill-founded beliefs. And rejecting them when you find them baseless.

And I have only begun.