Dear fellow first-worlder,
You are not being brainwashed by media (1). Someone paying you a salary, with legally guaranteed right to negotiate for a better contract, is not a form of modern slavery (2). Medicine is not a conspiracy to poison you or your kids, and our culture is far from being uncaring about children's welfare (3). Local newspaper website refusing to post your latests misspelled flame and commercial TV Channels only broadcasting inane reality shows is not censorship (4). So get a frigging clue and some sense of proportion,
(Reposted from a Facebook status in June)
I was bored today.
So I wrote a guide on breathing.
Because it has bothered me how many people get this wrong, even people who supposedly know a lot of stuff about fencing and body mechanics and stuff.
Or dancing, et cetera, for that matter.
Dear international gamer community (and especially you, Geordie Tait, and everyone who finds themselves in agreement with him),
Before I go on, I want thank you for your efforts of making gamer communities everywhere more welcoming to women and games less gender-biased. The fact that you are aware that there is a problem in that front and are willing to do something about it is great. I am also delighted that you are accepting to feminism as an idea, and not in denial about the fact that domestic violence is a gender-biased issue regardless of the statistics of who gets beaten up most, or about the fact that women still are not quite equal to men in the work and business life. As a new mother myself, I also really appreciate your sincere wish to contribute to making these things better for your (future) daughters. Thank you.
However, contrary to what you think, making gamer communities welcoming is not dependent on solving those other issues.
I am a woman, I am a gamer, and I want other gamers to treat me with respect. However, I do not want them to treat me with respect because I am a woman, and women have special issues, such as domestic violence, threat of rape, and not being paid as much as the next guy for the same job. One, I am not and have never been a victim of domestic violence or rape, and as far as I am aware (and I have asked) my salary has always been on the level of male colleagues with same experience. My worst fear in my romantic encounters has never been "rape and death", as Tait suggests, but being rejected. While these issues are real, they are not reasons to respect me as an individual. Two, even if I was a rape victim or scared that a romantic partner will hit me, I do not need to be treated with respect specifically because of those things.
I need to be treated with respect. Full stop.
As long as you find yourself needing to explain to yourself why, you are not fully respecting me as an individual human being.
As long as you find yourself needing to give others special, gender-specific reasons to respect me, you are not asking them to respect me as a fellow gamer.
If you refrain from a sexist (homophobic / rape analogy / racist) remark you would say to an all-male (all-heterosexual / not raped / all-white) company, just because I (a gay person / a rape victim / a black person) am (is) present, you are not being respectful to me (them). You are hiding your disrespect. I would altogether rather you did not. If you are a disrespectful asshole, I'd rather know, so I can avoid talking to you.
Asking the gaming community to hide their disrespect so that you can attract more girls to hang out with is disrespectful. We do not want to enter a gaming community to be the girls to hang out with; we want to enter the gaming community to be gamers. If you were really respectful, you would ask the gaming community to stop being disrespectful assholes, because you do not like that sort of stuff. Whether you would manage to lure in "those girls" with that action or not should be completely irrelevant.
How to be respectful? Treat me as a person, same as anyone. Do not tiptoe around me. Here's examples.
When you meet a male character in an online game, you do not ask them whether they are omg-really-a-boy. Do not ask me whether I am really a girl. Especially do not do so in order to hit on me.
If a male would try and hit on you in order to gain advantage in a game, you would ridicule them. Probably even if you were gay and knew they were too. Similarly, do not give advantage to girls just because they flirt with you or offer other, um, benefits (and yes, I know this happens). Respect them and yourself: you are not that desperate.
You do not describe a losing player you want to ridicule as "running like boys". Do not describe them as "running like girls" either. If you want to use the expression, use "little children".
When a male player loses a game, you do not attribute it to boys sucking at games in general and/or the game in question. Do not do the equivalent when a female loses.
You'd not oggle, let alone grab, a male players cock in a gaming event. Not even if you were gay and knew that they are, unless you two were intimately close, of course. Even then, you'd probably do it in private. Kindly show the same respect to my breasts.
If you shake hands with a male opponent after a match, shake hands with me. Go on, I won't bite. If you hug them, hug me. If you don't hug them, don't hug me either, unless we are close friends and do it elsewhere too.
If you are mad at a male player for whatever aspect of their behaviour, you do not use words to describe them that attribute that to their gender. Kindly do not use "bitch" or "cunt" or similar expressions either. I recommend "asshole" for the equality equivalent - we all have one, after all - but I am sure you have a large enough vocabulary in this front to pick one to your liking yourself.
It's really as simple as that. Fixing women's rights in general requires awareness that things are gender-biased. But respecting individual women simply requires awareness that they are people.
PS. Special note to Geordie Tait: Unlike you seem to think, I as a woman am quite able to identify with a male protagonist in a movie. I find the idea that I would look at an all-male movie and be unable to see "anyone like myself" offensive. You are like myself, and I am like you. As gamers, we are probably more similar than you are with a random non-gamer man. I strongly suggest fixing your thinking in that part before you get an actual daughter.
PS2. Special note to Geordie Tait #2: Alyssa Bereznak was, obviously, "within her rights" to not date a MtG player. You do not have to have a justification for not dating someone. You are "within your rights" to only date people of certain color, or above certain height, or under certain weight. The whole idea that we need to discuss whether she had "the right" to reject him is offensive - as if there were circumstances where a woman was obliged to date a man if she for whatever reasons feels like she'd rather not. That does not mean we have to think her reasons are fine. To describe all gamers as obsessed nerds just wanting a sex toy in a closet - just like you did - is prejudiced and mean. I don't want that. My husband does not want that. None of my friends (most of whom are gamers) want that. To reject a date just because she found out he was a gamer was prejudiced and silly - even when it was well within her rights to be prejudiced and silly. The response to her sillyness was completely out of proportion, you are correct - but that does not mean she was right.
Now that we have lived in the area for a couple of years, finally something is happening and places around me are becoming mine.
The grocery store close by, the amazing M-market of Laaksolahti, has been "our grocery store" for some time now. Beside it, there is our waffle cafeteria combined with a tea store, and next to that resides my hair-dresser. Our mall is the one in Leppävaara, and I got two libraries: the big one at the mall and the small one on the way to the grocery store. Next to our school. Or what would be our school if any school-aged people lived here. There's our beach by the lake and our forests all around.
I like it. I have not really felt "home" this way since I was school-aged myself.
Now if there only were "our" health care center I could work in. But unlike in the case of the the big library, I do not seem to be able to feel that health care centers catering for fifth of the city are "ours".
If you want to have placemats on your tables, you should have them.
If you don't want to have any, you shouldn't.
If you want to have some for celebrations and not for everyday, that's fine.
If you do not want to have them but get them because that's what people in your social class do, that's just stupid and conformist.
And here comes the punchline: if you'd like some, but don't get any, because people might think you got them just because you thought you should because that's what people in your social class do, that's stupid and conformist too.
(Thanks to the guilty parties -- you kno who you are -- for initiating this line of thought.)
Well, so much for writing a blog weekly while trying to adjust to a new job and writing a PhD thesis at the same time.
Since people always ask the question, here is the answer.
Working at a basic health care center has been fun. A lot of that is, I suspect, because of the unit I am at, which is small, has an ethic of doing things sensibly instead of what stands in the book, has a team leader with a brain in his head and his feet solidly on the ground, and has gotten away with ignoring a lot of the most crazy city standard ways of doing things by being some sort of a "pilot unit" for changes.
Patients are mostly nice. Their agenda regarding their health and what should I do for them is not always parallel with my idea of the same, but that's life. It is not all "eternal flu and complaining granmas" as the prejudice seems to go; in fact the way the work is orgnanized results into there being relatively little of that unless you happen to be the walk-in nurse or doctor for the day.
Contrary to another nightmare, I am also allowed a fair amount of control in how much I work. I make my own daily schedules, deciding how many patients I see, etc, and while I am nowhere close to the numbers my more experienced colleagues are able to handle so far no one's complained -- actually quite the opposite, I have been told to make sure I won't overdo it and take enough time to think while learning.
Speaking of learning, I find the tutoring system for beginners at the location excellent. We have a consulting doctor dedicated to answering questions from new colleagues, and she actually answers her phone pretty much always, and at least knows who knows if she doesn't herself. She also come to where we work to consult me and another beginner for an hour weekly, for less urgent questions. So we are well covered.
Downsides? It's gods-damn hard work, compared. Yes, I know, over-worked researchers constantly worrying about whether their contract is continued, yadda-yadda, etc, are going to be offended by this comparison, but truth is, writing my thesis full-time is a vacation. As another downside, this particular unit is in the arse end of the town, and the commute is a killer, so it won't be a permanent solution. That's about it.
The blog will now return officially to unscheduled random ramblings and sermons of Life(tm).
So much for weekly.
Short answer to those who were eager to know: it has been surprisingly fun. Longer answer follows.
First and foremost, it is surprisingly tiring (yes, even expecting it, surprisingly tiring) to stay sharp and think eight hours a day, five days a week. A break and going back to something I have a routine for after the first two weeks was a life-saver (possibly literally, though not for me). Sleeping is essential. Sticking to an exact schedule and daily routine helps a ton. All that jazz.
Doesn't a researcher think all day, you might ask -- after all, it is the paragon of thinking professions? But no, a researcher doesn't. She thinks a lot, and frequently she thinks of complicated and/or muddy things, but she also takes breaks when she wants to, loiters with coffee chatting with workmates, listens idly about their projects, brainstorms lightly, reads interesting sciency stuff. This is all brainwork, but it does not require constant concentration. And most importantly, when the researcher's brain keels over from the load, she goes to menial tasks like routine proof-reading or filling out some idiotic forms or reading email. Or -- gasp -- surfs the web and chats on IRC or takes a walk.
As a physician, you have appointments and if your brain dies two minutes before the next one starts, you had better reboot it fast, because you cannot tell the patient to bugger off, you are not feeling like it. Things happen, sometimes according to a planned schedule, sometimes without, but they will happen regardless of what you want to happen at that particular moment, and you will deal. Sometimes better, sometimes worse, sometimes with frustration, always with help available from colleagues, but you will deal.
And, here's the thing: I'm loving it. When I work at the Salt Mines, my mind is on the work. I listen and look and poke and read and think -- of the work, of the task at hand, and nothing else. It is a delightful feeling. And I learn something every day, which is another lovely thing for a learning-junkie like me.
But it is hard work, tiring work, for me. 40 hours a week, currently, is a bit too much. In the long run, the work had better become easier, more routine-y, less absolute-concentration-required, or there'd better be less of it, or this is not what I'll be doing for the rest of my life.
Hey -- haven't I said this before?
There will follow now in this blog a series of (roughly) weekly posts about my experiences in general health care.
In order to be fully licensed as a medical practitioner in Finland (and in Europe in general), you have to work for about two years (three years in countries with less practical work included in work before graduation) "under the direction and supervision of another". Having been in research, I have put off that work. In the best case (everything I am going to claim should count will also count in the opinion of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Helsinki, bless their bureaucractic heats) I have about 9 months of full-time work to go; in the worst case, about 1.5 years. I will start on a 2 weeks in clinic + 2 weeks writing my PhD thesis schedule next Monday, with the intent to switch to full-time clinic for the remaining months in about August.
Obviously, I cannot write about any patients, and since I write under my own name, I can only write about colleagues and circumstances at the workplace in a very limited and general sense. If I write about a disease using example cases, details will be generalized to fit multiple real people I have met and/or changed to fit none, and posts will be delayed in time to break any temporal connection to actual patients. Also, I will not bitch about individual colleagues or other co-workers, though I will most likely say a word or to about the organization of general health care.
Posts will appear roughly half and half in English and in Finnish.
Since this keeps on surfacing, for the hundreth time, no, sensible institution anywhere do not expect their medical professionals to take the Hippocratic Oath, or in any case to follow it even if it is ceremonially read.
If they did, it would put an end to half of family planning ("I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy"), all minor surgical operations performed by anyone else but specialists ("I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work"), and to medical schools as we know them ("hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage").
There are modernized "Hippocratic" and other Doctor's Oaths, some of them pretty nice. But they are not the same oath that was used by the Ancient Greeks.
You can hear it claimed-- or in any case read it on the interwebs -- sometimes by religious people, sometimes by young men who think selfishness is cool, that if you take a scientific worldview, there is no reason not to place your personal pleasure above that of everyone else.
I do not think that claim holds water. It is true that science itself cannot give you a reason for why you should value pleasure, or oppose to suffering. Pleasant and unpleasant are subjective, not directly measurable concepts. We can measure things that associate with suffering -- we can measure blood pressure or stress hormones, we can observe nutritional state and death, we can ask people to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10 -- but the fact that we designate pain and suffering as unpleasant is, well, consensus based on personal observation.
At the heart of science is a set of core assumptions of how knowledge can be acquired. One of these is that personal observation is not enough to draw conclusions about external realities, but that to be considered true, the result of an experiment must be replicable -- that is, others must be able to say "yes, I did the same experiment, and I saw the same thing". Another is the so called "Occam's razor" principle, which states (among other things) that if an explanation is sufficient to fully explain a phenomenon, there is no need to, and indeed you should not, add to that explanation something that there are no consistent observations of.
If we accept the personal observation that pain and suffering are unpleasant and something we would like to avoid, I do not think there is any scientific way to claim that you should consider your pain and suffering any more (or any less) important than that of someone else. Science, first of all, assumes at its core that other humans exist; the whole idea of trying to contruct experiments that function the same regardless of who performs them has built-in the idea. Second, even if it did not, I think Occam would force us to conclude that the likeliest explanation for our perception that others like us exist is that they indeed do so.
In any case, given that other people do exist, it does seem to me that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that would suggest that our own pain and suffering are somehow more important than those of others. We can of course construct possibilities where it might be so -- maybe all the world is illusion except our own consciousness, say -- but by the Occam's razor principle these must then be discarded.
Science does not give you any reason why you should value the avoidance of pain, or the gain of pleasure. But given that you do value them in your own case, I think science does not give you any excuse to not value them in everyone else's case too.