things I'm not sure how to tag

Homelessness is not slow suicide


Anonymous said to realsocialskills:
By the time alcoholism has put someone out on the street isn’t it slow suicide. I do think all people deserve help, regardless of their situation, and if I decide to give a homeless person money I generally make a point of not thinking about how they’ll spend it. But taking a moment to think about it, does it actually help them if the money is spent on booze?

realsocialskills said:

I don’t think “slow suicide” is an accurate description. If someone is homeless and asking for money, they’re not trying to die; they’re trying to survive.

Spending most of their money on alcohol or other drugs does not mean that someone is trying to die. It can mean that their life is difficult and they’re doing the best they can right now.

Addiction to alcohol or other drugs will usually kill someone in the long run through organ failure. If you think of that as the only thing that matters, you’re going to misunderstand the situation badly. 

Here’s something else that matters: If someone quits something they’re addicted to without a support system, that can often kill them a lot faster than the drug use.

Chemical dependence on a substance means that it has become a physiological necessity. If someone is a heavy drinker to the point of physical dependency, quitting without medical support is physically dangerous. People can die from alcohol withdrawal. Suddenly cutting off a homeless addict’s supply is not doing them any favors. 

Further, sometimes people drink because the situation they’re in is unbearable. Sometimes, people drink to make things tolerable enough that they can stand to remain alive. Ideally, people should transition to coping that are less physically damaging and allow them to survive longer and function better. Not everyone is in a place to do that. If heavy drinking is the main thing standing between someone and suicide, it’s much better than they should keep drinking than it is that they should kill themselves.

If someone wants to take those risks, it’s a courageous thing to do and they deserve a lot of respect for it. Being willing to take those risks shouldn’t be seen as a precondition for someone being worthy of help.

People in difficult situations with no access to better coping mechanisms than drinking still deserve life. And they need money to survive.

It’s urgently important to make support more available. (One thing that is especially important is getting people places to live that do not require them to be sober or attempting sobriety. It’s much more humane, effective, and affordable to give people housing not attached to coerced participation in programs aimed at changing them.)

It’s also important to create support systems that help people *before* they get to such desperate circumstances. (Some areas in which dramatically more is needed: disability services, support for veterans, support for children who age out of foster care, noncoercive mental health care, affordable housing, and employment opportunities for those who need modifications and support).

In the meantime, people who are living on the streets with no effective access to support needed to make things better need money to survive. Even if that means they’re spending most of it on alcohol.

They’re trying to survive in very, very difficult circumstances. That’s honorable, and worthy of respect.

tl;dr Preventing homeless people from having access to alcohol is not an effective or respectful way of helping them.


“I don’t care what you do in bed” is not actually a kind response to being come out to

When someone comes out as other-than-heterosexual to a religious fundamentalist (or someone who for whatever reason has an anti-gay ideology as part of their identity), the conversation often goes this way:

  • Sue: I know you’re really religious and… I think you should know… I’m gay.
  • Fred: No big deal. I don’t care what you do in bed. Hey, it’s not like I tell you what I get up to with my wife, right?

In this scenario, Fred probably thinks that what he’s saying is liberal, kind, generous, and accepting. It isn’t. This is actually a nasty thing to say, even if you mean well.


If someone comes out to you, they are telling you something important about themself; something that was probably hard to say. They are telling you that they have the capacity to love, and that their capacity for love is stigmatized. If they know that you have an anti-gay ideology, they are telling you it is important for you to know about their capacity for love, even though they expect you to disapprove.


Saying something along the lines of “I don’t need to know what you do in bed” in response to that is unkind. It’s implying that you think they just told you something smutty or inappropriate. They didn’t. They told you something appropriate and important.


The capacity of straight men to love women is socially celebrated. The capacity of straight women to love men is also socially celebrated. It’s not treated as something dirty or smutty that needs to be hidden. Even the assumed sexuality of opposite-sex relationships is socially celebrated.


There’s nothing obscene about knowing someone’s sexual orientation or marital status. It’s an important fact about who someone is and how they are in the world.


If someone knows that a man and a woman are married (or often even if they are dating), they will assume that they have sex together. Parts of marriage ceremonies celebrate sexuality (eg: “you may now kiss the bride”). People talk about marriages being consummated, and assume that newly married couples will have a particular kind of sex on their wedding night.


And despite all of this implicit sexuality: If a straight man told someone he was married, and the response was: “I don’t need to know what you do in bed”, he would probably be very offended. He would expect you to respect his relationship and capacity for love more than that, and not to reduce them to something lewd.


It’s important to offer people who aren’t straight the same respect. Even if you disapprove of their relationships, acknowledge them as relationships. Even if you disapprove of their love, acknowledge it as love. Don’t pretend that you’re tolerating something unseemly and unimportant. 


livingalifeoflearning:

realsocialskills:

do you know of any resources for art things for disabled or poor folks? (poor because lack of resources to get a hold of most comercially sold art supplies, disabled because I have Things I Don’t Have a Name For that make it hard for me to…

livingalifeoflearning said:

I don’t know what sort of art things you’re into, but temporary art can generally be done for free and can be quite pleasing, especially if the process is your focus, not the product. These things can require a very low level of fine motor skills and might be easier on stiff joints.

Things like:
- Drawing in sand/dirt with a stick or your fingers
-Sidewalk chalk can be cheap and makes all hard surfaces your canvas
-Building sandcastles or other earthworks
-Arranging stone towers with rocks around your house
-Arranging flowers

You can also take a picture of any of these if you want to keep something of something you made.

Keeping perspective in a world that tries to take it away

When you’re marginalized:

  • No matter how nice you are, people will call you mean
  • No matter how justified your anger is, people will tell you that you’re overreacting and making a big deal out of nothing
  • No matter how polite you are, people will call you rude
  • No matter how well you explain yourself, people will accuse you of speaking without thinking
  • No matter how closely you stick to the facts, people will accuse you of letting your emotions make you irrational

This post is not about that, exactly. It’s about one consequence of living in a world where people treat you this way. You have to grow a fairly thick skin, and learn to disregard a lot of mean-spirited and unwarranted attacks on you.

The need to protect yourself this way comes at a price. The thick skin you have to develop to function at all can make it hard to tell when you actually *are* doing something wrong. And sometimes you will be. Because everyone is mean sometimes, Everyone overreacts some of the time. Everyone is rude sometimes, Everyone sometimes believes things based on what they emotionally desire to be true rather than the facts of the situation. Everyone gets outraged at things that don’t warrant it. Everyone is cruel sometimes.

And when everyone tells you that you’re doing awful things whether or not it’s true, it’s really hard to tell when you actually are doing wrong.

It’s important to cultivate friendships with people you can trust to care whether or not you are doing the right thing. Who share your values and won’t use false accusations of being cruel to shut you up, and won’t try to undermine your struggles against marginalization. Who will genuinely care about both the success of your work, and whether or not you are treating yourself and others well.

And to have friends who can trust you to do the same. It doesn’t mean that you always have to agree, or that you can’t ever do something your friend thinks is wrong. But it does mean that you listen, and take into account what one another thinks.

One of the awful things oppressors do to us is to make examining our actions difficult by flooding us with a lot of mean-spirited false criticism. It’s important that we find a way to counter that.

fourloves:

realsocialskills:

forceyourway:

When you’re not sure whether something is wrong

realsocialskills:

sometimes i feel like i did something wrong but i am not sure and dont know what might have done. i usually say “i am sorry if i hurt you” because i dont know whether i did or not. but this seems really close to something people are saying…

forceyourway saidL

I might be careful with the first one. A lot of times, I have experienced (many) people saying “Is that a problem/Is there a problem?” as a challenge, especially people in a position of power (i.e. bosses, teachers, parents). The intention in asking is to shame and not to truly understand what the other person is experiencing; the only appropriate response to such a question is “no.”

I might suggest something more like

“Is something wrong? What are you feeling/thinking right now?”

“Is something wrong? I can see from your expression (name specific things: if they’re frowning, point it out) that you might be upset.”

“Is something wrong? (Indicate why you might think so, if this is happening via text interaction. Is there a shift in tone? Are they dropping punctuation when they’re normally very precise?)”

And follow with something like

“I want to understand what you are feeling.”
“I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“I want you to be comfortable.”

realsocialskills said: That’s a really good point. I hadn’t thought of the way that “is there a problem” can be loaded, but you’re right, it definitely often is.

fourloves said:

stuff is cool between us now but one of my friends used to constantly say things like “is there a problem” “is something wrong” “are you mad at me” or even “sorry I made you mad” when 90% of the time I was in an average mood

as an Autistic person, it made me feel terrible. I always have to worry so much about making my body/face look like something other people can relate to and have to deal with people projecting on me. I shouldn’t have to deal with that from someone who’s supposed to be a close friend and it made me feel very tense and unhappy. we were living together for a while and I felt like I could never lose control for a minute even in my own home, because she would start asking me questions like that. it also sucked because being asked those questions made me nervous and annoyed and if I couldn’t hide that, things got even worse. over time the questions were more and more stressful and so I pretty much always would end up upset. she was more and more likely to get mad at me for seeming upset, because now, I actually was upset.

I think this would probably cause a problem with anyone but especially for someone who’s used to having to worry a lot about how their “body language” is going to be read, and is used to having their emotions catastophized by other people, it can really suck and I’d rather someone not ask me how I’m doing than do it in a way that makes me feel like an animal in a zoo. just a tangential thing to keep in mind.

realsocialskills said:

That’s a really, really good point.

I was thinking of the situation in which you actually have a reasonable basis for thinking someone might be mad at you.

But “is something wrong?/why are you mad” etc really can often mean someone is unreasonably reading your body language as an accusation. And, beyond that, it can mean something along the lines of “Your body language is weird, please be more normal so I don’t have to worry.”

I need to think about how to explain the difference.