Thoughts on some Netflix shows, consent and other important issues

In my Facebook memories, a couple of the posts I’d written about consent and boundaries have come up recently. And so, I thought that I’d talk about those things now, as I don’t think that they can ever be talked about too much. And not just that, but consent and boundary setting/boundary enforcing, are all things that can be difficult for many folks to follow through with (including me).

Throughout my life, I’ve gone to church quite a bit; but there are a few specific experiences of my church-going that stand out for being so awful that just thinking about them literally makes me cringe. And one such experience, happened last year when I was in Las Vegas visiting some of my chosen family. I’d gone to church with these people because I was in Vegas to spend time with them; and sometimes, I care more about being around people I enjoy hanging out with, than I care about what it is that we’re actually doing together. But there came a point in this particular church service where visitors who were there for the first time, were asked to stand up so that they could be seen by everyone who was present. I had no desire to participate in that activity, for many reasons, one of which was because the environment as well as the people in it, felt fake as fuck to me. So I stood up for myself and told the people I was with that I wasn’t going to stand up to be recognized by people who knew nothing about me and who would likely classify me as being deranged if they knew how I’ve chosen to live my life. But even though I stood up for myself when it was uncomfortable to do so, I still totally hated being in this particular environment, most especially because the weirdness was not over for me, not even after the experience that I’ve just mentioned here.

The next thing that these weirdos forced upon me, was unwanted touch. I vividly remember the people I was with, telling me that people at this church were going to come up to me and hug me. I made it clear to those I was with that I didn’t welcome that kinda interaction from strangers, but this unwanted physical touch happened anyway. And so, how I responded to said unwelcomed touching, was that I sat totally still in my wheelchair, with both of my arms at my sides. I didn’t touch those people, nor did I say anything at all to them. But I’m pretty sure that they could see on my face that I wasn’t into this forced interaction with them. Because I vividly remember that my face felt totally scrunched up, I was recoiling and my entire body was tense.

But as if both of these things were not enough to make me feel deflated for the rest of that day, here is something else that was awful about this particular experience: the sermon for that day talked about how monogamy was the only valid relationship style in the world, homosexuality was wrong…and so was pre-marital sex. And as someone who myself is a gay, polyamorous woman who has been sexually active with people since my early 20s, hearing such a judgmental attitude really deeply pained me. Said attitude pained me because it didn’t seem to occur to any of these folks that consent was something that they should even practice. And I’m sure part of their reason for just being reactive like this, was because no one has ever called them out on their horrible behavior. But also, I’ve never even felt safe to have conversations with the people I know who were there, about why I find this sort of thing problematic. And that’s unfortunate, as those who care about me can’t do anything to help change things that they aren’t even given a chance to think differently about. But in writing about this particular experience now, I’m hopeful that in the future, I’ll feel at least somewhat comfortable verbally sticking to any boundaries that I set with others…and also, that I’ll be prepared to make a scene if need be, if people are trying to force unwanted touch or another form of unwanted interaction onto me.

One of my Facebook friends posed a question on their personal Facebook page. The question they posed was: what advice would you give your 20-year-old self? My answer, with expansion because this is my blog, reads:
Life can be fucking scary…live it to the fullest, anyway. Do things because your entire heart is into them, not because you feel pressured by others to have a certain kinda image. You’ll never be good enough for some people, and you just have to let that be OK. Love you, even when it hurts to do so, no matter how uncomfortable you may sometimes be/get. Because honestly, when it comes down to it, you’ll ultimately have yourself as your one ride-or-die. And while there will be a tribe of people around you that you call “Team Chelsea,” you will be the one woman who literally and figuratively sees yourself through the good, the bad and the ugly events in your life. Treasure that, above all else.

I recently finished reading The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love. And in case anyone missed who this book’s authors are the first time I wrote about this book, the authors’ names are Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton. And as I’ve said on my blog before, I truly love this book; I found its contents to be easy to understand. There were chapters within the book but then within each chapter, there were small sections of text which I think the authors probably meant as additional insights or points that either of them had or wanted to make. I love how this book talked in-depth about healthy and unhealthy ways to conduct relationships with others, to their being environments where people can safely explore their sexuality and the different kinda relationships that people can develop with one another. All in all, I’d definitely recommend this book to other folks; and I can’t wait to read the next edition of the book, in another decade or so.

In the latest Multiamory episode, the hosts Jase, Dedeker and Emily talk with each other about conflict; they’ve done other episodes on this show about conflict, fighting or disagreements, but personally, I don’t believe that this particular issue can be discussed ad nauseam. Because honestly, the way I’ve been taught to think about conflict by my family of origin, is quite unhealthy. What I mean by that, is that for most of my life, I’ve thought of people fighting as being horrible. It was literally a black and white view for me: people only fought or disagreed with each other because they were bad people or they flat out didn’t fucking know how to be in relationships with other individuals. But since I’ve been learning and growing into an individual myself, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this very subject matter. And so, the way I interpret disagreements or fighting now, is that they are both part of the experience of being a human being…but fights and disagreements can certainly get out of control and become unhealthy, especially if everyone involved doesn’t stay mindful of how their body and emotions are doing throughout said disagreement/argument. But people learning and then using good communication with each other, makes it possible for fighting and disagreeing to be an opportunity for growth for each individual and as a couple.

In an episode of LGBTQ&A, the host Jeffrey Masters talks with Mary Lambert. And for those who don’t know who Mary Lambert is, she was featured on the song entitled “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. And so given that she was a guest on this particular podcast, I looked into her own music. And honestly, her solo songs were a fucking letdown. To me, her voice is just OK. I occasionally like some of her spoken-word material, as her voice seems to be much more emotive when she’s speaking about something she’s passionate about. So ultimately, I prefer to love her as a feature on the song “Same Love.” That song has relevant lyrics, along with great instrumentation and vocals. It’s incredibly powerful and definitely personally gave me hope for a better future. Like, even though it hasn’t always been clear to me that I’d leave the Bible-belt state I lived in for most of my life, and then relocate to a liberal-leaning state, listening to “Same Love” was always comforting. And TBH, it still is comforting; and I think that it always will be comforting for me. But that being said, the song hits my soul differently, now that I’m out and proud as a gay woman.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Brain, the host Shankar Vedantam essentially does a part two of the previous week’s show on philosophy and morality. But for this week’s show, one story that was told, was about a man who’d decided to give one of his kidneys to a total stranger. And interestingly, Shankar Vedantam also talks with this guy’s girlfriend…and she had a very different perspective on him having a kidney removed for someone he’d never met. His girlfriend grew up learning that folks in one’s immediate vicinity or community as a whole, were most important; I grew up learning this very thing myself. And so personally, my moral compass, along with the fact that I’m poor, leads me to focusing on my immediate and surrounding community. But much like how I was bothered by Peter Singer’s views on morality, I was bothered by the guy in this story’s moral views too. And what bothered me about this man’s morality, was the fact that he claimed that it’s rational to not only give some of your income to, say, other countries…but he also believes that killing innocent people is sometimes the “right” thing to do. Peter Singer believes the same things as the guy who this story is about…and that belief, and anyone who has said belief, infuriates me to my core. Because such views are what I’d call extreme.

Another story in this episode of Hidden Brain, is about someone in an emergency room who was in the ER to get treatment for one of their hands that was hurt by a glass bowl breaking as they were washing it. And the ER doctor treated this lady just fine…but then someone who this woman knew, recognized who she was: a college professor at a well-known college. And once the ER doctor who’d been treating her, verified that information, this lady was then taken elsewhere and prioritized at a much higher level than she had been treated in the ER that same night. And so, what this story was meant to highlight, was the way in which our society prioritizes some folks over other folks, all the time. And honestly, this is something that I have a lot of feelings about, especially as someone who has disabilities and multiple serious chronic ilnesses.

So, the very first thing that comes to mind for me, is how in the United States of America at least, society often gives priority to disabled folks. Sometimes people with disabilities (PWDs) are allowed to go to the front of lines, sometimes PWDs don’t have to stand in lines at all; and yet other times, PWDs get priority registration at the college campuses they attend. All of these things are available to us as PWDs; therefore in my opinion, these things cannot be thought of as being discriminatory towards us. For example, as a wheelchair user myself, I appreciate that the college I attend has a system in place where the Dean of the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) can sign a piece of paper that allows me to get my food first or not have to wait in a long line when I need to talk with the Financial Aid Department, Cashier’s Office or the Admissions and Records Department. Because me having this pass allows whomever is with me at any given time to show said pass…and get whatever I need to, taken care of quickly. But also, what makes this sort of thing OK in my opinion, is the fact that disabled people aren’t asking to have something extra that able-bodied folks don’t already have. And so, when I think of how one of the main ideas in this particular episode of Hidden Brain is probably meant to challenge us intellectually, I agree that it’s something to think about on a much wider scale than we likely already do. But realistically, I think that a world without PWDs having access to certain things as disabled people, might create an unnecessarily harder world for us as disabled folks, to live in. But not just that, but able-bodied people have no right whatsoever, to decide for PWDs what should or shouldn’t be given to us, period!!

I recently watched the Netflix documentary entitled Becoming; this documentary is based off of the book of the same name, that was written by Michelle Obama (the former First Lady in the White House). This documentary shows Mrs. Obama sharing with viewers about what her family life was like, as well as what life was like for her on her book tour and in the White House. This documentary also showed other women telling their stories to Mrs. Obama which I was very moved by. I felt like whomever edited this documentary did a great job. Watching it also made me reminisce about 2008, when Mr. Obama was campaigning for himself to win the Presidency, and then when he ultimately became President that same year. And watching the Becoming documentary took my mind back to how I felt as a disabled person then, about Mr. Obama becoming President: the main feeling that he gave me then, was hope. I had hope that things would be better for people with disabilities, PWDs, than they’d been in the past. I had hope that the United States of America having its first black President would truly allow the world to create the forward-thinking change I thought it should have: gay people being able to marry each other, and relationships other than monogamy being put on an equal playing field as monogamy. And thankfully, at least one of those things happened while Mr. Obama was President. But in addition to these things, the Obama Family as a whole seemed genuine and like they deeply cared about the American people as their people. I love that I had the pleasure to live when this particular historical event happened. It’s definitely something that I’ll remember fondly.

In the latest season of the Netflix show entitled 13 Reasons Why, we the viewers are put through all kinds of difficult emotions, from happiness, to sadness, to love. But that being said, it’s the last episode of the show that’s hardest for me to watch. I say that because some very traumatic things happen to some of the show’s characters…and even though 13 Reasons Why is just a show, the subject matter that it primarily deals with (suicide) is a very real thing in the world that we, that I, live in today. And TBH, this last episode of season four of 13 Reasons Why, made me do some necessary reflection of my own. But also, this last season of this show really worked hard to get the very real truth about suicide in the world, heard in a way that I think will resonate with many people, for years to come.

But before I go any further, I’ll write what the show 13 Reasons Why was about. Because while suicide was the show’s main focus, the series also showed the ups and downs of high school life…which I felt was done accurately to how things actually were for me in high school. But the thing was, throughout these high school kids’ journey at Liberty High, these kids were constantly there for one another. Many of these kids did some fucked up things to each other that changed everyone’s lives forever. Several of these kids died, and the hardest death for me to watch, was definitely the character Justin’s death; because the show displayed moments of him getting deathly ill, people who were close to him having a hard time with this awful news and then Justin’s eventual death. But the way these things were carried out in the show, in such graphic detail at that, had me crying for quite some time. I cry easily though, what can I say. But even so, I think it’s important to go into even more detail about the actual show, to help people understand why this show was worth watching.

So, the show started with a Liberty High School girl named Hannah Baker telling her personal story about suicide. And then a bit later one of Hannah’s schoolmates named Clay Jensen mysteriously receives a package at his house which turns out to be tapes that Hannah Baker had recorded before she’d committed suicide. There were 13 tapes, just like this show’s name indicates that there are 13 reasons why; and on these 13 tapes, Hannah Baker has chosen 13 people who also go to Liberty High, who she feels have wronged her in ways that she’d never recover from. Clay Jensen and Justin are both on those tapes that she’d recorded for people at Liberty High; hell, most of the Liberty High students who were her schoolmates, were on those tapes in some way, shape or form. And so, throughout this entire series, each of these Liberty High kids do the best they can, with the information and knowledge they have at any given time, to get to the bottom of how to fix this awful situation that everyone has found themselves in. All of the Liberty High Kids listen to the tapes that Hannah Baker had left behind for them. All of these kids went back and forth with one another as they’d listened to the tapes, trying, I assume, to see if any of them came to different conclusions about each tape’s contents. Yet what continued to happen, was that every single one of the Liberty High kids stayed at one another’s throats…literally until the last episode of season four, where we the viewers learn that Justin’s health issues are much worse than they’d been in previous episodes of the show. Because that drastic change in Justin, really woke the Liberty High kids up. And so, we see scenes of Justin being on a ventilator, Justin’s friends and family watching him in that situation and then lastly, we watch as Justin’s family and friends spend their last moments with Justin…where the people who were most important to him made sure to tell him how they felt about what a difference he’d created in their lives. But 13 Reasons Why actually ends with Clay Jensen giving an empowering speech for the Liberty High students’ high school graduation. I’m glad that the show ended that way; because I was worried that it would end on the sad note of Justin dying/Justin’s close friends and family missing him terribly.