What Is Etiquette? — Autistic Guide to Etiquette

As promised, I’m starting a side project writing about etiquette for my fellow autistic folks. Before I get into it, I want to thank Judy (An Autism Observer) for pointing out two other etiquette guides by-autistic-people-for-autistic-people. Real Social Skills is no longer updating, but there is some good stuff in the archives. Improve Your Social Skills by Dan Wendler has solid advice on navigating different social situations, even if he really needs to hire a new web designer.

What I’m doing here will be rather different from what you find on either of those sites — or most etiquette guides. Instead of talking about what to do in different social situations, I am going to talk about the hows and whys of etiquette. When we’re done, I want you to understand why of most social situations.

What Is Etiquette?

To start us off, we’re going to take a few minutes to talk about what etiquette is. I’m willing to bet you got a lot of ‘look people in the eye’ and ‘don’t interrupt’ and other rules of etiquette that drilled into you. But I doubt anyone ever sat down and explained what etiquette is.

Truth is, most of the people trying to teach you ‘how to behave’ didn’t understand either. They learned etiquette the way they learned to walk. They never needed to stop and think, “Okay, I need to maintain my balance on one foot while moving the other foot forward. So tighten this muscle and relax these muscles and make sure I shift my center of gravity /this/ way…”

They don’t understand how they walk. They don’t understand how gravity affects walking. They just do it.

And they don’t understand how they socialize or the etiquette rules they follow.

Okay, I’m rambling.

Etiquette Is Social Custom

Etiquette is basically the customary way people interact. If you are following etiquette, you are behaving in that customary way. If you don’t behave in that customary way, you violate etiquette.

Why does etiquette matter?

Etiquette gives everyone a ‘playbook’ for social interaction. Everyone following the same etiquette is like a group of people playing baseball together. You can only play baseball if everyone uses the same rules. If someone runs out and yells “Fore!” the game screeches to a halt. No one else on the field knows what is going on and how to respond to it.

(Yes, I grew up in a sports family. How could you tell?)

Etiquette is different everywhere

Because etiquette is simply customary behavior, it is different everywhere. And it changes over time. What is polite today would have been rude 50 years ago. What is polite in the US is rude in the UK or Japan or Nigeria.

So I’m going to be talking about etiquette in the US. But even in the US it varies.

When I was a kid, I read the book ‘Shiloh.’ I noticed that, like in a few other books I had read, the main character called his parents ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’. I figured this must have been another one of those rules everyone else knew and I didn’t and resolved to start calling my parents ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’. That resolve lasted less than half a day. The first time I called my mom ‘Ma’am’ I got in trouble for ‘mocking’ her.

I’m sure you’ve had your own introduction to the idea that what’s polite in one place is rude in another.

Etiquette experts can lay down “rules” for the socially inept. However, these “rules” change all the time as culture and society change.

Cultures create customs.

This includes etiquette. According to pop culture, propriety was the key to etiquette in Victorian England. Anything could be done as long as it was done properly. A similar concept from Japan is on or face. In the shogunates of Japan, all interactions were built around not damaging each other’s face. In the US today, the key concept is equality.

The idea that everyone is equal is the foundation of day-to-day etiquette. This is why in the movie Titanic we liked Molly Brown, who doesn’t look down on Jack. Instead, she treats him as her equal, helping without condescending. Unfortunately (in my opinion), this focus on equality has evolved into a need for same-ness. Drawing attention to another person’s differences is among the heights of rudeness. A custom many immigrants and international visitors are baffled by.

But how does ‘equality’ become a set of customary behaviors?

By combining respect and friendliness.

People are only both respectful and friendly with those they see as equals. Respect is offered to an equal or a superior. It isn’t offered to an inferior. Friendliness is offered to an equal or an inferior. Friendliness implies closeness, a connection with the other person. Offering friendliness to a superior is seen as rude because you are presuming a closeness to someone who is ‘above’ you..

So putting respect and friendliness together implies equality.

*For the not-sports inclined, golfers yell “Fore!” when the hit the ball to warn anyone ahead of them on the course to get out of the way. Why “Fore”? I have no idea.

Okay, that’s it for now. As I said, this is a side project so it’ll update irregularly. See you next time!

I Refuse to Be Futile

When I was a child, I used to dream about being the next Martin Luther King, Jr. The next Rosa Parks. The next Victoria Woodhull.

I was going to be a world-shaker, one of the people who refused to accept the horrors of the world and forced the world to change rather than changing to live within the world.

Over time, as I learned more about myself, and about the world, I accepted that this was one dream that couldn’t be. I don’t people well enough to be in the forefront of any movement, my anxiety and autism mean just taking part in a march, never mind leading one, would be impossible. And God knows I will never be respectable enough to be anyone’s flash point in this mad world.

So I turned my eyes to smaller versions of the same goal.

I would be a thought-leader in the polyamory communities. A writer whose fiction grabbed  minds and changed hearts. An online educator who helped people see and understand experiences and life-paths they had previously dismissed or denigrated. A homemaker who created a safe place for at least some of the people who have been chewed up and spit out by this world. A foster parent.

So many dreams. Some of them, I made progress towards, perhaps achieved in some small way. Many others are still on my to-do list.

But in all my dreamings, my hopes, my plans, my goals, there was one thing I never imagined I might be:


I have never written directly about politics on my blog or website. Indirectly, yes. The personal, after all, is political. I can’t write about being polyamorous, or bisexual, or non binary, or having trans partners, or disability, or mental illness, or poverty, or, oh, any number of other things I have written on, without there being politics lurking beneath the surface.

But as the ancient book says,

To everything there is a season.

I pride myself on my words, but words fail me.

How can I encapsulate the journey that brought me to this point? Where do I start? What do I say?

Because the truth is, that if you are in the US, and you follow politics at all, you know what this is about. Whatever your reaction, your thoughts, your beliefs, you can’t have even the most peripheral knowledge of what is going on in the US right now and not know. You’ve heard of it, seen the reports, had your own thoughts about concentration camp vs internment camp and who to believe in the ongoing political PR battles.

But, in the end it comes down to just four words:

Never again is now.

I have been tortured for weeks by one thought:

What will I tell my children?

Years from now, when they ask me what happened, when the ask me why, when they ask me what I did — what answer will I give them?

I cannot march. I cannot stand in blockades. I can’t even give much in the way of money.

But every time I find myself agonizing over this question, I find something else I can do.

Today, I am asking you:

What will you tell your children?

Years from now, when this is all over, what will you say?

If you disagree with me, and yet have continued this far, thank you. I know it is a hard thing for many people. You have your reasons for feeling, for believing as you do. I’m not going to dismiss that. Or tell you that believing I’m over-reacting or exaggerating makes you a bad person. Politics have gotten so angry, so many people have been crying wolf, and it’s so hard to know who and what to believe.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this isn’t the next step on the road to genocide.* But I ask you to seriously consider something:

If I am wrong, what is the harm in taking steps to ensure that detained children have medical care, decent food, and decent shelter? Even if the effort is wasted, is the cost so very high?

If you are wrong, what is the harm in not taking those steps? Is the cost of being wrong one you are willing to pay?

History always has the best quotes, so I’ll borrow this one, said on the eve of a long ago civil war:

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

*Did you know that at first the Nazis only rounded up foreign Jews? Invaders, job stealers, disease carriers… do you know enough of the history to understand why the words used about (illegal) immigrants and asylum seekers are physically painful to those of us who do know it?

If you want to do something, but don’t know what you can do, here are a few things:

Call your congress critters and urge them to increase funding for immigration services.

Election year is coming up. If your congress critters or representatives are running, let them know that concentration camps and fear mongering are not acceptable in the US.

Donate to Raices and other groups that provide free and low cost legal services to asylum seekers.

Learn about the immigration process and share what you learn with friends, family, and on social media. (Did you know that an asylum seeker not only can but *must* enter the US before they can apply for asylum? “To obtain asylum through the affirmative asylum process you must be physically present in the United States. You may apply for asylum status regardless of how you arrived in the United States or your current immigration status.” — USCIS website)

Learn about the concentration camps and share what you learn with friends, family and on social media.

Contact your local government reps. Some states, counties, and cities have contracts with ICE. Urge your local government to cut any such contracts.

Get with the leaders of your church, school, company, etc, and see what your community can do to fight back.

Get out there and take part in those blockades, marches, and other in-the-wilds activism. Take an extra sign for those of us who physically or mentally can’t get there with you, but are there in spirit.

I refuse to be futile. I can make a difference.

So can you.

This Isn’t 1939 Germany — But that doesn’t mean everything is okay

The one thing I am holding to right now is that the fucker got arrested.

As long as these ‘lone wolf’ shooters keep getting arrested and jailed, I have hope. Because as long as enough people stand against their bigotry to keep the justice system running, we haven’t reached a tipping point.

I’m Personally Invested.

Let’s get that out of the way.

Yes, this shooting hits me more strongly than the HBChurches burned in Alabama last month or the attacks on mosques that have been near constant for over a decade.

Yes, I’m writing about this now because of this shooting.

I’m human.

That doesn’t make me wrong.

This is Not 1939 Germany

For years now, people have been comparing the US to 1939 Germany and claiming we are following the footsteps of Hitler. I’ll own it — I’ve done it myself. Technically I’m doing it again here.

Personally, I’ve always come to the conclusion that yes I could see the similarities, but didn’t think a slide in fascism and Holocaust was likely. Possible, but not likely.

I still think it’s possible. I still think it’s not likely. But the ‘not’ has gotten… a bit smaller, let’s say. In plain text, rather than bold.

There are many differences between the US today and 1939 Germany. Starting with the man in the head office. Yes, Trump is a populist strong man who admires dictators and might like to be one. And his speeches are just about as readable as Mein Kampf. That’s where the similarities end.

We also don’t have a large group of disaffected veterans who blame the government for their suffering. We don’t have people standing in breadlines for hours. (Okay, the wait at one of the local food banks can run on hour, but that’s because it’s so slow, not because there’s that many people.) We don’t have runaway inflation killing the value of everyone’s money. We don’t have huge military expansion going on to ‘stimulate the economy.’

We have not seen an equivalent of The Eternal Jew in our museums or Krystallnacht in our streets. (No, ‘lone wolf’ shootings aren’t an equivalent of Krystallnacht.) We haven’t seen citizens expelled for their religion or ethnicity. We haven’t seen concentration camps for citizens set up. (Not downplaying the horror of the ‘facilities’ that were set up for illegal immigrants or the horror and travesty of having parents separated from kids. ) We haven’t had a Rechstag Fire. Our government system is the same as ever, even if it’s creaking a bit more than it used to. We still have a president and not a Fuhrer or equivalent…

There are similarities

and I’m not denying that. We do have a large disaffected population with lots of guns. We do have a messed up economy where a lot of folks are struggling to cover their basic needs. We are suffering a kind of national psychological shock as it becomes more and  more apparent that the US is no longer the sole world power, that American exceptionalism maybe isn’t all it was cracked up to be. And we have a leader who plays to the divisions in our society rather than help mending them.

That’s a bad combo.

But it isn’t 1939 Germany.

Comparing It to 1939 Germany Is Not Helpful

At best, it’s a shock tactic. At worst, it creates deeper divisions as the people who are said to be on the side of the ‘Nazis’ (most of whom want nothing to do with literal Nazis, ever) feel attacked and vilified. Even more so if they know their history and know how specious this comparison is.

A more accurate comparison might be 1929 Germany.

It’s still not a perfect comparison. There hasn’t been any equivalent of Wall Street crash for instance. And unemployment is decreasing, not increasing. but it’s a much better comparison.

If there is any validity to comparing the US today with Germany 80 or 90 years ago, it is that populism, nationalism, and fear are all things, and those things in combination are dangerous things, in any country or time.

I’m Still Scared

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. If we do go the fascism-and-genocide route, it won’t be exactly the same any other country did. Which means there will always be people who can dismiss concerns and say, ‘But this is different from Germany/Italy/etc, that can’t happen here!’

(Pro-tip: the most likely way FOR it to happen is to think that it can’t happen here. It’s the equivalent of looking at the shell of a house ruined by time and thinking ‘that will never happen to my house! My house is properly built’… but not fixing that one annoying leak in the roof because you are so sure that your house is better built and will never come crashing down around your head.)

The truth is that Jews in America have been lucky. Ashkenazic Jews in particular have been able to assimilate and get comfortable and live without threat more in America that just about anywhere else in the past 200 years. And having that comfort shattered is a shock.

But we know our history. Sooner or later, the corrupt leaders need a scapegoat.

I Don’t Think I’m JUST Biased

The thing is, looked at logically, I DO think antisemitism is more of a canary in the coal mine than attacks on Black churches or Mosques. Like it or not, there is a long history of racism in the US, and economic difficulties and political tension has always exacerbated that.

9/11 and the way-to-fucking-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq did happen. Our response was disproportionate, fear drive, and frankly pretty stupid. Which is par for the course when America gets attacked (Pearl Harbor and the Japanese concentration camps, anyone?)

There are reasons — shitty reasons, illogical reasons, stupid reasons — that scared, angry, hurting people in the US who want a target would lash out at Black and Muslim Americans. I’m not excusing it. I’m just saying that it isn’t something that would surprise anyone with a working brain.

But there is no history of violent anti-Semitism or pogroms in the US. We weren’t given refuge here in WWII, but neither were we shipped off to Germany in 1940. Israel is seen as a major US ally. If 5 or 10 years ago you asked random person A if they thought we’d see synagogue shootings in the US, they’d likely have laughed in your face.

This is a change, an escalation.

We should never have let it get this far

We should have found a way to nip it in the bud after the attack on the Oak Creek gurdwara. After the Christchurch shooting.  After Charlottesville. After so many other incidents.

We didn’t.

So now we’re here. And I don’t know how to stop it now, anymore than I knew how to stop it then.

And people are asking of Jews, as they asked of Muslims not long ago, ‘Should the Jewish community in the USA consider leaving the country?

Because it’s apparently reasonable to suggest we leave our homes rather than suggest the people of this nation put a stop to this shit.

I don’t have answers. And that scares me. Because this isn’t 1939 Germany. But that doesn’t mean everything is okay.

A New Idea for Sexuality Labels — I’m Androphillic and Enbyphillic (mostly)

Idea that’s been kicking around for a while and I’ve mentioned here or there. But I think I’m gonna start putting it into practice.

It’s ridiculous that we identify our sexuality by reference to our gender. Why don’t we say who we are attracted to? If we need latin-esque words for sexuality labels, why not:

  • androphillic or androsexual (lover of men)
  • gynophilic/gynosexual (lover of women)
  • enbyphillic/enbysexual (lover of enbies)
  • etc

I’m not saying that folks who are gay or lesbian should feel the need to give up those identities. Do your thing!

But our current sexuality labels do not work once you move beyond the binary.

What is monosexual nonbinary person who is attracted to men? Or a monosexual woman who is attracted to nonbinary people? How do genderfluid people map to our current terminology? It doesn’t work.

Not Everyone Is Monosexual

Labels based on who we are attracted to allow clearer descriptions. Especially for folks who aren’t monosexual. There is no way to say ‘I’m mostly straight but a little bit lesbian.’ The best we have is bisexual. But you can absolutely say ‘I’m mostly androphyllic but a little bit gynophillic.’ Or how to describe someone attracted to nonbinary folks and men, but not women? Again, best we have is bisexual. Doesn’t ‘androphillic and enbyphillic’ work better?

Side note: I realize that not all nonbinary folks identify as enbies. I’m making this up as I go along and am open to other suggestions.

Flexibility Matters

Of course, that’s another good thing about this construction — it’s flexible. You can create new terms and be as specific as you want. There’s nothing stopping you from saying you are agenderphillic or panphillic or sarisphillic (if you happen to have a thing for people whose gender is an ancient Jewish thing almost no one has ever heard of)

Obvious, I lean toward a -phillic construction. It’s distinct from the current -sexual construction and would (hopefully) prevent confusion. But the -sexual construction has the advantage of being recognizable. people who haven’t heard it before will still understand what it’s referring to — someone’s sexuality.

So What’s my Dating Profile Look Like?

Hi, I’m Jess. I’m mostly androphillic and enbyphillic, but there have been a few women who caught my eye, including my awesome girlfriend C. I’m not looking for a new relationship right now, but I wouldn’t say ‘no’ if the right person came along.

Abuse, Franklin Veaux, and the Polyamory Communities

At this point I have almost entirely separated myself from the polyam communities. Partly, that’s been the result of my needing to get the hell off of Facebook for my own wellbeing. But another part, that I have never talked about publicly, is that I was gaslit by one polyam leader in front of a dozen or so other polyam leaders, and no one, including (I think) some of the folks on the team calling Franklin out now, spoke up*. Two people reached out me privately, one of whom wanted something from me related to the discussion, so I’ve never been sure if they would have reached out otherwise.

There isn’t a decent sized polyam group on the web that some of those people aren’t part of. So I just don’t feel safe.

No, the person who gaslit me wasn’t Franklin. No I am not going to name them at this time. Or probably ever, honestly. They did reach out me privately about a year after the incident to offer an (I believe sincere) apology. Unfortunately, the way they apologized compounded the original harm done as well as arriving at literally the worst possible time. My reply to them was rather harsh as a result and I haven’t heard from them since.

If you read this, I am in a better place now and am still willing to talk further when you are ready.

If you were part of that community and discussion and stood by, fuck you for having a hand in driving me out of a community I loved and being too blind to even notice.

I am glad that Franklin is being called in. The more distance I gave myself from the community, the more clearly I saw the problems in his attitude and writing. I was saddened but not surprised by the post on Medium last week.

But it’s not just Franklin, okay?

Just like it wasn’t just Wes. And it won’t be just whoever is called in/out next.

I am not good at community. I substitute enthusiasm for real ability at people stuff and mostly it works well enough. But I don’t begin to know what, if anything can be done about the pervasiveness of abuse, much of which is the result of living in an abusive culture that actively teaches harmful interactions.

So I don’t have any useful suggestions or ideas. Just… be aware, okay? Be aware.


*Multiple people on that team were part of that community. I do not clearly recall if any were part of that specific discussion. Truth is, my PTSD brain doesn’t much care.

It’s Time to Tell Men What They Are Doing Right

I want to say a thing to my fellow women and non-men. And I’m probably gonna piss a bunch of you off.

We need to do a better job of acknowledging the good things men do.

Sit on your knee-jerk for a minute and hear me out.

A while ago, I was watching a program for parents and the guy up on stage made the point that in a healthy marriage, people say four good things to each other for each negative thing they say. But many kids here 10 negative things about each themselves for every 1 positive thing they here.

This is an important facet of human interaction. If we don’t tell people what they are doing right and only criticize them for what they are doing wrong, the vast majority of people will stop trying. The message they get is that they can’t do anything right, that you are going to be angry with them no matter what, so what’s the point?

Now, take a look at what gets said about men. I’m not talking implicit stuff like how boys toys are about doing stuff and girls toys about being pretty. I’m talking the clear, explicit statements about men, either individual men or men as a whole, that are all over our social media feeds.

Women and non-men tend to focus on the implicit stuff as needing to be fixed—and that’s fair because the implicit messages we get sent are fucking horrible.

But implicit messages and explicit messages don’t cancel each other out. Men and boys (most especially boys) who hear endless explicit messages about men being rapists aren’t going to magically not be affected by that message because most CEOs are men.

What message are our sons getting?

What are we teaching them about what it means to be a man?

Are they learning what makes a good man? Or are they getting hammered with messages about what makes a bad man/how bad men are?

How can we expect them to grow up to be good men if we don’t give them good models of manhood to follow?

I’m not talking about giving cookies to allies for good behavior. And I’m not talking about ignoring bad shit that men do.

But let me give you an example.

In one of the MCU movies with Captain America (I think it was actually Captain America, but don’t hold me to that). Steve asks someone out, gets turned down, accepts is politely and walks away.

This was a perfect chance for positive reinforcement. We could have had memes, blog posts, videos ‘that’s how you do it’ ‘why Cap’s a real man’, shit like that.

Instead, I only saw one person talking about how important and positive a moment this was in building Cap’s character, and that person was responding to people criticizing Cap for being willing to take no for an answer.

We had a chance to send a message, to men, to boys, and to Hollywood, ‘this is good, give us more of it.’ and we dropped the ball.

I can hear some of the responses I’m going to get already ‘it’s not our job! We already do a disproportionate amount of emotional labor! They need to fix themselves! Why are we responsible!’

This isn’t about fair. It isn’t about right. And it isn’t about equal.

It’s about building something healthy.

You ever been in a relationship with someone who was unintentionally abusive? Someone who wanted to learn better?

In that kind of situation you have two choices: get out or help them while they learn and grow. And if you can’t focus on fair, you can’t focus on fair. You need to do your part.

That doesn’t mean you need to put up with it when they screw up. You tell them, ‘you did X, that’s gaslighting. Stop.’ But it does mean that when you tell them to stop and they do you need to reinforce that, ‘that you for stopping when I told you. I really appreciate the effort you are making.’

The relationship between men and women & non-men has historically been an abusive one. And some of that abuse lingers today. But men have been saying, for close to a hundred years, that they want to do better. If men didn’t want to do better, then women still wouldn’t have the vote.

If we want to ever have a healthy relationship (on a cultural/political level) between men and women & non-men, we need to step up the positive reinforcement. We need to tell men when we something that is right.

Some people can shrug off negative messages and struggle through to stay engaged and do what is right. And the many, many men who have done that, who have stood up for and with women and non-men to call for changes, are amazing and wonderful.

But that doesn’t change what makes for a healthy relationship.

Fight to change the implicit messages. Fight to change the assumption that men make better CEOs or the way women politicians are criticized for their appearance in a way men politicians never are. That is good and important work.

But don’t forget that explicit messages matter. That in terms of explicit messaging, women are constantly getting positive reinforcement through advertisements, social media campaigns, even school programs. And men are constantly getting negative reinforcement with little to no positive reinforcement.

I’m not trying to blame anyone. It’s easier to criticize the bad than to praise the good. That’s human nature too. So it’s understandable that we’ve focused more on criticism than publicly recognizing the good. But we need to make a choice: are we going to dig in and make this relationship work, regardless of ‘fair’. Or are we giving up on the relationship?

If that latter is your choice, there are definitely limits to the ways you can disconnect yourself from men, but there are steps you can take, from only having kids through IVF from a sperm donor, to only reading stuff written by women and non-men, to looking for or starting a business that caters specifically to women and non-men so you don’t need to deal with men at work.

Me? I’ve known some pretty awesome men in my life. One of whom I owe my life to (okay, two, if you count my father). I’ve got two sons. I’m not walking away from them. And that means working to make a world where my sons, and other people’s sons, and all the men who want to do better, hear the positive reinforcement they need (and frankly, deserve) as they continue to grow.

A Deconstruction and Analysis of the Accusations and Evidence of Abuse and Rape by Laurelai Bailey

Feb 23, 2019 Update: Per a comment received last night there are new accusations against Laurelai. Additionally, as I make clear at the end of this post I was not able to evaluate all the evidence I found due to a family emergency that required my time and energy. Nor did I do the kind of indepth search that would turn up all available evidence. I am not updating this post with further analysis because I never intended a complete analysis. What I intended was to remind people to check their facts and not just take the word of random person on the internet. I want YOU, dear reader, to do your own analysis before signing on to one side or the other this or any other divisive issue on the internet. Take this as your starting point and do your own damn research. Because I’ve done all the free labor on behalf of internet strangers (which, tbh, includings Laurelai) that I intend to do.

If you’ve done a similar analysis, you are welcome to link to it in the comments.

Evidence generated through websearch


This is the first I have heard of Lolcow. So I have no preconceptions about how valid the information might be on it. The name is doesn’t lead me to think of it as a factual information source, but that could be misleading.

Main Article

Page: https://lolcow.wiki/wiki/Laurelai Accessed: 9/5/2018 ~8:00 ET

Page opens with a quote from Laurelai:

“Im going to ruin you Zoey, it was bad enough you lying about me. That i can kinda get, im an asshole. The others? WOOOW thats evil.”

—Laurelai, threatening a woman she had allegedly raped


In this purpoted quote Laurelai is alleging that “Zoey” lied about multiple people and says she can see why “Zoey” might want to lie about her. The caption cites it as evidence of Laurelai threatening her alleged victim. However there is no citation for this quote and it puts us at an impass of allegations: if this “Zoey”’ lied about multiple people including Laurelai, than this is Laurelai-a-victim standing up to her attacker. If this “Zoey” told the truth, than the caption is accurate.

In sum, this quote is chosen to get the reader emotionally engaged. Ignore it.

Summary opens with extensive accusations and no citations. Last paragraph makes reference to “Kiwi Farms” (more on them later) and includes the first citations of the article.

The first citation is titled in the bibliography as “Laurelai’s Twitter – Laurelai harassing people who bring up her crimes”

The link for the citation leads to a Tweet of Lauelai’s where she says “Anyone who is mutuals with ______ tell him to stop spreading lies started by reactionaries of hes gonna wind up getting someone killed.”

While tweets of this sort can result in a person being inundated by the same message and it is better to ask single individuals to make contact to avoid this, it hardly constitutes harassment.

Nor is it a valid citation for the sentence from the summary “She is absolutely willing to dox, threaten, and attempt to attack anyone who makes the mistake of trying to warn others about her.”

There is no doxxing here, no threats, and no attacks unless you count alleging someone is lying as an attack.



The second citation for this same sentence is titled ”Laurelai’s Twitter – More Harassment

It again leads to a saved tweet which reads “Stop fucking trying to destroy my social networks. Im gonna find you fuckers and make you pay for it.”

This does, in fact, constitute a threat. It does not constitute doxxing or harassment. It is also a threat in response to what Laurelai implies in the tweet are repeated attacks.

We can debate the ethics of non-specific threats against people who have attacked you, but frankly, it’s a null point. Worse things than this are said everyday in kindgergarten classrooms across the country.

Moving on.

The very next sentence also has a citation and accuses Laurelai of defending herself by accusing her attackers of being transphobes.

The title of the citation is “Laurelai’s Twitter – My Critics are Transphobes

The link leads to an archive of a twitter thread where Laurelai does, yes, say that she is being attacked by transphobes. She does not attack any specific person and she ties her personal circumstances into the oppression and attacks experienced by all trans women.

Nothing here is evidence that Laurelai is defending against specific accusations with claims the accusers are transphobes. Nothing here that dozens, hundreds, of trans women haven’t said before.

The fourth and last citation from the summary claims that “Even the scam-artists of Trans Lifeline” banned Laurelai from contacting them. The title for this citation is “Laurelai’s Twitter – This is what Exile Looks Like” This is another tweet that, finally, gives evidence for the claim made by the author. Per the picture Laurelai included in this tweet, she HAS been blocked from following or viewing tweets from @Translifeline.

The text of Laurelai’s tweet is “This is what exile looks like.”

We now have evidence that Laurelai has been cut off from resources intended to support trans individuals, with no information for why she was cut off.

The next section is titled “Family Abandonment”

There are no citations, only a link to a main article called “Kari Emails.” More later.

The section itself claims that prior to tranisitioning Laurelia had a wife and children, pimped out her wife, and then neglected them “until they left him”. It also claims that Laurelai has failed to pay alimony or child support and doesn’t acknowledge responsibility to her prior family.

Laurelai’s supposed abandonment of her family is treated then tied into her other alleged offenses as evidence that Laurelai is, in essense though not stated explicitly, a psychopath. “Laurelai, when she hurts people, feels nothing.” “She is acutely aware of her actions and has neither shame nor remorse for what she does to others. She genuinely believes her actions are always justified, and that her victims deserve what they get by virtue of her being Laurelai.”

No evidence is given for these claims.

Until such evidence emerges, these claims are set aside pending later dismissal.

Next section titled “Transience”

It claims that Laurelai is perpetually homeless and reliant on the goodwill of others which she perpetually abuses. Linked Main articles are “Laurelai Testimonials” and “An Open Letter to my Rapist, Laurelai Bailey”. More later.

Next section titled “FBI Sellout.”

According to this section, Laurelai first became notorious in 2011 due to her involvement with the hacker group LulzSec. Cited claims include:

1) her involvement with Lulzsec (citation links to Gizmodo article about FBI raid on Laurelai’s home and has some info about information Laurelai may have given to the Feds. Key sentences:

“Bailey’s conversation with the feds lasted about five hours, during which she told them everything she knew. But Bailey says she knew nothing that anyone couldn’t find out themselves, using leaked chat logs and Google. The feds also asked if she could infiltrate the group.”

Bailey refutes the claim that “she told them everything,” in her Medium article addressing accusations against her.

Regardless of the truth or falsehood of this claim, everyone seems to agree that Laurelai had nothing new to tell the Feds even if she wanted.

https://archive.is/enq4b#selection-3021.0-3021.273 )

2) Laurelai sold out her associates to the FBI to save herself. https://archive.is/7hNgU#selection-4195.0-4201.385

The citation here is a Gawker article from 2011. The article gives evidence that members of Anonymous believed Laurelai was a volunteer with Wikileaks. If so, no evidence is given of her involvement.

In fact, this citation proves the opposite of what is claims to claim. From the end of the article,

“Metric and A5h3r4 also provided us with what they say are the actual identities of Sabu, Kayla, Laurelai, Avunit, Topiary, and other members of the chat. We couldn’t connect the handles to the names provided with any certainty, so we’re not publishing them.

But they say they provided the same information to the FBI. When we called the special agent they gave it to, he replied, “as an agent on that case, I’m not going to discuss ongoing investigative matters” and referred us to a spokesman, who had no immediate comment. Metric and A5h3r4 also say they’ve handed the material to the Department of Defense, but declined to identify to whom.”

So rather than selling out her colleagues, Laurelai was herself sold out.

(Personal note: The author(s) really should have just used the first citation for this line. It at least provides evidence that Laurelai spoke with the FBI, though under duress. Using the citation, which demonstrates the opposite of what the author(s) claim is a sign of either lazy research or citation stuffing.)

3) A claim that Laurelai informed on her colleagues to the Feds in realiation for “not sufficiently kowtowing to her.” https://archive.is/CdtwC#selection-149.270-149.405

The linked citation is a letter circulated in 2017, but is actually about the already established FBI raid. While it is understandable that an underground anti-Fascist group might choose to disassociate from someone who had cooperated with the FBI in the past, this is not evidence of any new interaction with the FEDs.

Uncited claims include: that Laurelai is not actually a hacker but just a “script-kiddy” trying to make a name for herself. That Laurelai has bragged leaking to NSA’s Stux Net program. That she has “continued to rat out her associates to various government agencies the second it suits her.”

Given that cited claims have thus far been more often false or unproven than accurate, I will from here on dismiss uncited claims out of hand.

Next section it titled “Reddit Activity.

Quote starting the section reads:

“Laurelai went on a rampage with Kayla to try to get “revenge.” At some point somebody was trolling them on IRC using my twitter nick, and they became convinced I was a cancer surgeon in Florida. She openly bragged about going to this man’s place of employment to harass him, and of smearing him publicly (to his neighbors!) as a pedophile.”

—InfinitySnake, on Laurelai Bailey

Again, the quotation is uncited. It alleges that Laurelai engaged in retaliatory doxxing and doxxed the wrong person.

Section claims that Laurelai was very active on Reddit including being moderator for “several” LGBT boards and was driven off because of her behavior.

Citation for this is Laurelai’s resignation from a single LGBT subreddt, which she says is the result of “a phone call from someone reading off our home ip and address claiming intent to burn down our house.”

The letter is very angry and potentially inflammatory, but if the alleged phone call actually happened, is understandable.

Comment threads indicate that Laurelai’s style of moderation was considered overly harsh and abrasive by many users.

This claim can be considered at least partially accurate: Laurelai was “driven off” at least one subreddit for a harsh moderation style. The claim of “terrible behavior” has not been unheld.

Next cited claim is that Laurelai has doxxed and threatened users. Citation is a Reddit thread where Laurelai responded to a question [no included in citation, comments indicate question was about specific subreddits and about transphobia on them] by asking if the questioner was trans, and lashed out at them when they responded by refusing to answer and asking why it was any of her business and talking about how their gender was irrelevant, and finishing up with claiming they don’t know what they are but might be genderqueer.

Laurelai’s response was:

“So you arent [sic] even sure who the fuck you are, and you want me to answer to you on trans issues? Get bent asshole.”

Many would view Laurelai’s response as excessive and out of line. But this citation does not support the claim of doxxing or threats.

The final citations for this section are that Laurelai doxxed a cancer surgeon and called the doctor a pedophile. These citations presumably relate to the section quote.

The first citation has Infinitysnake [presumably the same person from the quote] saying that the initial doxxing was done by someone named Kayla and Laurelai “cheerleaded and promoted the posting”

Some of the technical details on this citation are going over my head, but what is clear is that 1) the doxxing was of someone other than Infinitysnake, 2) she legit believed the doxxing was of Infinitysnake themselves, 3) that in this thread she is not taking responsibility for harm done through this mistake, 4) that Inifinitysnake gave info on “hundreds” of people to law enforcement (the same accusation leveled repeatedly against Laurelai as evidence that she is a horrible person) and this doxxing was in response to that.

Infinitysnake claims that what they did doesn’t count as doxxing because it was all info given ot law enforcement and none of the people they reported on were innocent.

Here finally we have evidence that Laurelai participated in a doxxing, though no evidence that she herself has doxxed anyone. Infinitysnake claims in this thread that the person doxxed was smeared as pedophile and Laurelai does not deny it.

This citation supports the claim that Laurelai is willing to participate in retaliatory doxxing, and is evidence that sometimes she does not take responsibility for harm done by her actions.

The second citation for this claim is also a Reddit thread where Laurelai offers to share info on how to “get a hold of the person” she has been accused of defaming. Details of this supposed defaming aren’t shared, it may be a reference to prior claims of smearing someone as a pedophile, but given problems with prior citations I am not comfortable assuming that.

In the thread Laurelai admits that it looks bad to share someone else’s personal contact info as a way to defend herself “but honestly I dont see any other way here.”

This citation supports the claim that Laurelai has doxxed someone. This doxxing was a limited fashion (sharing contact info to individuals), and so cannot be considered support for the prior claims of widespread public doxxing. Though Laurelai does say that she would share the info on reddit if it wasn’t a rules violation.

The claim that Laurelai has doxxed or participated in doxxing is accurate. But there is no evidence of said doxxing being anywhere near as wide spread as Laurelai claims and no evidence that she has doxxed her personal enemies to get revenge.



The next section is “Involvement in GamerGate”

I’m going to skim over the section, I don’t have the knowledge or spoons to make sense of the many uncited claims. The only cited claim is that Laurelai owned “starrevolution.org” and that it was hosted on her hosting provider. The citations are screenshots showing which support this claim. (Relevancy: uncited claims are that this site was in some fashion involved in planting child porn on 8chan).

This section includes mention of Laurelai being a sex worker, putting sex worker in scare quotes and referring to her as a prostitute.

Next section is “Rape Allegations”

Interestingly, this is the shortest section yet.

Links to Zoey Wolfe’s open letter accusing Laurelai of rape (more later) and makes uncited claim that 5 other people accused Laurelai of rape.

Next section is “Laurelai vs The Kiwi Farms”

Section says on “Coming soon. Page was last updated Aug 22, 2018, so it is possible updates will be made in the near future.

Final section “Other Actions Online”

Contains further uncited claims in line with previous claims of harassment and death threats. Also claims involvement in AntiFa and that she has twice been suspended from Twitter. Additional uncited claims, some of which I have personal knowledge of accuracy (ie, pro-communism posts, yes Laurelai has made these), but are irrelevant to substantive accusations and so will not be addressed.

Kari Emails

This Lolcow page purpots to be a record emails between Laurelai (pre-transition) and her former wife. This page is uncited.

The wife repeatedly deadnames Laurelai, who at the time was going by Trinity, talks about Laurelai not being the person she married any more, shames Laurelai for needing financial assistance, and otherwise says she wants something from a spouse she apparently thinks Laurelai was not willing or able to give. There is no indication of abuse, no accusations of “pimping” wife, in nothing to support the claims made on the main page about Laurelai except that Laurelai was not as responsive as her wife wanted.

If these emails are accurate there was apparently some communication issues as both wife and Laurelai mention difficulty reaching the other and not getting responses to messages. In one message Laurelai asks why wife asked help from someone else and didn’t reach out when wife needed something.


Laurelai Testimonials

This page purports to show evidence of Laurelai’s repeated transience, abuse of people who offer her space, and general toxicity.

This page is uncited.

Page has 4 “testimonials”.

Several of these testimonials are disturbing in their similarity. They all contain near identical claims of about Laurelai’s behavior. The all contain some pretty heavy ableism – “we eat out a LOT and she apparently “can’t walk too far anymore” ”, “Now see, in this household we generally eat out a lot (>10x weekly). The reality is she wouldn’t get up and come with us to go eat.”

Many of the claims made in these testimonials are upsetting but not evidence of abuse, toxic behavior, or anything other than potential depression and disability. Staying online at all times, rarely showering, not wanting a “conventional job”, sleeping excessively, not cleaning up after herself… anyone who has dealt with chronic pain and/or mental illness will be familiar with these symptoms and the way they make roommates hate you.

If these uncited claims are accurate, they may be reason not to invite Laurelai (or anyone else fighting chronic illness) to stay with you, but they are not evidence of actual harmful behavior.

Two different testimonials use the phrase “peeking my mouth [in]” to reference opening Laurelai’s door to tell her food was available. It may be this phrase is common in a subcultural I am unfamiliar with, but I have never heard it before and the only seach results for the phrase are about Laurelai Bailey. This extremely unusual phrase being used twice in two different testimonials caught my attention.

So did the fact that these same two testimonials claim they eat out multiple times a week (greater than ten times a week, in one case).

Two of these testimonials mention the writer getting threats due to Laurelai’s actions on Reddit. “She got us death threats from people on reddit IRL until she was forced to step down — true story.” “I know a Reddit administrator who warned me in fact that people were witch-hunting us and threatening to burn our house down”

Two of these testimonials claim Laurelai left immediately after her cell phone turned on “out of nowhere.” “finally left when her cellphone started working again (signalling time to leave I guess… phones don’t turn themselves on you know…)” “Well, her phone started working out of the blue — not even kidding. It just started working again for no apparent reason, being able to make calls and everything.”

Two of these testimonials claim the writer gave Laurelai a laptop. “we even bought a laptop for her for this purpose” “Congratulations me, you got played by a total fucking shitcunt. As for the $1500 macbook we let her keep? (btw, total bill of expenses for her: $4,000, in the grand scheme of things just a pittance)”

Two of these testimonials came when she moved in she was going to work for the writer “She came to our house under the guise she was going to work” “Now, I proposed Laurelai come here and use her many contacts to market a product that was really a front for the other things the company had planned. I should make note of that — she wasn’t doing anything major. She was literally there to be a social networking whore.”

These one testimonial also include several varieties of transphobia “I would like to remark she is not a very good transwoman. Most people who encounter her find her to be a joke of a transwoman.” “she ran off with this one FtM chick from southern Oklahoma.”

I could keep going on the similarities between these two testimonials. Suffice to say, I consider both of them extremely suspect.

This plus the near identical claims about Laurelai’s behavior makes me suspect that at least one of these testimonials was fake.

The third testimonial is from someone Laurelai has accused of raping her. It alleges the symptons of chornic illness or mental illness mentioned previously and the claim that Laurelai living their led to the writer getting doxxed.

I have no reason to doubt the veracity of this testimonial but also nothing to condemn Laurelai for in it except (possibly) being a bad roommate.

The fourth “testimonial” is nothing of the sort. It is summarizes Zoey Wolfe’s rape claims against Laurelai and alleges that Zoey Wolfe purposes waited to accuse Laurelai of rape until Laurelai was in a vulnerable place.

“In January 2015, seeing a vulnerable moment after Laurelai got caught in her notorious failed sting operation on 8chan, Zoey released the bombshell that she had been raped by Laurelai.”

Specifics of Zoey’s claim will be addressed next. This page contains no actual evidence of wrong doing by Laurelai and a great deal of evidence that at least some accusations against her are manufactured.

An Open Letter To My Rapist, Laurelai Bailey

I’ve seen this letter elsewhere, but this time found it through the Lolcow page. Unlike the prior two pages, it has a citation, an archive of the original letter which is identical to the Lolcow page. Of the five people Lolcow alleges Laurelai raped, this is the only one they give any citation for.

The letter is largely what one might expect. A lot of anger against Laurelai, a celebration of Laurelai’s supposed suicide, etc. There is a detailed description of the alleged rape. What jumps out to me is that this is one of those horrific situations when both people can be telling the truth.

“All I remember is you tugging me by the hand as I stumbled up the stairs. I could barely walk or stand. Then I’m on my back. Then nothing but a cold sensation and I feel your body over mine. I feel your cock sliding into me and I scream and pass out. I wake up and there you are grunting over me. I’m going in and out of lucidity. I convince myself that I enjoy it and play along, still struggling to stay conscious. You finish painfully in me and I roll over and I can’t remember anything else from that night.”

If this allegation is true, than Laurelai was either not aware that her sex partner was unconscious for part of the time or ignored it. Both of those possibilities are, to be blunt, shitty. But Zoey herself says that she convinced herself she enjoyed it and “played along.” Thus Laurelai may have no knowledge that Zoey did not want to have sex. If you “play along” and try to make your partner think you are enjoying sex, you cannot later claim that they knowingly violated your consent.

If accurate, Laurelai may have had sex with Zoey in a situation where Laurelai should have recognized that Zoey was unable to consent due to chemical impairment. This would meet the legal definition of rape and many people’s personal definition of rape.

Further allegations are that Laurelai purposely isolated Zoey and engaged in other abusive behaviors.

If these allegations are true than Laurelai committed rape, whether she did so intentionally or not, and behaved in an extremely unhealthy manner in her relationship with Zoey.

I meant to continue deconstructin through everything I found, but personal shit just exploded and I can’t. Here’s a brief summary of the rest of what I have looked at so far:

You can find Laurelai’s response to several accusations here: https://medium.com/@stuxnetsource/anatomy-of-a-social-disposal-71c887336429

While some of her claims are unsubstantiated she is MUCH better at provided accurate citations than Lolcow.

Regarding Zoey, among other things Laurelai says

“Her claim that i raped her is simply based in the fact she had one hit off of a weed pipe before hand, while i was actually very intoxicated.”

If this allegation is true that the situation is not one of rape but of two intoxicated people having sex and one of them not speaking up during the sex to say “stop.” It’s a graphic illustration of the importance of a yes-means-yes approach to consent, but as neither Zoey nor Laurelai provide a time the sex happened, it may well have been before yes-means-yes was well known. (Cali’s passing their yes-means-yes law in 2014 was the first time I was aware of that standard of consent.)

Laurelai also alleges and provides evidence that Zoey herself is a predator.

I won’t go into the rest of Laurelai’s response here, you can read it yourself.


Kiwi Farms, mentioned earlier, based on my quick skim is a transphobic site that repeatedly deadnames Laurelai and has the same general accusations that Lolcow did.

Summary: Everyone shouting about rape and abuse as if it were an open-and-shut case and all accusations against Laurelai were 100% true are just as naive and foolish as I thought. MOST accusations are demonstrably false. Those that aren’t are she said-she said grey areas and/or have extremely limited evidence.

PS, disabled and mentally ill people make bad roommates. We don’t mean to, but we do. If you don’t like it don’t invite us to stay with you.

PPS. I don’t know for a fact that Laurelai is disabled, but those testimonials describe classic life-with-disabled person-who-doesn’t-have-adequate-support. So it’s relevant either way.

Written before I started deconstructing:

I should be working on my book right now.

Instead, I’m writing a lesson on deconstructing internet accusations for the terminally naive, because people can’t be bothered to fucking Google for themselves. Yes, I’m pissed. I do not have the SPOONS for this shit right now and will probably end up having multiple panic attacks about this while my partner is in danger of fucking organ failure. So fuck you all who made me do this work, now, instead of bloody doing it yourself.

I first met Laurelai Bailey on Mastodon sometime in the past year. She seemed a bit abrasive but it’s the kind of abrasive I’ve learned to expect from people who have multiple marginalizations and have been fucked over by the world.

A few months later, I heard the first claims that Laurelai was a rapist. I was somewhat concerned, but no facts were given, just claims that it was “well known.” Laurelai herself shared an article she had written on Medium about the claims and her version of them.

I read that article, and decided that her evidence of false rape accusations was reasonable. Not an open-and-shut case, but enough for me to say “I think this is probably the truth, and so I’m going to move on now.”

Recently the accusations have sprung up again on Mastodon, partly fueled by an Instance Administrator who has claimed that all the allegations of his admin allowing Nazis and shit was made up as a harassment campaign by Laurelai. Well, I saw the Nazi jokes and racist jokes, and shit myself. Whatever your opinion of Laurelai, this was straight up deflection.

But Laurelai started getting hammered anyway. I reached out to her to offer support in private because, as mentioned, I can’t fucking afford this shit right now. But I had two different thoughts niggling in the back of my head. 1) I might be wrong to trust her. 2) If I believe she is innocent and I’m not defending her than that’s a really shitty thing to do.

So I did what I should have done in the first place (just like all of you fuck heads cluttering up my feed with claims of rape) and I Googled. Well, actually I DuckDuckGo’d, some bloody difference.

I went through first pages of search results and found three sites containing allegations. So far I’ve glanced over Lolcow and Kiwifarms. The third’s preview sentence indicates it’s a TERF site and I haven’t opened it yet. These are the sites I will be looking at today.

Echo Chamber or Comfort Zone?

Echo chamber has become a bit of a buzzword over the past few years. The basic idea is a space where everyone is saying and supporting the same ideas. People in an echo chamber are never challenged to think beyond their assumptions, to see a different perspective, or to learn new things that don’t agree with them.

Many people agree that echo chambers are bad. That we need restructure social media  to reduce the echo chamber affect. That it is unhealthy to be in an echo chamber.

I agree with most of the criticisms of echo chambers. But I think it’s time to reframe the idea, because the criticism is also missing some of the benefits of echo chambers.

Benefits? Of echo chambers? Yes, really. Though I don’t blame you for doubting. After all, everything we’ve heard about echo chambers is bad. It’s almost as if we are in an echo chamber–about echo chambers!

Social Comfort Zones

But what if we didn’t say echo chamber? What if, instead, we called is a “social comfort zone”?

Comfort zones are already a familiar idea. From school, to relationships, to work, we sometimes need to “reach outside your comfort zone”. And when we are stressed or sick or worried, we sometimes need to “retreat into your comfort zone.”

The comfort zone isn’t inherently  good or bad. It is a place where we are comfortable. It has all the same features of an echo chamber–it prevents us from growing if we stay there too long, it only holds the things we are comfortable with, it doesn’t challenge us, etc. But it also has good features that we don’t associate with the idea of “echo chambers”. Comfort zones are places we can relax. Comfort zones are low stress. Comfort zones help us heal.

What we call “echo chambers” are really social comfort zones. They have all the negative traits of comfort zones in work or daily life. But also all the positives.

What’s in a name?

Once we acknowledge echo chambers as social comfort zones, we can start having a healthier discussion about them.

One that encourages people to reach outside their comfort zone and expose themselves to other perspectives and ideas. But also one that doesn’t shame people for having and using a comfort zone. One that recognizes that some people live in places or situations where they are constantly exposed to other perspectives and their online or IRL comfort zones are a necessary part of how they manage their stress and care for themselves.

I want to give a shout out to Gargron and for inadvertantly inspiring this post. And a shout out to the Fediverse in general for being a place that not only allows but encourages multiple accounts with lots of options for privacy controls so folks can have a comfort zone and a stretch zone on the same social network.


Did you learn something? Please support my work.

A VERY Different Kind of Family

This started as a kind of stream of conscious riffing on family and society. It ended up being a long-ass essay about how a society could develop around multi-generational households and group marriages. If you like anthropology, fictional societies or “how stuff works”, read on!

A while back on Quora I was asked to answer “They say that polyamorous families (group marriages) are happier and provide more role models for children than traditional nuclear families, what do you think about it?”

(Un)fortunately, because of Quora’s “Be nice, be respectful” policy, I couldn’t say what I REALLY think about it.

The same day, I also realized that all my old posts about my current WIP (working title: Building Family) are gone now. So I should maybe start talking about it again so folks know what I’m doing!

And I ALSO did some work on the conlang for Building Family, creating the words for different family relationships.

So let’s talk family.

Every society has their own idea of an ideal family. And whatever that “ideal” is, it’s going to have benefits that support that society’s values and beliefs. In modern America the ideal is the so-called “nuclear family” — two parents and their kids living together. While it isn’t usually part of the definition of a nuclear family, I’d argue that the ideal also includes extended family — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins — who maintain a connect with the nuclear family through family holiday celebrations, reunions and other occasional interactions.

In Building Family, there are several closely related societies who all share similar ideas about what the “ideal” family looks like. Specifically, they all favor multi-generational households built around group marriages.

Some Family History

The groups who are known as “far-walkers” and the fisherfolk created the family culture in Building Family. The fisherfolk are the cultural descendants of the people who first came to this small continent. They were family groups who lived on their boats and traveled together. The far-walkers are hunter-gatherers who also travel in family groups, coming together for larger gatherings once a year.

Unlike in our world, people in the world of Building Family have a serious incentive to build secure, permanent shelters. Without giving away too much I’ll say in tropical and semi-tropical regions, being out in the sun on a bright summer day, even for a minute or two, can be a REALLY bad idea.

So far-walkers and fisherfolk started building homes where they would spend the summer under roofs. But it never occurred to them to build multiple buildings for a family group. One big building for everyone in the family. Children, parents, grandparents, the occasional great-grandparent all living together.

Overtime, some of these families developed a more sedentary lifestyle. Only the young adults go on the long boat trips and season-long hunting/gathering journeys. The older adults (grandparents and great-grandparents) and children stay in the family home all year. And eventually some become fully sedentary. The boats come into dock every night, or a far-walker family decides to specialize in leatherwork They stay in one place and far-walking families pay them to turn skins and furs into well-tanned leathers. Of course, there are advantages to setting up your permanent residence near other people. And if this goes on long enough, eventually you have a village, a town, or even a city.

And you have a culture that idealizes a family where multiple generations live together under one roof.

But what about marriage? How does that work? Does it work even?

Well, with all property belonging to the family, there’s little incentive for many of the patriarchal practices and attitudes that developed in many real world bronze age cultures. Controlling “your” woman to ensure that you have children to leave your property to is much less of an issue when you don’t have any property. And women needing to stay home and take care of the kids is less of a thing when the grandparents are living right there and expected to take care of the kids while the parents work.

So I decided what the hell. To the best of our knowledge it never happened in the real world, but I’m going to go ahead and make a culture where gender roles don’t exist.

Of course, families still needed to ensure they would have kids to pass their property on to. The continuity of property ownership is kinda a critical thing to any and all societies that have significant property ownership. This right away interferes with “no concept of gender” because families need to be sure that they have a het pairing to have kids, right?

Well, not if group marriage is the norm. And this goes back to those far-walkers and fisherfolk.

Let’s Not Ration Sex

In at least some real world hunter-gather societies, sex was pretty much an open thing between members of the same band. In Building Family, there is no reason for that to change once they started spending time in houses.

With no concern about tracing paternity for the sake of inheritance, there was nothing stopping these folks from developing a custom of group marriages.

Okay, so that’s the structure of the families in this society: multi-generational households and group marriages.

How Do Multi-Generational Households and Group Marriages WORK

We all know the logistics of a nuclear family —

Kids grow up in their parent’s home. The move out, meet someone, fall in love, and start a new home where they raise their own kids. Rinse and repeat.

In a society with a multi-generational household set up, kids don’t automatically leave the family home when they grow up. Some leave, to marry into other families, and some remain in  family home. Adding group marriages to the set up complicates things a bit, but not too badly

The Birds and the Bees

First off, several children will need to remain with the family as part of the new generation. However, this means that children born to the same family will be part of the same marriage group. While incest as a cultural issue is defined differently around the world, the biological issues of close relatives marrying remain an issue.

We have evidence that even paleolithic societies were aware of the danger of inbreeding. So these societies are probably aware of them as well and have adopted customs to address them. The simplest would be a taboo against children of the same mother having sexual relationships.

However biology will also help keep the problems to a minimum. As a general rule sexual attraction decreases as familiarity increases. Since people you grow up with tend to be VERY familiar, I doubt inbreeding is a serious issue. Finally, with a large enough group of parents, chances of children who remain with the family being close biological relatives is pretty low.

May and December

The next problem is age span within generations. Even in monogamous marriages, children can be born over a span of up to twenty years. An aunt or uncle can be the same age as or even younger than their niece or nephew. This will be even more true of group marriages.

Not only will this hugely complicate any society set up along generational lines, but it really complicates the issue of how long people will be joining a group marriage. Any society that doesn’t have modern technology is living one disaster away from starvation. And that means stability is the holy grail of family life. As any person whose been in a polyamorous relationship can tell you, when someone new joins the network, everything shifts and adjusts a bit. At some point, most marriage groups in a bronze age society are going to want to say “Enough, we’re done.”

So the oldest and youngest members of a generation are encouraged to marry-out into other families, keeping the members of a given marriage group all around the same age. And each marriage group decides how many people they want in their group. Has the family grown a bit to big to support? Smaller marriage group this generation. Is the family doing well and ready to expand a bit? Bigger marriage group this generation.

The average is probably around 10 people to a marriage group. Thirty people would be a good sized group for a boat-based family or a hunter-gather band, and that’s the template these societies was built on.

Let’s Follow One Generation And See How It Works

Every Generation Starts as Children

Kids are mostly raised by grandparents while the parents focus on working to support the family, be it on a farm, on a fishing boat, or at a trade.

When the kids are old enough to run around without direct adult supervision, their families encourage them to spend time with kids from other families. The oldest and youngest kids try to find another family they would like to marry-out to. Kids in the middle of the age range try to find kids from other families they’d like to marry-in to their family.

During this time they also start learning trades, either from their birth family or from the families they are interested in marrying-out to.

Children, of course, Grow Up

If all goes well, the oldest and youngest kids (now young adults) find other families to marry-out to. Ideally families where they feel comfortable with their spouses, with the family traditions/culture, and are able to contribute to the family trade. In reality, a prospective spouse’s skill at the family trade is often the deciding factor. More than one family has had some frowned-upon age discrepancies in their marriage groups when the kids with the most skill in the family trade were the oldest and youngest, so the middle kids ended up marrying-out!

While their older and younger siblings are looking for a place to belong, the middle kids are finding kids from other families they want as part of their marriage-group-to-be.

From the time a marriage group starts forming until the first child is born, the marriage group settles. Different members will take roles within the family, usually unofficial but still very real. This roles can be based in specializing in a certain area of the family trade (ie, a fisherfolk family might have one person who focuses on learning navigation and another who specializes in keeping the boat in good repair). Or they can be based in social roles (leader, in charge of dealings with other families, etc). Or any other set up that works for the given family.

At the same time the prospective marriage group is settling into their relationships, they continue learning the family trade from their parents. This is usually the most profitable time for a family. Two generations are working the trade at the same time with no young children to care for. Many families use this time to stockpile resources against the possibly-lean years ahead.

And Become Parents (Hail the New Generation!)

Ideally (there’s that word again) the first child of the new marriage group is born only after the marriage group is complete. With the birth of the first child, the parents of the new marriage group, now grandparents, retire. They are now responsible for the children and home.

The group marriage practice addresses one reason many pre-industrial societies expected large numbers of children: to work the farm. Whether a literal farm or a smithy, one adult simply couldn’t do all the work to ensure survival. So people had kids to help with the work. With multiple adults available to do the work, the family doesn’t need to rely on child labor. As a result adults who are able to become pregnant do not face the same pressure to have a child as often as possible that was common in many pre-modern societies.

However infant and child mortality is still an issue. The family will need an average of 4-6 children from each parent who can give birth. Death in child birth is also a frequent occurrence, though not AS frequent as many people might assume. (Childbed fever is much less of a factor when the “midwife” is a family member who only attends one birth at a time and not a doctor who goes from birth to birth, not bothering to wash his hands in between.)

The lower expectations re: pregnancies allows pregnancies to be spaced further apart. The result is health benefits for parents and children. And all parents can remain active in the family trade (to varying extents).

Some marriage groups set a specific goal for how many children they want to have. When the family has enough children over the age of five, they stop trying to have more kids. This is considered a somewhat risky choice–plagues and disasters happen. But it frees the entire marriage group to focus on trade and increasing the families resources, ensuring the survival of the family in a different way. As a bonus, it keeps the age range for the next generation down to a more manageable level.

Parents Become Grandparents

Eventually, the marriage group’s children form a new marriage group. Then the marriage group “retires” to become the stay-at-home grandparents and caretakers for the family home. They keep the equivalent of “kitchen gardens”, teach the children the basics of the family trade, and represent the family in whatever the local political set up is.

And Great-Grandparents

You get the idea by now. Any of a marriage group that survive to become great-grandparents are revered elders. They are cared for by the younger generations and valued for the wisdom they have learned over their long lives.

If you are interested in unusual families and fictional societies, check out my fantasy novel The Bargain.

To get exclusive info on this world and some excerpts from the work in progress, join Jess’ Pack

I’m Not a Femdom (Anymore?)

I can’t call myself a femdom anymore.

I’ve been slowly coming to (and fighting) this realization for over a year now.

I’m not a woman, I’m ay’lonit, enby, non-binary. And it wasn’t long after I first came out about my gender that I started feeling uncomfortable calling myself a femdom. But I continued to do so because… well, because what else was there?

Femdom has been a part of my identity–a pretty big part of my identity–for nearly 10 years now. I’ve learned about kink and my own sexual and relationship needs and preferences through the lens of that identity. My closest friendships and connections with other kinky people are based on that identity (either as a shared identity or subs who prefer to serve femdoms).

Separate from the label “femdom,” I don’t “fit” in kink. My experiences, from harassing CollarSpace messages to no-show subs to fighting against the stereotype of the leather clad dominatrix to learning to recognize and accept my preference for being on the left side of the slash have all mirrored those of so many femdoms I have spoken with.

I could simply call myself a “dom” as I did when I first entered the scene. In fact, for a while I was pretty fierce in my insistence that I shouldn’t need to hang “fem” on the front, I’m a dom, period.

But I found that doing so brought it’s own set of assumptions. A dom is assumed to be a man in the scene. And a woman is assumed to be a submissive. And so I gradually started using femdom, which connected me with others like me and made it easier to find subs who were interested in me.

In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be divisions based on gender. It would just be “dom” and “sub” and none of the bullshit stereotypes.

Years ago, in order to find the section of the kink community that I fit in, I had to accept and eventually own and learn to take pride in “femdom.”

Now, for the same reason, I need to walk away from that same label.

I am not femme, not a woman, not a femdom.

But in walking away from the label I am walking away from so much more than just a label.

All the femdom representations that I lovingly collected over the years, they don’t represent me. I thought they did, and I still love them for their better-than-average portrayal of a kink dynamic that is far too stereotyped. But they don’t reflect me.

Nothing does. Even my own book, which I wrote in large part because at the time I couldn’t find any good femdom rep in the novels I read. It’s still a good femdom rep. I’m damn proud of the work I did on it.

But it isn’t the rep for me and my identity that I had intended it to be.

So many communities I have been part of, from Fetlife groups to CS chatrooms to a few Discord chats, they aren’t made for me. I thought they were, because I thought I was a femdom. And maybe I was before I came to terms with the reality of my gender. But I don’t belong there now.

If I simply call myself a dom, a dominant, then I go back to the communities that are dominated by maledoms and femsubs. But the assumption that anyone who presents as or is read as a woman is submissive. I don’t want to wade through that bullshit again. I don’t want to read more kink “representation” that paints women as inherenty submissive and in need a big strong man to take care of them. Leaving aside any philosophical issues, I spent most of my life identifying as and thinking of myself as a woman. I am STILL closer to being a woman than a man. I don’t the mental stress that wading through that bullshit puts on me.

So what am I? Where do I fit in kink? Or, better, how can I make kink fit me?

I’m an enbydom. A non-binary dominant. For all I know it’s a term I made up. I’ve never seen it before, and Google thinks I’m looking up a word in Welsh.

But it fits. It’s me.

And if I need to create communities and representation and place in kink for enbies (dom and sub) with my own two hands, I’ll do it. Maybe only in a small way. But someway.

I’m stubborn like that.