Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I never told you what my 'mean' score was on that sexual orientation test.

I am a 1, plus or minus 0.5.

There ya go, Jessie.

I was thinking today, about nothing in particular. Riding the bus, half-reading The Da Vinci Code for the second time, half-watching the people around me. I thought about waxing poetic on the beauty in this world, but I decided not to.

Lent is coming up, and I am looking forward to it. I will be going veggie - this was mostly brought on because my roommate Ben became Eastern Orthodox in January, and he will be eating a vegan diet during Lent. So, to help with the grocery logistics, I decided to eat almost the same diet with him. I like to fast once a week, but I'm not sure if I will be able to do that, eat vegetarian, and also workout every morning.

...I guess we'll see.

I've been asked why I will be going vegetarian for Lent. There are many good reasons people eat a vegetarian diet, but for me it's quite interesting - mostly because I am basically a meat-atarian, and cannot truly imagine what not eating meat will be like. But I want to try this, and I feel it to be important.

And not because I am against killing animals. I definitely don't agree with the shitty and tortuous conditions that many animals are thrown into in the mass-produced market of crappy meat we normally find in most grocery stores. But the very idea of killing animals in order to eat was forever cemented for me in my oft-told story from Namibia. Forever, our ancestors hunted and gathered, and lived their lives. There's something primal and necessary about a small family purchasing a goat, slaughtering it, and feeding themselves for weeks.

Now, when it comes to the meat industry, I have my qualms. I am not well-versed enough on the tactics and ethics of many corporate meat industries (besides what I've seen in a movie put out by PETA), so I won't try and act like I am. But if I simply look at most meat packages, I am amazed to see how much crap is in the meat other than the meat itself.

The other thing is money. It costs a lot to eat a diet with meat. I won't mind spending 40 days not spending money on meat.

There are many friends I know who eat veggie and don't ever miss meat - mostly because they never really were enamored with meat in the first place. I am not like these people. I will miss meat, even the processed ham that comes in environmentally-unsound packaging.

Man, I'm even hungry right now as I think about it. Dammit, this is going to be hard.

Finally, the...wait, I really don't have anything else to say right now, and it's 8.30am. I should start working.


At 9:14 AM , Blogger JP said...

I think you mean "a movie put out by PETA," not FEMA, no?

At 3:10 AM , Blogger Jessie said...

i think its a good idea, the veggie during lent thing, but i mean, consider the source ...

and thank you for sharing your mean with us, i was very interested to know.

i don't know what to give up for lent. i mean, i'll be on the ride, so i don't think i'll be fasting every week this year, but there does seem to be something symbolic about riding during the lenten season, celebrating easter with people on the road, etc. it seems right to do this during lent, though i'm not sure anyone planned it that way. i think this might be one of those years when i take up something, instead of putting something aside.

but this isn't my blog, and i should save my reflections for their proper place in the world.

you rock my world jason, and i want you to know that.

At 8:46 AM , Blogger JP said...

Something about this whole quiz business had me very uneasy, and I couldn't figure out why. I gave in to my curiosity and did some research. I have to say, I'm not pleased by much of Epstein's work. I don't mean to be too fierce, but what I discovered makes Epstein VERY hard to accept with integrity. (His work, moreover, strikes at the heart of an issue we LGBT Lutherans recently anguished over - "orientation" or "identity"?)

In the first place, even though Epstein again and again says his point is that sexuality is not an either-or, the quiz itself is very much constructed in an either-or paradigm. Rather than having open-ended questions where people can discuss various feelings (and the meanings they attached to them) at various times in life and in various relationships - the more accepted clinical approach - Epstein divides the questions into "homosexual" and "heterosexual" ones (itself methodologically vulnerable) and then lists essentially yes-or-no questions under each. It PRESUMES the very same either-or dichotomy that Epstein claims to be vitiating.

MOREOVER, and of far greater concern, are the consequences of Epstein's work - at least as he has had to defend it in a number of instances. In the most recent edition of Scientific American Mind, Epstein concludes that "changing orientation is possible for people whose sexuality lies toward the middle of the Sexual Orientation Continuum, but for most gay people such a switch would be very difficult if not impossible." There is very little room to go from here to justifying reorientation therapy. And EVEN IF this is not Epstein's stated goal, that he defends it in some instances (see below) is warrant enough to question his ultimate goals. And EVEN IF he doesn't ally with the so-called ex-gay or RT (reorientation/reparative therapy) movement, he does not actively distance himself from the ways in which the movement embraces his work as scientific warrant for their own.

Such goals may be subconscious, interestingly enough, given how he begins his infamous article in Psychology Today: "Ever since I was a teenager, people have occasionally called me gay, perhaps because I fit some gay stereotypes."

Others have taken on Epstein, and I refer you to the links below (you may have to paste the complete URL into your browser).
(You know it's NEVER a good sign when NARTH defends you!)

Ditto about Evergreen International.

I have found it VASTLY more helpful to think about such matters from the perspective of other psychologists, especially Ritch C. Savin-Williams. His "...And Then I Became Gay: Young Men's Stories (ISBN 0415916771) is not only an outstanding work in the field, it actually accomplishes what Epstein claims he's trying to. And then, of course, there's the equally oustanding, heart-wrenching, amazing study Children of Horizons: How Gay and Lesbian Teens Are Leading a New Way out of the Closet (ISBN 0807079294), by Gilbert Herdt and Andrew Boxer, at publication both at The University of Chicago.

The books are available at


Beyond the particular, significant flaws with the present one, I in general find most online quiz things - especially those meant to assess complex human phenomena - pretty frustrating and sometimes even misleading. Web surveys are pretty much appropriate for assessing one thing - people's online behavior and comfort level. That said, there is one that I think is pretty sound, and in fact much more helpful than these am-i-gay-or-straight? dealios:

Enough for now - I hope this helps.

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