Writespiration #81 When Something's Not What It Seems #1000speak

Not What It SeemsI’m a bitch. I know. You’re not supposed to admit things like that. But I just did.
Let me elaborate. I’m not the: ‘I’ll stab you in the back and claw your your eyes out in order to dry hump your boyfriend’ kind of bitch. Partly because I don’t do sloppy seconds, but also because I’d be stealing your wife not your husband!
I’m more of your silent bitch. The one everyone comes to with: “you’re not going to believe what such and such said. She was all like…. And he was like…. and then I’m all like, he never?!”
No. I’m a bitch cause I sit there nice and quiet. Taking it all in, and then I smile inwardly as I pick a story this latest drama is getting inserted into!
But there’s more to this story…

I’ve had surgery this week, so instead of writing fiction, I vomited this waffle on the page and it’s also why my #1000speak entry is delayed. Bare with me, we will get to the challenge…
I used to work in equality and diversity. Now, I tick a lot of boxes, mixed race, lesbian, (married) to a woman, amongst others. But the thing is, it doesn’t seem to matter what box you rock, someone out there is going to make a judgement on you.

image curtsey of google

My god. I do it. I play the “is that one of you” (a lesbian) game with the wife when we’re out and about. I’ve sped up when a gang of hooded youths have walked behind me at night. Jesus, even a lone male walking behind me after a night out makes me jumpier than a grasshopper on acid.

 Maybe with all the trouble in the world it just makes me sensible or perhaps I am just a bitch? I Duno. But it does make me judgemental and I’m confident enough to say I bet each one of you has fallen foul of judging at some point in your life.
There’s this new fad in the work place called “Unconscious bias“. HR have gone all doe eyed and keep flash mobbing their happy dance over it. There’s this test you see, that examines your reflexes and unconscious biases towards different minority groups. I hope this link works, but here’s a demonstration site if you want to have a go.
I took it. I was devastated. I have biases. I mean obviously, cause everyone does. But, there were biases I didn’t expect to have and that sucked more than going to the freezer and realising you finished all the cookie dough ice cream and forgot to replace it.
Now, before you think I’m a misandronist  or whatever let me explain. These are ‘unconscious’ we can’t help it. They are there but it doesn’t mean we act on them either. In fact quite the opposite. I’ll admit one. I have a bias that links men to engineering /science based roles and women to literary/art type roles. UGH.
cognition

image curtsey of google

I know. I’m meant to be a fucking feminist. Excuse me whilst I sit and quietly rock myself in the corner and consider burning my bra whilst it’s still attached, because at this point self flagellation is the only answer, right?!

Ok, I’ve calmed down and sprinkled my reality salt on my salad. Just because we unconsciously link things, doesn’t mean we consciously act on them. So don’t freak out if you do have a bias or 5! At least, that’s what I am telling myself!

The point is, judgements can be wrong. No matter how good a judge of character we are, we get things wrong, we’re all human and sometimes we forget the impact of making those assumptions. So, to the challenge:

1000speakSometimes, we make judgements on things but we’re wrong and they turn out to be totally unexpected. Write about when something wasn’t what it seemed. In under 200 words.

1000speak is an online movement, set on getting 1000 people each month to write on compassion. It’s open to all, and each month the topic is different. This month they celebrate their 1 year anniversary. Congrats, and why not join in?


Now to last week, although a quick apology to Charli, who entered last week and I totally missed her entry. This is from two weeks ago and the Edge challenge.

Over the Edge by Charli Mills

“Wolfrick!” Jen sprang off the log. Like a warrior adjusting a sword before battle, she let go the ax handle, catching the steel head and running blade-out.

“Stay back,” Wolf shouted. He hunkered, either to roll with the coming blow or charge. Backed up to the edge of the ridge that fell 3,000 feet to the Kootenai River below, he was trapped.

Jen slowed, talking low and confident, as if soothing a troubled toddler. Being the eldest of 12, she knew something about tantrums. Be calm. Be strong. And, by God, don’t go having a dozen of them. One snorting, dirt-pawing, 800-pound moose was tantamount to a gang of toddlers throwing fits. The moose lowered its head and lunged.

Wolf’s powerful tumble dodged the full impact, but Jen heard his muttering in German. He lay on the ground curled on his side. Cautiously, Jen approached. “You okay?”

“Yes, it hit my shoulder in passing.” Jen extended the handle of her ax and helped him up.

Together they approached the edge. “Damn,” she swore. The moose crumpled motionless at the base of the Ponderosa that broke its fall and its neck.


Next in, Geoffle with this twisted horrifying perfection.

‘Oh yes cinnamon. I love cinnamon.’
‘I know Judy. Can I call you Judy?’
‘Oh yes. That’s such a beautiful name.’
‘It’s yours.’
‘Is it? Can I keep it?’
‘Oh yes. For ever.’
‘That’s so kind. Mummy always said nothing lasts forever.’
‘But your name does.’
‘Yes. And cinnamon.’
‘Yes, that too.’
‘Can we go for a ride?’
‘Yes, shall we sit? Where shall we go?’
‘The beach. I love the beach. And ice cream. Can we have ice cream?’
‘Cinnamon?’
‘No silly. Vanilla. With a chocolate stick. And sandcastles. And sunshine.’
‘It’s always sunny, isn’t it?’
‘Oh yes. I like the rain. That’s sunny too.’
‘You’re funny, Judy.’
‘That’s such a lovely name.’
‘It makes you happy, does it? That name?’
‘I’m always happy. Everywhere is perfect.’
‘I’ll just get a blanket. Then we can go to the beach.’
‘Can we?’
‘Yes.’
‘Will there be ice cream.’

Next in Jane, with a little teaser from her sequel

They stepped outside into the sunshine that fell through the vines of the pergola. Yvain and Jack were deep in argument about pigs, the others trooping behind. Carla and Tully stood in the doorway of the auberge, listening to the murmur of voices, the birds fluting among the leaves, the chink of glasses, and letting the sunlight fall on their faces. Carla was on the point of saying something about how idyllic Lutecia seemed, when the spell was broken. A couple of men shifted in their chairs, catching her eye. Even beneath the bright sunlight their skin looked grey and unhealthy, and the expression in their eyes was pure hatred.

She squeezed Tully’s hand and dragged him after the others into the lane.

“Did you see?”

“Those grey-faced characters?”

“What did we do?”

Tully shrugged. “Maybe they didn’t like Dad’s jokes.”

“Seriously. It’s followed us, hasn’t it? Whatever it was back at the mall that…”

Tully kissed her forehead. “Yvain will know what’s going on. I hope.”

Carla glanced over her shoulder. The grey men had gone. The familiar cold terror settled back into the pit of her stomach.


Next in Kim, with a poem of a beautiful Utopian world

A perfect world

Of nature, art and poetry

Happiness and equality

Individuality

Respect and harmony

A simple world

A no-place

With no war

No oppression

No hate or poverty

No jealousy

A good place

A colourful place

Where you can be alone

But never lonely


Now for Judy, and she always blows me away with a brilliantly rhymed poem

There is no such thing as Utopia

But if there was, for me it would be

Days filled with beautiful sunshine

And home would be right by the sea.

There would be no sickness or hunger

Crime would never exist

No wars, struggles, or conflicts

Or hospital waiting lists!

Everyone would be equal

Regardless of colour or creed,

Gender and sexual preference.

There would be no children in need.

But what if life were so perfect?

With never a worry or fear

Nothing to strive or save up for

Everything you need is right here.

Being constantly happy

With everything going your way

May get kind of boring

Like a Utopian Groundhog Day!


 

70 comments

  1. I don’t like to do labels, they never seem to fit anyway, not when you get right down to it. Especially for myself, I’m not called anything, I’m just me. And I like you just the way you are too…

  2. I couldn’t agree more, Sacha! Who of us is really judgemental free. I don’t think anyone is. But as you said, that doesn’t mean we act like it. Such judging thoughts are mostly reflexes. The important thing is to recognize that and (in case we want) reconsider.

    1. Exactly Erika, as long as we can moderate our reflexes I think its ok. It’s important we at least try to make the world peaceful and loving, even if that means all we do is treat others as we want to be treated. Thanks for reading <3

  3. I completely agree with you. You try not to judge, give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but you just can’t in the world that we live in today.
    I babysat yesterday and the kids have a little fort in the woods behind their house with their neighbors. But the third-grader told me they can’t go back there anymore because a man kept wandering around back there. Then their neighbor’s mother said she saw him walk down the street, stare at both of their houses, then walk away. Creepy? Yes. Coincidence? Maybe.
    You just don’t know.

    1. Ok, I would be like TOTALLY freaked the F out if that happened. See and there goes my judgement again… but if it was my son, I would NOT be ok with that, and yet I still find it horribly sad that I think that way and that the world has made me think that way.

      1. I completely agree with you. I don’t want to judge, but you have to be safe than sorry. The kids I sit for are 8 and 7 so they know to stay away from strangers, but they’re not old enough to quite understand.

  4. Interesting post Sacha. The unconscious bias is very similar to what Richard Crisp describes in The Social Brain which I am reading at the moment. I am interested in doing a test but will wait until I’m back at the computer. Unfortunately I’m like Geoff in that I know I don’t have to do the test to find out. I already know I have biases. At least if I find out what some are, I may be able to implement some mitigation!
    It’s great that you join in with the #1000 Voices. I should make more effort. Thanks for the reminder. 😄💕

          1. That sounds painful. I hope it means less pain in the future though. Make sure you let yourself heal. I know it’s hard to say “no” to that extra writing time. It’s all too precious. I hope you feel well soon. 🙂 Take care.

  5. True story
    First time I see her I’m standing at the till. She sails past on her bike – pink wheels, not that I notice then. It’s her blond hair. An absolute mass.
    Next I’m loading the car with paint and the same blond mountain walks past me. A back view only but the micro skirt and elongated legs are unmissable. Heels too which seem unnecessary given her height.
    After that she’s unmissable. Or is that ubiquitous? Getting off the train. By the bar in the Goose and Gumption, seen through the smoke-tinged glass.
    I suppose I’ve noticed her at least half a dozen times – a dazzling, statospheric presence – before I see her face. Really see the chiselled features, beak of a nose, grizzled chin. Not even a parody of masculinity.
    What surprises me most? The flamboyancy? The in-your-face-ness? The courage?
    It takes me too long to make up my mind because I must be gawping. He. She. I’m not sure where on the gender spectrum to place the person approaching me. But the expression on that face is unmistakable. Contempt. At the biases and prejudices my face cannot, in that moment, hide.
    ‘Go fuck yourself.’
    Quite right.

  6. I saw a tweet yesterday that read, imagine Dr. Pepper is a woman. Now hang your head in shame for the rest of the day for that not occurring to you before.

    The gender bias is beginning to neutralize if not shift in bioscience/tech, but is a long way from shifting in other science and engineering fields. At least it is in the US. I regularly run into the bias as part of my day job. Sometimes it works to my advantage as being underestimated can occasionally help during negotiations. Other times… well those times are just special…

    1. LOVE this. Love that tweet!

      I think the bias is evening out, and also hopefully the glass ceiling is at least beginning to crack, or I hope so anyway. It needs to. I bet your industry is a hard one to be in for biases too, but like you say sometimes it helps! :p

      1. I knew what I was getting into, so I was prepared for some of it. Ageism and a bias against those who actually want the opportunity to be moms as well as tech professionals has been more troubling.

          1. I meant so that they could do our work jobs for us while we got paid to stay home with the kids.

            And sure, eventually we’d be enslaved when our entire society was weakened by lack of work drive and human guided innovation, but those couple of months would be amazing

  7. “Just because we unconsciously link things, doesn’t mean we consciously act on them…we get things wrong, we’re all human.”

    Well said. You nailed it there.

    We’re all flawed and imperfect. But I think part of what truly makes us who we are is our actions when we discover something in ourselves that we are not proud of or that directly conflicts with how we perceive ourselves. Do we step up to the challenge, being cognizant of that “flaw” and strive to overcome it? Or do we shrug our shoulders, say “c’est la vie”, and ignore the opportunity to grow?

    1. Thank you Mike. 😀 Glad you agree. We are SO flawed, my god I know I am. I agree on your point too. It’s flight or fight syndrome to the core, when faced with difficult situations its our actions that define us. Thanks for commenting.

  8. We all have unconscious biases, Sacha. The key is to continually question our assumptions and maintain a sense of curiosity about people and the world. Those eye-opening moments are awesome because we can’t unknow them, and they change us for the better. Growth, growth, growth is a good thing! Great “edgy” stories and poems. What a treat 🙂

    1. Thanks Diana. I agree on the growth thing. And on the can’t unknow… It really irritated me that I had biases but the point is I know, and I can’t unknow it. So as long as I continue to check myself we should be all good!

  9. I took two of those demonstrations and I link men moderately more to science too! HAHA! Guilty as charged! The other one was the sexuality one. I have no strong preference over straight people to gay people, too right, I am anti-social towards everyone!!! These were pretty eye opening, and I might have to go back and do some of the others! 🙂

  10. Don’t know if I dare take that test. We think of ourselves in a certain way (the way we consciously think and act) so I imagine our subconscious reactions would be…unpleasant. Surprising at the very least. *Hope you’re not using any of my drama in your stories. 😝 I’m going to be careful what I say around you now.

    1. Ha, I know right. I was all like…. er…. do I ….. don’t I?! Proper awkward it was. But at least I know now!

      hahaha no don’t be silly, I was thinking of one of my ‘ex’ friends who walked in on her partner cheating on her in a nightclub bathroom – used that in one of my stories!

  11. None of us have ‘natural’ biases, other than the obvious ones like disliking pain or sudden loud noises. From the moment we are born we learn prejudice, from our parents, our peers, our teachers, the media, etc etc. It is wrong to feel bad about having a prejudice or bias that you think is bad; what is wrong is not working on defeating it. My father fought in Burma in WWII, and I was brought up to think that the Japanese were a cruel, bad race. I then had to overcome the prejudice that had been instilled in me by others. I do not believe it makes me bad that the tiniest element of that prejudice still lurks very deep inside me, rather I am pleased that I have worked hard to overcome it.

    1. Agreed there. It is definitely about overcoming them. My partners nan has some quite obvious biases that are inherent in a lot of people her age. But it’s how they were brought up. I think you’re more than right though. It’s how we work towards breaking those biases thats important. 🙂

  12. Reblogged this on sherriemiranda1 and commented:
    Sacha, you are my kind of bitch! I love to tell people who don’t know the people I am talking about ALL about how crazy they are!
    I guess I am a bit of a bitch myself too, cuz I so love to hear their gossip. 😜😝😛😳
    Peace, love & a healthy love of gossip,
    Sherrie

  13. You are so entertaining Sach, I would just to sit down with you and gab, and I know we’d be laughing our heads off. I love the way your mind works. And, I hope you’re feeling better after that surgery! xo <3

    1. Haha, thanks Debby. I feel the same about you. I can just imagine how outrageous an evening it would be :p :p. Starting to perk up now but the after drugs are hardcore they don’t like me and I don’t like them! only another week though!

      1. Arg, I try to avoid pharmaceutical drugs as best I can, they all have side effects. Just one more week and you’ll be done and better! Happy weekend Sach. <3

  14. Hidden bias is an interesting topic. I think the less exposure we have to diversity, the more bias we have. Also, bias can come from a sense of safety. Like your example of walking along and feeling jumpy around a lone male on the street. Sometimes bias is about self-preservation. To counter it, awareness is good. I like the point that we all have bias and instead of pointing fingers at one another, hold the hand of a stranger and learn about the person. A bitch with a cause! Yep, I can see that in you! 🙂 And thanks for adding Jen’s story this week!

    1. Yes I think thats a very wise observation. The less exposure the more the bias. Would 100% agree about that. I suspect the more exposure one has, the more educative it becomes which leads to undoing of the biases. But you’re right. In some respects, a little bias is about self protection. I guess the line is when self protection veers into hurting others. Nothing wrong with keeping ones self to ones self, but if that leads to discrimination, well thats something else entirely.

  15. Being born with a physical disability like blindness I have experienced a lot of bias, most masked, but I try to give people the benefit of the doubt because I have them too. None of us are immune.

    1. I think it’s awful that you have experienced such bias. But you’re right, none of us are immune, sad as that is. Thank you for stopping by and reading 😀

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