The log of the HMS Shelby’s slow transition from Jack to Jill class is sometimes much easier to write than others. It is hard when every Crew Lizard thinks they need a moment in the spotlight. Larry over in Self-Preservation get’s a lot of play because well, the SHELBY is in a lot of situations that create fear responses these days and things that were safe are now being re-listed as dangerous. It’s hard to explain. But here goes.
In Memory and Interpretation (M&I) we have access to all the various sets of memories and frameworks for reacting to things. How this works is, when the ship encounters something there’s a call to the interpreters to find a previous framework for what’s happening and build a list of possible responses. It’s like the biggest flowcharts you’ve ever seen. In Psych terms these are schemas. Ooo education.
Let me give you an example. Someone hands the SHELBY a Coke, the Interpretation Lizards then respond with a flow chart. This is a very simplified version.
The more things a ship has done the more options it gets. This is experience.
Then Command up in the brain runs these choices through the big three. Self Preservation, Logic and Emotion. The committee picks one and away we go. All of this of course taking place at Lizard Standard Speed which is microseconds for the Ship and a while for us.
Easy right? Well it had been until we started the Retrofit. A lot of things that had been routine now aren’t.
What has been changing up in the stacks is that situations are very different between Jack and Jill class vessels. A Jack class vessel can wander through a dark parking garage and is at a much lower level of anxiousness or threat. A Jill class ship, even if they are physically comparable to a male, must be more alert because the potential for danger is higher. The resulting combat isn’t the point. It’s not that we think the SHELBY is any less physically able to fight. That hasn’t changed in any real way. But the fact is the situation is more likely to occur due to an opponent’s appraisal of the SHELBY.
Well there are these subtle and weird changes to a lot of the responses these days. In the above example, if we were at a party there would be a recommendation to make sure it was our own drink, to avoid the dangers of being drugged. Not that it’s a high chance but it is there. That recommendation has always been there but was way down the list as a possibility. That path now has a slightly higher threat value.
The set of rules the ship uses to navigate and interact with the world as a Jack class involved a lot of invisible favorable assumptions. These are only noticed when we suddenly have to unbolt that set of reactions and remove them. The slow loss of “male privilege” was something we thought we understood but had no idea.
To really cover the subtle and frustrating way that the retrofit is re-writing some of the basic routines I went down to the Interpretation floor and listened in on some of the crew there. The following exchange was pretty telling.
Interpreter Lizard-Bob: Ok then, Command is requesting a reaction to a TV show. Uploading video now. Show is listed as humor and some science fiction. Main character is at a bar, hitting on a female. She isn’t into him and tells him off.
Interpreter Lizard-Sarah: We have a pretty solid pattern match here, nothing t0o surprising so far.Responses suggested are Grin Type 1, or possibly a Chuckle class 2.
L-Bob: Good to go, the character is now spraying something from an alien bottle on his face. And once again talking to the woman. Oh, I get it now. She is now climbing all over the guy due to the alien perfume thing. Let’s send this to command as a Chuckle Class 2. Over.
L-Sarah: Are you freakin’ kidding me!?
L-Bob: What? It’s an alien gizmo he sprayed on himself, obviously breaking the rule against personal use of alien stuff by the shows alien fighting group and the mean chick now wants to have sex with him. It’s funny. He shouldn’t be misusing the perfumey thing and the result is really over the top. Ha ha, you know.
L-Sarah: Look I know I am new here, but that is NOT funny. That’s rape.
L-Bob: Whaaaaaaat!? No it ain’t! He sprayed the stuff on himself and now she is all…
L-Sarah: What if he had sprayed it in her drink? What’s your flow chart tell ya then Sport?
L-Bob: *Looking at a few charts* That’s a “Bad Thing”. Not funny at all.
L-Sarah: So how the hell is it funny when the same thing happens when he’s spraying it on himself? She is still chemically drugged to have sex when she didn’t want to.
L-Bob:Umm damn, sorry didn’t see the retrofit note. That used to be funny. Why was that ever funny? It’s a joke based on the idea that date rape is funny. Not the event, but the actual concept. How the hell is that right? We didn’t even have a chart for that apparently. Ok, I’m recommending Pissed Off Class 4 with a high chance of Indignant Outrage type 3. This looks to have a slow burn and we are seeing a lot of cross pollination into other subjects. Jokes about Rape Culture sub-category is now listed as a Class 1 Toxic zone. I repeat, that crap just isn’t funny.
[L-Hemingway: Editors note. At this point Bob was renamed Brenda and issued a wig. I think I’m exempt from the re-naming, but if you see someone editing this log later named L-Bronte, well that’s probably me.]
A lot of things have been creeping into view as my transition progresses. I had thought the biggest differences would be between the male social setting I knew and the alien strangeness of being a transgendered female. It was the gulf between these two vastly different worlds that I was ready to explore and absorb. But I didn’t have to look that far at all. As soon as I stepped out of the male persona and moved about in public I began to see things differently. Now this is obviously going to happen. You put on some make up, trot out to get some food and of course the environment is going to feel different to you. Not necessarily good or bad, but certainly different. But it was all the things I had walked through and been a part of that I never noticed that shock me. Not the things focused on being trans, not really. It’s the thousand little things that swirl about the edge of a females vision everyday that a male never sees simply because he doesn’t have to.
I used to hear the words Rape-Culture and I will shamefully admit that mentally there was some eye-rolling and that sort of stuff was instantly shelved under Problems / Female / Probably Feminist Complaining. I didn’t think it was inconsequential, I just assumed it was something that was more rhetoric than reality. And now things have changed. Not because I am having some egalitarian epiphany but because I can SEE it now. This isn’t to say that as a male I was walking along with my eyes closed happily ignoring things. Ignoring something implies active knowledge of it, and then purposely pretending it doesn’t exist. This sort of thing literally never came up because it simply wasn’t in the programming to show up as a problem. Our environment is a constant reinforcement of what we have always believed. We try to understand new problems and attempt to put ourselves in other’s shoes to gain empathy or insight but it is often impossible. Not having a true frame of reference for the other, whoever they are, makes fixing an invisible problem much more difficult. We need that frame of reference removed, or exposed to us in a new way, to make us see things more clearly.
It’s like asking a fish what the water is doing for them. The fish thinks you’re crazy because it has no idea what you mean; it’s lived in water all its life and is unaware of its influence. However take that fish out of water and they will suddenly have some strong opinions on what the water had been doing for them and probably make a lot of noise about it.