Author: juliajeromedesigns

Equal and Opposite Reaction – A Political Journey Through Germany, Austria, and America in 2016

There is a global crisis of principles in the world right now. In America, we are watching as political parties start to fracture and fight in the wake of a horrific election that put the least qualified candidate the country has ever seen in the highest seat of power we can offer. The most terrifying aspect of this situation isn’t even the ineptitude of the man in question, but the fact that his rhetoric of hate speech, xenophobia, and intolerance serves as a giant mirror of insight into the true feelings and circumstance of the American population. What liberal America failed to see was that underneath every step forward we gained in the last administration, there was a riptide of dissent. We were truly naive to believe that just because we were ahead, there wasn’t a rising tide of animosity that would find both voice and motivation in a candidate that reflected their angst.

In the week of the election, I was in Berlin, Germany. While this was intended to be a leisure trip that happened to coincide with the election, I eventually realized how incredibly important it was to be there at this time. Our first evening there was spent sharing a drink with our host, a young employee of the German Parliament who deals with the PR and social media for one of the members. Through her, we gained an insight into the German perspective on the American elections. In short, Germany is terrified of the choices America is making. They remember and have internalized the fear associated with what their country went through in World War II. There are markers of that horrifying time in their history in the bullet holes decorating famous monuments and the small brass plaques memorializing the people murdered in the buildings above in the name of hate and bigotry. There was anti-Trump graffiti and signage in every Berlin neighborhood we visited.

Germany isn’t without it’s own problems, though. There is a far right party rising against the insurgence of Middle Eastern refugees. The Alternative for Germany party is gaining speed in the German political system, using fear and misfortune to attack the current administration with xenophobia and hatred. They are attacking Chancellor Merkel’s welcome of over a million refugees in 2015 and leveraging the stress that the German people feel to gain power. The stress is very real as Germans start to watch their quality of life decrease as their country becomes saturated with the needs of foreign people. The fear of their loss of privilege makes them turn to a political party that tells them that they’ll fight back to regain the previous status quo, even if it means leaving millions to starve at the border of their country. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/alternative-for-germany-second-place-merkel-district-1.3748133(http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37274201)

While in Germany, we met up with an Austrian native living in Berlin and learned of the political quagmire in play there. Alexander Van der Bellen was elected as the Austrian President last May and became one of their first left wing presidents since World War II. Shortly afterwards his competitor, Norbert Hofer and his Freedom Party brought a case to court and it was ruled that this April the election will have to be redone as “…some of the postal votes in various districts had been carried out illegally. The court found there had been some irregularities and ordered the run-off vote be repeated “completely and throughout Austria,” according to a court statement.” (http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/01/europe/austria-presidential-vote-redo/)

Is this sounding familiar yet?

The Freedom Party of Austria stands strongly against accepting the tide of refugees into the country. They, too, are riding the wave of fear brought on by Austria opening its doors to migrants fleeing the violence in the Middle East. This insidious plot goes even deeper when you examine the allegations of current ties between Hofer and Neo-Nazi movements. The Freedom Party adopted as its emblem, the blue cornflower, is the same flower that Nazi’s wore in secret to recognize each other after their party was banned in Austria between 1934 and 1938.  Though Hofer denies that he has anything to do with the Nazis, there are some that remain skeptical. It is hard to ignore that previous leaders of the Freedom Party have been know to praise the Third Reich, though it seems as though current members of the party that begin to openly espouse aspects of neo-nazi behavior are removed from the public eye. ( http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36342362)

As we face the next four years in which we have to contend with a population so incredibly divided, it is important to look outside the country at the patterns emerging across the world. The common denominator across the current human condition is that the world is afraid. Three different countries are providing three perfect examples of what fear can do when harnessed by a few in the name of power. It is time to examine the fear within ourselves to steel against those that would beg our allegiance in the false name of security, and it is time to provide support and safety to those in need. The only true way to combat the use of fear-mongering as a persuasive tactic is to fight those that would tell people that they are less than they are, and to shelter and care for people such that fear can take no hold within them.

Advertisements

Until We Go Down Choreography

For August WildFire Showcase 2016, I did a Fire Fans act to “Until We Go Down” by Ruelle. Afterwards, I got several questions about my choreography process. Attached to this post is the standard chart that I use for my choreography, especially since I often struggle to remember mine. Not included is a column for “Counts” that I only really use when choreographing with other people.

As soon as I get decent quality video of the performance, I’ll post that here as well for the comparison. Enjoy!

Until We Go Down – Sheet1

Performative Femininity

Class Outline

Why and How Femme?

This is not your average “Ladies’ Etiquette” class. On the contrary, I’m not here to tell you that this mode of being is “correct” or even optimal. Exemplifying traditional femininity is a behavioral skill like any other, one that can be practiced and maintained, or eschewed entirely. I do not always choose to appear traditionally feminine, but it is a skill that I have developed to the point where I can specifically use it to my advantage in situations both personally and professionally. I believe that to seek to truly understand how portraying these characteristics affects the people around you, is to gain control over the conscious decision in how you are projecting yourself in any social environment.

What do I mean by “Traditional Femininity?” While femininity takes on many awesome, badass, strong, and pointed presentations, today I want to tackle aspects that live on the far end of the spectrum. I want to look at the soft, vulnerable, Jane Austen, Audrey Hepburn, hollywood style feminine. Femme behaviors that capitalize on communicating the desirably demure, the coy, and the subtle. Mastering these performative traits can help communicate how you want to be approached, and can also be used as a fantastic foil to more aggressive performative traits. To truly appreciate the dynamics behind fortissimo, you must appreciate and understand pianissimo.

Basic principles of movement:

Curved and closed: Look for the “S.” A traditionally feminine figure is lauded for its curves. The more you use your body posture in any motion to emphasis a curve, the more feminine you will appear.

*Of note* The feminine posture is not always (In fact is seldom) utilitarian. It is very easy to hurt yourself while training in these postures and they are not to be used for lifting heavy things or executing most athletic activities.

Vulnerability: To be traditionally feminine is to give an air of vulnerability and of yielding. An easy way to communicate this is with the subtle use of the most vulnerable parts of your body. These are the parts of you where the most vital parts of your body live and are least protected. Neck, wrists, side ribs, inner thigh. The first three will be instrumental in parts of communicating a more traditionally feminine demeanor.

 

Applied Principles

Standing

To achieve a feminine standing posture, settle your weight fully into one hip and focus on relaxing and applying your full weight into that hip joint. This should make you hip jut out to the side and your opposite knee bend. In order to stay balanced, your shoulder on the side of the bent knee will rise and your opposite side will contract. This will create the desired “S” shape along the central architecture of your body, emphasizing the appropriate curves. In fine art, this posture is called “Contrapposto.” “Contrapposto [kontrapˈposto] is an Italian term that means counterpose. It is used in the visual arts to describe a human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot so that its shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrapposto)

Extra credit: tilt your hips back slightly to increase the curve at the base of your spine, emphasizing your butt.

Hair flips and tucks

Since long hair is traditionally feminine, manipulating your hair emphasizes a feminine aspect of any person.

Hair flip: The wind up, then the final flick. Every hair flip has a beginning slower trajectory that is then emphasized by a final quick motion, much like a whip. This one takes practice, care, and some special time with a mirror. Be careful, I have *actually* given myself whiplash with hair whips before. No lie.

*optional final posture of tilting face downward while looking up to emphasize the “Big Eyes” look*

Finger comb through with optional hand landing around the neck

Hair tuck: Execute the majority of the gesture with your middle finger, allowing the rest of the fingers to relax. After the finger passes behind your ear, flip your palm out in a fluid motion to show the sensitive inner wrist.

Touching your face

Have you ever noticed that very feminine selfie takers are often touching their face? The face can be a very useful tool, but you have to be careful with what you’re trying to communicate.

While resting your head in your hand, have one finger absently trace the corner of your mouth. If you can do this inconspicuously enough, it gives your target a subtle underlying interest in what else your mouth could do. A great way to keep it less conspicuous it is to make sure you are not making eye contact while your finger is there. Doing it conspicuously can apply a bit of a sexual shock to a situation, though, so you better be very confident in your target’s willingness to be in a sexualized situation with you. Done sloppily, this is a huge turn off.

Gently and calmly touching your neck can draw attention to your sensitive, sensual, and vulnerable neck area, an absent stance with crossed arms and a casual hand at the base of the throat can be very subtly sensual. *Important things to note* This must be done simultaneously with a shoulders-back posture, otherwise you will look insecure with your hands barring access to your body. Having your hands on your neck for a lengthy period of time with full palm is a protective gesture and communicates that you may be feeling threatened. This is not the desired message.

Never cover your mouth. You will automatically start broadcasting insecurity, like you’re trying to catch errant words coming out that you didn’t intend.

Flirting

     -Creating an illusion of “yielding” or “melting” into touch.

Wherever you target touches you, envision that touch melting into your body in the direct locations and rippling outwards. More simply, emphasize whatever curve of your body they happen to be touching. If they place their hand on your lower back, tilt your ass back slightly to emphasize the sexuality of an arched back. If they touch your side, open your ribs to them slightly to give them your vulnerability. If they touch your arm, open your wrist to them slightly to close off your posture for a more demure stance, while simultaneously offering vulnerability.

    -Batting your eyelashes

Does actually refer to repetitive motion of the eyelashes, rather, it’s actually a quick glance up from downward facing facial posture. To bat your eyelashes, cast your eyes downward (feeding into a demure and vulnerable posture), then very quickly look up at your target, then down again. The same movement can also be executed from a side glance as long as the motion of the eye swoops downward first.

Sitting

Closed posture, focus on taking up as little space as possible without shrinking into a hunched posture. Emphasize the “S” shape wherever possible.

Crossing your legs isn’t a must, but they should be close by each other. One thigh can rest on another, they can cross at the ankles, or they can be side by side. Knees should never splay open.

Walking

Women tend to walk upright with their shoulders back and elbows inward (Tits out).

To achieve the subtle hip wiggle: Using the Standing posture where you settle fully into a hip, focus on relaxing and applying your full weight into that hip joint. When you step forward, focus on settling your whole weight onto the next hip joint before taking the next step.

Another method: As you walk and settle your weight, think about drawing horizontal circles with your hip. Start out with a very exaggerated style, then slowly relax into a very subtle circular motion.

The next level: Roll your shoulders back split time, like you’re doing the backstroke with just shoulder blades. Every time to step forward, the opposite should roll back. Again, start with a very exaggerated gait and then slowly pare it down until it’s a very subtle emphasis of the “S” shape and a tiny but consistent arch in the back. Basically, your body is recreating the contrapposto shape with every step you take.

Selfies and Photos

This could be a class unto itself, but here’s a few quick tips and pointers for getting a look that says what you want it to say.

Looking upward with face tilted downward makes your eyes look bigger.

Taking the photo from slightly above you is always a more flattering idea.

Standing with a sideways twist emphasizes or creates a thinness in the waist, which contributes to an hourglass shape. Use in concert with a back arch to show off boobs and booty at the same time.

Face touching is a usable tool, though all rules still apply! You can get more aggressively sexual with a thumb or finger grazing relaxed lips. This one takes a lot of practice to get right, though. When done incorrectly, you wind up looking stupid or crazed. Ask me how many discarded selfies I have. So many.

If you’d like to take a selfie without holding the camera, prop your phone up on a nearby surface, point the forward facing camera and start recording a video. Go through a number of poses and experiment with composition and positioning. When you play the video back, pause it whenever you see a still that you like (make sure that you tap the tracking line out of the way), then screenshot the image. On an iPhone you press the middle button and the side button at the same time and the screen will flash. You can them go through your stills and edit/crop/filter what you like.

Not Your Average Polyamory Propaganda

It was four years ago that I decided to embark on the journey of non-traditional relationships. In that time, having had one consistent partner for 3 years and 10 months of said four years, I’ve learned a few things. When polyamory is talked about or, dare I say “advertised,” There are a lot of standard issue answers for many of the questions and an emphasis on “communication” and “consent.” YES, these are important things, but there’s a whole other side that I’ve been discovering that is not necessarily the content in the brochure. Let’s walk that road not taken…

Transitive Property of Emotional Scarring

People affect people all the time. Relationships between two people are hard and sometimes emotions go incredibly pear-shaped. Sometimes one person can really tear down another in a relationship. Now that torn up shred of a human goes back to their other partner, how do they not carry that with them? There may be separate relationship but there is only one brain at the center of it all. If one relationship is rife with conflict and jealousy and negativity, it is very difficult, even after that tie has been severed, for that center person to not take that baggage into another relationship. Hell, even relationships separated by chronology have transitive scarring and they have time to separate and heal.

The Network

You are attached to a lot of people. Act Accordingly. None of your actions affect just you. If you want that, hide in a closet and masturbate. This is a good concept for everyone to keep in mind, but is especially important for polyamorous folk because we are not just friends, we are lovers. I am a lover to you who is a lover to him and to her and they are lovers to… you get the picture. Conflicts that happen in one relationship will not just hurt your partner, they hurt everyone. Act Accordingly. Furthermore, do we even need to have a discussion about safe sex again? You are a part of a network. Protect yourself and your partners. Act Accordingly. If fluid bonding, gain explicit consent from all parties involved and make sure everyone understands the risks inherent.  Not acknowledging this fact is irresponsible, idiotic, and dangerous.

Displacement

I stole this term from psychology and it generally refers to the situation where a person has a rough day at work and comes home and takes it out on their family. I use this a little differently for a phenomenon that I have both seen and experienced for some different angles. Sometimes love can make it very difficult to see that the source of so much negativity in your life is the source of that love. Love is a drug and it can make you blind and confused. You know that you are angry/hurt/frustrated and that you are seeing deceit/dishonesty/irresponsibility, but you cannot see where it is coming from because you are drugged. In this situation, you may find someone else that you can blame for these feeling because they happen to be close enough and in the right circumstance to receive them. They may even have flaws themselves that are easy to attach your anguish to. This is displacement. It happens. It will even happen to monogamous couples in abusive relationships, pushing away their friends and families who are just trying to help. I’ve got no advice for this other than separating yourself from your situation can oftentimes make it much clearer where the sources of pain really lie. Then it might be time for some apologies on your end too.

Competition

Feeling competitive today? Put it away. If you’re a competitive person, play some soccer, but do not bring that into your relationship. You will make yourself and others miserable and on edge. If there is no hierarchy in your situation, you will be forcing one and hurting your partner and your metamour**. If there is a hierarchy, then you are making anyone of lower priority feel like shit, and irritating the hell out of anyone of higher priority. It’s a pretty quick way to make everything around you more awful. Put it away.

The Empty Well

Everybody has bad days, and sometimes the only thing you want to do is curl up with that special someone. Except that they might have scheduled that time with someone else, so you have to find someone else or deal with it alone. Some of us also suffer from depression, same logic applies. You broke up with your partner? It doesn’t mean that your other partner doesn’t have several others that still want their time. This is especially hard at night, when you have to deal with just yourself…alone. This is something that every couple has to deal with sometimes because partners have jobs and other lives and commitments. It turns out breakups are hard no matter what your preferred style of relationship is. Better get stable and OK with yourself, because they cannot always be there for you, they won’t. I don’t have a good solution for this. It sucks.

The Burden of Human Emotion

In a relationship, if the other person was hurt by your action, you are always wrong. I know! I know it sounds crazy! Let me explain… By accepting a certain level of relationship with someone, what I would call a partnership, you accept a responsibility for their emotional safety. If you do something that hurts them, that is a step in the wrong direction for your relationship. Doesn’t have to be the end of the world! They could have not told you or could be in an irrational place or also be wrong themselves! Approaching any situation with an acceptance of a need to change your own actions will diffuse defensiveness and help move your relationship forward. After accepting the responsibility for your own actions, you may then move on to your motivations of those actions and thus starts discussion and negotiation instead of fighting and heartache

The Burden of Communication

We all talk about how communication is important, but I’m going to take it a step further. If your partner (or anyone, really) is consistently behaving in a way that angers or hurts you, you must tell them. If you do not tell them and they continue this behavior, you cannot hold them responsible. If you don’t tell them in plain language what offends you and how you’d rather them act, you cannot fly off the handle. Tell them immediately, and then, if the behavior persists, you can either clarify and restate, or identify them as a person you don’t want to include in your emotional space. You may notice, this is the inverse perspective of the burden above. As it turns out, no one is generally ever blameless in conflict.

The Choice

Sometimes, you will have to choose between your partners. They will both ask you to attend events with them on the same night. It’ll happen. I solved this by using chronology to decide for me (whoever asks first). Beyond warring schedules, which every polyamorous person is more than familiar with, you will also come across the rest of society. So much of outsider’s language will try to fit you into their box of standard relationships so they can find some ground to understand and relate to you. This can feel pressuring and stressful especially if there is no spoken hierarchy. In addition to this, there are the very real problems of living situations, moving, future plans, children. Tell me there isn’t a hierarchy and then tell me how three/four/five people are all going to find harmony living together (cohabitation comes with certain priorities), and how you make plans that intertwine all future goals of all parties. You can have your own plans for the future, but if you want to move to another city/country/apartment? If your partners aren’t interested in living together? Let’s not even mention marriage and children… None of these are ultimately insurmountable, but don’t come into polyamory thinking that you are ultimately free.

The Freedom Myth

This is the world of do whatever you want and you don’t have to feel guilty about anything and everything is ok!!! Yeah, absolutely not. This condition is what I call polyfuckery and leads to a world of pain. You now have even more people to keep in mind when you do anything. One partner is allergic to peanuts, the other to shellfish. One likes musicals and when you call them pumpkin the other hates both. One has trust issues with people who use the word “like” incorrectly which masks the real issue which is that they can’t stand the person you’re dating and the other has self esteem issues and thinks that they are unworthy of love…and they use the word “like” incorrectly. Juggle that! You do your best to try and keep everyone’s needs in line and everyone has to be a little bit more understanding, but never for a second think that you have anything but responsibility multiplied by each person who trusts you with their emotional safety. If you are not acting accordingly, you are probably being an asshole.

The Lie/The Misinformation/The Omission

As my fantastic partner says, “It is hard to get caught in a truth.” I didn’t think I’d have to go over this, but I was proven wrong in a big way recently. Take a look at these examples (Names specifically ambi-gendered):

1.“Jessie and I had sex last night”

2.“I was at a meeting last night”

3.“I was hanging out with friends last night”

4.“Jessie and I hung out last night”

5.“…”

6.“…” (1 month later) “Jessie and I had sex”

If the first statement is the truth. Every since one of the other answers is a lie. The second is all wrong, every bit. The third is partly right, you were hanging out socially…but you missed the part where you were naked and there are no partial grades in this class. In the fourth we finally meet Jessie so we’re getting closer, but you still missed the part where you were naked, and there are no partial grades in this class. NO PARTIAL GRADES. Period. The fifth example is what we call a lie by omission. It is equally as dishonest as the second example, even more so if there is a previous agreement in your relationship that you tell each other who you’re having sex with. The sixth one is tricky. It looks a look like the truth, the clause is that it comes out a month later. Truth does not happen when it is convenient for you. It happens as soon as possible. You do not get a gold star for telling the truth after an entire week/month/year of lying about it(every day you do not tell someone something that violates an agreement is a day you are lying to them). Truth does not happen when it is convenient for you. It is so important it bears repeating. Here’s a pro-tip even, if you feel the need to lie or not tell someone about what you are doing, you probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. Yes? Fairly intuitive? Good, let’s segue to…

The Metamour Connection

Metamours talk. In polyamory, if you think it is cute to tell one partner one thing and the other an entirely different thing, chances are pretty stellar that you’ll get found out. Also, metamours, if you think your partner might be a douchebag, comparing notes is a great way to figure out what’s actually going on.

In Conclusion

Having heard my ideas, you might now be convinced that I have a very poor opinion of polyamory, and am a disillusioned participant wishing to spare others from my fate. This is not true. What my experiences have taught me is to not to eschew multi-person situations, but to have a far lower tolerance for those who are not prepared to embark on that journey with me in a safe fashion. If you are already engaged in poly and have experienced some or all of this, you are not alone. If you have not come across this, I hope I have given you some information about things that may occur. If you are not poly, much of this still applies to you. Look inside yourself, think through your actions and thoughts, and make sure you are creating a respectful and truthful environment for your partner and yourself.

*“V” is a term I use for a three person relationship where one person is dating two people but they are not dating each other.

**”Metamour” is “Meta-Paramour” a term for your partner’s partner.