September 14th, 2010


On Usernames

This entry makes me so sad.

I've been thinking about it, too, whether the username, the creative, beautiful, often stupid thing, is a dinosaur and I should change the name of this journal to catvalente or something, as I did with Twitter. But that idea breaks my heart. I've been Yuki-Onna for seven years now. It says something about who I was when I began this journal, where I lived, what I believed I could be. I believe in the power of names. I truly believe that had my mother gotten her way and named me Apollonia I would be a wholly different person than I was with a much plainer name. Or maybe just become myself more quickly, to live up to it.

And I don't believe we're all stuck with the name we were born with. It's partly usernames that have made that a common idea, fighting against the pervading, pernicious notion that changing your name or taking a pseudonym is somehow a deceitful, shadowy thing to do.

I love usernames. Yes, it's left over from BBSs. I don't care. It's a way of expressing yourself that Facebook and the rest are trying hard to stamp out so that we can all be advertised to more easily, identified by past acquaintances, so that we can be stripped down from our dorky gothy geeky hippie goofball selves into our legal status, name and date of birth. I fucking rebel against that. They are trying to make it the norm. They are trying to make it obvious that your legal name should be the only kind of identification you need. No more movie references or leetspeak or hilarious straightedge puns. Just what your parents gave you--we don't need any more than that to sell to you.

But when I think back on my usernames I see a strata of the person I became. Characters from books I loved, ill-advised attempts at sounding erudite and mysterious, aligning with my classics major for all the world to see. And let's face it, a pretty overwrought Japanese name that makes people IM me thinking I'm the anime girl of their dreams. But all those things are me, as much as a legal name, and I love those versions of myself. More, I love having the ability to make them, to know other people I might like by the usernames they choose, to have this secret code, this other self. It's a good thing. More and more words for the soul--I am not just my legal name.

There's the privacy argument, too--but I long ago figured out that nothing is private on the internet. But for some people the username is a shield--but companies don't like shields and Facebook in particular hates the idea that you might be someone you were not in high school.

This probably makes me an old internet granny shaking my cane at the sky. But I want usernames to stay. They're beautiful. They add to the world, even when they have too many underscores and zeros. They're conversation starters and spy names and other identities that arent' covered by a birth certificate.

The internet was supposed to be the place where we could choose who to be. Where we could be anything. I refuse to strip that last bit of sparkle from myself and turn my corner of the net into a business conference where we all drink shitty wine while wearing HELLO My Name Is stickers on our lapels.

Question for the Aggregate

So my friend put up this post and I really want to hear the answers, too. But guys are cagey about this stuff--and maybe humans are in general, though I think I could do it--so she's not getting many answers. Or any, so far. But I want to know!

I used to pester my boyfriends to explain this stuff to me. In the end, I have always found men's bodies baffling and mysterious--envied their ease with certain things, but never understood what it could be like in that skin. My past boyfriends usually changed the subject or made me answer first and then changed the subject so they never had to answer it. So I never even got good answers! And yet it's an obvious thing everyone does. But we have so little vocabulary for such things, and such shame around them, and a cruel kind of repression of self-analysis when it comes to sex.

Ah, so you see where I'm going. A little. Darkly. We're gonna talk about sex up in here.

My friend asked this question--but I'm betting I can get more answers because there are so very many of you and you are such an articulate bunch.

So, let's talk about male orgasms. Or rather - tell me about male orgasms? If you're male-bodied, what do your orgasms feel like to you? In as much detail as you can without getting all porny on me. Don't be shy. You can post anonymously if you want. Free, safe space, no judgments here.

I think this always fascinates me because I have had trouble with orgasms in the past, and therefore, I fall into that cultural trap of assuming orgasms for men are always easy and plentiful as mine were not always, and obvious is a way mine were not, privileged, dominant, part of the clear landscape of sex, whereas many men do not feel the female orgasm is much of a shrub on that particular topography. (Yes, college sucked in many ways.) I know now they are not so easy, always, but our culture overwhelmingly invests in the idea that they are, for a host of upsetting reasons.

After the username conversation it occurs to me that I overshare.

Anyway, to the comments, Batman!