The Peculiar Appeal of Right-Wing Political Fan Fiction

More domesticity, less ‘Fifty Shades of May’

by Harry Harris

To the uninitiated, fan fiction can seem a little bit like Pandora’s Box — open it at your own risk. However, as the popularity of fan fiction as a form grows, so its influence begins to leach out into the world, with shows like The CrownRiverdale and American Gods all taking on the world-expanding characteristics that make fanfic so appealing. When it comes to who qualifies for the fanfic treatment, the net grows ever wider. That means characters from books and TV are joined by pop stars, Hollywood heartthrobs — and, more improbably, politicians.

This maybe isn’t as surprising as it first seems. Over the past couple of years, there’s been a strange eroticization of politicians from both supporters and detractors, on both the left and right. In the U.K. you’ve got Conservative activists and MPs referring to Theresa May as “Mummy”; Milo Yiannopoulous and other alt-right bros calling Trump “Daddy”; the ongoing suggestion that Trump has a “bromance” with Vladimir Putin; and the mass fawning over Justin Trudeau when he’s pictured canoeing down a creek or wrestling bears or whatever. You don’t have to extrapolate these scenarios terribly far before you get the kind of kink you might expect in fan fiction.

But fanfic writers will always surprise you. Before poring through the reams of political fan fiction on sites like Archive of Our Own, I had assumed that stories would be erotic renderings of real-life meetings, cack-handed dialogue and pregnant pauses at G8 meetings and the like. What I wasn’t banking on were stories that were earnest, tender, romantic — and had absolutely nothing to do with politics.

Many of Theresa May’s portrayals in fan fiction are of an overworked woman-having-it-all type character. In this flash-fiction piece, “An Unexpected Cup Of Tea,” a stressed May is comforted by her doting husband with a hot mug of milky Earl Grey and a neck massage before bedtime (fair warning: it’s mildly erotic).

In this 17-chapter opus, May and her husband Philip adopt a child after Jeremy Corbyn brings up the alarming lack of access to abortion in Northern Ireland. And here, we are transported back to 1981 with Theresa May grieving the loss of her parents but taking solace in the love of her husband. She is caricatured, sure, but in an almost universally positive, apolitical light:

“If we trust the polls.” Did anyone who had lived through 2016? She took a long drink. “And either way, we don’t need this conversation right now. It weakens our negotiating position. The EU knows we’re not united.”

“What the EU knows is that you’re a bloody difficult woman. Juncker and Tusk don’t care about the Scottish midget.”

This exchange from “An Unexpected Cup of Tea” refers to May’s own self-given “bloody difficult woman” moniker to bolster her negotiating power. Her bullishness is portrayed as strength.

Conversely, this short conversation between Theresa and Philip — which touches not only on their lack of children, but also her inability to conceive at all — uses a stick that’s been occasionally used to beat May to make her vulnerable and sympathetic.

It’s also interesting to consider May’s portrayal in stories involving Donald Trump. In reality, May and the rest of the Tories have been far more supportive of Trump than other world leaders. IN fan fic, they are rarely cast as allies. A story entitled “Fuck Donald Trump”, which actually centers on Melania wanting to get revenge on Trump for his philandering, ends with Trump sexually humiliated by Theresa May, her husband and the Royal Family…

more…

https://melmagazine.com/the-peculiar-appeal-of-right-wing-political-fan-fiction-64ca22cd03a1

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When is stress good for you?

Resultado de imagem para Photo by Paul Furborough/EyeEm/Getty

Breaking point. Photo by Paul Furborough/EyeEm/Getty

The subtle flows and toxic hits of stress get under the skin, making and breaking the body and brain over a lifetime

by Bruce McEwen is Alfred E Mirsky professor of neurosciences and behaviour and head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at Rockefeller University in New York City. His award-winning research on stress and the brain has been published in Proceedings to the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Neuroscience, and Molecular Psychiatry. He lives in New York.

Stress pervades our lives. We become anxious when we hear of violence, chaos or discord. And, in our relatively secure world, the pace of life and its demands often lead us to feel that there is too much to do in too little time. This disrupts our natural biological rhythms and encourages unhealthy behaviours, such as eating too much of the wrong things, neglecting exercise and missing out on sleep.

Racial and ethnic discrimination, along with lack of educational opportunities and economic advancement take their toll on a large segment of the population in the United States. Incarceration is the rule rather than the exception for some of the most vulnerable. Adverse experiences in infancy and childhood, including poverty, leave a lifelong imprint on the brain and body, and undermine long-term health, increasing the incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, substance abuse, anti-social behaviour and dementia. How does all of this stress ‘get under our skin’? What does it do to our brains and our bodies? What can we do about it? And is stress so multifaceted and pervasive that we could have trouble controlling it at all?

The psychologist Jerome Kagan at Harvard University recently complained that the word ‘stress’ has been used in so many ways as to be almost meaningless; he suggests it’s warranted only for the most extreme circumstances or damaging events. But my decades of experience suggest another approach. The insidious power of stress to ‘get under the skin’ was the focus of a MacArthur Foundation Research Network that I joined more than two decades ago, uniting me with social scientists, physicians and epidemiologists around a common problem: how to measure and evaluate stress from our social and physical environments. Our collaboration, continued under the auspices of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, has shown that stress acts on the body and brain, profoundly influencing health and disease.

Our findings are nuanced, starting with the fact that not all stress is the same. ‘Good stress’ involves taking a chance on something one wants, like interviewing for a job or school, or giving a talk before strangers, and feeling rewarded when successful. ‘Tolerable stress’ means that something bad happens, like losing a job or a loved one, but we have the personal resources and support systems to weather the storm. ‘Toxic stress’ is what Kagan refers to – something so bad that we don’t have the personal resources or support systems to navigate it, something that could plunge us into mental or physical ill health and throw us for a loop.

Now let us put these three forms of stress into a biological and behavioural context by invoking ‘homeostasis’ – the physiological state maintained by the body to keep us alive. It is through homeostasis that we maintain body temperature and pH (alkalinity and acidity) within a narrow range, keep our tissues perfused with oxygen and our cells fed. To maintain this steady state, our body secretes hormones such as adrenalin. Indeed, when we encounter an acute perceived threat – a large, menacing dog, for example – the hypothalamus, at the base of our brain, sets off an alarm system in our body, sending chemical signals to the pituitary gland. The pituitary, in turn, releases ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone) that activates our adrenal glands, next to our kidneys, to release adrenalin and the primary stress hormone, cortisol. Adrenalin increases heart rate, blood pressure and energy supplies; cortisol increases glucose in the blood stream and has many beneficial effects on the immune system and brain, among other organs. In a fight-or-flight situation cortisol moderates immune-system responses, and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes, as well as signalling brain regions that control cognitive function, mood, motivation and fear.

Biochemical mediators such as cortisol and adrenalin help us to adapt – as long as they are turned on in a balanced way when we need them, and then turned off again when the challenge is over. When that does not happen, these ‘hormones of stress’ can cause unhealthy changes in brain and body – for example, high or low blood pressure, or an accumulation of belly fat. When wear and tear on the body results from imbalance of the ‘mediators’, we use the term ‘allostatic load’. When wear and tear is strongest, we call it allostatic overload, and this is what occurs in toxic stress. An example is when bad health behaviours such as smoking, drinking and loneliness result in hypertension and belly fat, causing coronary artery blockade. In short, the mediators that help us to adapt and maintain our homeostasis to survive can also contribute to the well-known diseases of modern life…

more…

https://aeon.co/essays/how-stress-works-in-the-human-body-to-make-or-break-us

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20 COMMON THINGS PEOPLE REALIZE WHEN THEY QUIT DRINKING ALCOHOL

by Sofia AdamsonStaff Writer Waking Times 

Of all the culturally conditioned behaviors we’ve mindlessly adopted, alcoholism is one of the most curious. We know it is highly detrimental to personal health and that it directly contributes to myriad societal problems including violence and drunk driving. We also know that the alcohol industry is exceptionally lucrative while at the same time the police state uses this addiction to extend their authority.

Some argue that alcoholism is a spiritual disease, and that the consumption of ‘spirits’ is a means of giving the self up to our inner demons. Dr. Gabor Maté sees alcoholism as a means of covering up personal trauma and emotional pain, yet even without getting too deep into this it’s easy to see that abstaining from booze has some pretty incredible benefits for those seeking better health and greater awareness in life.

But what do dedicated social drinkers and outright alcoholics see when they give up ‘spirits,’ as they are called, and what can the observations from newly sober people tell us about the sicknesses running rampant in our society? What can we learn from them about the conditioned

Here is a list of the many common things people realize when they quit drinking booze, as compiled from a number of personal stories found online, all listed below in the footnotes:

1.) The first major thing people see is a dramatic improvement in overall physical health. This commonly includes significant weight loss, improved digestion, greater energy and less fatigue, clearer skin, and they no wake up with even mild hangovers, headaches or nausea.

2.) Improvements in mental health include decreased overall anxiety, improvements in depression, much higher levels of mental clarity, improved memory, better concentration, increased sense of connection, decreased levels of stress, higher self-esteem, greater motivation and a more positive outlook on life in general.

3.) Sleep dramatically improves. They find it much easier to fall asleep, they sleep much better throughout the night, and they feel much more rested upon waking.

4.) They commonly see big changes in their attitude towards other people, noticing that it tends to be easier to see things from the perspective of others as they feel less self-absorbed. They find it much easier to be empathetic towards others.

5.) Quitting drinking typically saves a great deal of money.

6.) They save a great deal of time as they get their evenings, night-time, an mornings back. They frequently embark in new endeavors or try new activities which were impossible to do with an alcoholic lifestyle.

7.) They realize that they don’t actually need to drink to have fun and enjoy themselves at parties and social gatherings, thus exposing the great cultural lie that alcohol equals a good time. For many, they discover that alcohol actually strains social relationships rather than strengthening them.

8.) They begin to see themselves for who they really are, no longer using alcohol as a mask behind which to hide. This can be both enlightening and startling as they are forced to accept both the good and the bad aspects of the self. They must then choose how to confront the emotional realities of their life. Something that is all but impossible with regular consumption of alcohol.

9.) They realize that alcohol tends to make personal problems worse.

10.) People find they have fewer regrets when living alcohol free. Not only do they not do stupid, risky and troublesome things when drunk, but they also are more available to experience more from life.

11.) Quitting is both very difficult and very easy. The first stretch when they stop drinking is the most challenging, as the cravings for booze must be reckoned with, yet once they’ve experienced sobriety, they find it is much easier than they had imagined to stay sober, even when hanging out with drunk people.

12.) For some reason it really makes drinkers uncomfortable to be around someone who is abstaining. They realize that people who drink are incredibly judgmental towards non-drinkers, and will try anything to get a sober person to join the party with a drink. They will even make fun of you or put you down.

13.) They notice that many people are just assholes when they drink. This is not always easy to see when partaking in booze with everyone else, but with the clarity of sobriety, many find that the quick-witted social rock stars appear that seem so impressive at the bar are just really attention seeking jerks.

14.) They realize that booze fueled conversations are actually boring, ego-driven and quite superficial, as well as highly prone to aggressiveness, bickering, fighting and ill sentiments.

15.) They realize that people can be just as toxic as substances, and that many relationships are not able to survive without the crutch of booze. They tend to learn a great deal about who their true friends really are.

16.) They begin to understand that alcoholism is in large part an environmental disorder, meaning that it is just as easy to not drink once a reasoned change has been made to their environment, who they spend time with, who they work with, and what they do in their free time.

17.) Alcohol is the least fulfilling and least interesting buzz available, when compared to many other mind-altering and mind-expanding substances people take to alter consciousness.

18.) They find it easier to make healthier choices in general, choosing better foods, drinking more water, taking more exercise, and purposefully sleeping better.

19.) They find that not drinking allows them to experience a greater level of spiritual awareness and consciousness in their everyday lives.

20.) They find that a return to drinking alcohol is often immediately gratifying with one or two drinks, but that shortly after consuming even a small amount of alcohol they feel crappy, lethargic, spaced out, dizzy and off.

Final Thoughts

Not drinking alcohol can give you a serious edge in a society where most everyone else is boozing it up on a regular basis. The zeitgeist of alcohol is that it makes life more fun, but the reality is that it is a massive industry pushed onto the public which has created a culture of self-destructive behavior.

Changing your personal habits to improve your health, mental clarity and spiritual awareness is challenging, but doing so is perhaps the single most critical facet of personal development. Many people find that abstaining from booze makes this process much easier.

About the Author

Sofia Adamson is a contributing writer for Waking Times with a keen appreciation for matters of science and the spirit.

This article (20 Common Things People Realize When They Quit Drinking Alcohol) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Sofia Adamson and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution and author bio. 

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/07/10/20-common-things-people-realize-quit-drinking-alcohol/

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