Day Off Blog Post 1: Inspiration, Perspiration, and Libraries.

Hi, blog.

This was my first attempt at a proper real world wordpress blog, with a chosen theme, an attempt at a structure, and even my linked up facebook page to go with it. When I started this, I was looking for a way to continue and expand the social activism that I had been feeling increasingly passionate about all through my university and tumblr days, and I felt I could bridge that gap between the echo-chamber bubble of rhetorical debates about “safe spaces” and TERFs and anti feminist men’s rights activists. At the time of conception, I was feeling burnt out by that cycle, yet still very aware of how important the core beliefs were despite the majority of SJW’s being seen as left-wing loonies. I wanted to make the world of social justice just that tiny bit more relateable and accessible, covering what it is like to be a social justice warrior, from someone who wasn’t afraid to embrace that label.

(These pictures were painful to find, does this toxic nonsense give anyone else war-flashbacks? I’m never going back to analysing this kind of stuff, it’s not worth my time, not that I ever seriously spent much time actually on this variety of content.)

Even as I type this jargon out now, I’m making typo’s and having to think just a little too hard about what exactly MRA stands for. As is clear from my lack of activity on this blog, and my growing lack of focus, the original mission statement has fallen away somewhat. I can know longer unironically embrase myself as a social justice warrior, although I’m still proud of my beliefs. I can no longer relate to the insulated bubble of uni-politics, and tumblr-politics, and other places where the minutiae block out all other schools of thought sans a brief “…and of course it’s important to bear in mind other schools of thought too” before leaping back into the familiar bathroom debate and plugging our fingers in our ears.

In my time away from this blog, I have realised several things:

  • I’m still very interested in writing a blog. However, like with most things, practise has got to make perfect. Instead of endlessly tweaking my about page to try and encapsulate a theme for this blog and then failing to follow through on it, I am going to delete my about page and practise writing on each of my days off until I have enough of that mystical being called “content” to actually describe and categorise something.
  • I’ve spent a fair bit of time away from deep thinking about political things, and I’ve been focusing my own energy more on my own mental health and trying to manage my own free time and find out more about myself, but I’m now ready to start looking outwards again, and my writing is going to have to be broader than political in order for me to keep quality and quantity at a sustainable level.
  • This blog is going to get just a little more personal, basically, and I’m going to aim to write on all of my days off  (4 days a week).

I’m also going to spend a little more time on the actual wordpress site itself, as I’ve recently in the last month rediscovered my joy of reading, and I’m now going to dedicate a little more time to following through on that. (I am still a little in disbelief that libraries are FREE, and as such I’ve lately got very annoying at work talking about all the books that I’ve read. Ah well.

I really enjoyed and appreciated that a couple of my articles, mainly Being the sole Social Justice Warrior got a couple of likes over the time that I’ve been gone, and that really makes me happy. I’ve never been quite so arrogant as to presume I’m writing for an audience, but I’m only human and it’s really sweet of people to like my content, it makes me feel important and also glowy ^_^. Ideally, I want to get into the habit of writing enough that I create more and better content, and maybe create something useful or interesting for even a couple of other people than myself, that would really be the point of writing here.

Hopefully I’m going to get better at editing!

bloodsweatteacover

Note: Because I can’t really just get back in this water with no real motivation, I’ve got to admit that the latest kick in the arse was from a book called Blood Sweat and Tea by Tom Reynolds (Brian Kellett), which I picked up in, yes you guessed it, the library, my new favouritest of places. Not only was it a fantastic book/blog read experience, it was also a great example to me. Tom/Brian was writing this whilst he worked in the ambulance service, with all the stress and weird shift patterns that entails, yet was managing to write a post almost every day of the week. Sure, that might be more than would be necessary for me, but hey, I’ve really worn down the excuses I had that I was moving house, that I was starting a new job, that I was finding myself, that I was figuring out what to do with the blog, and now here we are, in unedited, unabridged, unfocused free writing hell. You’re welcome! And thanks for reading ^_^ 😀

Memories of Resistance

Vitally important information, and all round a real quality blog to follow too. We need to actively make a difference and not rely on the power of conscience alone to protect the rights of everyone.

GODS & RADICALS

In the few days since the election result in the USA, people started reaching out to each other: to show solidarity, to get organised, to share ideas. One of those ways was the sharing of memories of previous forms of resistance to fascism, racism, and sexism, and the conditions we were resisting. In particular, I thought back to the 1970s and 1980s, when we lived in fear of nuclear annihilation, and the majority of people were unapologetically sexist, racist, and homophobic.

The 1970s and the 1980s were bloody awful. I was a child then, but I remember the first Indian kid at my school, and someone saying something racist to her, and me shouting at them. I told them that they were afraid of her because she was different.

People would openly say the N-word, all the time. And when my parents sold their house in 1987, the neighbours came to…

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Why Feminists Are *Always* Wrong

You’ve seen it before, you’ll see it again; there’s an inane Facebook debate going on in a comment thread. Some asshole thinks they are being clever, and someone else is doing their damnedest to correct them. Spam comment after spam comment links to misleading studies about abused and unfortunate men, as if that makes it okay to criticise a woman for having an abortion…!?

Feminism has never helped men, they fight to ignore abuse and violence against men. They had men's shelters shut down because it took away from female victims. Even though more men are raped and abused."
Like this kinda shit…. “And they pull our hair too! Who needs accurate sources!”

But the unfortunate truth is, that they start to look convincing.

And a part of you has to admire the tenacity of those MRA’s, the people who make misogyny into a form of activism, they know when they have a successful formula, and they are sticking to it. What’s that? It’s not a successful formula? Don’t be ridiculous, why would they use it so much if it wasn’t successful??

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French cartoon, no translation needed. Clearly, this is an international problem.

Don’t be fooled by the appearance of a comment chain full of clever well sourced responses to hysterical conspiracy theories and junk posts. Yes, the feminist is winning, as in, they are talking the most truth, and they are right, and probably have more support and sound less ridiculous to a person with an ounce of sense. But the MRA is achieving *their* goal; being compared to feminist, appearing on the same playing field, demanding to be debunked and debated. No, it doesn’t matter if they are defeated, because if your angle is “scrappy underdog”, then being thoroughly beaten only adds to your imaginary kudos amongst you and your friends, it only adds to your conspiracy theory that everyone else is knowingly wrong and conspicuously in on “it”.

Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience. - Mark Twain
We’ve all heard it before, but it bears repeating.

It’s tempting to debate this Horde. but that’s exactly what they want, and what they think they deserve. They don’t. You need to be credible in order to be discredited, and they aren’t credible. Spending your time talking to them only legitimises them (to themselves, and their supporters) as a genuine ideological/political opponent as opposed to an ignorant nuisance. The time they spend clogging up your mental airways is a far greater gain to them than it is to anyone else; if you’re legitimising them, and playing on their playing field, you’re not legitimising yourself or your beliefs, because their only goal is to discredit you. And that can easily be interpreted as, oh, don’t fight them, because they will win, because really we’re wrong, and they will do that. They will goad you and taunt you. And don’t mention how that’s childish, because that will be met with further taunting. You can’t win in their field, because that’s not where the game is played. The game is played with getting you ONTO said field, where their inane and repetitive claims feed off your strong and well meaning political convictions, and attain the status of scrappy underdog to any idle passerby.

To conclude: Feeding the trolls will only drain you, and make them stronger. So “win”; and step off their field, cos they are only jackasses anyway.

jackass whisperer
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Take the Red Pill: The Truth Behind the Biology of Sex

Fantastic guide to the construct of “biological sex”.

Disrupting Dinner Parties

Morpheus offers the pills in the MatrixThis is the first part of a series about the complex biological realities of sex. Though the posts build on one another, each can be understood alone.

Content note: this post contains images and language that may not be safe for work.

1. Introduction

I first learned about the social construction of sex from a lovely trans woman named Kiki.

She said, “You may have heard before that gender is socially constructed, while sex is biological. But I’m here to tell you that what you’ve heard isn’t true. Sex is socially constructed too. So are you ready for the truth? Are you going to take the red pill or the blue pill?”

Three years later, I was diagnosed by my gynecologist with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which means that my body produces hormones intermediate between “typical men” and “typical women.” What I learned from Kiki gave me context in which to understand…

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Facebook Bogs And Uncomfortable Conversations: The “End Goal” Paradox

The end goal of these disgusting conversations, filled with anxiety sweat and wasted adeneline and furious typing and screenshots and links and speedy-reedits, is normally something really worthy and important to everyone involved.

Normally everyone just wants everyone to get along, normally about something like demographic differences. However, even in this very conversation, we’ll then fail to get along, and that’s when we’re all meant to be conciously thinking about it! Instead we battle about our sides, exhaust ourselves, exhaust everyone involved, and all go away feel unsatisfied, misheard and misrepresented.

The solution, as I wrote before, is to fight for a better goal, without egos and with a tangible end goal. Act like you what you want has already been achieved, like the radical new idea that you’re posting is already accepted and you’re helpfully sharing the word. Because you have accepted it for a reason, and it’s proven itself to you, so why wouldn’t it prove itself to others?

Ideally, with everyone being aware of their own humanity and weakenesses, we’d have far shorter conversations. No fights to the discourse-related death, no petty-back-and-forths and blockings and private messages and frantic damage control apologies before slamming the laptop screen shut, sitting back in a now-darkened room and wondering what your life has become.

It’s important to note that not everyone can take part in these conversations. Some people don’t know anyone who vocally has a different opinion to them. Some people don’t have time. In fact, most people don’t have time. Some people don’t think it will really make a difference, and there’s some people who think it will make the world of difference. I fall somewhere on the second half. I don’t think I’ll convince anyone in a single conversation, but I know that I’m not the only person who believes in my brand of solution. I know that there are other crazy feminists out there who will repeat my philosophy, who understand it, and over time, when you see enough of them, you have the chance to understand it yourself. Same way we all did.

So be patient. Give people time. Don’t take the responsibility to change the world all at once on your shoulders. Allow yourself to be part of a larger scheme of things, or else you’re going to burn out your keyboard and all your energy.

This doesn’t mean it’s not okay to be impatient sometimes, you’re only human. But sometimes, you can choose to be different to human. You can choose to be a wheel of change, to provide another opinion, another way. Human’s are very social creatures, we learn from the people around us what is acceptable. If everyone who says they think something is unacceptable states this, and doesn’t try to defend it or argue about it but solidly states it as an unconditional fact of their viewpoint, that’s far stronger than one person taking on a crusade against people who think it’s a fight. It’s not a fight. We don’t need or want to “beat” any one, because that’s not helpful. All that does is force racism and sexism to be more hidden and stealthy. We want people to be convinced. And that’s not something you can force or rush. You can only encourage, and the strongest form of endorsement you’ve got is your own steadfast belief.

That probably doesn’t sound very strong. That’s right, it’s not. But it’s the strongest thing you’ve got, and once you realise this, you’ll find everything a lot easier to handle. It doesn’t convince anyone overnight. All it does is provide another way; the rest is up to people to choose for themselves. All you can do is trust that they are rational, just like you are.

And if they are not convinced?

Then you don’t need everyone. You only need enough people. And if you don’t even get enough people, then perhaps it’s not that great an option you’re offering. That’s something everyone has to decide for themselves, whether their hill is worth dying on or if it’s better to join someone else’s idea.

On “Stealing” labels

Labels are bad, labels are useful, labels are divisive, labels are fair. There’s a lot of fuss around labels, around who can use them, around whether people should use them at all, around whether they are helpful. A lot of this centres around a belief that labels are something that should be accurate to some kind of truth about one’s identity, and a lot of fuss is made particularly around difficult to determine labels, like white-passing people of colour, or the rarer sexualities like demi-sexual and grey-sexual (attraction only after a platonic bond has formed, and falling between allosexual/”typical” sexual attraction and none, respectively.)

However, that’s a bit of a misleading descriptor; what’s hard to define by an outsider with limited knowledge, is massively easier for the person who is living that identity and experience. We’re limited in that these labels are social constructs and thus have to be communicated to each other accurately and somewhat homogeneously in order to have a social meaning (if we can’t agree what “of colour” means then it’s useless as a construct or as a descriptor), but as far as interpreting these constructs and attempting to apply them to our own experiences, we’re always going to be best suited to applying them to ourselves.

On this note, I’ve been experimenting with some labels, as I think most of us with a willingness to explore ourselves do. I currently flirt with the labels of autism, chronically ill, victim of emotional abuse, and polyamory. I’ve got a more committed relationship with bisexuality, but it’s taken me a long long time to get to this point, and the more (arguably) umbrella and more commonly used “gay” is seriously threatening to encroach on even this. For example, when I’m checking out a girl (or am I just objectifying her? that’s a struggle for another day), it feels a lot more comfortable to myself to revel in my “gayness” than it does to revel in my “bisexualness”; probably just because it’s shorter and more commonly used, it feels fun and liberating, as opposed to clinical and dissectingly accurate. As someone who loves to check people out though, I often have days where I’m checking out dudes, and on those days, nothing fits. “I’m so straight” feels invalidating and obnoxious, and again, “I’m so bi” feels just a little uncomfortable still. We’re working on this glitch.

Point is, the labels I’m still experimenting with. I hold them at arms length at the moment, some more than others, because I’m very scared of encroaching on forbidden territory, on territory that isn’t mine and that I have no right too. There’s a very fine line around this area, depending on the Schroedinger’s label: do I fit? If I fit, it’s my land, and I should trample all over it and declare my presence and revel in its existance and my comfort in it. If I don’t, I’m ruining it for everyone who does belong, I’m contributing to the perpetual erasure of the border by people who claim it doesn’t matter in order to only push in on marginalised people’s spaces. I’m cautiously flirting with them because I don’t yet know whether I fit there or not.

My main rationale for this shameless label-flirting instead of staying in what has already been decided to be “my lane” i.e the mainstream lane that everyone is forced into by default and thus marginalises the other lanes is because it’s HELPFUL. It’s overwhelmingly easier to sometimes think of my chronic and oftentimes dehabilitating tension headaches as a lack-of-spoons induced punishment, instead of “thing that just happens sometimes” because it fits better. They come when I change my sleeping pattern or don’t get enough sleep or don’t get enough food or don’t rest enough to make up for the lack of sleep; it’s not really a chronic illness, and if it is then it’s one with a heck-tonne of spoons that would make Real Spoonies jealous, presumably.

It’s helpful to think of my relationship with my mother as one with an emotional abuser, even if she doesn’t quite tick all of the boxes for name-calling and thinking that she is the best, because the posts that come up in the “emotional abuse” tags and in the counselling blogs about abuse and abusers are relatable to me, they help describe my feelings and my situation and thus I feel like this label belongs with me. But at the same time, the label is Very Big and Scary and Important and so I should leave it alone for the people who’ve REALLY earned it. Being on the fringes of these “Other” terrorities is an awkward place in itself, but it fits better than being in the middle or not being there at all.

I’m scared that people won’t understand my fringing position in relation to labels, that they’ll think I’m an imposter, that they’ll judge. It would be nice to say that I wouldn’t do this to people, but it’s an important thing to remember that social problems exist all through society and how we interact, and being honest about it, I would have this impulse too. The most important thing is that this helps me, and if someone else is using a label that I don’t think fits them right, then they are the best judge of what helps them and what therefore fits them best, even if it’s not “perfect”.