Being the sole Social Justice Warrior

No one wants to talk about how easily hated the genuine well-meaning social justice activist is. In our online communities, we like to pretend like we don’t care about those basic white/cis/straight/male people’s opinions anyway. And on many levels, we don’t. There’s more to life than other people’s opinions. But this attitude is only viable when you’re in contact with the online community. In the real world, being a social justice warrior is only cool in moderation, and there’s only so much patience your real life available “friends” have.

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What it feels like too many of your friends start to think after yet another go off about how feminism is needed in the UK still.


This isn’t popular, but it is the truth, and it’s an under-recognised truth. We don’t talk about it, because that will be weakness, and we seriously don’t want to focus on ourselves when there’s so much bigger stuff out there. The truth is we’re only human, and ignoring this will lead to trouble. In general, people like other people, and want to be validated, not just in cyberspace. It’s incredibly lonely to contemplate giving up all your real-life human approval, just in the name of your politics, and the fact that so many people are prepared to do that, I think is a testament to the strength and conviction of people’s belief in the greater good of activism.

It’s hard when you’ve come this far, and learnt so much, and grown into a glorious socially aware butterfly, to then be forced to choose between standing by as good people remain ignorant, or alienating yourself completely. But the real choice isn’t that cut and dry, and you’ll hurt yourself if you think that it is.

When doing your “best” is woefully unpopular (and possibly inadequate)

The key to drawing the line is making sure you (and the underheard people you are ultimately trying to amplify) are being HEARD. If you become so hyper-critical and aware that it’s “ruining” every conversation, people start to simply blame you, and when you’re the only one in your real life friend group who genuinely gets it, that can be incredibly draining. Not to mention, it’s incredibly risky. When they ask “why exactly are kimono’s racist?” do you actually have a solid answer, white girl born and raised in the UK with no Japanese friends?
No, not really. You do your best, you point them at the nearest blog, and you know that though you’re not the victim here, you’re doing “the best you can”.

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What I looked like as a baby social justice warrior “Minorities are strong independant people..” “..which is why they need me to speak for them”

It’s a fine line. At some point, your privilege and legitimacy as a friend and the person you were “before”begins to run out, and you begin to be seen as a problem, a dismissable stereotype, not even standing up for yourself but for strangers who never even asked you. This is an awfully lonely place. You could say that’s just how it is as someone who stands up for social justice, that it’s just a lonely path and who cares if you’re liked? Resistance was never a popular concept with the status quo, by its very definition. However, if you’re alone and unliked and unpopular, then how exactly are you helping?

The Actual Choice

The actual choice isn’t between selling out and being frozen out. For one thing, it’s rare that you’d actually lose all of your friends and family just for politics, even if it feels very possible. But for another, you do start to change how you bring it up, and it’s not selling out, because it’s simply being more efficient and subtle at what you do, and the awareness you’re fostering. Being hugely unsubtle and having a huge vent at all the problems and systematic cruelty in the world does feel cathartic, but the backlash means you quickly gotta learn to reign it in; there’s no point being right if no one is listening anymore.
But you can still be right ~subtley~, and at choice moments. You don’t have to actively endorse cruel ideas and behaviours, but you don’t have to flame up about them either. The key is allowing people to see what you think without feeling personally threatened or attacked. The phrase “it’s just my opinion” is used an awful lot by people with unjustifiable opinions based in prejudice, but there is no reason that it can’t be used as a non-defensive statement to nullify a perceived threat from a statement of disagreement.
A short “look” or a refusal to laugh are also incredible effective, and in their subtly and lack of theatre, often massively more effective and long lasting than a full blown discussion would have been. There’s no dismissing justice as mere “drama” if you are matter-of-fact about your belief in equality and how you exercise and express it. Your small action becomes easier to palate and absorb as a legitimate way of thinking, rather than a choice to be under the spotlight of justice. Think Eddie Izzard and his small but steadfast refusal to call his clothes “women’s clothes”, and how much more powerful and influential that is than a thousand academic thinkpieces that explain in detail why clothing is not gendered inherently but only through social norms and culture.

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That’s not to say rants and thinkpieces aren’t valuable! You know I’d love to read that clothing one, and this entire blog is a place where I can one-sidedly rant and monologue about whatever I want; but this is for people who Get It. If someone doesn’t Get It, then they aren’t going to be forced to by someone else — you cannot Give It (the understanding of systematic inequality) to other people! It has to be an active process, and you can be a small part of triggering that learning curve in other people, as opposed to trying to BE that learning curve for other people.

 

*Note: I wrote this ages ago and have now edited it, cos I wanted to get it out there, but it’s still not perfect and I will write more on this topic soon!*

 

Pick Your Demons in Mass Shootings

(Alternatively: Did It Take A Village To Create The Orlando Killer?)

Homophobia, mental illness, religion…. all different motivators. Does it matter? Is it more important to focus on gun control or the shooter’s incentives? Ultimately, micro-aggressions turn into macro-aggressions which turn into the worst kind of record breaking for american citizens.

All the debate at the moment can be summed up as a conflicting mess of who to think of; do we think of the victims and of the future; homophobia clearly matters right now and gun control matters because it was lgbt+ people being murdered with guns, the whole community is shaken, the line towards open bigotry because clearer and closer, people do not feel safe and perhaps they actually aren’t.

Or do we think of the shooter; of mental illness and religion and race? Because the shooter shot people so they must have been aggressive  and therefore mentally ill (by “definition”), and the shooter claimed allegiance to conflicting religous islamic groups despite not being described as particularly religious and this being during ramadan, race because he wasn’t white so it must be factor and white people never murder people ever.

Or as less mainstream media sources say, shall we think on what we’re not being told; how the shooter was an authoritarian into police work and security and beating up his ex-wife…and why we aren’t being told it by the mainstream media? Is it, as many suspect, because it looks like a far larger number of people than limiting it to the mentally ill and muslims, both targeted groups in their own right.

“An inspector kills calls”, and who killed these people? What incremental steps were taken in each of these areas?

Cops have been consistently glorified for bravery in killing innocent people who were charged with no crime (because they were already dead by then), perhaps there aren’t enough people protesting that..

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(Looping) Gif of Millions March NYC In Protest of Police Brutality in 2014

And even before that, there’s thousands of movies and media glorifying violent stories of battles of strength and blood, and there’s generations of women are blamed for making their men angry, what kind of culture around conflict does this make? One that produces mass murderers on a practically regular basis maybe?

Muslims are alienated and of course it’s nothing to do with with the oil in muslim countries and the battle for power in the mess that remains after colonialism (sarcasm; of course it is.).
Then 9/11 happens and overnight Muslims are completely transformed into simply “pale brown skin with beard maybe” plus “headscarves are bad for women” and a vaguely threatening “Other” because the confusing faith and the confusing attack are now linked forever.
And because the link is so vaguely defined, and the middle eastern tensions that caused both the attack and the initial alienation are so poorly understood, anyone now feels free to claim Islam as a whole as as a scapegoat…even the people who aren’t victims but victimisers. It’s a solid outsider scapegoat with a clearly targetable face, so  hatred against it grows to the point where expressing Nazi-esque deportation dreams are not instant death to a political career. (and don’t challenge that narrative with the truth because it simply won’t get heard).

Mentally ill people are defined as dangerous. Dangerous people are defined as mentally ill. Again, it conflates and conflates and so now of course dangerous people don’t get treated with compassion and treatment, and so mentally ill people don’t either because they aren’t dangerous so they can’t be mentally ill and mental illness treatment is increasingly hard to come by and stigmatised. Now we have a constant scapegoat available just in case the muslim terrorist one doesn’t apply. Illness transcends all boundaries and demographics; what a perfect solution.

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Celebrations after Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

Homosexuality is winning, America has gay marriage! People delight. Now homosexuality is fine but don’t let weirdo trans gender-benders in my bathroom, because they don’t need to pee, they must only exist to scare me (because they do) and therefore that means they are dangerous to me (see mental illness above), I’ll do whatever it takes to find evidence of this.  Homosexuality is accepted but you can fire them for it if you want, you can refuse to serve them if you want. homosexuality is accepted but if you’re a gay character you are tragic and need to die in my show because real people need to know that they will never be gay and happy in this world where it is totally fine to be gay. america is a free country and does not endorse homophobia.

Gun control is too soon to talk about. It’s too soon but  it’s also too late for these now dead people. But look at all the other issues hat it could be! Maybe more guns will fix it and the good guys with guns will never get killed only bad guys. (Police have guns and they kill people and they are the Good Guys TM, why can the rest of the world not be like this corrupt system which has systematic control over who is seen as good and bad, we see no reason why not).

Maybe he was a closet gay man! Fantastic, we can pin it on this aspect of the case, perfect! case closed, it’s circular like an Ouroboros, the fact that there is a closet definitely doesn’t come from the fact that you still have entire churches saying that gay is a sin , entire churches in multiple religions, and entire systems and societies casually endorsing and condoning homophobia and treating lgbt+ people like second class citizens and alien creatures who shouldn’t be seen.

So pick your demons

Who do you think it was? Was it homophobia, gun control, islam, mental illness, being gay, being an authoritarian who loved the force? It won’t bring the 50 people back. It won’t stop the hundreds who have yet to die in the future mass killings, not unless something changes.

Can you get rid of an entire religion because of someone who conflated two different sects whilst they committed their mass murder and who didn’t practise the faith? Can you get rid of people who want to live their lives and don’t want to kill people? Can you stop glorifying violence and force and start respecting love and peace, stop demonising mental illness and start treating it instead (how it needs to be), stop conflating danger with illness in a way that lets dangerous people off the hook?

Respecting the innocent dead is a good sentiment, but respecting the innocent living would be an even better start. Whichever demon is the one stopping this from happening for you, you pick that one, and then go change it.

EU: You Can Run But You Can’t Hide…from Politics

Quick Thoughts on the EU Leave Campaign

  • their advocates (Katy Hopkins, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson to name a few) are some highly “controversial” i.e bigoted and small minded individuals that only a minority adore
  • everything’s about immigration; as if the basic person understands anything about whether it’s good or bad for the economy when even the academic community of economists are DEEPLY and PASSIONATELY divided on the subject.
  • when it’s not directly and explicitly about people’s projected insecurities about the mean Other People taking all of Our things, it’s about RED TAPE.
  • as if anyone knows what that means
  • someone shouts something about banana’s
  • no but seriously if the average person doesn’t know the net benefits of immigration (because no one actually knows the real total) then the average person also definitely doesn’t know or understand the purpose and relevance of regulations and standards. snigger about banana rules and the EU rooting through our shopping baskets all you like, but actually, someone’s gotta write rules, or you’d be first in line with your round-looking banana claiming that it’s inadequate.

 

  • for a nation that’s so scared of change like having a *splabour government

(just kidding I am going to do a longer post on this later)

Why We Should Really Hate Spending

My personal favourite new habit since becoming a financially independent adult (at long last!) is drawing up budgets and calculating savings plans. Working out how much I utterly have to spend, on food, travel to work, and on rent. Working how much I’ll save, and balancing that with how much I’ll allow myself to spend.  It’s quite hard to describe the fascination I have with just writing out the numbers and adding them up; I find myself bugging friends and family to let me know their monthly expenditure, their monthly income, how much they could SAVE.

But I’m not as smug as you might think I sound. I know that spending is important to quality of life. Reading this article on why Your Latte Isn’t Why You’re In Debt felt like a personal attack on my budgeting method and general worldview, even though I am utterly the first to defend your right to buy something entirely fun and frivolous and joy-making, no matter what your income is. And that’s not a contradictory statement.

Spenders vs Savers (vs Misers vs Feckless)

In the language of money that we use every day, we have a generic image that spending is desirable, and saving is hard. We all personally know people who spend too much, and people who hate to spend anything above their budget. Sophie Kinsella’s “Confessions of A Shopaholic” is a book that perfectly encapsulates our simulatenous fascination and revulsion with extravagent and frivous spending; we hate it, but damn it do we love pretty nice new things!

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Retail Therapy vs Escaping Properly

David Cain explains this irony to utmost perfection in his blog post “Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed”. Essentially (and it is utterly worth a read, any summary I can write is far from an adequate substitute!) we spend money to make ourselves happy and relieve the stress of work, which we do in order to earn money, in order to spend it, in order to cope with working, etcetera. Whilst writing this blog post I realised that this is a major factor in my personal spending, but there’s far more to this than “and you too can save tonnes of money!”.

See the irony is that to save money, we first have to not emotionally depend on it. Which is harder when it looks when society can so easily be built on endless consumption, but also far more necessary than we might realise when dependance on material goods, instead of something like meaningful human connections and kindness is at the centre of our worldwide philosophy. Our understanding of saving as a “neccessary evil that no one really does” is a shallow substitute for the real route of money-related misery, because the real solution is so completely different and conflicting with consumerism.

Spending Money Is A Political Act

Without our endless earning and spending cycle, the world would be a better place for the environment and people who can live directly from it. But that’s probably not going to happen, and if it did, it would be a terrible waste. We have technology to make amazing things, it only becomes a problem when we let go of our lives in order to make them, and sacrifice the worlds resources and our humanity for them. The more that we rely on external material sources of happiness alone however, the less joy we get from them; it’s basic diminishing marginal returns. Millionaires, billionaires and trillionaires aren’t that many magnitudes happier than any other person who can afford basic healthcare, shelter and food.

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But it is billionaires and the owners of capital who we make richer every day when we spend money. On anything.

With this in mind, spending becomes a political act. Not in the sense of boycotting specific companies or brands (though that’s totally a topic for another day), but in the sense of limiting our interaction with capitalism AS A WHOLE. Yeah, I need to buy tights occassionally, but I’m not going to be happy about it, because I know what that represents and what it means for the wider world as a whole.

 

Watch out for Part 2, where I’ll explore several alternatives to our current material lifestyles ^_^


Related Links and Sources: http://www.raptitude.com/2010/07/your-lifestyle-has-already-been-designed/
http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-stupidest-habits-you-develop-growing-up-poor/
http://www.theguardian.com/money/2010/nov/20/what-people-earn
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/11/lost-hands-making-flatscreens-no-help

(Some of these will make their way into posts of their own eventually.)

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.

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The Dangers of Label Stealing

This is a very quick post about the dangers of label stealing, because I’ve written a fair bit about how great/uncomfortable it is but not very much about why it’s uncomfortable and why sometimes you’ve gotta hold it back to just yourself and your own internal life.

1.Diluting the Label

Labels are precious. They mark out often the rare spaces and people who do not belong to the status quo, they give them legitimacy and they protect them from standardised judgements. They mean you can expect certain things, and the most famous example of dilution of the label and a harmful effect is part of rape culture (as is everything really). It’s as follows:

Lesbians are not, by definition, into men. So in theory, telling a man that you are a lesbian should tell him one of two things; first, that you are legitimately not into men ever and therefore are not into him so he should stop, or second, that you are legitimately not into him and are therefore lying about being into men ever in order to get him to stop, in which case, he should stop.

Unfortunately, that went backwards. Instead of making more men stop, it just means more men stop even seeing lesbianism as a legitimate thing, not helped by endless bisexual erasure and fetishistic porn selections.

*End of example*

So don’t borrow labels when they don’t fit, because they ruin it for the people they genuinely do fit.

2. Invading the Label
So now you’ve got everyone’s favourite label problem; the interloper. You’re a faker, a trick, someone dressed as something they’re not. Now this can be a biased or even bigoted fake fear, most notoriously the fear of trans women for not being women, a topic for another day. But it can also be a genuine thing. Who doesn’t remember Rachel Dolezal, infamous black lady impersonator?

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You don’t wanna do that. No, you’re not diluting the label, it still means the same thing for everyone else, only you’re on the wrong side of it. In Rachel’s case, it meant having a heritage of white-ness (though she’s adopted), an upbringing free of racism, but the treatment by her adult peers as someone without any of these things. It’s all of the “perks” of belonging to the club, but without any of the membership fees. Relating to me and my feelings of fringe-belonging personally, it’s using the word stimming but being bought up with expectations of sucess suitable to a neurotypical, for example.

3. Ruining the Label

This goes far beyond borrowing it, or slumming in it, this is completely wreaking havoc on the label. This is a dodgy area for a lot of labels we don’t want to get into just yet, often no one can decide how to do it or whether it’s a good thing or not; do we want to destroy the meaning of race and gender already, or do we still need those things in order to look after ourselves; define ourselves in the face of prejudiced society; and ultimately break down these prejudices whilst still maintaining a use for them as constructs and concepts? This can be in the form of slumming in labels and borrowing labels, but it’s a bigger onslaught, it’s what happens when everyone is doing it.

(I was going to stop at 3 but then I ironically remembered the last hazard around labels)
4. Erasing the Label
Not using the label, like bisexuality, means it starts to sound weird and clunky. It coincides with the dilution of other labels, like gay, and it leaves people left largely underdefined. This happens when there’s not enough knowledge around the label, or there’s a lot of stigma around, so essentially an entire community of an identity becomes closeted by language. There’s no way to express it in language, thus the identity doesn’t exist. This could theoretically also happen in a positive way, like the use of the word bastard falling into misuse because there is no need to describe a difference, however people worry about using the wrong labels mainly when there’s still a need for said labels in some form, normally in the form of bigotry.

Thank you for reading, and that concludes my short three part series about labels. Thank you, and please subscribe if you liked what you read! 😀

 

 

 

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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