True Life: I was a SJW University Student

Hi there.

Back in university, I managed to become the president of the feminism society. I’ve told people about it so much since then it feels like a meme, but in reality I was mega-stoked. It was one of my proudest moments, I felt relevant, I felt empowered, I felt challenged.

Flash forward to today. It’s 4 years later. My university events and “debates” we organised feel like distant irrelevant memories. At the time we were so proud of ourselves, making feminism bigger on campus, meeting with the Student Union to talk about fighting Lad Culture by reaching out to the sports teams, pre-emptively.

The-Inbetweeners-lr3.jpg
Image from YouGov’s Report on Lad Culture. Seriously.

Then I left. I worked in retail, then mental health. My feminist empowerment days appear to be over now, left for the young people, the people with the time and the energy and the freedom to follow their interests.

In retail, no one has time to discuss gendered clothing, or unhealthy body expectations. You can try to wind it into conversation, but shit, it’s too late, they noticed you haven’t shaved your armpits! All must halt until we work out if you are one of “those” feminists…

Spoiler alert: Kinda, yeah. Cue downtime discussions about simple basic repetitive grade-one style feminist issues. Enough “but aren’t there differences for a reason though?” and “I don’t hate men :)” for the matchsticks to snap from the strain.

Facing the Music

My complex web of sociological knowledge was wiped away, paled into insignificance against the stock targets for this week. I hadn’t realised until I left how much of an echo chamber and a bubble I’d been afforded in university, just by being outside of the work environment.

I still didn’t want to leave it all behind. I wanted to build on what I knew, stay woke, stay in the loop. Didn’t want to become right-wing, bigoted, lazy, small-minded like people believe is natural as you mature, because I knew I didn’t have to be.

I started this blog. I still had so much to say about the basics, about current affairs, I wanted to get it out there in an accessible no-nonsense way, to more people than my bored semi-curious co-workers.

Reality, I was adding to the same echo chamber, and not even on a large scale. The information is out there, for people who need it or want it, there are entire blogs about the smallest part of feminism or racism or ableism. Speaking up is important, yes, but was it my job?

“Feminist” is not a job. When you’re young, like I was, and looking for direction, like I was, it can seem like it. You can see into the matrix at last, and now it feels like you can escape it:

matrix feminsim
More at http://skepchick.org/2012/02/seeing-the-patriarchy/

Yet, when you care, you can’t just switch it off. It feels like a double life, a shit superhero. Activism gets called out for being either inaccessible, or ineffective, or both, because it is. My university activism was tiny, but felt huge, because my university world was small. Tweets are tiny, but easy, and can make a difference if enough people join in, but mostly you’re shouting into the void.

The Liberal Elite?

Activism is inaccessible because it needs money, or to be able-bodied, or to be neuro-typical, or to have time off work. It’s ineffective because the media doesn’t report on it, or because people write you off as a loony before you even speak.

Activism is only a tiny portion of the Real World TM. It’s hard to get your head around when your world has only just expanded from school to a university campus and almost unlimited free time; you feel almighty, unbeatable. Education feels like the way forward, debates are a regularity, everyone thinks you are the future.

Like-minded, educated, soft. The definition of the Liberal Elite TM. The irony being that “elite” implies actual power; not just an insular illusion. Some graduates go on to be powerful and influential, most don’t, by the law of averages. Not everyone is in a pipeline to government, most people are there just to get degrees and then jobs. There’s more liberalism than the general public, but there’s plenty of outrageous right-wingers too. At my university liberals utterly dominated the student union; the right wingers simply didn’t bother with it. Perhaps the union seemed too cuddly and cloying for their take, or perhaps they were outnumbered.

avocado toast
Detached Millenial Students. (From Humans of Remuera.)

Coming Down From The Ivory Tower

Real world politics is different. There are actual stakes, not just a debate about union policies, but people’s jobs, homes, safety, wellbeing, towns and communities. Real world politics is a houseful of people with mental illness, all living off benefits, almost none of whom believe in voting. Real world politics is working a job that doesn’t mean anything except numbers in a foreign bank account and cheap clothing on people’s backs.

You can’t access real world politics from the ivory tower, no. Once you are forcibly ejected from the tower, you can’t scramble back up and continue to pretend the world is simple and misinformed. In the dirt, you have to find a way to be relevant again.

Perhaps you will be relevant by starting a realistic blog about issues which will be written off with all the other lefty online nonsense (and adds nothing original to the topic anyway). Perhaps you will be relevant by using your role to encourage education and liberalism; in a role not built for that. Perhaps you will work in your community, to recreate that little ivory tower of hopes and dreams and equality, and make a difference to some peoples’ realities.

The Wilderness?

The real issue with student Social Justice Warriors is where they go afterwards. That keyboard warrior you battled for months, the opinionated youtuber, that bizarre blog with a fixation on manspreading. People who are against SJW’s worry about what we will do, but it’s time we do too. We need to worry about where we go from our ideals. How do we drag our ideals into reality?

hypocrite not

People believe that the judgemental SJW they laughed at once is a one-off, lamentable, ridiculous. Sometimes, that’s true. Sometimes, it really is a phase, and real life gets that person down off their high horse. Or maybe it’s an anxiety condition, and that person really does need to chill out and stop. Or maybe its genuine belief that the world can be a better place. If that last one is true, we need to commit. Take action that doesn’t reinforce the echo chamber, action that engages the public, doesn’t just create shock value or alienate ourselves from society.

The Future

To be a social justice warrior but not make it your job, to weave it into your action. What does that mean? I don’t know yet, but I hope I will. I no longer often call myself a social justice warrior. I climbed down off the high horse and gave up on the endless internet debates, and realistically, at the ripe old age of 24 I’m too old now to legitimately embrace the identity…I’m not even sure if anyone else does at this point.  Perhaps by now I need to go by political label; socialist, communist, leftist, etc. I’ll get around to reading Marx at some point, but until then, labels feel too small and counter productive.

If social justice is deluded from reality, perhaps the answer lies in reality; in being kind and being fair and standing up for people’s rights in the real world. That’s not as easy as it sounds. It isn’t always achieved by blurting facts and stats at people, but by whisteblowing, using the law on your side, by being brave. This kind of activism is what stops atrocities or enables them, what reminds us of our humanity and dignity, or doesn’t. The decisions being made in the UK around welfare are being made by people, who just need to get their jobs done to make the UK a better place. Why do they make evil choices with awful results? That’s where we need to look.

black and white thinking
(image source)

I’m going to try and update more regularly now, talking about reality. I work in mental health and I live in the UK, so I’m going to write more about the reality of this, and the ethical issues at play, and moral responsibilities to handle.

Stay safe and thank you for reading. I’m not going to release the second half of diet culture yet, because I want to focus on this realistic blogging future instead for now. Thanks. ^_^

 

 

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This Debate is EMBARRASSING: Jordan vs Cathy

As of 12 February over 6.8 million people have watched a “debate” about gender politics between clinical psychologist (and YouTuber) Jordan B Peterson, and Cathy Newman, a Channel 4 news presenter. Jordan is a clinical psychologist in Canada who 4 years ago started putting his lectures on YouTube, whereas Channel 4 News is a mainstream broadcaster, known for having more “lefty” beliefs. Together, Cathy and Jordan cover the gender pay gap, Jordan’s recently released book, and the politics of campus protestors.

Yet this was no debate, and it does not deserve the views or the acclaim that it has been getting. It is an embarrassment.

 

First; Oxford Dictionary Online says a debate is:

debate defintion

So this formal structured discussion, featuring arguments from only one side, Jordan’s, and questions only from the other side, wouldn’t count. Not only this, but in the description itself the segment is described as a “fiery interview”, despite Cathy confusingly calling it a “spat” and a “joust” on twitter.

Continue reading “This Debate is EMBARRASSING: Jordan vs Cathy”

2018 Blog Maintenance Post and Update: Thank you

Just a little post to say I am currently writing again, and taking it more seriously this time around. I’m keeping track of the time I take, and working on posts regularly, and I’ve found a structure that I believe is going to help me get more interesting and relevant posts out more often.

I’d also like to take this chance to thank everyone who has helped with my blog this past year in 2017, it was my biggest year so far and even though we are still small, every view and comment and like is very meaningful to me and helps me to keep going, and to believe in the vision that this blog stands for, for interesting, topical and relatable content about social justice issues, from someone who has been there, done that, and still wants to keep going.

T-shirt saying "If it involves feminism, social justice, or equality, count me in""
You could say I have seen it, done it, and bought the T-shirt. But I didn’t, so this T shirt is just pulled from Google Images; sorry Zazzle.

Hope everyone is having a great 2018 so far, and look forward to seeing what is coming in the other 11 months of the year!

Thank you

Born Sexy Yesterday: Gender Flip Reaction

Born Sexy Yesterday is a trope building on the born yesterday naïve character, normally found in sci-fi and almost inevitably the main character’s love interest. Here’s the video if you haven’t seen it, which excellently presents and explores this concept:

One of the issues raised in the video is that this trope is rarely reversed; rarely does a naïve male creation become an object of desire based on his pathetic-ness or childlike-ness. This is what I wanted to explore more.

Continue reading “Born Sexy Yesterday: Gender Flip Reaction”

Have No Internet, Cannot Be Interesting About It, Have Nothing Of Value To Say

I’ve moved house, and have now had no wifi for three weeks. I’d like to be interesting, and write an insightful passage about how being unable to plug into tumblr and facebook constantly has enriched my life and helped me start reading again, but I only have two hours free wifi at this coffee shop, and frankly, YouTube is calling, so nothing serious going out today, just a little post to remind everyone that I do exist, and I do care about this blog.

Upcoming posts I’m planning right now in my head are:

  • Amber Heard And Jonny Depp; The (Misogynistic, Historically Relevant) World of Celebrity Break-Up And Divorce
  • Don’t Have Kids (And Then Be Mean To Them)
  • Diagnosing Myself vs Being Diagnosed; what’s the point of diagnosis, and is either system better?

Please don’t forget me, just because I’m now living in the 90’s (I’ve been watching a lot of Friends on DVD, and am re-reading Bridget Jones yet again), I haven’t forgetten about you, and I will be back with a flourish, soon…hopefully….please Sky, I need my internet, please. (Please.)
sad-puppy-eyes

How you, yes you, can resist the evil lure of WOMEN’S (objectified) BODIES!

Note: This is talking about primarily assumed cis women’s bodies, however, I have used the language “women”, because it applies to other women too, as addressed in post. I have not yet covered how #freethenipple has intersected with other movements, especially that of the racialised angle.

Everywhere on the internet you see them, those insidious sidebar advertisements, the ones that make you feel mildly uncomfortable yet more than a little compelled to click them: The Boobtervisments. The Boobverts. The Boobbait.

six evony ads ranging in suggestiveness
No it’s not an ad, I willingly put this in to demonstrate my point.

Okay, so it’s not the smoothest portmanteau in the world, but you get the picture. Those endless clickbait articles, mainly featuring breasts, sometimes branching out into the land of butts or maybe even cameltoe and groin areas, always featuring women in “suggestive” positions, surely on the verge of revealing something earthshatteringly amazing, right?

Somehow I’m not convinced Amber Rose’s nudity is going to be able to live up to this level of hype…

Now, I’ve been a teenager. A “straight” female teenager who wasn’t really exposed to either porn nor relationships, but regardless, these adverts worked on me. I definitely clicked on more than a few suggestively captioned clickbaits because for some reason, I thought the nearly naked ladies there meant that there would be something exciting on the other end. Inevitably, the results were somewhat ….lacking. Anyone else remember the peak of the Reply Girl epidemic?


But isn’t this insulting? Isn’t this just proving all of these ideas about how we’re wired to find breasts attractive, and who gives a damn about the #freethenipple autonomous owners of said breasts? Nevermind that at the time I’m a *straight* teenage female, even I cannot resist the lure of the sexy sexy ladeez! It’s proof, once and for all, that women have been imbued with a strange power to control others, just through the power of existing in their biologically designated female bodies! Cue a barrage of completely one-sided studies in which so-called scientists completely ignore established theories of socialisation and conclude that yes, indeed, men are in fact, controlled by teh boobiez.

Well actually, maybe they aren’t, and maybe, ironically, the evil short-sighted feminists with their brazen support of completely outrageous situations like topless female humans which will clearly cause havoc on the street may be your best friends. Yes, you, the one sitting there scoffing about the inherent sexual nature of the human female breast and completely ignoring cultures in which toplessness peacefully exists in both all genders.

http://limneae.tumblr.com/post/40354277043/the-lack-of-condescension-in-cultural-sharing

You see, I used to be like you. I used to be completely tantalised by the suggestion of a potentially nude female human adult, real or not real. The idea of toplessness in public scandalised and thrilled me, in a far more glamorous exciting way than a male flasher would be viewed. (more on that later, I promise).

britney police man
See, she’s flashing the police officer. It’s all very titillating.

When tumblr started filling my feed with the occassional topless and non sexualised woman, it would be a lie to say I was blindsided at the concept. They were still nekkid, it was still rude and shocking…right? They are still BOOBS, you can’t ignore that! Or can you? 

After time, I’ve realised, I’m beginning to see breasts and female nipples in a completely new light. No, not the completely desexualised Marxist dystopian nonsense you fear and dread in equal measures, but in a completely natural human way that feels supicously like how we’re meant to see them. Like bits on a chest of a person. Like part of a person’s body, that can be attractive, or average, titillating, or not, depending on context, depending on how attractive you found the person who’s body they are on. Kinda, exactly like a male chest. It’s just a chest, shaped like that. It’s not a chest plus two melons, it’s not a chest plus two apples, it’s just a chest, all of it.

And lo and behold, an image exactly describing what I was talking about. It’s almost like I planned it.

And I think that this is the solution. Many in the manosphere live in fear of the power of a woman’s naked or nearly naked frame. There’s article after article about it, joke cartoons (see above) and serious book covers, it’s a genuine fear. And it’s a fear that’s going to be incredibly difficult to fix the way that they are viewing it. Some people start to get the right message, but for completely the wrong reasons, whereas others, they completely miss the point so far they’ve gone backwards. See this reddit thread about how women in porn are really ugly because they are “just” naked and have less make up on. See, these people get to the point that nudity is just that, nudity, but conclude that this means women have even less to give than they assumed, plus no power over them, and therefore HA! WE WIN WOMEN! HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT!?….which kinda completely misses the point.

Yes…well done there guys. Very mature.

Women don’t have the power of magical bodies. We have the power of objectified bodies. Our bodies are the chosen symbol for sex. Yes, all of our bodies. The hint of nipple represents happiness, fulfilment, intimacy, and presents it as something that can be imitated by merely seeing a nude woman, and gained by actually being with one.

What it literally feels like. Yes, that door is pretty wide if someone’s expecting your shoulders to fill it, but we will get to that later.

As any person who has ever had sex either as or with an adult human female can tell you, this simply isn’t true. Many in the manosphere refuse to believe this, such as Roosh, the redpillian turned pseudo philosopher, and take to simply chasing for the better and “better” girls to gain, hoping that this time, it’s going to make the difference. Inevitably, it doesn’t. They might find happiness with some women, but this is on a whole other level to “the naked lady equals happiness” suggested by mainstream media.


This simply lands a lot of responsibility on said women. To first, be the sexy woman worthy of being objectified and symbolising this elusive nirvana, and to secondly, guard this nirvana appropriately. This is where #freethenipple comes in with all those loud mouthing feminists to really screw things up. We throw things off kilter, we demand that we do the complete opposite of guarding these gateways. We demand that we expose women as much as possible, as much as they the individuals chose to, and without sexualising them. And admidst cries of “impossible” and “breasts are sexual organs”, the tide is beginning to turn, even if it’s just with the people using the hashtag. We’ll wait for you to catch up, honest.

If women as a whole refuse to play to role of gate-keeper, and continue to resolutely shatter the illusion that there is anything interesting or holy stuck up there in our crevices then maybe, just maybe, the wider public is going to begin to believe us that we’re just average living breathing human beings, and stop shoving pictures of underboob in front of us like it’s something groundbreaking.