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!

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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 ^_^ 😀

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.)
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You’re a Hypocrite! What about MY free speech!

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Again, I’m borrowing from the amazing NaoiseDolan, this can be found at naoisedolan.com/freeze-peach/

What’s going on in the Hypocrisy/FreezePeach Argument?

If you’ve ever tried to have a meaningful conversation with a casual bigot on the internet ever you’ve had this conversation:

Them: *bigoted casually harmful thing* Just my opinion though!
You: That opinion is trash and perpetuates stereotypes and harmful thinking towards a group of people.
Them: Excuse me?! FREE SPEECH though!! You’re oppressing my opinion!
You: I’m not “oppressing it” I’m just telling you it makes you look like an arsehole. I’m not stopping you.
Them: But you SJW’s don’t want me to judge anyone ever though, you think you’re free from criticism, so this is #oppression, this is unfair, this is the real tragedy here.
You: You’re aware that you are literally judging me right now right?!?

So what’s going on here? Are they trying to bait you? Are they living on another planet? Is this actually reality and have you been deceived the whole time and good is actually bad and you yourself are in fact worse than Stalin?!? (Probably, probably not, and probably not.)

Essentially, most people start out as whiny babies with no concept of other people outside of themselves. They can see themselves being criticised, and feel hurt, alienated, maybe even isolated and confused, and think, damn this is awful, how is this even allowed? If you’re never challenged on anything or taught to think for yourself, this doesn’t change as you grow up. People who are most insulated by privilege are the most likely to fit this description, because the world around them is quite literally, catered to reflect them. There’s no need to think for yourself if everything around you agrees with your own narrative.

The Moment You Inadvertedly Create a Police State in Your Comment Section

When you come across them online with a contradictory viewpoint, they are threatened on a level they probably don’t quite understand. They know that you’re presenting something different and therefore #wrong, but also that you are quite happy and confident in what you believe, despite your blatant Wrongness! How, when they are Right and you are Wrong can you be so composed??  Clearly, you must be under some illusion that you are perfect and actually Right, and that no one can disagree with you! So bam, look what you’ve got coming your way now, you got some DISAGREEMENT. Some DISSENT. Ooooohh how you going to handle THAT now, come on!

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Actual image of what Mra’s and other casual to semi-pro bigots think they are dealing with

They turn against your opinion in the hope that it will shock you just as much as having their opinion challenged has shocked them. Unfortunately for them the playing field isn’t quite even here; if you’re touting an alternative viewpoint, not only are you used to having your opinion shouted down and disagreed with, but also, you are used to thinking for yourself, and not needing the approval of others to have conviction in your beliefs.

So it’s completely boring. Once you’ve had a couple dozen of these conversations, you know exactly how it goes, and no, you’re not surprised that they think you are an “evil totalitarian dictator from hell”, like you always thought you were the opposite of, because of course you are, it’s obvious and immediate, it’s the easiest possible insult there is for someone who’s trying to fight for fairness and freedom, to try and hit us with the “not fair!” card. It’s simple and its aim is to be paralysing, but you can think for yourself, and know that’s not how fairness works.

Like a child who incessantly shouts this though, the people who call you out on this have no idea how fairness works, they barely have an honest concept of what “fair” is, outside of their own hurt feelings. They genuinely believe that justice is all about feelings, because to be fair to them, they’ve never been taught anything else. They’ve always been taught that you shouldn’t be racist or sexist or homophobic because it hurts people’s feelings; a simplistic model that doesn’t address the greater systematic context of harmful actions but it’s easy to explain to kids and gets them to stop propagating said actions. It’s great for a start, but the problem is that once you’ve learned to shut up about the right things at the right moments with the right people, that’s when most people stop learning about what fairness in society means.

So you are actually Fair…now what?

No, you can’t convince them that you are being fair. You can’t convince them that your challenging viewpoint wasn’t built around criticising them and making them feel bad and that therefore it’s not allowed in the constitution or whatever they believe in.

That’s not fun. If they are a troll, they exploit that to try and guilt people into taking it back, or just waste their time trying to convince said troll of their good intent and pure meaning. If they aren’t a troll, they probably will sound the same, but either way, it’s a waste of your time. It’s not truly you who hurt them, it’s the shock of other viewpoints, one of which you happen to hold and you happened to voice.

Now maybe it’s a bit patronising to call it a “shock”: these other views are hardly unheard of, radical ideas like “equal pay” and “stop police killings” are everywhere in media. But the shock comes in realising that other people believe in this, and there’s not much you can do about that except trust in the process of awareness that worked on yourself. No one suddenly became aware of social inequality after one comment by a friend or anonymous message, but equally, no one became aware without those initial interactions. Allow yourself to be that first hurdle, or even the fith or the tenth or the hundredth. You’re not taking something away, you are adding a hurdle, and certain people don’t like being challenged. You could stop challenging them, but does that really help anyone in the long run? You could try and tell them this isn’t a personal challenge and it really shouldn’t be a challenge, but nonetheless, it will still be a challenge to them if they haven’t had to find away around it yet.

Ultimately, the only way people will realise that Dissent is okay, and that it’s not a threat to their Free Speech, is once they learn to think for themselves in the way that so many others have been forced to since birth. It is not your responsibility to do that for them, partly because you literally cannot, it’s in the phrasing “for themselves”. The most that you can do is lead by example, and hope that one day, they’ll find a better way through this hurdle than yelling at it for existing.

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Don’t shove your opinion down my throat…let people get over the stage where they are just yelling variations of this at you.

 

*Disclaimer: It is better to publish something than let it sit in drafts forever. xx*

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!*

 

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.

Facebook Bogs And Uncomfortable Conversations

People are simple social creatures. We like to communicate with eachother, and we’re not very good at understanding nuance; we often have to simplify stuff just to fit it all into our heads. However, this does mean that we’re pretty inaccurate a lot of the time, as anyone who’s spent any time in Social justice circles will know all too well.

Different factions of the internet believe enormous simplifications about each other, like we’re all disgusting caricatures who exist purely to antagonise each other, in a horrifying ugly yet elegant relationship of mutually assured destruction, many people wasting days of their lives (literally, if you add it up, you’d be surprised how many hours those trash conversations on facebook stole from you) both contesting these caricatures and simultaneously re-inforcing them.

  • “Feminists aren’t angry! but actually I am angry about this issue for a legitimate reason though”
  • “4chan users aren’t obnoxious! but actually I do find this offensive thing funny though but”
  • “Fat people aren’t lazy! but actually people should be allowed to be lazy though”

These examples are far from perfect, but you get the idea.

The problem comes from the combined problems of ego and communication.

Ego

When we talk about anything that stems facebook messes (those conversations that go on for far too long, and you either love the drama TOO MUCH or you despair of it, but either way, it’s still be hours since you left the screen), we’re normally talking about stuff that’s really close to people’s hearts, that’s close to their identity and understanding of who they are as a person.

There’s a lot of defensiveness here, and it really gets in the way of actual communication, and what’s worse, is that it’s normally really unoriginal, like “I’m not racist, I have a black friend” which even typing out felt bad, because it’s been said so many times in the exact same way in so many of the exact same conversations about racism with someone who only has a basic level of understanding of the word.

This unoriginality begins eventually to grate so hard that it becomes its own meme, and illicits hostility from the moment it’s uttered, like “Not all men” has become its own red flag for a man who knows nothing about how structural sexism and rape culture operates. But predictably, being met with sudden hostility doesn’t exactly decrease someone’s defensiveness, and they still don’t understand what you’re talking about, just because you do and you’re bored of having the same conversation.

Now I’m not saying humour them and say, no, it’s okay, you’re one of the good ones and do not worry! But we’ll get to communication in a bit.

Another specific instance I’ve noticed is with autism, perhaps because it is a more hidden or private trait, often when it’s spoken about on the internet in casual circles it will be with relatives of autistic people. Not only is this uncomfortable because leaving someone out of a discussion about them is inherently dehumanising, whether on purpose or not, it also greatly increases the levels of defensiveness involved. Now it’s not only about being potentially seen as a bigot (a big part of most people’s lives revolving around not being that blatantly unpleasant) but also about their worth as a parent/sibling/cousin etc. It’s a particular brand of nightmare fuel.

Communication

We get a bit lost with all the understandable human ego messes flying around these topics, there’s the warrior in each of us that wants what’s right, and a scared little person who wants to look good too, and part of us that doesn’t want to fight at all. No wonder we miss the point sometimes, we get waylaid with insults, or pedantry, survival tactics, damage control, or simply soapboxing our own beliefs.

There’s actually not a lot of talk left inbetween about how best to communicate across these issues, and that’s not surprising. Who wants to spend the little energy they have left at the end of the fray on working on communication with the “other side”? Tribalism is deep in our bones, and when stuff doesn’t work out, it makes sense that our instinct is to blame each other and flee the scene. And there are times when that is simply the best thing you can do; remember those people who love the mess too much? Definitely a running-away situtation.

But the answer is actually pretty clear with the benefit of hindsight; it’s in stepping away from our egos. Now this is hard, and it feels dangerous, because our egos are what fuel most normal interactions just fine, they are what help us to know if we’re going over the line, being offensive, or if we’re improving our relationship. But it’s not normal communication at all when we’re talking about social injustice, which is why it trips up so many of our ego defences.

Communicating without Ego but with Respect/Dignity

Thinking of egos like trip wires, we can see how to avoid them. We can avoid a lot just by focusing on statements and facts, on sources written by other people about people in general of a certain social demographic, or even sources written by people who belong to that demographic; it takes the sting out of any perceived insult and it reduces the degree to which you personally are part of inflicting said insult.

Another handy way to get out alive is to remember your own relationship to your ego. You will want to be right, and you will want to be understood. The other party probably won’t be trying to avoid tripping you up, especially if they think this is a personal conversation, so you have to be the one with the perspective to step away from the ego in order to communicate what you need. And then get out; because you cannot make up people’s minds for them, and people need time and the (illusion of) choice to change their worldview.

This doesn’t mean just be a doormat. You still have an ego, you’re just putting it away temporarily in order to achieve a realistic goal, like providing an alternative view point. It doesn’t mean that when someone insults all feminists for example that it is okay for them to do, and that you always have to shrug it off, and that it isn’t structually harmful to discredit marginalised voices that speak out. But what is structurally harmful and what is personally constructive are not always the same thing; letting a bit of ignorance slide is the only way to change that ignorance into potential knowledge and another agent of change in the world.

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Source:  http://www.naoisedolan.com/racial-discourse-on-facebook/

 

 

 

 

 

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”.