Tuesday, 17 December 2013

On the outside...

TW: Mention of suicide and sexual assault.

Or why social justice hurts. I should have learned my lesson but I never do.

White mainstream feminists have no time for me. I am not as privileged as them. I don't belong in their spaces.

PoC feminists do not want me in their spaces, because I am not one of them.

Gay and Lesbian circles have no time for me, I'm too "crazy" and Bisexual to belong there.

Trans circles have no time for me, I own a Uterus and am non-binary, and my life cuts like a knife in ways they don't like.

Poverty circles have no time for me. I do not fit the poverty porn mold of the virtuous poor person.

Survivors circles have no time for me, because I do not hurt in the 'right' ways or express that hurt in the 'right' way.

Autism circles have no time for me because my level doesn't remain stable when under pressure from other conditions.

Disabled spaces have no time for me, I am too harsh, too willing to defend myself. I lack what they feel is the right amount of 'vulnerability'. I never learned to play nice, it was smothered out of me by oppression.

They. I.

I'm on the outside, there are no spaces for minorities like me. We have too many oppressions clustered thickly on top of one another in great smothering sheets. We cannot exist within the spaces dedicated to one of our oppressions because those spaces don't acknowledge our layered existence, we're not just one thing, we're a multitude. A great mass of bleeding wounds, and spaces tenderly bandage one, then complain about all the blood on the carpet because of the others.

Yet we're never supposed to be angry or to resent those who yank open our bleeding wounds, peer curiously into the depths of our hurt and then declare it either not good enough or say there is no wound there at all. We're not supposed to talk about our conflicting lives with their intertwined existence of privilege and a whole mass of oppression. We're especially not supposed to talk about the ways the narratives single issues spaces push hurt us, or when another minority victimises us.

We're not supposed to talk about being told to not phone the police on minority rapists because the fact that the minority they belong to might suffer police oppression is considered more important than our safety and pain. We're not supposed to talk about the cult of nice. The cult that says speaking about oppression is so sacred that nobody may speak out when that speech oppresses.

We're not supposed to talk about how one sided it always is, with us walled out. The lack of support. The fact that social justice inevitably never applies to us, we don't belong so it's okay to slut shame, victim blame and do worse to us.

We're not supposed to talk about cut wrists and the sharp smell of blood, the rattle of yet another pot brimming with the little white pills. We're not supposedly to talk about hundreds of minority people hammering single person who doesn't fit, or the late nights talking, pleading, begging them to hold on, just one more minute, just one, until you're hoarse, exhausted and the sun is just coming up and you know the battle is won, at least until tonight when it starts all over again.

We don't fit and social justice advocates do this over and over to those of us on the outside. But we are never supposed to talk about it, our mouths stopped with "but you don't want to be a bigot" and told we're being unfair when we hint around the edges of why social justice hurts like a knife in you.

We are never supposed to talk because all is permissible in the pursuit of social justice for those with fewer oppressions. As silent as the grave we must be. Because we don't matter. We've never mattered, no multitudes turn out for us, our lives are unmarked by the concern of social justice advocates as fresh snow is unmarked by the tread of feet, we simply cease to exist in this landscape of neat boxes none of which we fit into.

Intersectionality? has never been for us. We don't fit into it's confines.

How not to suck at challenging oppression and privilege:

So you are *insert minority*, but you're also white/able bodied/cis/male/rich/insert a privilege? Please don't do this.

1. Don't square up to privileged people for being oppressive to you and toss groups you don't belong to into your complaint about the lack of inclusion just to give it more heft.

People who have an oppression you do not are not a weapon for you to use, we have our own voices. Let us use them. Anything else is appropriating in nature.

That said one is still more acceptable than two.

2. Don't square up to mainstream groups, appropriate the struggles of others to give your argument more heft and then follow it up by being oppressive as fuck to the group or groups you just appropriated from.

If your fucking default is being a racist/disabilist/classist/transphobic/homophobic/biphobic/sexist shit? You do not get to use PoC/disabled/poor/GLBTQ or presumed female people to add heft to your arguments and then go straight back to being a bigot. It's all or nothing, either support us or don't, don't just support us when it's convenient for you.

3. Don't justify saying oppressive shit with "I'm talking about my oppression".

No, fuck you. It is never okay to say oppressive shit, you should fucking well know better, if you wouldn't like this shit done to you, don't do it to others.

4. Don't act like social justice is only applicable to your specific group.

We all deserve social justice, not to mention, how the fuck do you think your oppression will go away while any oppression exists? When one of us is dehumanised, it makes all of us easy to dehaumanise.

5. Don't expect support and allyship when you refuse to return the favour.

If you are writing long essays on what you expect from allies but basically refuse to be an ally to anyone else?

Yeah, you're fucking up majorly.

6. Don't play oppression olympics.

Yes, we get that X oppression is more important to you but they're all fucking well important. Ours are just as important to us as yours are to you.

7. Don't pretend you didn't hear anything and carry right on when told you said some oppressive shit.

Someone asks you not to use a slur? It merits more than silence and continuing to use the slurs, it merits at least an "I'll think about it", nobody is asking you to fall down begging forgiveness, but don't ignore people you just hurt.

8. Don't treat the issues of others with contempt and then expect respect for yours.

I shouldn't even have to say this. But apparently I do, because really telling other oppressed people to sit down and shut up is still a fucking thing supposed advocates for social justice do.

End rant.

Monday, 16 December 2013

White woman is not short hand for...

Straight, able bodied, rich, cis, conventionally pretty white woman okay?

I am tired of the myth that if some abuser who targeted WoC had so much as looked funny at any white girl, he'd be in jail. It isn't true in reality unless the white girl has some serious privilege.

Taking the Rochdale case as an example? The only reason that case broke and we heard about it? Was the predators targeted one girl who had parents with the wherewithal to do something about it. If they'd stuck to their usual MO of targeting severely underprivileged white girls? It would probably still be going on. I come from a place where the same thing went down, as far as I know? It's still going on, nobody in power is going to move against the rich men preying on the poverty stricken children of a desperately poor community.

Nobody cares about the children raped there by those who could be the brothers of the Rochdale predators. We grew into adults and nobody listened. Some of the adults who should have protected us even helped them target us. The idea that magically adults would have listened to us based on our skin color is erasive fucking crap okay? The targeted community houses the poorest of the poor with high levels of untreated disability and mental health issues, our council didn't even care we existed, the social services? Took a massively lax approach to our safety, it wasn't worth telling them anything, they'd tell those we couldn't trust who would punish us for being victimised and then send us back in without any sort of protection, and of course once it came out that you were a victim? You were a slut and the adults would basically look the other way even more strenuously and let those guys do whatever they wanted with you.

As a child? I learned adults wouldn't protect me, that home wasn't safe and not to trust rich men from certain communities because so many were predators and nobody would do anything about it. I'm as white as a milk bottle, so don't fucking tell me that the world cares about all white presumed women because it doesn't. It cares about white, presumed straight, able bodied, middle class and up, cis white women. The rest of us can go fuck ourselves as far as it's concerned.

"If one of the victims was white it would be different" makes a good soundbyte, but it's not true and it's classist/disablist erasive crap that doesn't recognise that white presumed women don't all belong to the straight, able bodied, well off, conventionally pretty, white cis woman club.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

What it means to grow up seen as a girl.

Trigger warning for discussion of trans issues, privilege, sexual assault and socialisation.

Being seen as a girl, it affects people. While strides have been made in getting trans children to be able to transition earlier and grow up as their actual gender? There still seems to be an old guard of late transitioning Trans women who really really do not get what it is like to grow up seen as being a girl.

They can endlessly explain how trans misogyny affects their lives since they came out, but yet not even consider that growing up under the shadow of being seen as a girl distorts adult FAAB people's view of themselves. They dismiss the notion that such a thing exists because TERFS misuse the concept and because they just plain don't get it or the psychological impact of a from birth interpersonal message of fear and pressure to conform that comes with society seeing you as a girl.

To give an example. I knew a trans femme growing up, they were my babysitter. They never got the gross comments I did. Nobody called them a slut and a whore at eight for wearing shorts, because they were seen as a boy and perceived boys for the most part don't get called sluts and whores. Creepy old men don't openly talk about how they want to rape perceived boys, they do when it comes to perceived girls. That trans femme also would steal my clothing and waltz around the house in relative safety with nobody looking up their skirts, meanwhile I had boys trying to rape me.

They would ask me questions about my genitals and body, intrusive, discomforting questions for a child who at the time hadn't even hit puberty. They tried to peep at me on a regular basis, try dealing with that AND gender disphoria on top of everything else, I was trying very hard not to think about how wrong my body was and that person endlessly reminded me that they and everyone else saw me as a girl and were going to treat me as one, which meant treating my body as public property that they were entitled to examine. At one point they even tried to climb into bed with me and explore my body because they "wanted to know how vaginas felt", I was ten. So yes, if I'm a little prickly about Trans women telling everyone that doesn't happen, that is fucking why. That person demonstrated pure entitlement to my body. They didn't even seem to comprehend that I existed as anything other than as a thing for them to examine.

And that really is the basis of the difference, individuals who do not grow up seen as women don't get the same interpersonal messages from those around them. They don't live a life in which their formative years are filled with a bombardment of "comply", "Be lady like", "you come dead last", "your anger is inappropriate/not to be taken seriously". Those of us seen as girls are told from birth we should be the background, not the character. It affects us, it trains us to be soft and small, to constantly apologise for daring to draw breath. This is female socialisation, it is the messages your family and culture teaches you in person because it sees you as a girl growing up, it is the constantly policing of your body, your voice, how you look, how much space you take up and your right to even exist by those directly around you. It is a constant message of "you are a servant to others, not the master of yourself". It is a childhood interpersonal message exclusively given to those who are viewed in childhood as female by others, including trans women who are raised as women. In short, it's a litany that for FAAB people starts up the minute the doctor says "congratulations, it's a girl".

As for male socialisation? We know it by another term, toxic masculinity. It's being treated as if message that the world is yours simply because the world see's you as a boy. It's having your right to exist affirmed by those around you from the moment you're born. It doesn't matter if you're not a boy, so long as the world see's you as one? It thinks you have a right to exist front and center and will treat you as such. Does it change that trans people often get shit for being GNC? Nope, but the shit trans women get for not conforming to male gender stereotypes while being seen as a male isn't the same as being seen as a woman.

Being seen as a woman growing up is to be constantly undermined by those around you based on nothing more than your perceived gender. Being perceived as a boy, even a GNC one i still being seen as a boy and comes with affirmation, even when your life really sucks.

So what's the answer? Well it's not pretending that people don't treat people differently depending on their perceived gender.

It's tackling the barriers that stop trans children from coming out, and transitioning. It's tackling the toxic interpersonal messages that society sends children depending on their perceived gender. It's raising new generations who grow up surrounded by people who deliver the same message of affirmation, belonging and respect no matter what gender they think those children are.

It's talking about how we stereotype gender, assign gender to people at birth and then police them to fit them into a notion of gender nobody can or even should fit into. It's talking about the difference between being raised as a trans identified individual and coming out as one as an adult. It's about not letting TERFS dictate our stance by taking up the other extreme from them. They claim we're rapists? The response should be pointing out how few trans rapists actually exist compared to cis male rapists, not claiming we don't have any and erasing the victims of the handful of trans rapists.

Gender is more than what is in our pants, it's in our heads, and it's also in how society views us.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


After last night's meltdown/breakdown on twitter, my brain feels like a bowl of cold porridge. I guess I want to talk about what happened. The thing is I'm not proud of last night, I was irrational, angry and inarticulate, so I said some shit that was hurtful in response to being hurt myself. I'm sorry for hurting people, but I'm still angry about what others did to me as well.

Last night? Was yet another reiteration of the fact that people like me basically don't matter in the social justice cause. That is what I was being told last night even though those saying it might not have intended or even realised that was what they were saying to me. I am tired of it, I think your struggles matter, so why do so many of you treat me in ways that make it seem like mine don't?

I am tired of the following behaviour in SJ circles:

1. People refusing to accommodate anyone's limitations in understanding, grasp of tools or struggles, while at the same time expecting everyone to accommodate your anger.

I mean get it, you're angry about about oppression, you have legit reasons for that anger and yes,it means you may say things that are problematic about other groups. But when you expect anything problematic you say out of anger to be handwaved away while demanding that you get to jump all over anyone else for the same or for say communications issues?

We all need space to struggle, I respect your anger and I do think it makes saying problematic things partially understandable though not excusable, I still think that when you've cooled down, you should acknowledge what you said was problematic. That however never happens, it's always "I'm angry so it's okay". If you don't have to accommodate my problems articulating, why do you expect me to treat your anger as making hurtful shit okay?

2. Deciding others articulating their pain is emotional manipulation.

People in pain are not concentrating on emotionally manipulating you, they're generally more focused on the pain. I don't take your articulation of pain as emotional manipulation, kindly extend the same respect.

That accusation is kinda ironic given one could deem the accusations of not caring about the mental health of others leveled at me to be "emotional manipulation". Because they could be taken as being used to shut people up which would be emotional manipulation.

3. Moving from "Having X privilege means people getting this stuff I don't" to "Having X privilege means X group experiences Y privilege in N ways".

No, just no.

You get to articulate your experience of your oppression, you cross the line when you decide your discussion of privilege can dip into how others experience oppression especially oppression you don't face.

How our oppressions work? Are ours to articulate. You want to talk about what you don't get? or privilege in those terms? I'll support you to the hilt, you want to articulate how I or anyone else experiences oppression without listening to us about it? You're being part of the problem and people are entitled to say that.

4. Deciding that we have to agree with you on every point or else.

The world is not dividing into wonderful social justice warriors who agree with you 100% of the time and mean old bigots. When you say something oppressive in the course of talking about oppression, people saying they agree with what you said about your oppression but pointing out the comment you made that was oppressive? Not disagreement with everything outside of it you said.

I agree Hugo is an abusive shit, I however don't think Hugo's abuse justifies all the ugly oppressive shit said about mental health in response to him. Disagreeing with the oppressive things said about mental health in response to his abusing of people has nothing to do with defending him. It has to do with the fact that oppressive mental health stereotypes said in response to privileged abusers with mental health issues is still ugly oppressive shit that impacts all mentally ill people.

It's important that we believe even those we dislike or outright despise when it comes to oppression, abuse and mental health issues. Someone can be both a raging abusive shit and an oppressed person. Their oppression doesn't justify or excuse their abusive behaviour, but nor does their behaviour erase their oppression or justify reinforcing disbelieving anyone about their oppressions.

So yes, I do care about how Hugo abused WoC, but I also care about believing people when they say they're having a breakdown. Also distrusting Hugo's honest and reinforcing disbelieving people about mental health issues are not the same thing. When you do the latter, you don't get to say it's the former and therefore okay.

5. Disbelieving people simply because we aren't popular.

Just because you dislike someone doesn't mean that their concerns and issues don't matter. We all matter, there are plenty of people I can't stand, their oppressions still matter to me.

6. Acting like your privilege isn't an issue.

Your privileges make you as much part of the structural oppression of others as anyone else. I'm tired of people who stick their oppression in front of the privilege as a smokescreen. Your privilege exists, stop pretending it doesn't.

7. Basically assuming that everyone around you is a straight, rich, able bodied, cis, white, man.

This takes two forms, either people assume others have all the privileges until others justify how they're oppressed. Or as I've noticed increasingly people assume that having a privilege they don't confers all the privileges on someone; Especially when it comes to race.

If I woke up as a straight, rich, able bodied, cis, white, male I would be very fucking surprised. Yet it seems that a good chunk of the time I am treated by some SJ advocates as if I've magically become one without me or the world for that matter noticing.

Last night I got accused basically of being privileged in areas I'm not because I disagreed with someone in the same group. I don't recall saying to anyone they weren't mentally ill because they disagreed with me over it, probably because I didn't, but people said to me I wasn't a minority because I disagreed with them. This is still a problem even if you dislike me or disagree with my viewpoint.

8. Tone policing via "you must be perfectly social justicy to point out X problematic shit I said".

Nobody is a perfect social justice advocate, we're all floundering around trying not to be oppressive and to tackle oppression. If being a perfect social justice advocate was required to point out problematic shit? None of us would be allowed to do it.

In short, I don't need to be perfect to point out problematic shit you said, just as you don't need to be to tell me I'm saying problematic shit.

9. Treating any clash as if only one sides asshole behaviour matters, typically the side that isn't you.

If something problematic they say matters, so do the problematic things you say.

Personally I'm not perfect, I say problematic shit all the time, but frequently it's in response to problematic shit being denied as being problematic shit. Not that it justifies my fuck ups, but if you're going to stand there complaining about what I said because I'm frustrated and triggered as hell after two hours of you problematically defending problematic things you/someone else in your group said? You might want to acknowledge why I'm upset as well as how upsetting whatever ignorant shit I said was.

This especially applies if the statements you're defending are being defended on the basis of "People get angry about their oppression, so you shouldn't get upset about oppressive things they say while angry". Other minority people are allowed to be angry as well, it's not a privileged solely reserved for one minority.

So yes, basically I fucked up but there was a whole lot of fucking up to go around and while I'm sorry for my fuck ups? I'm not sorry for pointing out the fuck ups of others or that we ALL matter including people like me.

I want better than this shit. I want to work within a framework of social justice that doesn't believe oppressive shit is okay if you have the 'right' oppressions. I want responsible social justice led by people who acknowledge this shit. I want to work with people, not get screamed at because I told them to take their daggers out of the backs of people like me. I want a social justice where we have equal right to be ignorant and hurtful, but where we're all expected to face up to it, to tackle it and to at least try not to be ignorant and hurtful in future. I want a social justice where we can address problems without it turning into a bloody wankfest because only certain groups of people can be told they're being problematic.

I want a social justice where I can say "X is a problem" and get a discussion that respects everyone's needs, not "How dare you say X is a problem".

I'm sorry for some of the things I said, but I'm also sorry that we don't have better than a flawed framework.