Friday, 26 September 2014

The last acceptable prejudice in the media.

Now, I love me some Captain Jean Luc Picard, and I can't help but feel happy when I see Patrick Stewart speaking about Domestic violence and abuse. But as much as I love him as an actor and think he does do some great things, there's no denying he can be incredibly problematic in another way.

What way is that? Well there's no real term for it, and we really need one, but his performances as professor X is a symptom of a fairly large issue in Hollywood that goes unremarked upon. If Patrick Stewart agreed to paint himself brown and play a person of color in a film, people would understandably point out that it was blackface and so not cool. But him being another abled actor portraying a disabled person almost always passes without comment including within social justice spaces.

Obviously, he isn't solely responsible for this issue, he's just a very good example of the issue, where even progressive individuals don't see an issue with Hollywood and indeed all media continually casting abled actors to play disabled characters. No-one would ever consider rewriting an abled character so a disabled actor could be cast, but we're routinely treated to the notion that abled actors playing disabled characters is perfectly acceptable.

Hollywood and the media in general has mostly left behind it's habit of having male actors play women and white people don blackface to play people of color even if it still does have an issue with the scope of roles it will let both groups play, but it is still routinely sending the message that disabled people do not get to be represented by actual disabled people in the media.

Worse, often playing disabled characters leads to a near automatic award for the abled actor doing so. Could you imagine some white guy putting on blackface and getting an Oscar for it without outcry? I can't, yet that's what routinely happens within the media.

Of course disabled actors are limited to only disabled roles, but then those disabled roles are largely awarded to abled actors, so where do disabled actors get to tread the boards? The answer is nowhere.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Why #NotYourShield is incredibly intensely problematic:

This is the latest Salvo in #Gamergate, and it's just incredibly problematic.

1. The actual minorities involved? Seem to be mostly those with the LEAST oppression and the MOST privilege. The average person shouting that they aren't a shield that I have encountered is a well off, cis-het white dude who has a disability, a well off cis-het man of color, or a well off, cis-het white woman. Very privileged people leading a movement to defend privileged ideas is problematic.

2. The assumption by those supporting #notyourshield is that those who aren't with them are all cis-het able bodied white men intent on using them to attack folks who have a legitimate issue with gaming journalism (I will cover why it isn't a legit issue later on). Except it isn't the case, most of the folks criticising the fuck out of Gamergate are multiple minorities and our allies.

3. The assumption by those supporting #notyourshield is that not supporting it is defending white male journalists, rather than objecting to the misogynistic and privileged roots of gamergate. No, the industry needs more diverse voices, but gamergate was still vomited up out of misogyny and privilege, rather than a genuine want to see diverse voices. That makes it intensely problematic.

4. The assumption by those supporting #notyourshield is that those of us articulating our own oppression and issues with gamergate are using them as a shield? No. Minority folks pointing out that Gamergate is a pile of piss pretending to be about ethics are not using you as a shield, they're pointing out their own issues with a misogynistic pile of piss pretending to be about ethics.

5. To the minorities supporting #notyourshield? You're firstly consenting to be a shield to well off cis-het able bodied white dudes who are manufacturing a movement based largely on their terrified belief that everyone is out to oppress well off cis-het AB white dudes in games by no longer treating them as the only people to be catered to. Go you, proving you're not a shield by being a shield.

Secondly, no matter how much you support the well off cis-het AB white dudes pushing this? They are never going to like much less tolerate your existence. You can't win better by eating bootpolish. They're happy for you to shield them from us criticising them, but otherwise they couldn't give a shit about you.

Now, here's the thing, talking about ethics in gaming and reporting? Important. But it sure as shit is not a conversation we want to have on the back of massive misogyny, nor is it one that should be had on the basis that a bunch of well off cis-het AB white dudes who see any movement towards more inclusivity as being a conspiracy against them know what they're talking about.

Gamergate isn't about improving ethics, it's about well off cis-het AB white dudes being terrified about not being the only people the gaming industry cares about.

But Dawn? Someone said Gamers were dead and that Gamers are just well off cis-het white dudes? I'm a gamer and I'm not a well off cis het white dudes.

Firstly the dominant narrative that Gamers are well off cis-het white dues is starting to die. That is what is meant by Gamers being dead, namely that a dinosaurian insistence that games are just for one very privileged group is dead. Secondly even if a minority chooses to call themselves a Gamer, it does not change that for the last thirty or so years, well off, cis-het AB white dudes have been screaming that they are the only true gamers and have been gate keeping who gets to be considered a gamer. The word has a specific meaning as a result, it's a stereotype. You taking the label doesn't remove that.

The notion of a "gamer" should fucking die, it's based in gate keeping and some really ugly notions about who matters when it comes to games. You can't tackle that by taking on a term that is steeped in such notions. People talking about the death of "gamer" as a narrow gate keeping term aren't erasing you because they're talking about the death of a term that does actively erase you..

But, Dawn? The email list?

Wow, you found out that gaming journalists talk to each other, like folks do in most fucking industries, go you. You found out the dastardly secret that people talk about work to each other when they work together, I mean it's only something that's been universal for most of human existence and you've just realised it.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

You really need to stop doing these things:

The following actions are how I define toxic social justice as performed by minority people:

1. You spend two years telling members of one minority that a site and you as a poster constantly posting slurs/bigotry that impacts them isn't a problem, then have the cheek to complain loudly that "nobody ever listens to us" the one time the site features someone whose bigotry impacts your group.

2. You can tell everyone exactly how much more likely someone with privilege over you is less likely to be oppressed in a specific manner, but still don't know how much your privilege benefits you over others and get angry when asked if you do know.

3. You tell people not to report abuse if you think it will negatively impact your group, and hold them responsible for the authorities actions if they do. Sorry, but people should not be pressured to not report an attempted rape simply because the perpetrator has a minority identity and you think the police might oppress people who happen to share that identity.

4. You say "I believe her" but what you really mean is "So long as I like her and she's part of my group".

5. You constantly expect the abused to not suffer problems because of being abused by people who are minorities as well as privileged over the person they abused. Someone was raped by someone belonging to a specific minority group? How dare they be nervous around that group. You also think that shouting at someone that they're a bigot for PTSD related fears will magically fix their PTSD because apparently you think shaming people for irrational fears will totally help them not to have them.

6. You have multiple privileges but act like they don't exist, and act like any oppressions you don't have don't matter if the person who has them has a privilege you don't have.

7. You think being angry justifies saying bigoted shit that impacts a minority you don't belong to. When called on this, you cry "Tone policing" as if being asked to not use slurs and/or not say bigoted things is the same as "you're too angry about your oppression so I won't listen to you".

8. You not only do 7 but you also actively tone police people who ask you to knock off saying bigoted shit.

9. You can name folks with your level of privilege and oppression who suffer violence, but have never heard of high level cases surrounding who share your oppressions and have others on top of it, and certainly you don't know of any case relating to a minority you have privilege over.

10. You constantly say "oh people with privileges I don't have aren't interested in my oppression" but are never ever interested in the oppression of people in areas where you yourself have privilege.

11. You can list everything you expect an ally to do. But never find the time to do any of those actions yourself for other minorities. This is especially egregious if you have privilege in that area.

12. You can list what someone needs to do to be acting in solidarity with you, but you've never even considered what you need to do to act in solidarity with others.

13. You readily complain about other movements being lead primarily by the most privileged individuals, but ignore that your own movement is yup, headed by primarily the most privileged individuals.

14. You talk about atrocities that included a wide variety of oppressed groups, but only mention those groups you're part of and act like any group you're not part of wasn't really there. When told that hey X group was also impacted by that atrocity, you shout they're derailing.

15. You never listen to the experiences of others who share an oppression but not all your privileges with you and frequently talk bollocks about their oppression in areas where you have privilege.

16. You say people should only talk about their oppression, then demand to know why those who don't have your oppression aren't talking about your oppression. You never realise that you're expecting two mutually exclusive things from them.

17. You make it clear that other oppressed groups can go fuck themselves as far as you're concerned, especially ones you're privileged over. But should anyone with privilege over you have a similar attitude to your oppression, you're quick to decry them as horrible people.

18. You readily talk about how X movement excludes you, and in the same breath completely exclude a group you don't belong to, you never realise this at all.

19. You constantly legitimise that the only voices worth listening to in a movement are those with the most privilege by only paying attention to those people with the most privilege.

20. You attack the most privileged people in a movement for being privileged, unfortunately you do so by using slur terms that splash hate all over more oppressed people as well. ie you slut shame privileged women for saying bigoted things about groups they have privilege over, which is really amusing (not!) when you're slut shaming them for something like being disabilist, did you forget disabled women exist?

21. You hand privileged people cookies for attacking other minorities and policing them. So long as they claim they were doing it to support you, it's all good apparently.

I'm sure people can add more. In summary, this is toxic, stop this shit.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

At the intersection of privilege and oppression:

One of the big problems with social justice is that people adhere to simplistic thinking, you're either angel or devil, no grey areas.

For example, I often end up arguing with PoC advocates who  use oppressive language that affects me and others while talking about racism and their racial oppression. That's a grey area, because I am addressing something harmful but I also have white privilege at the same time.
Problem is folks continually act like my white privilege automatically means I can't have a point when I complain about oppressive language being used to discuss oppression. For the record being able to criticise us for the privilege we have, doesn't mean we don't have a point when we say you're being oppressive. The resulting conversation usually goes the same way each time and I'm a little bit tired of it.

The first hurdle is that if we talk about it in a separate conversation? Well we do it by ourselves. I write about it but truth be told, it isn't making any difference because those who use it aren't listening and those who do listen already don't use it. In short, people like me are put in the position where the only time we get an actual response at all from the people being problematic is if we call it out directly in use, which puts us in a position of literally having to interrupt the conversation to ask for it to stop or continuing to be subjected to harm via it's use.

I've written countless essays on how it's problematic to use slurs that don't affect you while talking about your own oppression. Yet the only time I get a response from a person of color using one? Is when I'm triggered enough to directly call out it out in use.

So from my point of view there isn't any way to try and persuade folks to stop saying shitty things that harm me without having to be "that racist asshole". Which to be honest, is not something I really want to be, which is why it only happens when I'm triggered past the point where I can tolerate it.

When we bring it up in the only chance we actually have to address it? It immediately heads to derail territory, not because of us but because the default response is "I'm talking about my oppression, how dare you say I'm being problematic" followed two hours of complaining about being asked to not use it.
 Because apparently one post asking you not to say problematic things is the derail, not the two hours you spent arguing with us about how we're awful people for asking you not to say things that oppress us while talking about your oppression.

Then we've got the assumption that by asking for people of color not to say problematic things while addressing oppressions, we're asking to be centered. In reality as I've said over and over, all that is required is that you acknowledge it's problematic and stop using it. Called a racist a "moron"? Told it's a disabilist slur and asked to stop using it? Only required response is "Okay, Racists are assholes then" and trying to remember not to use "moron" as an insult in future.
I don't want to have a discussion about it, or you to spend all your time on my oppression. I just want you to stop using oppressive language, or at least try. It's not difficult.

The other issue is that it's always assumed that you're mentally stable by default and can take any amount of pounding that you're deemed as "deserving" for interrupting and criticising a narrative specifically for negatively affecting groups you're part of if someone you have privilege over posted it. As I've said, I only address triggery oppressive comments from PoC when I'm triggered to the point of having to say something. That means I'm incredibly fucking wound up when it happens. Those of us with a point that whatever is being said IS problematic to our group are basically lumped in with privileged white shits who are super offended just because you're talking about racism. Our distress is often openly mocked, because hey throwing up with stress from oppressive triggers, is just like being a privileged person who is merely offended by you talking about their privilege.
It's just another part of the "you have a privilege I don't, so therefore you have all the privileges" narrative, it's harmful. Sometimes people are being assholes, but sometimes they're being assholes to ask you to stop being one.

I've yet to have anyone realise that I have a point when I address triggery oppressive content in anti-oppression conversations. It is possible for that racist asshole to have a point. It is possible for me to both be racist and to be right in saying that what you said contained triggery oppressive language. When I continue to insist that yes, the oppressive thing you said was a problem, I'm not denying that I'm being problematic or denying being racist, I'm asking for you to stop oppressing me so I don't have to be that racist asshole by asking you to stop.

I'm honestly sick of having the same argument over and over, so why don't we try a new one in which everyone tries not to say oppressive shit and if they fail simply goes "okay" to being told rather than doubling down on it? It would be a change at least.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Why "they would care about white girls" is fucked up:

It's problematic for multiple reasons:

1. It treats "rich/well off" as the default for white presumed girls since in fact it's only the well off white presumed girls that receive a fuck load of attention.

This erases the reality of lives of impoverished white presumed girls. It essentially says that oppression for being poor doesn't exist/really effect you if you also happen to be white, because it treated white as existing in a vacuum untouched by other oppressions.

It's erasive. Being white doesn't magically make the impact of class go away. Oppressions still matter even if you have a privilege. Many impoverished presumed white girls who go missing/are raped/are killed/abused never make the news or even receive a twitter campaign.

2. It's based on the assumption that the tiny amount of cases of white presumed girls who go missing/are raped/killed/abused which are reported in the media are the only white presumed girls who suffer those fates.

While it is definite that children of color are more likely to suffer such fates and less likely to receive attention, I know that the rate of it happening to white presumed girls is much much much higher than the -minority- of cases reported in the media would have you believe.

3. For those many many MANY poor white presumed girls who know full well that the world didn't fucking give a shit at all about us?

It tells us that we must be bad people

If the default is the world caring about us, then clearly we must have done something to be undeserving of that care. It tells us that we must have deserved being raped, attacked, groomed, facing attempted murder or killed. We must have deserved what happened to us because there must be a reason why they didn't care and clearly the only possible reason is to assume that we did something to be unworthy of that care. Something to make us unworthy of the care and attention that is supposedly guaranteed to white children for being white.

It's victim blaming of the most insidious sort. Victim blaming dressed up as addressing one inequality via ignoring another.

So yes, stop saying "They'd have cared about X if it was a white girl" because objectively and reasonably, it's reductive and clearly fallacious. Madeleine McCann isn't in the newspapers just because she's white, she's in them because she's from a nice educated respectable white middle class family with two doctors for parents. Her race is only part of why they care. Had she been born on a council estate to a single mother with multiple children? It's unlikely her disappearance would have amounted to more than a minor blip in the media at the most and entirely possible that she could have disappeared without anyone really caring.

Those of us whose suffering went on under the permissive gazes of those in authority, whose abuse was allowed by those who should have stopped it? We exist. Those of us who don't get a four page spread in the newspapers asking why such awful things could happen to an innocent? We exist, and we also come in white, our crime was to be poor. Class matters, stop erasing and blaming us for what happened to us.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Beauty and Cis divided:

Or the difference between being body shamed as a cis female and being gender dysphoric. There is much to criticise in this rather unempathic post, it reads as one big long "but cis women suffer to" without bothering to tackle that trans woman face the same body shaming with the add burden of being dysphoric.

I'm going to dissect how deeply problematic this post is from both the position of being a presumed woman and being a non-binary individual.

First she declares that "most women hate their bodies". As if it's a fact. There is no evidence supplied for this. Being self conscious about one's body and about whether it meets the criteria for attractive that society puts on presumed women is not necessarily hating one's body.

The second part goes into her own ED issues and reveals that really Glosswitch thinks most women are simply reflections of herself, she feels this way so other women must feel that way. It doesn't work that way however. Women and presumed women are as individual as any man.

The next few parts are not bad, covering how gender beauty norms are normalised but then it goes downhill.

Quote: "Has anyone who has been assigned female at birth ever been enabled to “operate without conflict or correction”?"
Here Glosswitch profoundly misunderstands the difference between operating without conflict or correction in terms of what gender you're seen as, and operating without it in terms of how your perceived beauty is rated. A cis woman deemed 'ugly' or 'unattractive' by repressive female beauty norms is still consider a woman, they do not have that conflict.

Also let's face it, as restrictive as female beauty norms are? They're still miles easier to meet if born as a presumed female. The daintiness expected of women does not include broad shoulders for example which are so common in those presumed male.

Quote: "Don’t most cis women spend their whole lives trying to “become women”?"

No, Glosswitch, Cis women spend their lives trying to become a socially normative idea of the "ideal woman" in terms of looks, actions and thoughts. They're already seen as women, what they're chasing is the ideal in front of that. The ideal is not womanhood, it's a artificial idea of womanhood. The womanhood for Cis women lies in being born and seen as women. Not in whether they meet the social criteria for female beauty. A 'ugly' cis woman is still a woman, she's just not an 'ideal woman'.

Quote: "Cis women – primped, primed cis women – are not believed to have a problematic relationship with gender, or if they do, it is seen to be of their own making."

Again, the problematic relationship is not with gender, it is with social idealised idea of gender. The problem is not being a woman, it is being a woman who does not meet the criteria for perfect womanhood in the eyes of society.

Quote: "which leads to the assumption that cis women do not even experience gender sufficiently to be able to critique it."

No, it leads to the realisation that Cis women have no business talking about the gender issues trans people face since they are not trans and frequently say ignorant things as a result.

Quote: "Transitioning from male to female is no more a dramatic or meaningful expression of discomfort with one’s own gender identity than having one’s labia reshaped. Yet one is considered so extreme it must betray a deeper engagement with gender as a fundamental truth, while the other is seen as just some stupid thing cis women do."

Oh boy, this is just completely ignorant. A single operation is simply not comparable to two years of compulsory affirmation and obeying a far more stringent set of rules prior to starting far more years of operations. The expectations placed on Cis women to be the ideally attractive cis woman are not more stringent that the expectations placed on Trans women to proved they're really women by performing a narrow idealised womanhood, ie god forbid a Trans woman wear jeans, it always has to be a skirt or her womanhood will be questioned. I also have not met a single trans person who thought of labia reshaping as a "stupid thing cis women do". However the difference between being cis and trans does add gender disphoria which makes a difference to the experience of gender.

Quote: "All women are gender non-conformists, every single one of us."

No, all women do not conform entirely with the social expectations of gender. Cis women still conform to the reality of gender as biology. Were I cis, I would still be seen as a woman, I conform in terms of my body. Even though it doesn't meet the idea of attractiveness, it is still seen as a female body and therefore I am seen as a woman. It takes a lot of effort to non-conform to that.

Quote: "Anyone who positions themselves above this — who believes themselves to be queering gender in a way that other women don’t need to – simply can’t be bothered to consider the specificities of other women’s lives. It’s privileged nonsense"

Yes, she did seriously just argue that being trans and queering gender by being trans means you're privileged. As for her claim that other people can't be bothered to consider specificities of other women's lives? Glosswitch is the one who cannot be bothered in my view. There is nothing in the theory of queering gender that leaves out Cis women. But cis women still do not face the issue of having truly gender non-conforming body because even those cis woman who least conform with the social ideas of behaviour and attractiveness expected from cis women is still treated as a woman.

I do not think Glosswitch understands what queering gender is.

Quote: "we need the space to critique what gender is doing to each and every one of us right now."

Unless you're trans of course because I suspect Glosswitch doesn't think trans people need the space to critique gender.

Friday, 4 April 2014

There is no 'we'

TW: Discussion of abuse, rape and rape culture.

Or why this survivor of childhood abuse and rape has never felt welcome in social justice circles.

There is no we when you insist that someone's value in fighting other oppressions is more important than tackling their habit of calling people liars if they don't think that person has the right opinions or they simply dislike that person.

There is no magic "is an asshole" shield that protects someone from abuse or rape simply because someone doesn't like them or their opinions. If someone's criteria for "I believe them" is "So long as they're part of my group/agree with me/aren't a bigot". Then they are expressing rape culture, because rape and abuse happens to people who are assholes and bigots just as readily as it happens to those who are angels. If you do not address this because you think the "good" they do excuses this? You are perpetuating rape culture.

There is no we when you insist on treating the atypical issues caused by abuse as not worth acknowledging and supporting us for simply because those issues hurt another person.

Sometimes our pain and scars results in us hurting others, this does not mean we should not be supported. Please note, there's a difference between excusing and supporting. You can support us without excusing us. Blanket condemnation of our hurt due to the harm it does to others just heaps a new layer of scars on top of the old ones. How can we heal and stop hurting other if you deem our scars as making us "bad" and "unworthy of support to address it"? You can support both us and those we hurt by accident. It is not an either or proposition.

There is no we when you insist that unless we show what you expect then we're not really hurting.

We are not all alike, sometimes it seems you see still waters but beneath the calm, those waters roil with pain. Don't always insist on the storm, be ready to listen to us about how being a survivor has impacted us. I myself because I had precisely zero support, well those who do not listen would think I was unaffected, but those who do listen would realise how the damage spreads throughout my whole worldview. I need support for that just as much as those who show you what you expect to see.

There is no we when you would rather shame me for how my wound manifests then understand why it manifests that way.

Listen. It is not a hard thing.

There is no we when you are happy to have the person who demanded details of my abuse from me in your community and act like I am being unreasonable for feeling unsafe with such a person around.

There is no we when you think all the rules of not perpetuating rape culture somehow have exceptions.

Again, there is no way to be anti-rape culture and make exceptions for people you don't like/don't agree with. You either believe survivors or don't. You can't believe some and not others. You either think victims should not have the details demanded or do think details should be demanded. You can't demand details from me five minutes after being outraged at others doing the same to another, at least not without being a massive hypocrite who perpetuates rape culture.

There is no we when you consistently expect us to either be all strong or all weak.

There are days when the scar just feels like a black hole sucking my life into the void, there are days when I barely remember that I am a survivor. Please stop insisting that since I handled the asshole last week, I can't be in a state this week. I am not always strong, just as I am not always weak.

There is no we when you continually mistake anger for strength.

Just because I tell a rape culture perpetuator to fuck the hell off doesn't mean I'm strong. Anger and strength are not the same, I can be hurting. Please don't assume that I don't need support and especially don't assume and then get mad at me because I say that I needed support.

There is no we when during an argument about an issue, you have no issue with rape threats or support for rape threats directed at me by someone else in the guise of fighting for you.

If someone proceeds to "fight" for you by basically saying I deserved rape threats I got before and you fucking thank them for fighting for you and say nothing about the rape culture argument they just used? You're supporting rape culture.

There is no we when you refuse to accept my right to be flawed, human, hurting, different, and even not what you expected.

Yes, those are all based on incidents done by social justice advocates or done in SJ spaces. That is why there is no We.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The humanity of activists:

Recently Suey_park has come under fire on twitter due to #CancelColbert hashtag, this is because while Colbert's "satire" was legitimately racist, awful and hurtful to Asian People of Color, the greater part of the attention and conversation has been spent on it and the fact that it was directed at Snyder's racist Mascot justifying has pretty much being absent from the conversation entirely.

Much has been made of how Native American folks complaining is supposedly "throwing Suey_park under the bus" and how "she's done all this for you, how can you criticise her". Reality is?

Firstly Native American's have a right to be criticizing how criticism of the racist "satire" has completely eclipsed the issue of racist offensive NA mascots. The issue has been eclipsed, Colbert's racism matters, but the original issue of racist mascots also matters and is pretty much being sidelined by the #CancelColbert hashtag conversation. Activists like Suey are focusing on the racism in the "satire" to the exclusion of Snyder's racism whether or not they mean to doesn't matter, the fact is it's happening. Pointing this out is not "slandering" anyone, it is not "throwing them under the bus" it is talking about them excluding the original issue.

We should be able to talk about how problematic it is to "satirize" racism with more racism without excluding one type of racism. It's as simple as that. It doesn't cost us anything to acknowledge the original racism as well as the racist response to it.

Secondly? No matter how much good you think someone has done for another group? It is that group that gets to decide if it's enough not you. Fact is if you're erasing someone right now, they still have a right to be pissed at you for right now even if you spent the last week being amazingly inclusive. Being for social justice is a constant effort, we don't get to sit on our laurels, there's no amount of "good" that gives you a free pass in future. Suey's actions and focus on Colbert above all else have erased Native American people. Her prior actions do not exempt her from their anger.

I'm going to make this clear, we as social justice advocates really have to start treating even big names like Suey_park as human beings instead of as perfect SJ robots who can never ever screw up. Suey has incredibly valuable things to say on racism (especially racism that impacts her racial group) that are worth listening to, but she is just as capable of screwing the hell up as anyone else.

We don't get born perfect social justice activists and even with immense effort, we ALL do get it wrong sometimes. When we protect and defend people from their screw ups, we enable them in those screw ups. We also send the message to the minority hurt by them that they don't matter to us, that we literally value them less than this one person.

This problem is a toxic value system hierarchy we've imported from the mainstream. It's the same value system that causes communities to stand by rapist football players because their value to the community is seen as more than the value of their victim. In the same way, social justice as a whole views celebrity activists as having sufficient 'value' to excuse them anything and to defend them against all valid criticism. This is a problem.

It's not only hard on the folks harmed when a social justice activist proves to be merely human, it's hard on the activists because it puts them on a pedestal and pedestals are cold, lonely, narrow places which people tend to fall off. We need to be able to face the reality that people we respect and look up to are also human, with all the flaws and problems that come with that.

It also represents another toxic viewpoint we've imported from the mainstream. The toxic idea that the world is split into good or worthy people and bad people. Therefore any criticism is the same as saying so and so is a bad person. There is no such thing as a good or bad person. There is only their actions at that moment which are good or bad, and even then, those actions are not always necessarily that black and white. We can and need to respect the good people do without shying back from confronting and talking about the harmful things they do.

We also need to respect people's right to criticise those we respect without resorting to demonising them just because we don't like to hear ill spoken of those we respect.

Social justice is about our humanity and that includes the humanity of those who are seen as leaders, and that of those who criticise them.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Cultural appropriation and colonialism:

TW: discussion of colonialism.

One of the curious things about when we talk about appropriation and colonialism by white people is we don't talk about the history that could explain much.

Long before the British Empire arose, many of my ancestors were being raided, enslaved, conquered, our rightful leaders murdered, our culture deemed barbaric and suppressed. Who did we worship before the people like the Roman's conquered us? No-one is entirely sure, only fragments of our original cultural gleaned by archaeologists remain.

In short, the history of the British Isles includes the people being colonized, enslaved and having our culture destroyed. In a very real sense we became orphans without a storied culture to call our own, merely a shattered hodgepodge of a few fragments of our own plus large amounts of culture left by various invaders who ruled over us. Same for our language, it's a hodgepodge primarily because of all the groups who conquered us. It consists not just of things we stole but also of things that were brought to our shores by invaders and conquerors.

This I suspect is one of the driving reasons behind why white people tend to appropriate culture. It's hard to have a grasp of the cultural meaning things can have when yours was ripped away so thoroughly, that it's gone beyond recalling. We're used to patching together a culture out of others to replace the one or ones we lost. There are no people in other countries who follow our heritage because it was stamped out in our home country as well.

Religion wise? We have ended up worshiping a middle eastern religion imported to our shores. That was after we had the Roman pantheon forced on us first, what came before is vague and we still know little about our historical religion, and like the parent to asserts that spanking never did them any harm, we think nothing about imposing it on others in the same way.

This I suspect is also why we also became colonial and conquered most of the known world, a case of "we need to get them before they get us" after being invaded so many times. It may also explain why we fear that PoC will repeat the same behaviour, we as a culture went through it and our response was to repeat it, it's not outside of understandable that we fear others might also do so.

Not that any of this excuses appropriation or colonisation, but I can't help but wonder what my country would be like if it hadn't been invaded, conquered and colonised repeatedly. My ancestors were both slaves and conquerors, the brutalized and the brutalizers.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

No, you don't get to decide when we've gone too far:

 TW: Discussion of disabilism/Celiac, assault and trigger warnings.

Recently Jill Filipovic wrote this piece for the Guardian.  We've gone too far with 'trigger warnings'

Proving once again that relatively privileged people are going to splash said privilege all over the place if given a media platform.

Jill is soooooooooo concerned about students with PTSD, she's going to save us all from the awful terrible trigger warnings, just like she wanted to save people with Celiac by legitimising demanding our medical details just in case we had an Eating Disorder instead of actual Celiac.

The entire thing is purely patronizing, based around the idea that if Students with PTSD aren't randomly slapped in the face with horrible triggering shit, then we won't learn to cope with it. It's utter drivel since trigger warnings are actually directly responsible for helping people learn to cope

The thing is in a very real way a trigger is like a phobia, it's a fear reaction prompted by something that perhaps cannot harm us, ie a description of an assault. We do not randomly and without permission force exposure to phobia inducing items on phobic people because we know that makes the phobia worse, instead we use controlled exposure to tackle it. The function of a trigger warning is roughly the same, it works to allow a person who may be triggered to choose when, and how to engage with triggering material, it also allows people to brace themselves for a trigger rather than be surprised.

One of Jill's comments is that college is different, ie not a safe space. No, Jill, it is not. There is no real reason why a college cannot be an inclusive safe space based on consideration and social care for others. There is no real reason why the wider world cannot be that either. I'm going to quote some of the most ridiculous portions and respond to them.

"There is real harm in utilizing general trigger warnings in the classroom. Oberlin College recommends that its faculty "remove triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals". When material is simply too important to take out entirely, the college recommends trigger warnings. For example, Oberlin says, Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is a great and important book, but:
… it may trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide, and more.
Students should be duly warned by the professor writing, for example, "Trigger warning: This book contains a scene of suicide."
On its face, that sounds fine (except for students who hate literary spoilers). But a trigger warning for what Oberlin identified as the book's common triggers – racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide (and more!) – sets the tone for reading and understanding the book. It skews students' perceptions. It highlights particular issues as necessarily more upsetting than others, and directs students to focus on particular themes that have been singled out by the professor as traumatic"

No, there is no real harm in trigger warnings, except for the self righteous crusades of the world Jill's against consideration for people. Racism, colonialism and the other examples given here are traumatic and it's important that we talk about them as trauma, it's important for the shaping of a world that tackles the inequalities created by isms and other oppressions. We need our next generations to understand that these are ugly hurtful things, to engage with texts not just as texts but also with sensitivity to what those texts say to other people. In short we need our students to have a depth of social understanding beyond their own group especially if they're privileged and the subject being warned for is the oppression of another group. There is nothing restrictive about awareness of issues.

"Students should be pushed to defend their ideas and to see the world from a variety of perspectives. Trigger warnings don't just warn students of potentially triggering material; they effectively shut down particular lines of discussion with "that's triggering". Students should – and do – have the right to walk out of any classroom. But students should also accept the challenge of exploring their own beliefs and responding to disagreement. Trigger warnings, of course, don't always shut down that kind of interrogation, but if feminist blogs are any example, they quickly become a way to short-circuit uncomfortable, unpopular or offensive arguments"

This particular paragraph is just utter nonsense. Yes, students should be pushed to defend their ideas, but nothing about trigger warnings prevents that. Jill is basically arguing here for the right of folks to push harmful ideas without being confronted with the fact that the idea is harmful to others, which is the exact opposite of being able to see the world from a variety of perspectives. Also it dangerously conflates being triggered with mere disagreement, as if a trigger was merely as minor a thing as not liking Marmite.

"That should concern those of us who love literature, but it should particularly trouble the feminist and anti-racist bookworms among us. Trigger warnings are largely perceived as protecting young women and, to a lesser extent, other marginalized groups – people of color, LGBT people, people with mental illnesses. That the warnings hinge on topics that are more likely to affect the lives of marginalized groups contributes to the general perception of members of those groups as weak, vulnerable and "other"."

The implication here is that those of us who support trigger warnings being used don't really love literature, it is followed by yet another patronising nonsensical argument that trigger warnings portray us as weak for wanting or needing them. Jill's paternalistic belief that people with PTSD are weak and in need of rescue has basically resulted in her generalising from self, she thinks we're weak for using them, so she believes others believe we're weak.

Fact is? Trigger warnings are a symbol of strength, the use of them is a symbol of social understanding and caring about one's fellow people. There's nothing weak about anyone needing social support, after all Jill herself would be hard pressed to live without a home, money or shops, those are also needs and nobody presumes she is weak for needing them.

"Traumas that impact women, people of color, LGBT people, the mentally ill and other groups whose collective lives far outnumber those most often canonized in the American or European classroom are set apart as different, as particularly traumatizing. Trigger warnings imply that our experiences are so unusual the pages detailing our lives can only be turned while wearing kid gloves."

Jill really needs to stop counting herself in with folks she repeatedly throws under the bus whenever it suits her. There is no "our" experiences, especially when it comes to a relatively privileged white cis feminist patronising the fuck out of other minorities on a regular basis.

In short, this is some patronising bullshit and I invite Jill to roll up the Guardian, sit on it and swivel until such time as she has exorcised that patronising bullshit and stopped being such a prime example of a clueless white feminist.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

On calling out:

So, it happened again, apparently I hate PoC or something. Okay, first things first, while I have white privilege? I don't call people of color out for funsies, the PoC community is very tight knit and probably due to how many false accusations privileged white folks make tends to be hostile to any white person complaining even if they have a point. To be honest, my heart always sinks when I notice oppressive things being written by a person of color, because I know there's no right way to handle it.

It's a lot easier to call out someone who is white for problematic behaviour. Probably because when whites do it to me, it tends to be wholly privileged shits who I can just dismiss. People of color who do problematic things are sadly often those I and others look up to, and it's hard to have to argue with someone who is so on the ball about other oppressions that you can't really understand why they're apparently not able to grasp it from your viewpoint.

Why don't I wait for a PoC with the same oppressions to call it out? Minority PoC seem to come under a lot of pressure to allow this sort of shit to slide in the name of 'solidarity' with the larger cause of fighting racism. So either I swallow it, hope that minority PoC don't decide to stay quiet in the name of solidarity or I stand up and take a load of crap for pointing it out.

These are the typical reasons I will call People of color out for:

1. They've one of the minority of people who have got multiple privileges outside of being PoC and are punching down but trying to frame it as punching up.

If you're a person of color with multiple privileges in areas like class/Sex/Sexuality/Gender identity/function, and wield your privilege in those to say oppressive things to minority whites with multiple oppressions in terms of class/Sex/Sexuality/Gender identity/function? You're punching down not up. Targeting the more vulnerable of the oppressive group is never punching up when you have that much privilege on your side.

2. They've one of the minority of people who defend a person of color (who has got multiple privilege in areas other than skin color) who routinely bullies and oppresses white minority people and frames it as you guess it, punching up.

Yes, I get that people can like anti-racism advocate who writes amazing stuff on racism and racial oppression, but liking someone's good writing doesn't mean defending it when they punch down. Especially not when they cause PTSD. What amazes me is when people who know how much PTSD caused by bullying and oppression hurts sit there and defend it.

3. They've one of the minority of people who think it's tone policing whenever someone asks them or someone else not to use slurs that affect groups they're not part of.

Asking people not to shore up oppressive structures is not saying the rest of what they're saying isn't valuable or shouldn't be taken seriously. Nobody is telling anyone not to be angry or asking anyone not to express their anger towards privileged groups, but if they're punching down or sideways in the course of talking about race and racism? Then it is acceptable to ask them not to as far as I'm concerned.

This should not require a big song and dance btw. It should just require an "okay" and a return to talking about race and racism without oppressive slurs. Nobody is asking anyone to do more than to acknowledge it and stop it.

4. They've one of the small minority who pull this: They spend one day understandably upset about people thinking that people of color can't have other oppressions; Then spend the following day basically asserting flat out that white minorities don't exist.

As I've covered before, white privilege is powerful but it has never turned a disabled, impoverished, genderqueer bisexual white presumed woman into a non-disabled, rich, cis-het white man. A Person of color with the same oppression faces the added complication of racism, but white people don't magically have their oppression vanish just cos they're white.

I will back someone to the hilt when it comes to asserting that yes, PoC who are disabled/poor/GLBT/excetra exist and are oppressed for being people of color on top of being disabled/poor/GLBT/excetra. But if they start telling me I'm not really oppressed because I have white privilege which magically erases all those other oppressions? I will not be happy and I'm likely to express said unhappiness.

5. If they've one of the minority of people who acknowledge white minorities actually exist, but their default response is still to assume/act like White folks are not really oppressed by being a minority.

Seriously, I'm getting pretty sick of folks with perhaps only one or two oppressions, lecturing me about how fucking spiffy it is to be a white *insert oppression they don't have*. My existence is just fucking that, my existence, they don't get to define how my oppression works.

6. They've one of the minority of people who think that only racism and any other oppressions they face matter, they basically act like unless it affects them, we should shut up about it.

Yeah no, I care about their oppression, I don't expect anyone to care about mine but I do expect people not to pull that.

7. They can write endless essays on intersectionality and how oppressions intersect, but still do 1-6 constantly.

This is the most infuriating one. I expect that ignorant fucking "no oppression but our one matters" crap from the white privileged feminists. The most privileged white feminists tend to be ignorant shits.

Yes, I do tend to expect more from PoC, given that WoC in particular are understandably very proud of the incredible contributions people of color like Ms Crenshaw have made to the theories of social oppression and privilege. I especially expect better than this from PoC who lead the way in terms of discussion and dissection of social issues, if they can recognise the notion that Person of color = able bodied is erasive bullshit? Then they should also be able to recognise that stuff like denying disabled people are oppressed for being disabled if they're also white is also bullshit.

Seriously, I'm tired of having to deal with this kind of crap. I want to spend the time I waste on this crap instead reading the great essays many advocates of color write,  spend learning about what I can do to tackle white supremacy, I want to interrogate whiteness and how it fits in with the whole oppressive structure that dehumanises people, I want to talk about how it benefits us and to work on not reinforcing it. I want to spend my time backing people to the hilt not having to argue with them that yes, I exist and yes, I deserve social justice as well.

I want to fight for a world in which we're not considered lesser according to some bullshit hierarchy that denigrates anyone who doesn't fit the "norm", and I'd like not to have to fight for it against other minority folks. Is that so much to ask?

Saturday, 22 February 2014

This is the sort of thing I get mad about:

Let me make this clear? Your claims to be intersectional amounts to precisely a piss in a pot if when it comes down to it, you still think other people's oppressions are worthless or not really worth acknowledging in cases where they cross over with your empowerment.

Yesterday Suey_Park started tweeting a poem by Alice Walker which uses a slur, the slur in question is "midget" which is offensive to little people. Now while Suey_park is great on the subject of race and race issue? Whenever those race issues cross over with disability or other oppressions, she starts getting it wrong.

The Poem may be seen here: It is called Expect nothing.

Now Alice Walker is an amazing poet, but the use of slurs still matters and hurts. Suey_park would never ever countenance the idea that racial slurs and ideas in historic white writing don't matter and don't wound people of color even today, her response when it's other groups being hurt however is rather unsatisfactory.

Here's the thing, it is perfectly possible to celebrate the empowerment of women of color via writing and lit, while also acknowledging that they can and did write some things that wound other groups. Pointing out the existence of slurs used by a writer who worked within, against and sometimes reinforced an oppressive framework via them does not devalue their work, it does not mean we have to throw it out, but it fucking well does mean we have to acknowledge it. Just as we should acknowledge that all the slurs used by someone like Mark Twain matter. Except in the latest case it once again didn't get acknowledged, instead people derailed like woah. I'm going to dissect some of the conversation.

"Context" is not a magically "fixes all the problems with using a term" thing. Of mice and men for example is still massively disabilist for all it's historical and for all it's meant well. You can place the novel in historical context but it's still a novel that carries the message that disabled people will end up being put down out of pity.

So if someone uncritically tweets historical white writing containing racial slurs, it's magically okay? Of course it isn't, because slurs do matter and shouldn't be treated uncritical.

Heard this argument before, it's gaslighting, they're basically arguing that if minority folks just examined the work, then they wouldn't find it offensive. Could you imagine if someone told a Person of color that if they examined Huckleberry Finn that all the times it uses racial slurs would magically become not hurtful? People would understandably call whoever did that on being shitty.

Yay, more gaslighting. I've examined the poem, I can't see how it could be remotely considered as opposing ablism. What the poem seems to be more addressing is both self kindness and not relying on others to be your mirror, which is hardly tackling ingrained dehumanisation of disabled bodies.

It's a call to self strength as far as I can see, not a call out of social structure. Alice Walker's work has always primarily dissected racism and racial identity, not other isms for all that she is blind in one eye. She doesn't have to tackle other oppressions but she shouldn't be made out to be tackling them when she isn't.

Pushing against white inbuilt racism does not automatically mean you're also pushing against other forms of oppression perpetuated by society.

Because the only thing we can do with problematic writing is to toss it out you see. That's the default, nothing else is allowed. Seriously, what part of pointing out that a piece of writing contains a slur term means you're arguing for it to be chucked in the waste bin? Acknowledging the problematic shit in something doesn't mean throwing it out, it means acknowledging it as well as the value of the piece.

It's a metaphor! No, how a slur is used doesn't make it magically not hurtful. Especially when it's being used as a metaphor for the bodies of those who it isn't directed at. Alice Walker is not a Little person. She also used slur terms a lot: Count the disabilist terms. She was by no means non-problematic.

Try a lot of DISABLED people in her mentions. Suey straight up ERASES the fuck out of their identities. She's done this before. This is some seriously problematic shit. Just because someone is white doesn't mean their other identities cease to matter and that's the only one that is important.

Yeah, that's ironic coming from the person who treats rich, non-disabled, cis het guy as being the default for white people, by talking about how white folks are never oppressed. Not never oppressed racially but literally NEVER oppressed at all. As if somehow our minority existence disappears into whiteness and is auto smothered into not being a problem.

No  it is entirely fair to point out an oppressive statement made in the context of tackling oppression. Nobody is saying "stop tackling oppression" or getting pissed because someone said something "mean" about white people. There's a big difference between "not all white people are like that" and "This poem while empowering contains a slur that harms another group". The latter requires some form of acknowledgment.

"Oh folks didn't consider it a slur back then", folks didn't consider racial slurs to be slurs back then either, should all the white literature containing racial slurs receive a pass as well? I don't think so.

Yeah, that poem is not specifically addressing disability, and even if it was, unless the term was being used by a little person of color? It's still not magically not a problem.

So all the defensiveness about it wasn't saying it should be okay and should go unexamined?

Okay, there is literally nothing about acknowledging problematic elements within our movements that require centering a privileged group. We can say "I love this poem, it represented this part of my groups struggle, though I find the use of the slur to be archaic and harmful to the group it affects".

Nobody is asking you to break off and write 500 lines on how it's problematic and never use it again. PoC who get called on repeating ablism uncritically tend to frame anything that isn't talking directly about PoC experiences as centering others. But an acknowledgement isn't centering. How should it go:

PoC: Says something problematic about X group in the course of talking about racial oppression.
Member of X group: That's problematic because of Y reason.
*cue a very short discussion of the merits of the argument or literature to PoC with a thread of acknowledgement that it's not perfectly anti-oppression for everyone before returning to the main discussion of racial oppression".

Instead we usually end up with several hours of defending how it's worth so much that PoC shouldn't have to acknowledge that it hurts anyone else because it's just that good.

Yeah that's just a "it's not problematic, you just read it that way" argument. Which doesn't fly at all.

In short: This stuff is problematic. Suey_park is not supportive of disabled people, she routinely erases us, especially if we're white. Nobody is asking her to stop fighting against racism, but she really needs to stop telling people their oppressions don't matter if them being oppressed serves her fight against her oppressions.

Because oppressions matter, they matter because we need an inclusive movement. That means I don't uncritically defend stuff like which contains racism, and it should also mean that people like Suey don't uncritically defend things which contain other isms just because they like them.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Why mental illness and xism are not the same:

1. Firstly being mentally ill and being a bigot are not the same thing. A mental illness is just that an illness. You might as well equate having chicken pox and bigotry, and by doing so? You would imply that chicken pox is somehow the fault of the person whose body is expressing the illness.

To equate the two is as good as saying that mental illness is chosen, because we as a society still think of bigotry as being a deliberate dehumanisation or deliberate ignorance of dehumanisation, even radical spaces treat bigotry as deliberate by default. You will never see them start from the assumption that someone is unaware, it's always starting from the assumption that people who say or do bigoted thing know exactly what they're doing. So basically by conflating the two the idea that mentally ill people know exactly what they're doing and their mental illness is "put on" gets reinforced.

People can make an active effort and choice to work against being being bigots, there is no such effort that can be made to stop being mentally ill, whether we get better or not isn't something we can simply manage via effort

2. The second thing is as I've covered before? Equating the two, lets mainstream society off the hook. It's easy to say that bigots are the other.. Equating it with mental illness puts bigotry outside what we think of as the norm and puts it as what a small group do rather than addressing how it's normalised within our communities.

It's relatively easy in such a structure for privileged people to go "Xism is what stupid/crazy people do" and from there go "I'm not stupid/crazy so therefore I'm not a bigot". Bigotry is part of the norm, it is normalised in our society, we don't think of it as odd or abnormal, so when you define bigotry as being like something society considers to be odd or abnormal, then you define it as being something "other people do" by default.

We've got to start treating bigotry and by extension bigots as a normalised party of society that needs tackling, not as the invisible 'other' or even "lunatic fringe". Bigots are can be personable gentle and kind people who we would never expect to be hateful. In fact tbh, I find the more mainstream and respectable the person? The more of an asshole they are to oppressed minorities.

Writing people of color when white:

Or how writing anything that could be remotely considered writing about a person of color is considered "good enough" by default in so-called inclusive white majority communities.

I've noticed that if a white writer includes a person of color in their writing and says the right things when talking about race and racism in progressive white majority communities, they are immediately considered to be "inclusive" writers, without the actual writing ever being examined or even read.

An example would be the individual who came into a writing group I belonged to, in order to complain about how someone they'd allowed to write a short story based on their PoC character had wrote the character as a race card player, cue outrage, how dare someone butcher someone elses character like that and ruin how inclusive it was, clearly the second writer was a terrible racist.

Here's the thing though: Nobody but me bothered to read the original story, they just assumed the outraged author must have written an inclusive character due to being angry about it and saying the right things. Even after I suggested people read it? They refused.

Fact is the second writer had simply reproduced the first's incredibly racist characterisation. The PoC in question wasn't a character, they simply existed to call other character's racist, they never had a non-race related conversation or had any actual characterisation beyond "I'm PoC and RACISM", and even in situations where they would have had a point about race being a factor? The writer was so hamfisted that the character ended up coming off as race card playing. It was about as nuanced as a brick to the face quite frankly.

This is the thing, in progressive space much of the time white 'progressive' people don't read it when a white person writes a PoC character, we all just nod and assume it's well done, after all they're one of us, one of the "good" white people. Exception: if someone the progressive space regards as a leader takes the time to read it and declares it awfully racist, then we might read it or blanket condemn it.

Same goes for other oppressions, we all default assume that those in the progressive space with us are progressive (unless we dislike them) and therefore dismiss it when others say they fucked up.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Appropriate public behaviour towards adults:

Or how not to be an asshole to disabled people. If like many people you for some reason believe disabled people aren't worthy of being treated like you would another adult? This is a primer for not being a wankstain to folks.

1. If you wouldn't grab the body of abled adult? Don't grab our wheelchairs or bodies.

You'd think this wouldn't be exactly rocket science, but apparently it is. I don't care how fucking helpful you think you're being, you were taught not to grab at preschool. Ask before you touch. Especially since you can potentially seriously hurt us.

2. Don't use us as examples of "inspiration" or to explain things to other people.

Granted folks have sometimes apologised after doing this, but it's still fucking annoying, We are not your object lesson. You want to teach your kid/someone about our disability? Don't use me  or anyone else as a non-consenting teaching aid. Ask first.

3. Don't demand details of why we're disabled as if you have a right to them.

Do we demand to know all about your sex life? No, so why would you think the intimate details of our lives are yours for the demanding? Corollary: Don't ask how we have sex either, it's none of your bees wax.

4. Don't run up to us and start babbling about how you saw a program with "someone who is disabled just like you" the other night.

We probably didn't see the program and even if we did, why the fuck would we want to discuss it with a random stranger who apparently thinks that our disabilities are an appropriate ice breaker topic? You probably wouldn't run up to a person of color/a woman and start talking about how you saw a person of color/a woman on TV last night because you recognise that they're people and that it's an inappropriate thing to do, so don't fucking do it to us.

5. Don't run over and start trying to set us up with some random relative/friend/whoever of yours simply being they're also disabled.

What you're essentially saying is "Nobody else but another disabled person would be interested in you", wow, talk about fucking insulting. Again, this is ignoring that we're people and yes, plenty of people find us attractive.

6. Don't talk over us/act like we don't exist.

A disabled person speaks to you or interacts with you? Don't ignore us and talk to our carer or even random nearby strangers. I assure you that the gentleman I do not even know doesn't want my bankcard either, hand it back to me like you've handed it back to the other twenty people you served before me.

7. We're not children, do not fucking baby talk us.

Seriously, no I don't have a boo boo, how would you like a punch punch up the nose nose?

8. Don't act like we're objects.

Seriously, don't do shit like sticking your foot under our wheelchair while reaching over us and then get mad when we move and run over your foot. Or just wheeling us out of the way as if we're a cart.

9. If we're in a wheelchair? Don't assume we can't feel our legs.

Wheelchair =/= paraplegic, okay. Lots of people with lots of conditions use one and no, that does not mean it's cute when your kid 'tests' it by kicking us in the legs. It's even less cute when you do it because you think we won't feel you ram us.

10. If it seems hilarious to you? It's probably not funny.

Seriously, we get the same fucking jokes day in and day out delivered with shit eating grins as if they're comedy gold. No, unbelievably, you're not the first and only to tell wheelchair user "not to speed". No, you're not the first and only one to call a cane user "hop along Cassidy".

In short, if you wouldn't fucking do it to someone who doesn't appear disabled? Don't do it to those who are disabled.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Doing the "right" thing does not pay.

In an earlier post, I talked about working in sweatshops in the UK as a teen. Well guess what? I've recently found out that the one job I had as teen where I was paid actual wages and supposedly paid NI and Tax via it? Has not paid my NI or Tax contributions to the government. The owner of that company has snaffled my NI and Tax contributions away into their profits.

The government don't want to chase these guys for money that should have been paid, instead they want me to pony up years of NI contributions that I already paid.

So, yes, you can do the right thing, you can get a job and still have your pension and entitlement to help negatively affected because the rich guy who hired you pocketed what he was supposed to pay the government out of your wages. Of course the government only recently informed me of the shortfall and the paperwork required to prove I paid those deductions was destroyed by my abusive parent when I escaped. So essentially there is nothing I can do about it even if I could find the owner since the business did eventually close down, but it's amazing how a company I worked for, for over a year was never rumbled at the time.

So tell me again Cameron, how did all that work I did improve my life?

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Trans =/= Predator, but it's more complex than just that.

TW: discussion of sexual assault and laws relating to it.

Recently a person was arrested an is awaiting trial after claiming to be a trans woman and sexually assaulting two cis women in a shelter. The details are here:

So, let's talk about the problems inherent in how we're talking about cases like this on both sides:

Firstly Cis folks? Just because this particular individual claimed to be a trans woman and then proceeded to assault vulnerable people while in a shelter? Does not mean that outlawing trans women from using the facilities for women would protect Cis women.

There are plenty of countries where no law such as Toby's law exists and those countries still have cases of heterosexual cis men dressing as women in order to harass, assault and mistreat cis women. All laws protecting Trans individuals right to use the bathroom of their gender identity do is to enshrine that right, their absence or existence does not change the behaviour of Cis male predators.

Secondly? Let's talk about the real facts. Fact is cis women are more likely to be hit by lightening than to be assaulted by either a trans individual or a individual pretending to be trans anywhere. Yes, the trans community sometimes has predators, and sometimes predators pretend to belong to a group in order to prey upon them and others. The truth is still that overwhelmingly Cis women are vastly more likely to assaulted by someone they know, such as a boyfriend, family member, Husband, or family friend than by some unknown to them Trans women or Cis male stranger in a bathroom.

Yet you'd think laws like Toby's law were filling bathrooms and shelters with cis male predators dressed like women and that cis women were being assaulted by them at an astounding rate from the coverage, except that isn't so. Protecting women, cis or trans is important, but we all need to look at the facts rather than listening to the media that massively overblows them.

Thirdly? Cis women? I know you're scared, and yes, I know what socialisation does to brutalise you. The doctors said "congrats, it's a girl" when I was born as well even if they were wrong. But please remember and appreciate that trans individuals are being brutalised, that we suffer the same fear as you, that we will be assaulted and killed for who and what we are. In many ways the fear both groups are subject to is alike, we all have to fear Cis male predators in particular. So remember that we all want to be safe and don't dismiss the safety of Trans individuals as being less important than your own, perhaps then we can start to find solutions that keep us all safe.

On the Trans side?

Could we please stop acting like trans predators/cis male predators who dress as women and assault people don't exist? Yes, they're a tiny group. But they still do exist. It not only erases people like me who were sexually assaulted by a trans individual, but it also effectively gaslights cis women who even if they are overstating the problem can indeed read the reports of the rare occasions when it does happen.

Admitting their existence isn't a problem, what we should be stressing is how incredibly rare such cases are, and how barring trans individuals from bathrooms and shelters won't prevent any assaults on cis women by such predators but will put trans individuals especially trans women are risk of assault, and murder.

Could we also start appreciating that even if the fears of cis women are not in proportion to the rate of actual assaults by trans individuals/cis male predators presenting as trans? Those fears are still built on the intense socialisation in fear and being responsible for owing a body with a vagina those declared female at birth are subject to.

Those whose birth the doctor greets rightly or wrongly with "congratulations, it's a girl" are taught to be constantly afraid, constantly on our guard, because society blames us when we get assaulted. The ownership of a vagina imposes a heavy burden of responsibility, one that DFAB people carry for life and only get to put down in spaces where presumably no men are present. The result is DFAB people who live in a world where they are constantly in the trenches so to speak. It's really little wonder that DFAB people are more than a little twitchy and overprotective of those spaces where the world's blame for having a vagina can be at least temporarily left behind.

We really need to start realising that DFAB people are often in a state of shellshock at the way the world has always treated them and making allowances for the effects of said shellshock.

We've got to stop treating this socialised fear as unreasonable, especially since once we transition and especially if we don't pass, we're subject to it ourselves and end up in our own trenches. None of us would mock a trans individuals fear of assault since we know it happens, yet often we seem to fail to appreciate that in many ways Cis women and trans individuals are in the same trenches.

For both sides? We need to start listening to each others, Cis women with the exception of known hateful individuals aren't being afraid just to spite trans people, there are reasons behind it, and trans people are not deliberately trying to hurt Cis women. We need a solution that creates spaces in which we're all safe. We need dedicated Trans shelters, we need a world that doesn't make it so often the only work trans people can get is survival sex work, we need a world free from the rape culture that impacts DFAB people, Trans women, Cis women and Trans men, we need a world where everyone is safe, and the current conversations? Aren't helping to build that, they're just building walls between us.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Black and White social justice.

No, this not about race, this is about how people draw hard lines when it comes to oppression/privilege.

Now, the vast majority of people are not wholly privileged or wholly oppressed, we mostly have a mix of oppression and privilege, yet often when we talk about privilege and oppression, we do it in a polarised black and white way that ignores the reality of the common mix in favour of acting like oppressions only matter when it our oppressions, and privilege only matters when it's privilege we don't have. Which is something that really needs to stop happening.

Without further ado, here's my guide to not perpetuating this nonsense.

1. Do you expect to be listened to when it's about your oppression and their privilege? Listen to others when it comes to your privilege and their oppression.

I can't begin to say how many people I've dealt with who expected everyone else to listen to them but who refused to listen when they were the privileged person and were getting asked not to do oppressive things by someone they were oppressing.

2. Do remember that oppressions other than gender/race matter and always examine erasure of them, don't just put it down as a problem you're not part of.

People with identities outside of the gender/racial ones come under enormous pressure from other group members to subsume those identities into the larger groups identity in the name of "solidarity", the larger groups often being either gender or racial. Disabled PoC for example are put under pressure to be PoC first and disabled people dead last.

I frequently deal with gender/racial minority folks who seem to feel that any oppression they don't have isn't a real oppression at all and therefore we should shut up about it and concentrate on our "real" oppressions, ie the ones we share with them. This is often not examined in many groups as it is routinely dismissed as something only white feminists do, but by not examining what our groups do to perpetuate the invisibility of minority people within the group? It allows this problem to be legitimized and pressure to be put on erased people to make nice with those who erase them in the name of "solidarity".

3. Don't expect everyone to magically know when you need support and to come running.

A. Not everyone knows everything going on. We're not omniscient. You got someone being a bigot to you? Folks may see and jump in, but they also may not see it at all. Just because you know bigot09 is attacking you doesn't mean everyone else does. Need some help? Ask directly for it, don't just hope we noticed and then get angry and blame our privileges for the lack of support. Expecting everyone to see you need them and getting pissed when they don't is passive aggressive bullshit.

B. Not everyone has the energy to jump in on your behalf.

C. If you routinely oppress or ignore the needs of other groups or people within your own group, those people may be understandably reluctant to help you. It's frustrating to spend precious energy supporting the fight against another group being oppressed only to face oppression later from the person you supported.

4. Don't take from others while complaining about others taking your groups stuff.

If you find it upsetting when others take things that were created by your group, don't take things from other groups. For example, non-disabled folks referring to having not enough spoons while complaining that someone's taken things from them. If people swiping your groups concepts matters, so does you swiping from other groups.

5. Don't use your oppression in one area to distract from/excuse your oppressing people in another.

It's frightful how many people when called on oppressive privileged behaviour immediately point to the area they don't have privilege in and claim you're oppressing them if you have a corresponding privilege. Someone having a privilege you don't? Doesn't invalidate their right to call you on oppression in areas where you have privilege over them.

6. Don't call out a bigot's argument as complete nonsense, then use the same argument for why you aren't being oppressive to someone else not five minutes later.

If it's nonsense when wielded against you by an oppressor? It's still bloody well nonsense when you're the oppressor wielding it.

7. Don't give lip service to a concept while actively doing the opposite.

If you talk about how everyone needs to take their own time to do things? Don't expect people with say processing issues to be on the ball like right now, not just immediately but by yesterday. Don't talk about how people are experts on themselves and then tell someone how they think and feel about something.

8.Like what someone has to say on one subject? Don't deny it when they're problematic on another.

Nobody and nothing is perfect, even people we like. If your response to the news that someone you look up to is sometimes oppressive is to defend them? You're doing it wrong. People can have valuable things to say even if they also have oppressive things to say, and admitting that they've said oppressive stuff doesn't remove the value of the valuable things they say. You can value the good without defending the bad.

9. Don't act like every issue comes down to a bad side and a good side.

Sometimes when there's an issue both sides are being oppressed and both are oppressing. For example, it's possible to have a Gay cis guy being sexist to a Straight cis woman who is being homophobic to him, and they'd both be oppressors and oppressed in that case. It's not always clear cut bad guy/good guy by default, in fact I'd say it rarely is.

10. Don't play oppression olympics.

Your oppression or supporting friends with oppressions matters to you right? Well other people's oppressions matter to them. Treat their needs with the same respect as you would expect for oppressions you care about. Don't act like what you fight is somehow more serious or more important.

11. Don't use oppressive language against oppressors or support doing so.

Calling a racist a "retard" is still a problem, talking about how many dicks you think a straight transphobic Cis woman has had is still slut shaming and a problem. Being oppressed does not endow anyone with an inability to oppress others, and your oppression doesn't negate your privilege or the oppression of the target/others affected when you do this.

12. Don't treat any given group as synonymous with having every single privilege available.

Seriously, one privilege does not bestow every other one. It doesn't work that way.

In short, don't act like people with your oppressions are the only truly oppressed people and anyone who doesn't have the oppressions you have is therefore a wholly privileged oppressor.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Facts about me and Mikki Kendall:

Let's start with me:

I had massive internalised ablism and classism issues when I was much younger. I was not classist as Mikki "Karnythia" Kendall has repeatedly accused me of being because poor people cannot be classist much like PoC can't be racist. We do not have the power needed for it. That accusation relates to an assumption after I noted that in my personal experience the amount of noisy kids within any given store will vary by store. I even talked about the possible impact that class would have on it, ie Rich people can well afford to leave their kids with a nanny or similarly paid childcare provider. For that I got labelled 'classist'. I also got labelled it because I freely talked about my experiences and the people I grew up with are what the Daily Mail thinks all poor people are like. (Note, it is not solidarity to try and shut up survivors because their abusers are what the Daily Mail thinks everyone not rich is like).

She however is correct in saying that I did say some pretty ignorant things about race. I was and often still am frightfully ignorant as a result of a lack of knowledge, plus some really bad polarising experiences (When all the adults lie to you and gaslight you, you learn only to believe what you see and given how MoC treated me as a teen and a young adult? Yeah, I ended up holding some super problematic ideas for a long time). It also didn't help that I am autistic and thus had massive difficulty wrapping my head about explanations of race theory that were never intended for autistic people.

I can only apologise unreserved for what I've said in the past about race and try to do better in future. I'm not going to claim that tomorrow I will wake up and never be racist again because let's face it, that would be utter bollocks, I still have shit to unlearn. I will fail and I'm okay with that, I'm fine with being called out when I say stupid shit. (Though explanations would be nice with it, Race theory isn't intended for autistic people remember?)

Claims that others have made:

That I "maliciously' misgendered someone. Someone claims to have PMs where I supposedly admit this, the only PMs I have deleted were spam. I cannot find any PM to that person much less this confession. What actually happen IIRC was I carelessly threw in a generic dude (I really need to stop doing that) while talking to a Trans women, she understandably got angry. I apologised for it, and she promptly misgendered me in return.

That I stated what happened to another person was deserved? and that I defended Hugo Schwyer I have no idea where this utter piece of bollocks came from. Those of you who've followed my blog know that I condemned by abusive fucker. But what I did object to was all the ablist as fucking hell comments that were being slung around by Mikki Kendall and other parties. There is no part of calling him out for being an abusive, sexist, racist, white man that needs to involve spreading the idea that is okay to disbelieve people about mental health issues.

About Mikki "Karnythia" Kendall.

1. She writes great stuff on race and she is targeted by some people awful individuals on a regular basis. However:

2. She is  also a bully. The current accusations being levelled at her are wrong, but it does not invalidate that she has been known to engage with groups whose method of 'social justice' was to hammer minority folks especially disabled folks who say the "wrong things" with 200+ people all telling them that they are pieces of shit and worse. She is still a member of one group in particular and lead a number of dog piles on people that nearly put many six foot under and in some cases, we're not sure it didn't.

Nothing anyone can have said, even the worst bits? Justifies that she as a known and respected member of this group frequently encourages piling on minorities. In my case she knew I suffer from mental illness, she knew I'd tried to kill myself before. There is no way she couldn't have known that she was endangering my life. It was clear I was in considerable mental  distress several times and she was instrumental in getting me told I was lying about being mentally compromised. (This is why the Hugo thing resulted in me calling her out because she has straight up denied people's mental health issues before and nearly bullied people into graves).

Here's the thing if a mentally ill person says something oppressive and then goes into distress? That doesn't mean you have to let us off the hook. It however does mean you should remember that we're mentally and emotionally compromised. Treating a severely suicidal mentally ill person who said something ignorant the same as a privileged mentally healthy people who is being an arrogant shit when told that what they said was harmful, is as good as putting a gun to the head of the former.

It is better to be gentle with a liar than it is to bring grief and a funeral to the lives of others because you refused to believe their loved one was in distress.

3. She has a long history of calling people liars about being survivors.

Even if I was the most racist shit to ever crawl out from under a rock? That doesn't justify her standing up repeated and saying I lie about being a survivor. It doesn't justify her being part of pile ons that consisted of people repeatedly saying I was lying about being a survivor.

#Ibelieveher is important, it is not #Ibelievehersolongassheneversaysanythingoppressive.

Even if someone lies? By doing this, she tells other survivors that they were at risk of being called liars if Karnythia decided they were awful people. She silences survivors with that tactic. It's harmful.

She also accused a grieving mother of 'lying' about her babies death and attacked countless other people.

3. She have never acknowledged or apologised for any of this. When people talk about what she's done, they get attacked and she doesn't bat an eyelid.

Mikki Kendall continues to enjoy a media platform and the following that denies that when Ms Kendall is crossed in any way, she behaves in ways that actively perpetuated oppressions. Those of us with genuine reasons to criticise her get lumped in with those who don't and dismissed. We continue to be subjected to her oppressive actions and it is time this was acknowledged.

Long story short? I'm sorry she's getting attacked and subjected to many of the tactics she's wielded against others, but I am also tired of being gaslighted by people who insist she isn't a bully and doesn't do this stuff. I am tired of being called a liar by people who self righteously tweet #Ibelieveher until someone tells them about Ms Kendall's past (or the past of any popular SJ advocate) and then they don't believe us.

All me and many others have wanted is for this to be acknowledged and for her to at least work at not doing it. I'm simply exhausted by her oppressive bullshit and how it's defended because folks apparently can't tell the difference between uber privileged bigoted shits bullying her and marginalised people pointing out that she is super problematic. She has a massive social media platform, the minority people she attacks generally do not. In short, in this case she's the one with the privilege and from my point of view? The defense of what she does is problematic.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Sweatshops in the UK.

I held lots of jobs as a  underaged teen, most paid below minimum wage, an amount varying from as little as £2 an hour to £4 an hour when minimum wage was £5+ an hour, in some cases those companies still owe me outstanding wages on top of how little they paid me.

When I was 17 I had a job in what was basically the typing pool of a large company, because I was deemed a "trainee" I got an actual salary unlike anyone who'd been 'trained', I was being paid £80 a week for a 40 hour week. So yes, I was literally being paid £2 an hour, after taxes and NI, I was taking home around £70 a week. Once you were trained? You were paid piecemeal for typing, usually just pennies for each task, I don't think anyone there managed to do enough to make minimum wage.

 And this wasn't a piddly little company. In their own words? "Our client base reflects our standing within the industry, some of our clients have been with us for 15 years and more, and include national and local government, insurance and financial institutions, motor and aircraft manufacturers, airline operators, major food retailers, charities, universities and many, many more." That company knew nobody in it's typing pool could make ends meet and in fact they straight up told us to just work harder when the government upped the minimum wage. In fact someone in it had sideline in getting workers to take Christmas cracker making kits home (which they knew about). If you purchased a Christmas Cracker in the UK in the 90's? It was probably assembled someone who was grossly underpaid by that company and others like it. Assembling the crackers used to net you a whooping 24p for a box since you were only paid for the crackers at 2p a cracker and nothing for the box you put together to put them in, sometimes we'd get luxury crackers to do for high end stores, then we might get a whole 5p a cracker or 60p a box. No matter how hard you worked, it was physically impossible to make minimum wage assembling crackers.

Most of the people I worked with would do a ten hour shift at work and they'd usually still have to spend their evenings with the whole family including kids making up those crackers.

Companies like that can get away with paying so little because they know people who are desperate to work but who are consistently turned down by other companies will accept poverty wages. This notion that British people are unwilling to work hard is complete bullshit. The fact is companies exploit people's willingness to work and lack of options to pay them sweatshop wages.

This is why a living wage matters, and why we should insist that salaried positions be the default.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

White privilege, it's fucking magic.

Inspired somewhat by Intent, it's fucking magic.

Warnings for mention of suicide.

Along with Intent, White privilege has seemingly to some folks become a new element, so powerful that it reaches out and does things like change media to be magically inclusive of all non-racial minorities if the minority person watching it happens to be white.

White privilege according to some people makes it so "Oh if you're white, you get to watch TV without being humiliated" rather than simply getting to watch TV without being racially oppressed by it. White privilege is apparently so powerful that we're just imagining the existence of things like "comedy" shows based on the idea that disabled people are fakes or acceptable targets for hilarity, that people still think slur terms for disabled people are acceptable.

White privilege it seems means to some folks that "comedians" who think it's okay to say things like "wouldn't it be funny if she was raped right now" about presumed female audience members who disagree with them magically are replaced by static for white presumed female people. Still have "comedy" shows where the "funny" is how "gross" Trans people are for not being Cis? Not any more, white privilege turns them into nature shows for any white trans person watching TV. Have a media that is 99.9% non-disabled, written by 100% of non-disabled people? That's okay, white privilege will stop it from being uninclusive for white disabled folks. Still have a media where Trans and disabled people are played by people who are neither in ways that stereotype people negatively? No worries, white privilege will magically make it so it can't possible hurt white trans or white disabled people.  Still have a media that routinely treats female characters as only there to motivate and reward the straight white male lead? That's okay, White privilege will fog up the TV screen so white presumed women don't have to see or be affected by that awful sexist shit.

Got White privilege and a disability? That's okay, the awful disabilist things that a non-disabled person of color said to you is magically transformed into being perfectly acceptable, because white privilege is a magical barrier against horizontal oppression. Have white privilege? Congratulations, you now float along in a magical barrier against any and all oppressive acts.

Found that a building has steps and no elevator? That's okay, the power of white privilege will magically make a ramp and elevator appear just for you. Been hounded by a disabilist person of color into suicide? That's okay, white privilege will magically resurrect you. That's how goddamn magical it is.

Sarcasm aside, seriously, White privilege does not prevent minority white people from being subject to oppression. It's existence does not mean PoC are magically unable to be oppressive in areas they have privilege. A non-disabled PoC can still be disabilist to a white disabled person, just like the latter can still be racist to the former.

Having white privilege doesn't mean I don't get to feel erased by comments claiming that I can turn on my TV without worrying about humiliating and otherising media depictions. Nobody is going to mock my race in the media, or if they are? It's not likely to hurt me, but the media is still rife with isms that do affect me. When people claim that white privilege means I don't have to worry about being oppressed by the media, they are saying that things like disabilism and sexism in the media somehow don't affect me, that I am not really oppressed. That is erasive.

I'm getting really tired of being gaslighted by some PoC who don't share my oppressions arguing that some oppression denying shit they said wasn't really oppression denying because I have white privilege. I am tired of the fact that the PoC movement treats talking about your oppression making you incapable of being horizontally oppressive so long as you're a PoC. Seriously, privileged people using oppressive slurs that affect someone else when talking about their oppression isn't and shouldn't be acceptable simply because the person using them is a PoC and the person oppressed by said slurs who objects has white privilege. White privilege's mere existence doesn't grant a license to non-disabled people of color to use "retard" and other disability based slurs as an insult when talking about racism.

I'm especially tired of the fact that in a very real sense some privileged people of color act in ways they complain about when privileged white feminists do it to them. For example some PoC insist that minorities criticising them for oppressive acts becomes 'bullying' and 'abuse' if the minority complaining about oppressive behaviour is also white. Quite frankly from my perspective, in terms of attitudes and behaviour towards people with less privilege than them? There isn't any difference between some very privileged PoC advocates and some very privileged White women advocates. Both of them are very very shitty towards disabled/trans/bisexual/impoverished folks who happen to be white. The especially infuriating thing is how many PoC who pull this shit can identify it when white feminists do it to them but not when they're doing it to others.

So, yes, white privilege is beneficial, but it doesn't erase people's other existences as an oppressed person. Just like being a cis man doesn't stop men of color from being affected by racism.