It wasn’t “our side” platforming Milo that sank him

Content note: this post discusses child sexual abuse and Nazis

Over the last day or so, the far-right troll and supposed rising star of fascism, Milo Yiannopoulos (or Poundland Joffrey, as I prefer to call him), has experienced something of a very sudden fall from grace. His right wing friends are dropping away from him: within a 36 hour period, he was disinvited from CPac (a right-wing conference), had his incredibly lucrative book deal dropped, and colleagues at the far-right fake news outlet for which he occupies a senior role are threatening to walk out if he isn’t sacked.

It seems, to the far right, transphobia, inciting xenophobic and racist violence, virulent misogyny and being a literal neo-Nazi aren’t a problem, but defending child sexual abuse is a dealbreaker. Their moral compasses are perhaps a little peculiar, since all of this advocating for vulnerable people to die is also very bad. Nonetheless, it brings a small satisfaction to watch them tearing a man to shreds who, just hours before, was their poster boy.

It also gives me great satisfaction that perhaps we’ll no longer have to keep having the tiresome fight within our own side about whether or not to platform this dangerous Nazi. There have been people who claim to be with us–against fascism–who have been only too willing to play into the far-right’s hands, by inviting Poundland Joffrey to share his opinions, and then signal-boosting it as far as it will go. The rationale, they say, is to “know one’s enemy”. To give him “enough rope to hang himself”.

That didn’t really pan out. Instead, what it did was create an ever-bigger media persona around Milo. They were feeding the troll, making him stronger and stronger, his bad bleach job ubiquitous in photos at the top of articles, his hatred amplified and largely unchallenged. Even when lip service was paid, it went like “Milo is charismatic and interesting and here’s what he thinks about undocumented migrants, but that’s a bit controversial, I don’t agree with it personally but anyway let’s talk about why this guy is so phenomenally popular and it’s because he’s so cool and well-dressed.”

It spread far-right ideology further, and normalised it and the Nazis who spout it. And furthermore, it never managed to give Milo enough rope, no matter how many disgusting things they allowed him to publicly say.

What sank Milo was his own side, who manoeuvred away from him when he was no longer useful to them. It was not a comment of his in an interview with an ostensibly liberal television host that destroyed Milo, but something in his own domain: a far-right livestream with like-minded nerd-Nazis. Poundland Joffrey’s downfall came from within intra-fascist networks, not from “our side” falling over themselves to platform him.

The far-right is built upon fragile alliances. A gay man’s teaming up with homophobic conservatives was always somewhat delicate. I expect homophobia had its role to play within Milo’s fall from grace: in his comments, he was careful to confine his defence of child sexual abuse to within the gay community, which meant his erstwhile allies could gleefully dust off an age-old homophobic trope: the gays = paedophiles trope. I am concerned that this may lead to the LGBT repression that the far-right have been champing at the bit to implement; they have been presented with a tasty “think of the children” defence that might prove too tempting to resist. Milo has, perhaps, served his purpose, played the token “my gay friend”, and now become the shadowy nonce villian they need. Most of the far-right likely agree with the acceptability of child sexual abuse and support men like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, heterosexual child abusers: but right now, homophobia is more useful.

If the far-right is so successful at tearing itself apart, what remains for us to do? Do we just sit, thumbs in arses, and watch their world burn? Of course not. These fascists are built on fragile fragile, that crack when pressure to the whole is applied.

We must be ready to resist what comes next: the probable turn towards anti-LGBT policy. All the while we must maintain a distinct lack of pity for Milo, who chose his path in siding with these people, and remains politically and morally aligned with them. He may fake a Damascian conversion, and we must not be fooled. We must keep challenging everything: the whole, not its constituent parts. We must reject their bigotry, their hatred: every last bit of it. All of it is repugnant, not just specific individuals, not just specific aspects to their beliefs. And we must not invite these fascists to spout their hatred to wider audiences: we must not normalise them, we must not signal-boost them, we must show they are unacceptable by refusing to be polite or even available.

If we keep fighting, the whole sorry shape of present-day fascism could crumble to dust, throwing each other under the bus one by one, then two by two, and more and more until they are all mangled figures in the axis.

They can and will destroy themselves. And we will give them nowhere to run to when they do.

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The side of Kurt Cobain I wish I’d seen when I was young and needed it

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Today, Kurt Cobain would have been 50. Like many other teenagers, I idolised Kurt Cobain. I was absolutely obsessed with Nirvana. I owned all the albums, I adorned my walls with posters, I downloaded all tracks you couldn’t buy on a CD off of Kazaa. Sadly for me, by the time I got into Nirvana, Kurt Cobain had been dead for at least five years. Kurt’s being dead meant two things. Firstly, to my chagrin, I never got to see Nirvana live, except on a worn-out VHS of Unplugged In New York. And secondly, perhaps the bigger impact, I was never really exposed to a side of Kurt Cobain that I needed to see: his femininity, and his ride-or-die attitude towards women.

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When I was a teenager, I was awful. I had well and truly drank the Kool-Aid that femininity was bad and to be cool, you needed to reject that shit. I lived in horrendous ragged jeans, so baggy that if it rained, they’d soak all the way up to the knees, and Converse high-tops that were equally terrible in the rain. I was your stereotypical suburban early noughties grunger kid, my DiscMan screeching Linkin Park or System Of A Down when I wasn’t listening to In Utero for the seventy millionth time, because god forbid I listen to any music recorded by a woman! I bought into internalised misogyny wholesale, hating on other women being “girly”, and embodying that particular flavour of alternative subculture misogynistic pretension.

This is the only picture I could find of myself aged 16, and it's not representative of the hot mess I was at that age: I look significantly better here than I usually did.

This is the only picture I could find of myself aged 16, and it’s not representative of the hot mess I was at that age: I look significantly better here than I usually did.

I spent quite a few years as an awful person, and it took years longer to start undoing the damage.

I wonder how differently things would have gone down had I had access the side of Kurt Cobain, my idol, that I only really began to learn about relatively recently. When I was young, I never saw pictures of Kurt embracing femininity, wearing makeup and dresses. The pictures that were available on the posters you bought at Woolies, or the grainy Geocities webring, all showed Kurt in more masculine attire: jeans and unembellished plaid or jumpers. And a lot of the magazine interviews, where Kurt talked about supporting women, articulated sophisticated views on rape culture, played benefits for reproductive rights and unabashedly rode out for women in rock… these interviews were not available to me, the internet not being any good at archiving them back in 2000.

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I don’t doubt that the erasure of this aspect of Kurt Cobain’s essence was elided during this period because the gatekeepers were men. It was men who administrated the little websites which featured pictures, men who modded the forums. And it probably made them profoundly uncomfortable that Kurt Cobain was a feminist ally who looked heart-stoppingly beautiful in a dress. So they ignored it and avoided it.

Some of it seeped into my consciousness. I remember once arguing with a friend who didn’t like Nirvana that Kurt Cobain was a good person.

“Why?” asked my friend,

“Errr… he was against rape?” I retorted, which fell rather flat because obviously any decent person was.

I wish I’d had access, then, to what Kurt actually had to say about dealing with rape culture, because it would have helped me no end to have heard these words at the age of 15:

“The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.”

I’m not one for handing out cookies, but that’s a pretty important statement, and far more sophisticated than my understanding of the problem (the lyrics to Polly and Rape Me) was at the time.

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I wonder how much differently things would have gone down if I’d known all about this feminine and pro-woman side to Kurt Cobain at a point in my life when I sorely needed to hear things like that. Would I have embraced–or at least not rejected–femininity that much earlier? Would I have been seduced towards feminism in my teenage years, decided to learn more about it, because my idol was into it? Or would I have simply rejected Nirvana and latched on to a band with worse politics?

I wish I’d had the chance to find out, and that for the years between Kurt’s death and information being more readily available, the feminine side to Kurt Cobain had not been hidden.

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Things I read this week that I found interesting

This week, the link round-up is actually weekly. Once you’ve gathered yourselves from the utter shock of me having done something to schedule, settle in and read.

Decolonizing Gender: A Curriculum (Malcolm Shanks and khairi jackson)- This must-read zine provides tools for workshops on the theme, as well as being a very useful introduction.

We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Racists (Shon Faye)- An examination of gay men and fascism.

On Adele, Beyoncé & Solidarity (Mia McKenzie)- Solidarity means sacrifice: what Adele should have done.

Theo and the distinctly sexual flavour of French racism (Giuliane Kinouani)- How the rape of a young black man by police is par for the course in France.

Are All Trump-Haters on the Same Side? (James Butler)- How the enemy of one’s enemy is not necessarily your friend.

Transition, Tattoos and Body Ownership (LauraKBuzz)- A personal piece on taking control of your own body.

Reclaiming ‘race’ in postcolonialism: A personal reflection on the politics of the racial experience (Amal Abu-Bakare)- On race and academia.

How the Mast Brothers fooled the world into paying $10 a bar for crappy hipster chocolate (Deena Shanker)- A very interesting look at a massive scam.

Stop applauding a rapist for admitting he raped someone (Liv Wynter)- That viral TED talk made my skin crawl, and this article neatly nails why.

Transphobia Redefined (Josephine Livingstone)- A very elegant demolition of some popular concern-trolling.

I Was Robbed of My Transgender Childhood (Katelyn Burns)- Mourning, as a trans adult, the loss of a childhood.

On veganism and disability (s. e. smith)- A few pointers for vegans to take heed of.

What It Was Like To Love Oliver Sacks (Bill Hayes)- Deeply moving personal reflection on loving the amazing neuroscientist, glimpsed through diary extracts.

The Discomfort of Safety (Marie Thompson)- Dismantling the bad faith arguments against safer spaces.

And finally, rainbow toebeans.


If the New Year sexual assaults were made up, it reveals ugly truths about what white men believe

Content note: this post discusses sexual violence, rape apologism and racism

News has emerged that the New Year mass sexual assaults by Arab men may have been made up or colossally overstated. If this is true, it’s a rare occurrence of sexual assault allegations proving to be false, and it’s utterly disgusting and unhelpful to everyone.

Except white men. Remember the frothing glee with which white men seized upon similar attacks, a year before. Remember how Nigel Farage, practically hard, threatened that this was why Migration Is Bad. Remember how the police rounded up brown men, ostensibly for the safety of women. Remember the wild-eyed excitement from the right, literally saying “told you so“.

And compare and contrast this with the reaction when an allegation is made against a white man’s idol. Donald Trump, Roman Polanski, Julian Assange… the endless list of beloved white men, protected by other white men who claim to be exercising healthy scepticism. I’ve pointed out to white men in the past that what happened in Cologne on that night sounded quite comparable to what happens every time I’ve had the misfortune of being in a rugby time on a match day, with pissed-up posh white men grabbing away. This has been met with scoffs of disbelief. There is disbelief in attacks by white men, and unconditional belief in attacks by brown and black men.

Allegations of this type have always revealed an ugly truth about white men and the conditional belief in sexual violence. At a most charitable analysis, it’s rooted in the biggest rape myth of all: that sexual violence is perpetrated by strangers, the other–not, as is most common, by someone the survivor knows. However, it’s likely that more plays into this: Nabila Ramdani wrote on how they fit a neo-Nazi agenda. The response to the allegations is dripping with racism.

What will happen next, with the treatment of the allegations, is two things, simultaneously. First of all, white men will seize upon this to add to their pitifully thin file of actual cases of false allegations, to throw about whenever one of their white faves is accused, screeching that false allegations happen all the time. And yet, at the same time, the allegations will be forgotten, because if false, they do not neatly justify the hysteria against Muslims and refugees. The racist genie is out of the bottle, and all that will be remembered is that brown men did some mass sexual assaults. The specifics, and the fact this may not be true, will be forgotten. White men are capable of holding these two conflicting beliefs simultaneously: they have proved they are capable of believing at the same time that all women are liars, and all Muslims are rapists.

It is an unpleasant prediction, yet I fear it will play out in the immediate future, and over years to come. The damage has well and truly been done, and the veracity of the allegations, in a way, does not matter particularly. Instead, we need to examine the motives of a xenophobic and misogynistic media, as well as those who influence and are influenced by it.

What these allegations have laid bare, is yet another ugly truth about white supremacy.

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Things I read

It’s that link-round up post again! This installment brings… mostly doom and gloom because everything is fucked.

#Milosexual and the Aesthetics of Fascism (Daniel Penny)- Analysing Poundland Joffrey’s position within fascism, Nazism and homosexuality, this article provides useful insights.

If British abortion providers turn away Irish women, it will be catastrophic (Megan Nolan)- A moving personal perspective from an Irish woman who received an abortion in the UK.

We Should Really Stop Ignoring All the Terrorists on 4chan (Violet Hargrave)- Tracing a connection between so-called “lone wolf” white terrorists.

Trial Balloon for a Coup? (Yonatan Zunger)- Analysis of the US travel ban, and how its function may be to test who takes which side in a coup.

Linda Stupart: ‘I’m interested in thinking about a world without men’– An interview with the writer and artist Linda Stupart, touching on witchcraft, queer futures, and lots of crystals.

White Women: This Is Why Your Critiques Of Beyoncé Are Racist (Lara Witt)- Picking apart underlying racism in the inevitable “critiques” of Bey’s pregnancy announcement.

A Law Student’s Guide To Free Speech (and what it isn’t) (Feminist Aspie)- A go-to guide as to the meaning of free speech. Bookmark and clobber freeze peach nazi enablers round the head with it.

The Death of Kink? (Nana Baah)- Examining the probable impact of age verification and other factors in the Digital Economy Bill.

Fish recorded singing dawn chorus on reefs just like birds– I did not know fish could sing, despite numerous cartoons showing them doing it. The cartoons were wrong, but the song is kind of nice.

Confronting the Raids (Anti-Raids Network)- This series on accounts of confronting immigration raids is an inspiring read, presenting tactics you can use to protect your neighbours.

This Group of Black Women Is Taking Up Arms to Fight Racism and Misogyny (Wilbert L. Cooper)- A feature on self-defence strategies and organising.

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Hand-Drawn Infographics of African-American Life– As well as being an author, civil rights thinker, sociologist and influential Pan-Africanist, Du Bois basically invented the infographic in 1900.

 

Centring Survivors: The Trouble with Stand Up To Racism (Members of LCAPSV and UK BLM)- An excellent and thorough perspective on why we should not be organising with SWP fronts.

Pragmatic nihilism: how a Theory of Nothing can help health psychology progress (Gjalt-Jorn Peters and Rik Cruzen)- I don’t usually include journal articles in this round-up, but this one’s open access and has useful insights on applying theories which extend beyond health psychology into the social sciences discipline, probably even natural sciences.

Well. That was heavy. So enjoy this lovely video of some people playing Call Me Maybe on bottles.


Adjusting to lamotrigine: 75mg

Continuing my series on lamotrigine and its side effects, I levelled up to 75mg of lamotrigine last week. I now take two 25mg tablets before bed, and one 25mg tablet in the morning. This is very annoying, because the tablets come 14 to a strip. It was easy to keep track of making sure I’d taken my dose at 25mg (I knew when the fortnight was up because it was one strip), and I could keep track at 50 (the pill from the left of the strip in the morning, the one from the right in the evening). But it’s a pain in the arse keeping track now.

The upping my dose brought back the dreaded itch, although a week on, it’s died back down again. I find that regular bog standard antihistamines help make the itching less intense. I’m pleased to report that my skin is still attached to my body, though sometimes when I’m itching, I wish it wasn’t.

The vivid and lucid dreams remain, and are mostly still boring, although I did have an interesting one the other night where Alan Partridge had been murdered, and it was up to me to figure out which member of East 17 killed him. The murderer got away with it, because I couldn’t remember the names of the band members who weren’t Brian and Tony, in order to investigate them (I googled when I woke up: they’re called John and Terry, in case this dream proves to be prophetic). I’m not sure whether dreaming more vividly, and often lucidly, is the cause of me finding it harder to wake up in the morning, and tireder throughout the day, or if that’s a separate side effect of the drug, but it’s a minor annoyance that I wish wasn’t happening, but it’s not so bad that I want to come off it or switch meds.

I finished the packet I was initially prescribed, and this time I went to a different pharmacist and was given the fancy branded lamotrigine: Lamictal. For the most part, I’m not feeling much difference between branded and generic, except that the Lamictal gives me a feeling like very minor indigestion about 10 minutes after I swallow it. I may be the only person in history to prefer the cheaper medicine.

Regarding prescriptions, my medical exemption certificate came through, and now I’m eligible for free prescriptions, not just for my lamotrigine, but for literally everything. If I get prescribed antibiotics, they’re free. If I develop another condition, all my meds for that would be free. If you live in the UK, have epilepsy and are taking daily anticonvulsants, you too are eligible for free prescriptions. The scheme isn’t well-advertised, and the list of conditions that can grant you free prescriptions is preposterously short, but it’s worth applying if you can. Pop into your GP surgery, and ask them for a FP92A form, fill it out, and then get your GP to sign it and send it. Within a few weeks, you’ll get a little card that means you don’t need to pay for any prescriptions. The free prescriptions is a huge upside to having an unpleasant medical condition and being on medicine with annoying side effects.

I think that’s it for now. Please get in touch if you want to talk to me about lamotrigine. I think it’s important that we share information. You can tweet me, drop me a FB message, or email me: anotherangrywomb@gmail.com. I’ll tell you all about the full dose when I’m on it.

Adjusting to lamotrigine series
25mg
50mg

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Tips for staying safe online if you oppose fascism

Content note: this post discusses fascists and their operating tactics

As fascism is on the rise, we are, thankfully, seeing resistance. People new to activism, new to opposing anything (let alone fascists) are seeing the need for action and taking it.

Unfortunately, some online actions can be very dangerous, given how fascists operate. Fascists like nothing more than to “expose” their opponents: doxxings are a very common tactic. Doxxing is when your personal information is shared online, in order to incite harassment against you. And recently, it has come to my attention that they have been creating honeypots to get the personal details of decent people who think fascism is bad. So this guide is for people who are new to all of this, and what you need to do to stay safe online.

Don’t sign e-petitions or sign up to mailing lists

Of the fascist honeypots I’m aware of, one is an innocuous-looking antifa website with a mailing list signup, and the other is a change dot org petition.

Change, even though it looks all official and nice, is fundamentally unsecure with your personal data. The petition starter can, for a small fee, access all the details of everyone who signed it. As for mailing list signups, whoever set it up can see everything. And even if they don’t (or Change changed their business model), your name still pops up.

My best advice is to not enter your details in these things at all. Likewise, don’t click “attending” on Facebook events, just to be safe. However, if you absolutely must…

Be sparing with your identifying details

Say you really, really want to sign up to a mailing list, for whatever reason, and you’re ignoring my advice above. Do not give them the email address that’s linked to your social media accounts, other personal accounts, or your phone. Set up a throwaway email address and check that occasionally. Don’t connect the throwaway to your phone. You might also consider using a fake name, or at least a name that isn’t your legal name (this is the story of how I receive emails addressed to Mr Ploppy McBumhead).

You might also want to consider not using your real name on your social media accounts. You don’t have to go full Ploppy McBumhead; you could, for example, use a variant on your real name. For example, maybe use your middle name in place of your surname, or a shortened form of your first and last names, or go by your paternal grandma’s maiden name online. Alternatively, you could just use an anonymous pseudonym like “dongsmoker69” or similar.

Seriously though, don’t sign the Change petitions. Best case scenario, your throwaway email account gets spammed forever.

Check your privacy settings

This tip particularly applies to Facebook, who have a nasty habit of constantly changing their privacy settings. With your Facebook, make sure only friends can view your photos and posts, at the very least. You might also want to consider not letting certain other people view your content, such as racist relatives, people you went to school with and have never seen since, regrettable one night stands, &c., &c. You can filter them out of seeing your content by creating a friend list of these people (they won’t be able to see it) and then going into the Settings section and telling it not to let them see your stuff. Turn off allowing people to tag you in images. While you’re in the Settings section, you might as well only let friends of friends send you friend requests. And of course, be careful as to who you accept friend requests from. If you don’t know them IRL, it’s probably a bad idea to accept their friend request.

I’m being purposely vague here, because Facebook seem to change where all these settings are kept on a very frequent basis. I do a check at least once a month to make sure they haven’t changed anything. The tl;dr is to make sure only friends can see what you’re writing on there.

Pictures: be careful there, too

Giving them your name is one thing. Giving them your name and your face can really fucking suck. At best, if you’re a woman, you’ll get lots of memes about how ugly you are. At worst, your life could be actively endangered. Bear that in mind when posting pics, and weigh up the costs and benefits.

Try not to keep your legal name and your face in the same place, and make sure your phone camera isn’t using GPS tagging to show where your pictures are being taken. Also avoid taking pictures around your home, with any identifying details in place, for example, street names, particular landmarks, and so on. Try not to help fascists figure out where you live.

Don’t out your combabes

You’re proud that you’ve been doing stuff to oppose fascism, like going on a march. That’s great and I’m proud of you too. But be careful about outing others. If you’ve taken pictures on a demo, try not to have the face of anyone who hasn’t explicitly consented to being in the picture. You might need to be a little bit creative with image editing to blur out faces or crop before you post pictures, but that could save a life.

I hope it doesn’t need to be said, but for god’s sake don’t tag friends in photos. To be a decent person, don’t ever do it, but especially don’t ever do it with pictures of friends opposing fascists.

Also, don’t tag friends who have participated in antifascist actions in text posts or tweets about the action. Not without their explicit consent. Don’t make your friends a target for fascists unless they’re aware of the risks and have agreed to it.

Consider using a VPN

VPNs seem like the sort of thing only a cartoonish hacker who yells “I’M IN” while typing really fast might want to use. However, they’re incredibly useful and everyone who cares about their online privacy and security should be using one. A VPN hides your data: most importantly for these purposes, it hides your IP address (which can help trace where you live). VPNs also have other benefits and are quite cheap. This beginner’s guide to VPNs takes you through how a VPN can help you, as well as how to choose the right one for you.

If you’re innocent you’ve got nothing to hide is bullshit

That old adage is a pile of turds. Stay safe. Hide things you don’t want fascists to get at you about.

tl;dr

The short, sweet summary of everything I’ve said here is: be careful with your data, and treat everyone you don’t know online like they’re a potential phishing scam. Privacy is so important, and there are some nasty people out there–this is why we’re fighting. Be careful out there x

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