Author Archives: stavvers

Obligatory #BiVisibilityDay post

Hi, I’m still bi, even though the workings of fate seem determined to make me a lesbian.

I didn’t really have time to write a whole post today, but here are some of my past Bi Visibility Day posts:

Today’s word of the day is “sapphophobia”

Bisexual adventures with stavvers

In which I am visible and bi

 

Incidentally, here is a fact you probably didn’t know about bisexuals. As you must, surely, know by now (and if you don’t, you’re welcome), the “bi” in bisexual doesn’t mean “attracted to the two binary genders”. What “bi” actually refers to is that we exist in a quantum state, simultaneously existing and not existing until observed and either accepted, or  told that we’re just doing it for attention or whatever. Happy Bi Visibility Day, and may you be a Schoedinger’s cat that is alive and well.


Things I read recently that I found interesting

It’s link roundup time, once again!
‘We build a wall around our sanctuaries’: Queerness and Precarity– (Joni Pitt (Cohen) & Sophie Monk)- This article on queer lives under austerity is essential reading.

Occupy vs. Reclaim: what’s in a name? (Sisters Uncut)- Are these activists occupying or reclaiming spaces? They explain.

Looking at Paris Is Burning 25 years after its release (Shon Faye)- Examining the enormous cultural and personal impact of this documentary

On Outrage (Alison Phipps)- Reflecting on outrage and its function, and carceral solutions.

A relationship is not a skill (Lola Phoenix)- Dispelling the myth in poly/nonmonog communities that relationships are something you need to have your own skills to be “good at”.

The psychology behind the unfunny consequences of racist and sexist jokes (Thomas E. Ford)- A short introduction on what purpose such jokes serve.

Dear rapists, I don’t give a f*ck about your future (Chelsea Hensley)- V. V. cathartic

Are “faux-feminists” the new pick-up artists? (Roe McDermott)- Honestly, I related to this so much I wondered if Roe and I had dated the exact same awful men, until I remembered just how widespread their shit is.

POPsec Part 1: Security Lessons Learned from Harry Potter (Totally Not Malware)- A useful primer.

Caster Semenya won the gold medal in the 800m race. (Zoe Samudzi)- Examining the intersections of misogyny and racism and the nonsense of gender testing in sport.

I’m fat, and I have a restrictive eating disorder (Barbed Wire Wings)- A clear look at the experience and misconceptions faced.

The Internet Thinks I’m Still Pregnant (Amy Pittman)- The more absurd consequences of data sharing.

Worst of McMansions– This blog is fun, snarky, and tricks you into learning about architecture.

And finally, the story in this twitter thread is one of the cutest things I have ever read.

 

View story at Medium.com


Is Theresa May A Feminist Icon? Listen to KILLJOY FM for why she really, really isn’t

My friend, feminist extraordinaire Ray Filar, has started a really good radio show, and they were kind enough to invite me on the inaugural episode, where we discussed the question, is Theresa May a feminist icon? Me, Ray, and migrant rights activist Antonia Bright of Movement For Justice all agree that she isn’t, and frankly an hour wasn’t long enough to cover all the reasons why (although we made some headway). Take a bit of time to listen to our conversation, covering May’s violences against migrant women, complicity in austerity, why “blue feminism” is a shivering pile of turds, and what feminism needs to be doing instead of cheering on a monster.

Content note: the discussion covers detention, FGM, violence against women and domestic violence.

Listen to KILLJOY FM every Wednesday on Resonance FM, online or on 104.4 in London.

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Great Pussy Bake Off: the results

This post appeared last month on my Patreon, as a Patron-only post. Sometimes, I post patron-first content. If you’d like to read this work before anyone else, become a patron

Originally posted August 4th 2016.

Content note: this post discusses food

Tragically, my original, controversial sourdough starter passed away recently, due to me being such a good pet owner that I forgot to feed a bloody sourdough starter for over a fortnight. On the fortunate side, this presented me with an ideal opportunity to undertake the more-scientific approach I’d wanted to take since pretty much 24 hours after I first mixed flour, water and a vaginal sample.

So, this time round, I decided to do a head-to-head comparison. The question I wanted to address was:

Is the growth of my sourdough starter due to the vaginal yeast, or would it grow anyway with just wild yeast?

The tl;dr answer is…

The vaginal yeast seems to make a bit of a difference for the better and I have no fucking clue why.

The long answer:

Growing the starters

I started my cunt sourdough and my control sourdough on 30th July. The control starter consisted of 1 espresso cup of plain white flour and 1/2 espresso cup water. The cunt starter contained the same, plus a small sample of my own vaginal fluids, which were harvested by sticking my fingers inside myself and then rubbing them on the fork I used to stir the starter.

Cunt sourdough on the left, control on the right, just after mixing. 

Please note that this time there was an additional variable: I don’t have a yeast infection. So the sample would have contained vaginal yeast, along with everything else in my fanny, including the friendly bacteria that check yeast growth.

This might have affected the results somewhat, although if it did, it was in a completely unexpected way.

Each day, I added 1 espresso cup of flour and half an espresso cup of water to each starter.

To avoid cross-contamination, I always stirred the non-vag sourdough first, and the one with the vaginal yeast afterwards, using a different fork.

Even early on, I noticed differences between the cunt sample and the control. The cunt sample seemed to react slightly quicker, developing its first bubbles before the 24 hour mark.

By the third day, it was noticeably wetter and frothier than the control starter.

Cunt sourdough on the left, control on the right.

This isn’t to say the control starter did badly. It also came to life. On the third day, both starters began to smell, which is how you know they’re alive. I also had to move the control starter to a bigger container; I’d put it in a too-small pot because part of me hadn’t expected it to work.

By the fifth day, 4th August, both starters were ready to cook with. They had developed the characteristic mature sourdough smell (which smells a bit like yoghurt, a bit like nail polish remover and nothing at all like pussy). I had made 500ml of each starter.

The cunt sourdough starter, mature and ready.

 

The control starter, mature and ready.

For no goddamn reason whatsoever that I can discern, the cunt starter was still wetter than the control starter.

Even more peculiarly, at every step of the way, the control starter had behaved like the original cunt sourdough starter I made last November, while this new cunt sourdough starter was more liquid than either, and grew slightly faster.

The crumpet test

I am an impatient person, so rather than bake up bread, I decided to make crumpets, which are quicker and easier, and one can make a hilarious pun about crumpet here.

Recipe:

250ml sourdough starterHalf a teaspoon salt1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Whisk the salt and sourdough starter together.

Add the bicarbonate of soda. At this point, it will start fizzing like a salted slug.

 

Crumpet batter (cunt sourdough sample)

Grease a saucepan and crumpet rings (or metal biscuit cutters if, like me, you don’t own crumpet rings). Heat to a medium heat, and pour or spoon some crumpet batter into the bottom of the rings.

 

Crumpets heating in the pan

Heat gently until the crumpets slip out of the moulds, and continue heating. At this point, you can pop some more into the moulds and have two mini-batches on the go. Do not turn the crumpets over: they’ll lose their lovely bubbly tops. 

Cunt sourdough crumpets

Once the bottom is dark brown, remove from pan and place under the grill for 5-7 minutes, until fully cooked on top. Or, if like me you don’t have a grill, put in the oven at 180C for 7 minutes, and then toast in the toaster.

Which crumpet was nicer?

All the way along, the cunt crumpets were better. As you can see from the picture above, they were much bubblier.

The cunt starter also made more crumpets: I got five crumpets out of the control starter, and seven out of the cunt starter, so I suppose on average this recipe makes six crumpets.

 

Control crumpets, before toastingCunt crumpets, before toasting

You can probably see from my frankly terrible photos that the cunt crumpets were lighter and bubblier. This made a great impact on the experience of eating them.

Bluntly put, the control crumpets were fucking horrible. They were heavy and doughy and I couldn’t even finish one little one. Meanwhile, the cunt crumpets were nice. They tasted like and had the texture of crumpets.

Conclusion: I have more questions

I made two batches of sourdough with in the same kitchen, with the same bag of flour, so therefore any wild yeast would have been the same wild yeast. The starter to which I added some vaginal flora (including yeast) performed consistently better, and produced edible crumpets, while the other was too thick to make good crumpets. So what the fuck happened?

I don’t bloody know, but I have a theory.

I mentioned earlier that the control starter grew and behaved similarly to my original yeast infection starter. This suggests to me that the original yeast infection starter was always just wild yeast and nothing else. Meanwhile, this new starter would have also contained the other stuff that keeps the growth of yeast going at a healthy rate, and therefore helped make the starter a little healthier.

It’s also possible that perhaps I subconsciously made the cunt starter slightly better: the cup I use for feeding the starters isn’t exactly an accurate measure, and maybe I ended up adding a tiny bit more water to the cunt starter each time.

At any rate, the slightly more liquid consistency of the cunt starter helped make better crumpets: you need crumpet batter to be wet.

The control starter has now gone to live with my partner, who will keep it alive and see if it matures better over time, while I’ll look after the cunt starter and see what happens.

Please do try making crumpets yourself, if you keep a sourdough starter. When they come out nice, they’re really, really tasty!

Update: As of September 5th, I’ve baked three batches of bread with the winning starter, and they have all come out really well. My partner has also baked three batches of bread with the non-vag starter. It’s performed quite well, although their loaves seem to come out a bit flatter than mine. However, this might be due to them continually making their dough ever so slightly too wet.


Blocking fat people and smokers from accessing healthcare hits our most scapegoated punchbags

Content note: this post discusses gatekeeping healthcare, and structural oppressions

Various NHS commissioning groups have decided to cut costs by blocking access to surgery for people deemed to be obese, and smokers. To the terminally naive, this can be considered an intuitive, common-sense solution, which would encourage people to make better healthcare choices. To the rest of us, we know that choice is, for the most part, an illusion, and that such bans to healthcare access affect certain groups disproportionately–coincidentally, the same groups who make for convenient scapegoats.

First, let’s look at who’s more likely to smoke. LGBT people are much more likely to smoke than straights, and less likely to try to quit. People with mental illness are also far more likely to smoke–up to 2 in 5 cigarettes smoked will be by a mentally ill person. And of course, these groups are not mutually exclusive, with LGBT people at a higher risk of mental illness. Also, poor people are more likely to smoke, and deprivation makes it harder to stop.

When it comes to obesity, let’s first have a look at what’s deemed obese: some CCGs are using the BMI of 30 as a cut-off, which is an absolutely terrible idea. BMI is a nonsense statistic, particularly when applied to how calculating fat an individual is. A substantial portion of Olympic athletes, upon returning after their heroes’ welcome and perhaps needing an operation on injuries, would be turned away by the NHS, because their body weight is too “obese” for surgery–among other issues, BMI does not distinguish between muscle and fat. It’s also particularly statistically dodgy when someone is particularly tall or short, so Usain Bolt and Simone Biles should be glad they’re not going to find themselves at the mercy of the NHS.

As well as the muscular and the all-round encouraged under usual circumstances, who else is likely to be considered obese? Certain minority ethnic groups are more likely to have BMIs over 30–in the UK, particularly Black Caribbean, Black African, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian and Irish people. Again, mentally ill people are more likely to be at risk, both as a result of their illness itself, or as a result of medication side effects. And once again, poor people are more likely to be considered obese. People with physical disabilities are also more likely to be obese. Incidentally, one of the surgeries “obese” people are blocked from accessing is hip or knee replacements–exactly how the NHS expects them to exercise to lose weight while unable to move, they have not yet explained.

So, NHS trusts with these policies will be disproportionately picking on groups who have been historically and currently disproportionately picked on and blamed for their own misfortune. It is yet another manifestation of the general state approach to behaviour change, which goes like this:

Step 1: Deprive marginalised people of a basic need
Step 2: ??????
Step 3: BEHAVIOUR CHANGE!

Unsurprisingly, there’s no evidence that this works, but it’s a nice little bedtime story for fascists-in-denial to tell themselves, that people are being refused healthcare because they made poor life choices.

At this point, the terminally naive might pipe up that obese people and smokers are at a greater risk of surgical complications than non-smokers or thin people. Yes. That’s true. However, there are also lots of other groups who are at greater risk of surgical complications. Like the elderly. Or the very young. Or malnutrition. Or even drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. Or being a bit cold around the time of your operation. Think of the billions that could be saved if they stopped operating on moderate drinkers: suddenly, there’d be barely any operations, especially if they also stopped operating on kids!

Of course that would be absurd: another myth in play here is that healthcare needs to be rationed at all. The NHS is in crisis, but this crisis isn’t caused by obese people, or smokers, or immigrants, or striking junior doctors, or whichever scapegoat you want to pick. This crisis has been manufactured by years of butchering the NHS. Hospitals are not given enough money to function, and given unrealistic targets to meet on these shoestring budgets, along with a hefty dose of bloated private sector provider inefficiency. In truth, with adequate money, the NHS could happily accommodate everyone who needed treatment.

Given that the government would be perfectly happy for the NHS to go tits-up so the private sector could further cannibalise it, that’s unlikely to happen–that harm comes to the most marginalised people is simply a welcome bonus.

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Situations where it’s OK for men to talk to women they don’t know

Content note: this post discusses a form of street harassment

The tantrum crops up time and time again. This time it’s because there was backlash from women towards an article teaching men how to chat up women who are wearing headphones. When women say they’d rather be left alone, men tend to completely lose their shit. Apparently it will cause the poor babies anxiety:

It’s funny how it’s almost always men pushing this nobody-ever-talks-to-each-other dystopia, while for women it actually sounds like it might alleviate anxiety somewhat, what with not having to worry about whether the latest man coming up to us wants to murder us, or merely rape us.

This is the thing men never understand, in pushing their imaginary world wherein men striking up conversation with strange women is polite, romantic, or otherwise not unpleasant: maybe you’re not a rapist murderer, but you could be. And even if a woman isn’t afraid, your advances may still be unwelcome, because sometimes people just want to ride the tube in peace, walk home in peace, drink a cup of mediocre coffee in peace.

So, men, let’s start from the assumption that your attempt to start a conversation with a complete stranger is more likely to be unwelcome than it is to be welcome. Yes, even if she does respond to you, that’s pretty likely to be out of a conditioned sense of politeness rather than any genuine desire to hear about your opinion of the book she’s trying to read.

Going from this assumption, there are few scenarios wherein it is acceptable for men to talk to women they don’t know in public places:

  • If she’s in mortal peril and you need to rescue her. Maybe a time-travelling robot is trying to kill her. Or maybe the peril is more banal, and she has a long trail of bog roll stuck to her shoe, or she dropped her keys. At these points, it’s perfectly polite to say “You dropped this,” or “Come with me if you want to live.”
  • If you’re a benefactor who is bestowing a completely non-conditional gift on her, such as handing her £50, or a gigantic diamond. It is then socially acceptable to say “excuse me, have this money,” hand it over, and then let her be on her way.
  • If she’s doing a job, wearing a t-shirt saying “Ask me about mortgages”, or something similar. Please note, in this scenario, it is only acceptable to ask her about mortgages.
  • Literally no other reason.

If you’re concerned that this might lead to you never getting to speak to a woman again, consider this: you’re probably an obnoxious tit. Get out and meet women in situations where you’re likely to have something in common with them: develop a hobby, get a bloody job in a non-misogynistic industry, &c., &c.

And meanwhile, leave women alone to just move about in the world without being bothered.

 


Things I read

Welcome to the exceptionally-late round up. Here are some articles.

Black Lives Matter: Why we #Shutdown Heathrow Airport this morning (Wail Qasim)- A report on the action. Follow UK Black Lives Matter. Twitter FB Vital work.

My feminism will be capitalist, appropriative and bullshit merchandise (Flavia Dzodan)- Flavia coined a very popular feminist slogan, but it’s been appropriated and profited from.

10 things about BDSM and 10 things about better kinky sex (Queer Anarchism)- An exceptionally good short critique of the problems of BDSM, and a move towards solutions.

For Poly Folks Who Desperately Need Autonomy (brute reason)- This meditation on relationship needs, contrary to the title, is probably a must-read for everyone, not just poly people.

Outing gay men on Grindr isn’t journalism. It’s homophobic and dangerous (Huw Lemmey)- A resplendently furious, comprehensive and sadly necessary response.

Hollywood Has Ruined Method Acting (Angelica Jade Bastien)- How the Hollywood style of method acting is absolutely awful.

Why I now stand with Caster Semenya (Madeleine Pape)- An athlete explains how she came round to supporting one of the greatest runners in the world.

A Peek Inside Berlin’s Queer Club Scene Before Hitler Destroyed It (Clayton J. Whisnant)- A little bit of forgotten history.

The Spoon Theory Gave People the Wrong Idea About My Illness (Jennie Smales)- The spoon theory helps some people explain their disabilities, but abled people still get the wrong end of the stick.

Getting Rid Of Clothes I Hated Helped Me Love My Body (Arianna Rebolini)- I did this myself, and for me it worked a hell of a lot better than losing weight.

No Human is Illegal: Immigration raids that treat migrants as criminals are a disgrace (Maya Goodfellow)- Examining the wider context to Byron’s egregious behaviour–hope you’re still boycotting those rip-off burgers though!

Does Marge have friends? (Raphael Bob-Waksberg)- A short twitter poem that made me cry.

A Closed Loop: Sex Work, Violence and Criminalisation (Molly Smith)- Looking at community violence against sex workers, and how it interacts with criminalising the job.

Detransition, Desistance, and Disinformation: A Guide for Understanding Transgender Children Debates (Julia Serano)- An exceptionally handy guide to what’s really going on.

And finally, have an accidental broadcast of Aziz Ansari subtitles over a nature show, it made me cackle.