Author Archives: stavvers

Things I read this week that I found interesting

I’ve actually managed to do a weekly round-up for once. Somebody get me a cookie.

My name is only real enough to work at Facebook, not to use on the site (Zoë Cat)- Facebook’s real name policy is absurd as well as vicious.

Why, No Matter What, I Still Can’t Marry My Girlfriend (Jordan Gwendolyn Davies)- In the US, marriage equality is not what it seems.

Misogynoiristic Expectancy: Social Media Popularity and the Black Femme (Riley H)- Let’s hear about online abuse from someone who isn’t a rich white cis lady.

This Is What Rihanna’s BBHMM Video Says About Black Women, White Women and Feminism (Mia McKenzie)- If you only read one article about that video, make it this one.

Bitch Better Have My Intersectional Feminism or STFU About My Video (nerdygirlswag)- Actually, you should read two articles on it, and this is the other one, and it’s very short so.

I changed my mind on trigger warnings and here’s why you should too (Girl On The Net)- Very good article on why sex bloggers should use trigger warnings.

Rape Scenes Aren’t Just Awful. They’re Lazy Writing (Laura Hudson)- Pretty thorough takedown of most excuses where men will try to crowbar in a rape scene.

A Linguist Explains How We Write Sarcasm on the Internet (Gretchen McCulloch)- This is a really interesting article about the way means of conveying sarcasm have evolved online.

And finally, Christian Grey’s words coming out of Flashheart’s mouth. Woof!


Rape scenes are usually lazy writing and directing

Content warning: this post discusses rape, sexual violence and media misogyny

Rape scenes are horribly popular in the media, and seldom necessary. With a flicker of hope, I wonder if savvy viewers are finally kicking back against this tedious trope as an opening-night audience booed a completely gratuitous rape scene crowbarred into an opera.

The defences of the scene were the same old tired shit. The director of the Royal Opera House said:

“The production includes a scene which puts the spotlight on the brutal reality of women being abused during war time, and sexual violence being a tragic fact of war,”

while one of the cast said:

“Maybe it went a little longer than it should have, but it happened and I think it’s an element you can use to show just how horrible these people were that were occupying this town,”

while the director of the production said exactly the same thing too:

“If you don’t feel the brutality, the suffering these people have had to face, if you want to hide it, it becomes soft, it becomes for children,”

I often wonder about the existence of this hypothetical audience member who cannot understand that a villain is bad, and conditions are awful for women, without being literally shown a woman being raped. I presume Rossini, who wrote the opera in 1829, didn’t have such a low opinion of those who would appreciate his work, considering he didn’t write that scene in himself–it was added by the director.

I’ve written before about how a competent production doesn’t need to show a rape scene for the audience to grok that this is a bad place full of bad people, comparing the latest Mad Max to Game of Thrones. To me, putting a rape on stage or screen or on the page as a form of scene-setting is the very pinnacle of laziness. A decent writer or director can build up an air of threat, of terror, without having to use salacious violence against women as a shorthand for this. It’s the Michael Bay school of show don’t tell… rather than hinting and using subtlety, they show with a gross insult to the audience’s capacity to think.

Yes, there are times where as rape scene is actually relevant to the plot, but these instances are few: tiny, compared to the number of times such scenes have been smeared in there like shit on a portaloo wall.

People will use the potentially imaginary audience member to excuse what is essentially a failure of men’s skills at writing and directing. I cannot say I have ever met or spoken to–or even had a screeching comment–from somebody who admits that they are incapable of grasping that the situation is dire or the villain is a bad ‘un without having to see somebody being raped.

Perhaps, therefore, audience are smarter than writers and directors think. And this means that they must stop using the same worn-out old excuses to cover for their fatuous productions. In turn, perhaps this means they will finally have to face a challenge of creating something with a little bit of thought behind it.


Things I read this fortnight that I found interesting

And now for your semi-regular linkdump.

I interrupted Obama because we need to be heard (Jennicet Gutierrez)- If you read one thing this week, make it this. The “White House Heckler” lays out the things the President wanted to silence her from saying.

This Is Why Everyone Cheering Gay Marriage Should Stand With the White House “Heckler” Now (Bea Esperanza Fonseca)- Where next? Very neatly answered.

Against Students (Sara Ahmed)- Thorough takedown of the absolutely dreadful shite being spouted about higher education. This is a fucking must-read.

NHS Gender Identity Symposium – Some Basic Demands (Queer Blue Water)- The bare minimum UK-based trans people want from the state.

Why the Charleston AME Church Shooting was not a “hate crime” (Kojothelibsoc)- How the language used to discuss the Charleston massacre erases what is actually going on.

Dylann Roof is not an extremist (Zoe Samudzi)- In a similar vein, because there’s a lot of fuckery going on in the white media.

This Is What It’s Like To Recover From An Eating Disorder During Ramadan (Hussein Kesvani)- Examining the intersections between Islam and eating disorders.

‘Now I have the money to feminise my face I don’t want to. I’m happy that this is the face God gave me’ (G2)- Laverne Cox being all-round incredible.

Is it a slippery slope if we remove the Confederate flag? Yes, and that’s a good thing for America (Shaun King)- Removing the Confederate flag could force conversations that need to happen.

In Defense of Casual Romance (Kitty Stryker)- Casual romances are something I’d love to see more of.

We Need To Talk About The Furiosa Comic (Ana Mardoll)- Thorough takedown of the Furiosa comic, which seems to have failed everywhere Fury Road succeeded.

What If We Treated All Consent Like Society Treats Sexual Consent? (Alli Kirkham)- Good 101 on how ridiculously consent is treated.

And finally look at this terrible little fluffy home invader!

 


I won’t be going to Pride tomorrow

Content note: this post discusses homophobia, transphobia and biphobia

Tomorrow sees London’s Pride parade, supposedly a celebration of how brilliant things are. Each year, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth, because things are not great. They really, really aren’t, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who yell over the voices that should be heard and dominate our movement.

On a personal level, I wouldn’t feel safe attending the event with either of my partners. For a supposedly inclusive space, Pride in London is peculiarly intolerant of anybody but monosexuals and cis people. Marchers yell “breeders” at bi people, with many overtly expressing that they thing bi people shouldn’t be there.

And then there’s the transphobia, which they say they’ve cleared up, but it doesn’t look like it has. Perhaps “toiletgate”–transmisogyistic barring of trans women from accessing toilet facilities–has been cleared up. but a lot of the trans women I know don’t want to be the guinea pigs in finding this out.

So, even if I went, my friends and partners wouldn’t be there, so what’s the fucking point?

It seems as though a schism is becoming more visible than ever in our community. On one side are the marginalised, the oppressed. On the other are those who don’t give a fuck. This issue was perhaps exemplified in this week’s intervention by Jennicet Gutierrez, and the reaction to it.

Gutierrez is a trans woman and undocumented migrant. At a White House dinner, set up to circlejerk about how very good on LGBT rights Barack Obama is, Gutierrez shouted out truths. She pointed out the violences occurring against LGBT migrants, how they were being detained and deported, facing sexual and physical violence, by Obama’s very own administration. As reward, she was shouted down by the hypocrite she was trying to address, and hauled away by the Secret Service. The audience, who were ostensibly comprised of LGBT people, booed her and showed happiness at her silencing.

Here’s what Gutierrez wanted to say. Read her words, and digest them.

We have little to celebrate, all things considered. Yes, we can get married, and yes, in the US a breakthrough was made where now openly gay people can be killed in combat. Yet these are hardly victories when our siblings are homeless, facing violence, in poverty, in fear.

London’s Pride events ignore all of this. London’s Pride events actively march perpetrators of the violences we face through our streets. There was protest about UKIP marching, but so many more of the marchers are our enemies. The police, Tories, and countless corporations. If you can’t see why it’s inappropriate that they’re there, then you are out of touch with the very real violences which face a lot of us.

We have a lot of work to do, and the Pride parade is like a rainbow flag pinned to a wall covered in cracks. The issues are still there, but it distracts from them, giving the cishet population a feeling of warm fuzzies. Too many LGB people are complicit in distracting from the fights yet to be won: the fights which are barely being fought.

So no, I’m not going, because I know there’s nothing to celebrate, and nothing to be won by being there.


Things I read this fortnight that I found interesting

It’s time for that periodic links round up! I hope you find these links I’ve put together interesting.

The Tory attack on queer youth. A call to arms. (Don’t hold your tongue)- So important that we read this and heed the call to fight.

Don’t let them tell you the election was a victory for women. (Emily Hawkins)- Some feminists genuinely seem to believe this election was a victory for women. They are wrong, wrong, WRONG.

My 22 years on Pakistan’s death row could end this week. What purpose will my execution serve? (Aftab Bahadur)- Heartbreaking essay from a man who has been on death row since he was 15. Sadly, he was killed by the state on Wednesday.

[untitled] (Laverne Cox)- Laverne Cox talks about Caitlyn Jenner and privilege.

Your Child Should Never Be Forced to Hug Anyone (Yes, Including a Relative) (James St James)- Shit that shouldn’t need saying, said well.

From Hamid Mahmood to Harry Mason….. (Hamid Mahmood)- Exposing white supremacy in the job application process.

Facing psychological coercion and manipulation has become a daily part of claiming benefits (Felicity Callard and Robert Stearn)- On the terrifying and unethical use of psychologists from the DWP.

Cyprus at the Crossroads (Leandros Fischer and Daphnos Economou)- On the history and present of communism in Cyprus.

Unshaming the future in my coffee cup (Laura Aharonian)- On shame, and cultural memories of the Armenian genocide.

Calling Yourself Fat For the First Time (Tilly Jean)- An honest piece about claiming a label amid stigma.

How Queer Relationships Can Get Stuck in Harmful Gender Norms (And Why We Really Need to Get Unstuck) (Michael “MJ” Jones)- Shedding light on how misogyny seeps into queer relationships.

And finally, if for some reason you need a break in your tearing through Orange Is The New Black this weekend, there’s a kitten cam live and they’re adorable. Look at their little orange paws!


Urban fantasy

Um, so I’m experimenting with writing fiction. Sort of. Enjoy.

He came out of a jam jar which I’d found at the back of the fridge and wanted to rinse the fur out of. It was a nice jar, and I was sick of Lily and Jen leaving things to rot. I wasn’t working that day, and I needed something free to fill the hours. Before I took in what the hell had just happened, I was pleased at how abruptly the unsavoury-looking greenish fluff had vanished.

“Greetings, master,” he probably said, dipping a little bow , his shiny head flashing as it caught the pale fluorescent light. He probably reeled off the whole spiel that he later seemed narky about repeating, but I didn’t notice as I was too busy shrieking and throwing that jam jar at the bald, middle-aged white man in a suit that had just materialised in my kitchen in a puff of smoke, the same mouldy shade as the contents of the jar.

He stood solidly, arms folded, with a patronising smirk on his face until my bluff was well and truly called, and I didn’t call the police because my the battery on my phone was dead.

“That went poorly,” he sighed. “I’m meant to appear to you in the form that your culture sees as someone who makes things happen.”

I looked him up and down. He looked like a banker, a lawyer, a manager, a head of department.

“You do. Just not someone who makes good things happen.”

“Well. Let’s get on with this then, shall we? Like I said, three wishes, then pop me back in a suitable container and they’ll come true tomorrow.”

The lure of anything being possible was intoxicating, and it quite dampened my initial scepticism of this stranger who had manifested in my living room. My mind whirled with possibilities. I could fix everything, be anyone, become rich beyond my wildest dreams and all because I had decided to wash up some of the filth left in the fridge by one of my housemates. That moral high ground alone would be more than enough to keep me flying for months; Lily and Jen would never hear the end of it.

That dissipated quite quickly as I began to think through the implications of any possible wishes, and I began to think of what it was I really wanted.

He stood there, tapping his foot, arms still folded.

“Usually, people know what they want pretty instantly. Your generation is the exception. Wanting everything, wanting nothing. I don’t even know.”

“I’m thinking,” I snapped. “I don’t want to phrase it ambiguously, in case you kill everyone I know, or something.”

Laughter danced in his eyes. “It has to be short. Tweet-length.” He pronounced the words with an edge of amused disgust.

“Fine.” I took a deep breath, and summoned the words I wanted. He might find the idea of Twitter somehow distasteful, but for me it had revolutionised my ability to articulate thoughts succinctly. “I wish for a regular income, enough to live on and buy some luxuries, doing something I love.”

A raised eyebrow. “Really? Nothing more ambitious? You don’t just want billions deposited in your bank account?”

I shook my head. “That’d probably end up with horrible consequences. You’d crash the economy, or I’d get arrested, or something like that.”

For the first time I saw a flicker of something like respect, followed by a wicked grin. “You’re right. That’s what usually happens. Anyway, what next?”

“I wish to live on my own, in London. Securely.”

“And finally? Usually people ask for love finally.”

I didn’t need love; I had that. And if this thing worked out I’d have my own pad in which to entertain Ella. In fact, I had been close to asking for a black Nando’s card, free chicken for the rest of my life, but doubt crept in at the very last moment. I wasn’t entirely sure if such a thing existed. Besides, something better had just occurred to me.

“One of those Oyster cards TFL employees get. You know, free transport. Oh, except I don’t have to work for TFL to get it.”

“That’s not tweet-length.”

“Yes it is. At my count, it’s 121 characters. I could add ‘you dick’ to the end and it would still be valid according to your specifications.”

“Fine,” he sighed. “Fucking millennials.”

At his instruction, I found a receptacle in which to pour his essence: it was an empty screwtop wine bottle. “Enjoy your wishes,” he said with a smirk as he and the bottle disappeared.

I went to bed that night expecting nothing to happen, the healthy scepticism finally hitting in. I was so, so wrong.

Wishes do come true.

I have a regular income, enough to live on and some luxuries, from doing something I love. I work long hours, and doing things I like in exchange for money sucks the joy out of doing them. I spend more of my time in an office far away, writing content and copy until my brain turns to mush. When I’m asked if I’m happy, I burble enthusiastically, as though I am selling a product, because it’s ungrateful to do anything else.

I live on my own, in London, securely. Sort of. It’s in zone 4. It takes an hour and a half to get to work, and an hour and a half back. I seldom see my friends any more, because none of them really fancy dragging themselves all the way out to Penge. Even Ella rarely stays, so we fuck in her room, a pillow over my mouth and holding still as a statue to avoid the creaking contributions of her mattress.

The oyster card is pretty good, I have to admit. I have few complaints about it, except I wish I had to use it less often. I think about wishes a lot now; and how I’d wish things differently.

I keep my eye out for a bottle, every day. An empty Gallo Brothers bottle, lined with a faint and repulsive-looking green fuzz. And I wonder, if I found it again, would I open it back up, or leave it in the back of my fridge for eternity?

__

So, that work of fiction is semi-autobiographical. 

Fine, that’s a lie, but I am having a bit of money trouble at the moment. It’s nothing serious, but I do need a little bit of money to see me through to the end of the month. If you enjoyed my efforts, please, pretty please can you drop me a couple of quid? In return, I promise I’ll either continue or stop writing fiction, depending on what you prefer.  Thank you so much xxxx

Update 14/6/15- thank you, lovelies. You’ve given me more than enough xx


Things I read this fortnight that I found interesting

Better late than never, eh? Have some links.

#SayHerName Report (AAPF)-A must-read report into deaths of Black women at the hands of the police.

We need to talk about safe spaces (Yomi Adegoke)- Shit that shouldn’t need saying, said well.

I Am the ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ the Men in Your Life Talk About, And I Have a Few Things to Say… (That Pesky Feminist)- Powerful piece, and basically TRUST NO MAN.

The Forgotten History of Romani Resistance (Pierre Chopinaud)- Raising awareness of a forgotten history.

Marriage is not Equality: Thoughts on #MarRef from a worried radical queer (Feminist Ire)- Important analysis, and worth bearing in mind if you’re celebrating.

How to Have a Good Night in Norwich (Jo Swo)- A new project to make Norwich nightclubs safer.

‘I’m gonna kill this lot’, and other things a police officer shouldn’t be saying during a protest (Hannah Dee)- Analysis of how police see protesters.

We trust children to know what gender they are – until they go against the norm (Diane Ehrensaft)- A defence of young children receiving treatment they need.

How Self-Described ‘Whore Nation’ Killed the TV Show ‘8 Minutes’ (Tara Burns)- A case study in community organising.

We Will No Longer Be Promoting HBO’s Game of Thrones (Jill Pantozzi)- Popular fandom website The Mary Sue has had it with GoT’s attitude to rape.

Mad Max: Troubled Road (20th Century Flicks)- How Fury Road could have been improved by including indigenous Australian actors.

Kitty Genovese’s secret lesbian history (Trish Bendix)- This important–and salient–aspect of Kitty Genovese’s life was completely erased from my psychology class.

5 Helpful Answers To Society’s Most Uncomfortable Questions (David Wong)- Send this Cracked article to whiney white men.

Safe Spaces are for White Men (Maya Goodfellow)- How white men desperately try and centre themselves.

Working at an abortion clinic challenged my pro-choice views — and confirmed them (Amy Beeman)- Touching article revealing the realities of working in an abortion clinic.

All Black Lives Matter: seeking justice for Sheku Bayoh (Siana Bangura)- A family is seeking answers. Spread their questions far and wide.

And finally, Mad Max posters improved with quotes from whiney white men who didn’t like it.


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