Category Archives: manarchists

Hijacking Con Air as utopian anarchist propaganda

Content note: this post contains Con Air spoilers, if you don’t know what goes down in a 20 year old film. It also mentions rape. 

After reclaiming Die Hard and Fight Club for the feminist cause, allow me to explain to you why 1997’s preposterous action thriller Con Air is, in fact, utopian anarchist propaganda.

Yes, really.

Con Air is an all-star vehicle for explosions, bunnies, Steve Buscemi channelling Hannibal Lecter, and a surprisingly progressive presentation of criminal and criminality. I’m going to assume you’ve watched this movie, or at least read the Wikipedia summary, as frankly I cannot be bothered to recount it for you. Basically, a lot of shit blows up, metaphorically and literally, when prisoners on a charter flight hijack the plane with a plot to fly off to a non-extradition country. Nonetheless, the most implausible thing about this film is that they sent a white military man with no criminal record to prison for killing an obnoxious working class guy.

The state is shit…

The view of the prison-industrial complex presented in Con Air is not a rosy one in the slightest. Neither, in fact, is any institution of the state. It is entirely the fault of the state that any of this happened at all.

First, let’s look at what a fucking awful idea it is to pack an aeroplane full of the nastiest prisoners in the first place. The plan, from the state’s perspective, is that they would like to fill up a shiny new supermax prison that they have just built. And it didn’t even occur to them that these nasty prisoners might not want to go to a supermax prison, and might think about saying fuck that shit. There is a long list of people who would not be dead had capitalism and government not colluded to make a lot of money by building a very large prison and having to fly people across the country to populate it.

Now, I get that this is very much a pre-9/11 film, and therefore perhaps inadequate precautions are taken to defend against hijacking. But nevertheless, as soon as the hijacking attempt begins, in effect the state’s action is to hand the hijackers a gun.

Due to shitty communication between state agencies, there are two guns within the cabin of the plane, and the other, too, is swiftly taken by the prisoners. Later in the film, a cache of weapons is discovered in the hold of the plane, including fucking rocket launchers. Every single weapon the prisoners use is a literal weapon of the state, and the state pretty much handed those weapons over.

So, the state supplied prisoners with an aeroplane and a bunch of weapons. Oh, and also a pilot, because nobody at any point thought it would be a bad idea to put a prisoner who knows how to fly a plane onto their sodding plane.

Those are the big fuck-ups, incidentally. We also see numerous safeguarding infarctions, most egregiously the failure to provide a diabetic prisoner with his medication in a timely fashion: that insulin should have been administered long before Baby-O ever boarded the plane.

The state personnel, our personifications of the state, are not all that bright. They are easily fooled, over-confident in their equipment and processes, and unwilling to listen to anything that might suggest they are anything less than total fucking supermen. In reality, they are a bunch of man-children, eager to play with their favourite toys.

The exception is John Cusack’s character, Vince Larkin, who is rightly critical and concerned throughout. Without Larkin, the prisoners’ plan to fly off into liberty would have been realised. It is he who spots the flaws in the staid, conservative state’s response. Larkin has an analysis of the social model of crime, derided by his colleagues. And he saves the day by stealing a car, then a bulldozer, then a motorbike, because laws about vehicular ownership are an obstruction to getting things done.

Our other of-the-state but not of-the-state character is Nicolas Cage’s Cameron Poe, a prisoner about to be released on parole and former ranger. Like Larkin, Poe is perfectly willing to go off the script of the laws of the land in order to save the day, and as well as some assaults, desecration of a corpse, and handling firearms that he is not licensed to handle, he joins Larkin in a spot of theft of a vehicle.

…but people are all right

For a film with a body count as high as Con Air, there is surprisingly little mindless violence on display. Sure, there’s heaps of violence, but the vast majority of it is not mindless in the slightest.

Let’s be clear: Con Air takes place under exceptional circumstances. There is violence, and almost all of the violent acts presented to the audience serve a function. For the most part, the violence is to achieve a goal it is difficult to argue with: liberty. The prisoners want freedom, and they are handed an opportunity to take it rather than live out the rest of their days in a supermax prison. This is why they kill, with the targets predominantly being state agents and those who do anything to oppose the plan.

Violence in Con Air is generally a purposeful act towards a goal. The very literal anarchy following the removal of state forces is not a descent into senseless chaos, but rather, a kind of order emerges as we see the characters work together towards a mutual goal. Together, the prisoners solve problems that arise, such as inconvenient deaths that could have ruined a deception; digging out the plane from the sand; and landing a plane under incredibly difficult conditions. It is possible, had they escaped, that perhaps they would have lived out their time in peace.

Two of the prisoners on the plane are explicitly labelled “criminally insane”, yet their actions appear contrary to the label slapped upon them. John Malkovich’s Cyrus the Virus is a rational man, never committing violence without reason, dedicated only to his pursuit of freedom. Steve Buscemi’s Garland Greene is a serial killer, brought aboard the plane in a mask. When presented with the opportunity to murder a little girl, he does not take it and befriends the child. He appears to end up peacefully, as a professional gambler in Las Vegas.

Some of the prisoners’ reasons for being in prison in the first place are presented to us, and again, they do not always seem irrational: for example Ving Rhames’s Diamond Dog has his crime fully outlined: he blew up an NRA meeting and said they represented the “basest negativity of the white race”. He’s not wrong there.

Indeed, the only particularly mindlessly violent character we see is serial rapist Johnny-23. However, all of the characters explicitly reject his behaviour, and some of the prisoners make it their business to protect a female prison guard from him. Not just our good guys, like Poe and Baby-O, but Cyrus, too, uses threats to ensure that Johnny-23 will behave himself. It is only when Cyrus is not present that Johnny-23 makes an attempt: and is immediately, gratifyingly, taken out by Poe.

DON’T! TREAT! WOMEN! LIKE! THAT!

The characters in Con Air have better politics about sexual violence and dealing with rapists in their midst than far too many anarchist men! They’re also more accepting of trans identities than too many anarchos to mention: when a trans prisoner expresses her gender identity, the characters are quick to accept her.

As if this is not enough, the point is driven home to us at the very end, where money begins to rain on the Vegas Strip. Infinite wealth falls into the hands of the proletariat–and all of the criminality and violence ceases completely. All crimes are crimes of necessity, Con Air tells us.

It is entirely plausible that, had the prisoners’ plot succeeded, everything would have turned out fine. Most of them aren’t just killing for funsies–they’re committing violence for a very specific purpose.

Give me a sequel

Con Air is high up my list of films I’d love to see a sequel to, and here’s why: we need it. The prison-industrial complex has only ratcheted up its game in the last 20 years. How much worse would it be with better weapons and post-9/11 security? Some of the same characters would likely still be in the system. And fuck it, let’s have a women’s prison on that plane: I want to see women committing perfectly explicable acts of violence in the name of liberty, as well as men.

And this time, let’s give everyone a happy ending.

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Online abuse: men are the worst, and right-wing white men are the worst of all

Content note: this post discusses online abuse, death threats, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia and neo Nazis

The media discourse on online abuse has always been bloody dire, controlled by people from powerful platforms who are, briefly, wrested from their little grammar school debate club bubble. If you’re reading this blog, you probably feel this already. It’s a dangerous discourse, rooted mostly in bruised ego and utter obliviousness, but I cannot help but think that perhaps it serves a murkier function.

Yesterday, journalist Owen Jones tweeted a sample of the homophobic abuse he receives frequently from right wing men. If one scrolls down the thread, you will see that a certain Professional White Woman Expert On Internet Abuse™ begins yelling at him for pretending that right wing men are the problem, when the real enemy is left wing men and that Jones was derailing from this. In waded the boyfriend of a New Statesman editor to air his views that he was called a “dick”, just that day, by someone on the left (gasp!). Later, A Very Intelligent Man And Homebase Shopper decided to just pop in and go on like Jones was the one being derailing and disingenuous.

All Owen Jones did here was point out that online abuse from men on the right is disgusting, toxic and vicious. And he’s right. I think most of the demographic who read this blog would agree that right wing men are the worst abusers of all, and have at least once received a deluge of nastiness from the neo Nazis, if not a full-on campaign of hate. But in doing that, he challenged the mainstream model, and ranks closed as they felt their control on the narrative slip just slightly.

To the clique, the narrative goes like this: Nice White Ladies are the primary victims internet abuse. Misogynists are conflated with someone who disagrees with some of the frankly unpleasant and oppressive stances these people take. Secondary victims could include  melts being called melts. “Jolyon” and “cis” are apparently slurs on a par with the N-word (perhaps worse, given how silent this large media club remained on the horrific misogynoiristic abuse received by Diane Abbott). This post is abusive, because it’s written by a Not So Nice White Lady, features the word “melt”, mentions Homebase, and disagrees with them.

I mention obliviousness as an explanation of this behaviour, because it may be in part true. Imagine living your whole life in a small privileged bubble of being told you’re special, only to have it exposed that actually, most of the rest of the world think your hot takes are rubbish and wrong. That’d sting. And if you go through life without receiving much nastiness, on account of lucky accidents of your birth, it can make you feel like when you experience a bit of meanness, it’s somewhere on a par with the vicious racism and misogynoir which daily grinds at Black women and WoC; that your being called a slug is comparable with frequent bouts of open homophobia; that someone suggesting your latest newspaper column is shit, using the word “shit”, is exactly the same as when trans women are harassed, threatened, and put at risk.

However, it’s also true that these people receive less shit from the right than the rest of us. This is because they are not resisting right wing men. Men, all men, have pretty much two modes when it comes to relating to others: they like you, or they want to grind you to fucking dust because you haven’t given them their own way. White, right wing, cishet men seem to have the speediest hair trigger on deciding they want to destroy you. And if they don’t want to tear you apart, what are you doing to appeal to them?

The answer is that the particular media sect that likes to control the narrative are useful to the right–from the common-or-garden Tories to the outright neo Nazis. These groups share enemies in common. The TERFs are useful to the right for their hard work in doxxing and smearing trans women. The SWERFs, likewise, but in attacking sex workers. The media misogynoir and calls for a debate about Ordinary People’s Very Real Concerns About Immigration is very useful to the wider cause of racism and white supremacy. The hacks provide a nice, respectable face for the abominable views of the right and do great work in furthering it.

And, of course, any resistance can then easily be smeared as abuse. Perhaps, even, viewed through the lens of ignorance, it can be felt as abuse.

I am not saying here that men on the left are above reproach. Indeed, I’ve pissed off a fair few in my time by engaging in intra-community efforts to tackle misogyny, because it’s our struggle to have (not one for the slugs!). However, it is the right who are by far the worst perpetrators; and I think anyone who has gone up against them by the mere act of existing while opposed to their ideals will agree.

Online abuse narratives are fucked, and it is incredibly difficult to allow the truth of the situation to get out, since it is so controlled by those who would promote a conservative agenda. But the fact of the matter is this: those who talk most about it from their platforms are often the ones who receive least.

Related: How online abuse is politically hijacked, Owen Jones

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Protect our poor white boys from the evils of trigger warnings

An evil stalks our white men, threatening them with seconds of mild awkwardness and the possibility they might have to think about others briefly. I am talking, of course, of trigger warnings. The usage of a short textual warning above content, equivalent to allergy or seizure warnings but relating to mental health, is new to these white men, just catching their attention.

It scares them. It scares them shitless. For many, it is hands down the biggest threat they are facing. And this cannot stand: this historically-cossetted group is finally encountering some adversity: imagine! They may have to think about other people’s feelings, something we have wrapped them in cotton wool to avoid. They may have to take thirty seconds of their time to type a short warning about what lies within an article… or even a book, fancy that! And worst of all–this is something we have tried for millennia to shield the poor souls from–people might, upon reading a trigger warning, choose not to immediately read what they have written.

This cannot stand. Nothing hurts white men’s feelings more than being able to blart their opinions everywhere while everyone smiles and nods. We have trained them into this, they know no different. They must be cushioned against this frightening change that has come upon them.

Of course, the little darlings are not completely defenceless. They have been bravely writing articles everywhere about how they are being censored, frequently getting paid to write about just how censored and silenced they are. They have been compiling “scientific” evidence: did you know “exposure therapy” works? It does, that’s why it’s used so often on chat shows like Maury! And, also, it shows up, like, all the time in films and fiction, where the character “faces their fears” and suddenly it’s no longer a problem. Science!

However, despite their best efforts, it isn’t enough. We are facing perhaps the biggest epidemic of Hurt White Man Feelings since Jeremy Clarkson got sacked. The warm duvets of blissful ignorance may be unwrapped, revealing that some people have experienced far worse than having to summarise content. This cannot be: white men’s problems are obviously the biggest problems.

And so, avoid trigger warnings. They may help survivors, and people with phobias, people with all manner of mental health problems, but let’s not forget the realest of real victims: white men who might have to do something. It is they who must be protected at all costs, because they never had to grow coping mechanisms like the rest of us.


Guest post: ‘What’s he done now?’ Abuse in the IS Network!

Content warning: this post reports sexual violence, physical and emotional abuse, and rape apologism in detail, mentions CSA

This is a statement from “Harriet”, an anonymous former member of the International Socialist Network. She contacted me asking for help in getting her experience out there. Please be warned that her statement describes in detail what happened to her, so please make sure you do what you can to keep yourself safe. Harriet would like her story to be heard.

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‘What’s he done now?’ Abuse in the IS Network!

The following piece is about the physical and emotional abuse I experienced in the IS Network, the organisation that split with the SWP because of the rape of a young woman by the secretary of the SWP. I am writing under an alias to protect my mother from the truth about the abuse I experienced as a child. I may talk to her about this in time, but that’s my decision. The man who did this to me was the secretary of the IS Network at the time he sexually assaulted me. He is currently active on the left and within the unions. His name is Tim.

I’ve just ordered another 2 cans of 13 Guns, I do this often now, numb myself. I like the feeling of my body relaxing, knowing that I don’t have to deal with reality until my subconscious procures my senses and I see what this man did to me in my dreams.

Alcohol releases the intensity of anger. I am on anti-depressants for the first time. The booze and the drugs feel good, calming and replaces the tears and pain with a lightness, allowing me to cope. I want my life back, I want to feel innocent and trusting like I used to, but I know too much to go back.

I realise now, that what we think of as choice is not always so, it’s often forced upon us. If I had a choice I wouldn’t write this piece, because I don’t like hurting anyone, but I don’t have a choice. I have to write this because it’s the right thing to do. I am afraid of writing this article, because I have tried to speak out before but I was called a liar, and messages I wrote to this man were published on my Facebook page, which were taken out of context. I was an organiser in the IS Network and he was a powerful influence within the organisation. He was taken seriously. If I wanted the IS Network to survive I had to forgive him. I had to get him to take me seriously. But he never did.

When I met him I was taken in by his stand against abuse in the SWP, because of this I thought he was different. I have lost count of how many times I have been harassed and sexually assaulted in my life, but I know it started at age 6 and from this age I was a survivor.

Tim was one of the Facebook 4, kicked out of the SWP for standing up against sexism. This is part of the reason I trusted him. But Tim has emotionally abused me for years and from the moment he met me he has targeted me as a sexual object of his desire.

I know now that he is a bully. I remember when he started shaming comrades in his publications on the IS Network website. His writing was provocative, intentionally hostile and defensive but I wanted him to like me so I didn’t say anything. Sometimes I had to compromise what I knew was the right thing to do intuitively. But If I did I would be out of the clique. A group of comrade from the IS Network would organise separately to the official IS Network Facebook group and when I realised this was a group of people bantering at best and using it to bully other comrades outside of the clique at worst I left. This was raised by other younger comrades in the IS Network as an issue after I left the group, but dealt with antagonistically by members of the clique.

At times I have felt particularly angered so I have stood up to Tim’s bullying of others, such as when he ridiculed a comrade on Facebook for posting selfies. This was obviously gendered because I only ever saw him ridicule selfies taken by men. But the fact of the matter is that Tim does not like being challenged for his behaviour so he complained to the steering committee that I was ‘abusing’ him on Facebook because I was standing up for a comrade he was clearly bullying.

I often felt that his behaviour towards others on the left was bullying, ridiculing their comments and pictures.

I knew I was healthily challenging his behaviour but I bowed to the pressure, apologised and left the group he was organising, even though I had just carried hundreds of leaflets for them for miles and hurt myself doing so, only to arrive back to the flat with the box of flyers, to more piss taking on Facebook. But we couldn’t lose another exceptional talent.

When we first met he said I was different and he wanted to go out with me. I wasn’t sure who he was comparing me to, but I was flattered. I was feeling good in myself, my hair had mostly grown back and my weight was good, I wasn’t too thin and even though I wasn’t feeling great about what had happened in the SWP, I was generally healthy. I certainly didn’t drink every day like I do now, drinking came later.

In retrospect, I remember he always had a lot to say to men, but he hardly spoke to me. He generally wanted sex and quickly. I remember on one occasion at a party with IS Network comrades he asked me to go upstairs and he would follow, mocking me to get my attention. He always wanted to get me into bed so quickly. It always came out of nothing too. He took advantage of the fact I liked him, even though we established we were only going to be friends.

He dumped me after the second time sleeping together, this was before the time above actually, and in fact literally straight after sleeping together, but even though it hurt, I took it well and told him that I would be happy to be friends with him. But he could never do friendship, this became obvious over the next couple of years. He had a hold over me, and I am sure he was well aware of this.

Then came the assault when he was the secretary of the IS Network, the splinter group of the SWP. The group that left the SWP because of the abusive secretary of the SWP.

This is the statement I wrote but is remains unpublished until now:

I have been angry with Tim for a long time – his sister was right in pointing this out, however, my anger towards him was never directed at her, I was angry with her because she never challenged his behaviour and would hate people on the basis that they upset Tim. The reason I was angry with Tim and still am is because of the way he treated me.
I never got to tell Tim why and how he hurt me, because he always refused to listen. The reason I emailed him to tell him it was over after the night of his birthday party wasn’t just because of my feelings for him or not wanting to get hurt, it was because he had already hurt me. Tim pressured me into having sexual relations with him, which he should have realised I didn’t want, because I repeatedly made that clear to him.

The incident I refer to occurred after I was persuaded to go to his birthday party in Bristol a day before the IS Network conference in Sheffield. The invite came at the last minute after it was implied only certain people from the Facebook invitation group would be welcome, and I felt a bit uncomfortable going because every time I saw Tim in person he would try it on with me, we would end up having consensual sexual relations and then he would ignore me afterwards, which made it really difficult working as an organiser in the IS Network.

The night in question was the same as usual, he came on to me and I reciprocated. As usual, we hadn’t spoken much that evening before he asked me to sit on the sofa and then kissed me hard as soon as another comrade walked out of the room – everyone else had gone home or gone to bed. I was very aware when this was going on that I was on my period, so when he said he wanted to fuck me hard I tried to pretend he didn’t say ‘hard’ and responded ‘you want to fuck me?’, he said yes but hard.

At this point I told him I was on my period so I couldn’t, but he persisted and asked me to go to the bathroom with him so we could have some privacy. As soon as we were in the bathroom and he started kissing me I pulled away and told him I didn’t want to do this and I was very cold, at which point he got the message and went downstairs and I told him I was going to the toilet, and then he walked in on me when I was on the toilet and I had to tell him to leave – he apologised and left.

I went back downstairs, but another comrade had taken the sofa and Tim the only other chair, at this point I was tired and just wanted to fall asleep in his arms. I climbed onto the sofa with him. Tim said he thought he was taking advantage of me and that he liked to have sex with beautiful and intelligent women. At this point I felt used and pressured and felt as if I should be pleasing him.

I didn’t want to do anything but we started kissing and he asked if I would get naked with him, I didn’t want to do anything while I was on my period, our comrade was on the next sofa and I was tired and cold, so I told him I was cold and he said he would warm me up. I felt the pressure so I took off my top, at which point he grabbed my hand and took me back upstairs to the bathroom. In the bathroom he immediately went down on me, I was not turned on at all, but was more concerned about being on my period and kept pulling his right hand up to check it for blood. I forgot to bring a change of sanitary products with me so was feeling particularly vulnerable.

Tim realised I wasn’t getting wet and turned on, at which point he told me he liked it when I was wet and he licked me, implying that he didn’t like that I wasn’t wet. Tim then moved on to sucking and then biting my left nipple, and carried on after I told him that it was hurting me, but he kept saying he couldn’t hear me, even though I kept on crying it out and he carried on biting my nipple until he bit it red raw and hurt me so badly that I had to physically pull him away, but he ignored me and continued to bite my nipple. I remember very little after this.

The next day after conference I felt awful. When I took my bra off that evening the skin on my left nipple came away and I started bleeding. I felt used and abused and like I didn’t want him near me again. I emailed Tim that week to say we couldn’t do that again. This was the only time sexual relations with him felt like sexual assault so I confided in a friend not very long after the incident and she advised me that consent boundaries were crossed.

We argued often after this incident and I felt he was always angry with me and tried to control me.

Then I confided in the women’s caucus about being abused when I was 6 years old. I confided to the women’s caucus in confidence, to explain why I had been so upset with dealing with the subject of the SWP being allowed on campus. I ended up getting into an argument with a woman in the caucus, which we realised afterwards was a complete misunderstanding, but in order to prove what had happened in the caucus she said that she would publish it in the main group. This was a private argument, which included confidential information about me. I was worried this information was going to be published in the main group with both genders, so I said if it was I was going to make complaint.

Tim publicly humiliated me in the IS Network Facebook group and tried to obstruct my complaint. His sister, who was a member of the complaints group, liked Tim’s comment obstructing my complaint on Facebook. This was a clear conflict of interest and should have been immediately picked up by the complaints group and she should have stepped down from her position of authority on this case. Instead she used her position to further marginalise me and undermine my legitimate concerns about confidentiality and abuse.

The abuse that took place in my neighbour’s house at the age of 6 was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, I convinced myself at the time that I was dying, I started losing my hair and became increasingly distant from those around me.

It had taken me 20 years to admit the abuse I went through as a child to my sister and thought I could trust the women in the women’s caucus but no one apart from 2 women stood by me in the IS Network Facebook group that day. I was completely alone and ended up with severe depression and months off work. I still tried to keep the ISN going, but with very little support from anyone around me.

Then when I approached Tim to discuss these issues he decided to go and tell all of our Bristol comrades that I have a mental illness. I was stupidly still trying to see some good in him. Hoping he would apologise for how he treated me. The constant emotional abuse and the physical abuse. I never wanted to go public with this, because I never wanted to forget the goodness I saw in him, the person who I see others love. I never wanted to take that away from them.

I want an apology for what Tim did to me. I want to join a political group without being told I am problematic. I want my old self back, the person who used to trust and laugh, the woman who loved her comrades and friends and always welled up when I spent time with my comrades, because they made me so proud to know such principled people who would always stand up and fight. I want to not feel broken anymore. And I want to love again like I used to. In order to realise all these things I needed to write this piece.

Always, Harriet Casey

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Supporting statement from Kaff

I have witnessed Tim’s behaviour towards Harriet and fully support her above statement. I was present at a gathering of ISN comrades in Bristol and I was worried about his behaviour. He was being very overt in his sexual advances and Harriet looked uncomfortable. I would have been very uncomfortable in that situation also. I also remember that Harriet seemed to want to stay with us all where we were sat, in the dining room, but Tim was very much focussed on going upstairs with her and I remember a conversation that involved his sister saying that Harriet shouldn’t be getting involved with Tim because she was still living with a previous partner under complicated circumstances. I thought that was very odd because she didn’t once appear to be advancing on Tim sexually, he was the one making sexual advances on her. I had no preconceptions about anyone at this gathering at that point because I was still very new to politics and had only met Tim briefly before. Following this night, Tim’s responses to Harriet’s comments on Facebook posts were very unpleasant and he was bullying her. She received very little support from anyone and we all let her down. The reason I am writing this is because I don’t want her to be alone in this anymore, she needs all of our full support. by Kaff


Occupy Sussex tried to cover up organising with rape apologists, pass it on

Content warning: this post discusses rape apologism

If you could take two minutes out of your cathartic time laughing at the fact David Cameron fucked a pig, that’d be peachy. This is important but it won’t take long.

Occupy Sussex are an anti-austerity student movement, and until recently, one of the few organisations with the word “Occupy” in the title I’ve had any time for. They seemed to be making a genuine effort to buck the trend of the dreadful misogynistic stuff groups with the word “Occupy” in the title generally get up to, by passing three motions against pro-rape party the SWP, and openly refusing to organise with the paste-tabled rape apologists. They were also pretty good on safer spaces.

Not any more, it seems. Occupy Sussex have invited the SWSS (the SWP’s student group) to a Free Education meeting tonight. According to an anonymous source who is a survivor,

“Some people essentially decided to run the campaign and took the liberty of inviting the SWP members. This wasn’t announced to anyone and three previous votes had banned the SWP, so survivors would have went in to the room and been faced with the SWP without any warning. Someone pointed out how devastating that would be for survivors but their argument was essentially that there are survivors on both sides, others in the campaign got hurt too, and people were uncomfortable with banning. Ultimately they prioritise having more members over having a safe space. After everything the campaign have dragged survivors through over the past two years, to just disregard that hurt and the three votes, they have given survivors the option of either working with rape apologists, or leaving.”

The Occupy Sussex Twitter account has been taken over by someone who protests the decision, and locked out those who think it’s perfectly fine to invite those who welcome rapists to meetings, despite the consensus being against that.

There’s two key points to why the decision to invite the SWP to Occupy Sussex’s meeting is very bad, which I’ll just spell out quickly:

  1. The SWP are rape apologist scum who shouldn’t be invited anywhere.
  2. Occupy Sussex literally democratically passed motions against inviting these fucking rape apologist scum to anything.

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There is only one survivor willing to defend the decision to invite the SWP, and surprise surprise, she’s SWP. This is a pretty classic tactic: just because one survivor is comfortable organising with the SWP doesn’t mean everybody is. In fact, given Occupy Sussex’s previous track record on survivor-led motions against the SWP, it looks like the general consensus is that these rape apologists should fuck off.

It’s disappointing to see some individuals within Occupy Sussex trying to reverse the consensus on organising with rape apologists, and unfortunately it will lead to a smaller movement, not a bigger one. Yes, they’ll have opened up to crusty trots selling newspapers, but they’ll have lost the support of a lot of people whose significance they have probably underestimated: women and survivors.

The individuals in Occupy Sussex who want to invite a pro-rape party into the fold would rather this remained quiet. They were hoping their spitting in the faces of women and survivors would go unnoticed, uncommented upon. It shouldn’t. It mustn’t. This is an enormous fuckup which can be fixed–all they need to do is prioritise the will of survivors against the desire to include rape apologists.

And now back to your regularly-scheduled giggling at the fact the Prime Minister fucked a dead pig. I don’t think my pun got nearly enough love.


2014 in review

Content note: this post discusses sexual violence and police violence

And so we reach the end of the year, and despite promising myself I wouldn’t do this, I am doing one of those icky “look back over the past year” kind of things, I’m doing it anyway (I was also meant to stop smoking this year, and I didn’t).

In truth, it’s been a little difficult to write this because there’s been a huge split between the personal and the political for me in 2014. In my personal life, 2014 has been brilliant. I love, and am loved. I have some financial security for the first time in my life. I managed to get quite a lot of my novel written. Everything’s coming up stavvers. It wasn’t all brilliant, of course. I wounded my fanny and got stalked by trolls.

However, 2014 has been pretty uniformly dire outside of my own personal little bubble, and I’ve had a lot to be pissed off about. Each week since the killing of Michael Brown, US cops have taken another Black life. The situation is also bad in the UK: the same pattern of killing and then lying keeps on and our pigs find ways of murdering without even having to carry guns. I haven’t commented on this much, because it’s not my place as a white woman, but I’ve almost weekly shared some content in my post round-ups which I thoroughly recommend you read. All of it. Take an afternoon.

In the UK, our political situation is looking pretty terrible, and it’s unlikely to change in the near future. With a general election looming in 2015, things are going to become completely insufferable. It’s the media’s fault, of course. The media has a fascination with leaders and white men, so we’ve been presented with two ghastly choices: do want Nigel Farage and fascism, or Russell Brand and the curse of left misogyny, God and some really badly-developed thought? One cannot move without tripping over either of these clowns. Of course, this is a false dichotomy: there’s heaps of possibilities, but a media owned by white men cannot conceptualise something which doesn’t involve dreadful white men flapping their awful mouths off.

The awful people who are already in government are making a right fucking hash of things too. We have Theresa May, determined to murder every single migrant, starting with the most vulnerable, like LGBT women. We have Iain Duncan Smith, who is trying to murder the poor through violently stopping their means of subsistence. They’ve been as nasty as ever this year, but come 2015 we’re unlikely to see any improvement even if the red party get elected.

Meanwhile, men who have been in government are emerging as paedophiles and rapists. A constantly-stalling investigation is ongoing into the child abuse rings at Westminster. Unfortunately, because cops and politicians are in each other’s pockets, corruption keeps cropping up and things grind to a halt again as yet more coverups come to light. I’m also a little concerned about the men who are still in Westminster. Nigel Evans, although cleared, was ruled even by the judge to be a complete fucking creep and were it not for his status, I suspect they may have thrown the book at him.

This has been, overall, a pretty good year for violent misogynists. Rapist Ched Evans waltzed out of prison, and, while Sheffield United chose to do the right thing (eventually) and drop him like the turd he is, it’s still entirely possible he may get to continue his illustrious career at another club, all the while continually proving he has learned nothing about consent. Shia LaBeouf spoke out about his experience of rape… to a near-universal chorus of disbelief from men. These were the sort of men who love to bring up “but men get raped too” when women talk about rape, but nonetheless failed to show any support to a male survivor. We also saw misogynist Elliot Rodger go on a killing spree while men tried to downplay the fact this was directly motivated by misogyny. Meanwhile popular left rag The Morning Star spike an article about violent misogynist Steve Hedley, because the left still hasn’t got its affairs in order there.

2014 has been very bad indeed for those of us with uteruses. In Ireland, many of us heard with horror the story of a dead woman whose body was kept on life support while her family were forced to watch her decompose because she had had the misfortune of dying while pregnant. This ghoulish act of violence was a direct result of Ireland’s absurdly restrictive abortion rights, and the judge only ruled that life support could be turned off because the foetus had no chance of surviving. Meanwhile in the UK, the situation is better, but last month our abortion rights were restricted further as sex-selective abortions were banned.

It was also a pretty bad year for sex workers, with momentum growing for the “Swedish model” which does not do anything to make the lives of sex workers safer, and many sex workers say will make things worse. Transmisogyny, too, continues to run rife, with transmisogynists turning up to picket lesbian pride parades and disrupt feminist conferences.

Alas, feminist movement and resistance is spotty at best. I am hoping, perhaps, that we can get our affairs in order in 2015, because we’re going to need to fight all the harder. For this to happen, we need to drop a lot of the crap we’ve been pulling. We need to inventory ourselves, honestly assessing what we may be doing wrong and where we are complicit in kyriarchical violence. We need to challenge violent thought where we see it, so that we may stand shoulder to shoulder with sisters of all colours, all genders, with our disabled sisters and our queer sisters and our trans sisters. Together, we are many, and we must overcome these divisions in 2015 if we are to stand a chance of winning.


Another open letter to Russell Brand (this one’s shorter and not shit)

Dear Russell,

You’ve no doubt seen the tl;dr open letter to you, which the Indy rather bafflingly described as hilarious and the best thing I’d read today. It’s a cartoonish parody of a city worker, about as funny as a smear test and ranks only slightly lower than the HTML template I had to find an error in in terms of things I read today. Let’s be honest. We both know that pigshit helps you, precisely because the protagonist comes across so thoroughly unsympathetic and concerned about his fucking lunch. I half-wondered if you wrote it yourself: parts of it were reminiscent of your book in its tendency to ramble and repeat itself and kind of skirt around a point without ever making one.

But anyway. On to my points. First of all, let’s talk about you, Russell. I’m hardly the only one who’s sick of seeing your face leering everywhere, like Nigel Farage with unbrushed hair and an orange juice instead of a pint. You’ve rather successfully made vast swathes of movement all about you (in much the same vein that Farage has made vast swathes of different movements all about him). I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but I think you’re quite an intelligent man, Russell, so you must know that when you turn up somewhere, the meaning and the cause will be lost in a rush to photograph you. If I were in that situation, I’d stop turning up places, take on a more supportive role. I’d publicise, promote and signal boost, making the words of those I wanted to support clear rather than making it about myself. Or fuck it, if I really wanted to be there, I’d wear a mask, and slip into anonymity. You’re not doing this: you’re eclipsing the work of ordinary people organising with your fame.

It’s beginning to look rather a lot like you’re simply profiting from the hard work of others. You’ve published your booky-wook, and I hear you’re now working on a film. It’s sad, because there’s so much thought coming out from the people who are knee-deep in this, for whom the stakes are high. You could have used your connections to get them published. Hell, you could have fronted some money for printing zines. You could make this work more visible.

More broadly speaking, Russell, you’re a bit of a sticking point at the moment. See, you’ve never really let yourself be held accountable for the sexism or the racism you perpetrated in your past. You’ll notice that your supporters are predominately straight white men. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of us who would rather you weren’t around. I’m neither the only queer nor the only woman who would really rather you buggered off. Your hanging around like a bad smell is alienating: your revolution is not our revolution. Your supporters insist on unity, and for some reason that manifests as unifying around you rather than unifying against yet another rich white straight dude who fancies centring the world on himself.

I’ve read portions of your book. I know you think rapist Julian Assange is hard done by, a slap in the face for the vast number of survivors shafted by capitalism. I know you think that deep down we can all get along with homophobes like the Westboro Baptist Church, which is something most of us queers know isn’t possible. I know you still think it’s acceptable to manhandle women: I saw the way you grabbed that woman during that whole business where you were confronted by that journalist about your housing arrangements.

Basically, Russell, I’m asking you very nicely to sort your shit out or fuck the fuck off. I suspect the former might be a challenge, but I’m willing to keep an eye on you and make sure you do your stuff. Likewise, if you choose the latter, I have a very nice bin in which you can be placed.

Anyway, been nice chatting to you. Toodle-pip. xoxo

P.S. In writing this, I bet the shop I get my lunch from has sold out of hot food. And nice food.