Category Archives: not angry just disappointed

Two alternatives to #WomenBoycottTwitter that don’t rely on women’s silencing

After Twitter extending their risible “abuse” policy to a suspension of a celebrity white woman speaking out against sexual violence, the problems in their model have been laid bare, and to my pleasant surprise, people are talking about taking action (I’d been pessimistic about this).

Unfortunately, it’s entirely the wrong kind of action: a women’s boycott. This is a problem, because once again, it forces us to do the heavy lifting. And once again, it forces us to silence ourselves: the very opposite of what we should be doing.

So, here’s two things that can be done. One is an activity for men who consider themselves allies. The other is for all of us. Especially women.

#AmplifyWomen

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This is a very simple thing for men to do: shut up and use their reach to amplify women’s voices. Not just on the day of the boycott (though I will be side-eyeing you if you aren’t), but every day. Twitter’s problem is not that women aren’t refusing to use their broken website; it’s that they aren’t being heard. Men, this is your chance to do something positive and useful. Don’t talk. Don’t reply telling us we’re special. Don’t slip into our DMs. Don’t white-knight for us. Simply amplify women’s voices. We’re saying all the things you wanted us to say, if only you’d listen.

In particular, amplify the voices of marginalised women: black women, trans women, queer women, disabled women, women of colour. These are the voices that need to be heard.

As well as being highly beneficial for women, you men might learn something. It’s a habit worth trying to form, and the results may surprise you.

Delete your data

A lot of Twitter’s money comes from your data: selling information about you to advertisers, placing ads at you, and so forth. Instead of boycotting Twitter, hit them where it hurts, in the moneymaker. Here’s some tips for doing this.

  1. Use an adblocker. They know you’re doing it. It hurts the advertisers’ feelings. Also, you should be using an adblocker anyway.
  2. Turn off personalised ads. Hit “disable all” here. While they’re still collecting your information, they can’t use it, which pisses them off.
  3. Edit your data. Twitter makes guesses at your age and gender for advertisers. You can change them here. My gender is “communist”, and I’m age 13-54.
  4. Turn off location. Again, it’s data about you, don’t let them have it.
  5. Delete your interests. Twitter likes guessing at your interests for all the marketing. There’s a list here, and you can delete all of them.
  6. Block your “tailored audiences”. This dovetails with the personalised ad settings. You’ll find, here, that you’re a member of some personalised audiences. You can request the data. Do it. They’ll send you an email. Block every single account on it. Note: this may take a while and is a bit of a faff. They send the data as a pdf, which you’ll need to convert into a csv–it requires a bit of annoying copy pasting. Next, upload your new block list by going here and selecting “Import a list” from the advanced options menu. Follow the steps and bingo! You’ve blocked your tailored audiences, which is bad for Twitter’s business model. (ETA 14/10/17- the bulk block feature seems to no longer work. Oh well. Do the rest, and if you’re really committed, do please manually block as many of those accounts as possible. And remember to block every advertiser you see!)
  7. Make your content unprofitable. Twitter owns a pretty broad copyright licence on what you’re posting there. Drop a few f-bombs into your tweets. Append silly gifs to everything. Hate white men, hate Nazis, loudly and proudly. Tweet a lot about how shit Twitter’s policies are. If you have 280 characters, tweet in 140, and use the other 140 to append stuff about how appalling their policy is to every goddamn tweet. 

ETA: Here’s another one. Love your block button x

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We shouldn’t be silencing ourselves. We mustn’t silence ourselves. Instead, it’s time to retake Twitter.

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TERFs are using Nazi tactics. Don’t let it work.

Content note: this post discusses transmisogynistic bigots and Nazis

There was a hoo-ha last night, where a horde of trans women allegedly surrounded a transmisogynist gathering and one of the transmisogynistic bigots got punched.

Now, there are reasons to doubt their side of the events, reason to believe that the punch was in self-defence and major inconsistencies all across what they are claiming happened, and reasons to wonder why the police didn’t arrest anyone when they’re in the habit of nicking trans people for holding banners that hurt their feelings, let alone an alleged major assault. But I’m not going to talk about that. (update: seems as if it was an unequivocal act of self-defence (pics here) (witness statement here), which I can’t say I didn’t expect)

What I want to point out is the similarity in tactics between the transmisogynists’ narrative, and tactics deployed successfully by Nazis. Our current face of Nazism–the alt right, neo-Nazis, the far right, whatever your style guide demands you call them–rather like to play the victim. When Richard Spencer got punched (lol) the Nazis were very keen to whine about it. When anti-fascist protesters come out to defend their communities, the Nazis, and their chum Donald Trump, are falling over themselves to denounce violence “on both sides”. Centrists are always eager to back up these narratives, because they love a good middle ground almost as much as they love pretending they’re not enablers of fascism.

This, of course, serves a purpose. It drags discussion away from “Nazis are bad, how can we stop them?” to “punching is bad”. It has been a Nazi tactic since Nazis were invented; Hitler rather liked to claim that he and his were victims of unprovoked violence from the people they wanted wiped out.

Now, transmisogynistic bigots have rather a lot in common with Nazis already. They both share an unhealthy fascination with trans people’s genitalia, where trans people pee, concern trolling about safety, and a general desire to see trans people eliminated entirely. They have been known to work together on certain projects, in particular surrounding “bathroom bills”. It seems, in their cosy discussion groups about how to ban trans people from public life, the transmisogynistic bigots and the Nazis have also been exchanging tactics.

What the transmisogynists want more than anything in the world right now is to stop talking about their repulsive ideology and their repugnant tactics, and talk about the merits and drawbacks of political violence. They want to draw sympathy from the gullible centre, who uncritically lap up victim-playing rhetoric, because centrists dislike impoliteness far more than they reject hate.

Let’s not let them.

Let us stay focused on why there was a protest in the first place.

A few days ago, it was noticed that New Cross People’s Library was hosting an event headlined by one Dr Julia Long, a long-time harasser of trans women who picketed a lesbian pride parade. Those of us who aren’t exactly keen on hate crimes gave the venue a ring and asked them to cancel. The venue did.

Transmisogynists have a lot of access to money though. Bigotry is lucrative. This meant that they could move their little two hours’ hate to a private members’ club.

These are all things we could be talking about: the fact that there are rich bigots who have a proven track record of harassing trans women. But this is indefensible, so they’d rather we talked about something else. If not an alleged assault, it would have certainly been the old freeze peach complaint–again, a page straight out of the Nazi playbook.

So let us not play into their hands with endless, fruitless discussions of violence. Let us stay on topic: these are nasty people who do nasty, indefensible things with their money. Let’s not let this Nazi tactic work, but instead let’s think about everything these people have been doing. That they actively campaign to remove healthcare from people. That they join hands with Nazis to prevent trans people from leaving the house. That they have a visceral obsession with the genitals of little children. That they do everything in their considerable power to smear and harass women who are just trying to exist.

This is what they don’t want us talking about. And this is what we must keep talking about.

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Usually this is the point where I link to my Patreon. I’m not doing that today. Instead, I ask you to make a donation, big or small, to Action For Trans Health.


Opposing fascists makes us better than them

Content note: this post discusses nazis, violence, murder

The emboldened far right across the pond are now at the point of marching in the streets with their swastikas and literally killing people who oppose them. Most of us–and many of us who are reading this–told you this would happen. There was resistance: the Charlottesville community did not let neo-Nazis go unopposed. They stood together, and did what they could to stop those fuckers from passing and show that they utterly reject the far right ideology. Symbolic, perhaps, but utterly necessary.

Standing against literal fucking Nazis is the most basic fucking resistance, and one which it perpetually surprises me remains controversial. Sure, the fash hate it, and that’s to be expected. But there are also pockets of liberals who are utterly disgusted by any squeak of resistance. They would rather not see opposition, but are wedded to us all sitting down with people who would like to see us dead, and having a nice debate. To do anything other than chum up and be nice to Nazis makes us as bad as them. 

Hating Nazis is bigotry.

Hating racism is hateful and bad.

Expressing horror at Nazis is intolerant and stepping on their free speech.

Physically preventing Nazis from operating and organising is the worst kind of violence.

Any squeak of opposition to fascism, in this jolyonic mindset, makes us just as bad as the Nazis.

Let me tell you this: that’s bullshit. Hating and opposing Nazis makes us better than them. It means that we have the basest level of comprehension that this is a violent ideology that must be organised against and rejected. The lives of our friends, our family, our loved ones depend upon it. This is an ideology that would see so many people exterminated. They are already killing people. Not metaphorically, not indirectly through policy, but literally fucking running down people in cars. This is an ideology which, seventy years after a war which was ostensibly to stamp that shit out, is once again gaining ground.

Resistance is an ugly, messy business. It is real people opposing a real problem. Sometimes this resistance entails hurting a Nazi’s feelings. Sometimes it involves real people physically preventing fascists from assembling or marching (for the numpties at the back: go and learn what freedom of speech is if you think that’s violating any freedom of speech rights). Sometimes it will involve physical violence.

The kicker is, it probably wouldn’t have had to get to this point if more mainstream support–rhetorical and street-based–had been given to anti-fascist organising before large groups of swastika-waving fash felt ballsy enough to march around in the streets.

A lot of the people getting squeamish over any semblance of resistance to Nazis would be the first to say that yeah, they’d probably go back in time and kill Hitler as a baby. So why the pearl-clutching over some Nazis getting a smack in the face? Is it because their friends, family and loved ones are more likely to be fucking fash than the people who will be threatened by them? Is it because they just never bothered learning their history?

Either way, now is not a time for hand-wringing. It’s a time for opposition. It’s got too far already, and it cannot be allowed to get any further. Take a principled stand, in any way you can. Organise. Support organisation. State clearly that you oppose fascism in all forms. You don’t have to personally punch any Nazis, but stand with those who do.

I’m an optimist, so I feel like we are not truly fucked yet. We’re on a knife-edge, but we have a chance to prevent another rise of the Nazis. But to do that, we need the liberals to get over their distaste for any form of opposition.

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“I don’t know, let me find out”: learn this phrase. Use it.

I’ve hit the end of my tether with this fucking election. It’s driving me right up the wall, daily doses of bullshit. Today, it’s one politician making what the Jolyons treat as the worst boo-boo ever. Tomorrow, it’ll be another.

The boo-boo in question is not knowing some numbers off the top of your head, as though politics were no more than an end-of-the-pier mentalism show. The politician–who will always be The Absolute Worst, unless they are a shiny member of the pigfucking class and therefore more palatable to news outlet owners–will generally respond in one of two ways. They will give a wrong figure, presented with confidence, which is Bad. Or they will admit that they do not know off the top of their head. This is Worse.

The latter is Worse because it does not fit in with macho politics, which, of course, reflects some of the worst trappings of masculinity. The phenomenon is related to mansplaining, blurting out any old guff without any expertise, yet with all the confidence in the world. To say “I don’t know, let me find out,” is to back down, admit weakness.

For myself, it was a difficult journey getting myself in the position where I could admit that I was not a computer, able to immediately spit out the right data on request. As a woman in STEM, it’s one of the worst things you can say (despite the entirety of science being built on identifying what we don’t know, and finding out!). As a girl surrounded by boys, you’re considered a thick bimbo. In schools, your teachers will tut when you’re put on the spot and can’t perform. It’s an age-old valued skill, and I suspect it dates back to antiquity, the orators droning things out from their head.

But it’s a bullshit skill, demonstrating only your ability to be spoonfed and regurgitate. It smacks of public school, the political and media class being steeped in its values.

“I don’t know, let me check” is a beautiful phrase. It is honest, and you emerge smarter from the act of checking. You have learned something that you didn’t know. You have proved yourself aware of the limits of your knowledge, and willing to grow, in a very slight way.

I have more respect, any day, for someone who can do this.

The transition from awkward to liberated, for me, was a little slow, but I forced myself to keep saying “I don’t know, let me find out”, when I didn’t know and needed to find out. People would look at me like I was stupid, but you know what? I emerge knowing a little bit more, every time I check. And I realised just how little that others are growing.

I want to see more value placed on self-awareness and willingness to learn, replacing the value placed on false confidence and spurting bollocks. I want to see a sign of weakness turned into a sign of strength: someone who will grow rather than stagnate.

And yet I feel, in the macho shitshow that is the world, this is likely doomed to fail. But I don’t know that for sure–and I’d like to find out by trying.

 

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The Twitter etiquette that matters: A brief guide to not being annoying in our mentions

Twitter’s recent new (hideous) interface has, rather vexingly, made it easier for trolls and well-meaning people alike to commit some behaviours which are, at best, terribly annoying and at worst, thoroughly rude. Now, I can tell that some people don’t mean to be this bothersome, so this post is for you. Try to avoid doing these things, and perhaps my mentions will no longer have to RIP.

@ people out

I cannot emphasise this enough. If someone who is @-ed in to a group conversation isn’t responding or engaging (by favouriting, for example), maybe @ them out. Otherwise their mentions will be clogged up with a conversation which doesn’t interest them. Consider @-ing them out once it’s hit about five tweets in the conversation that they haven’t engaged with.

The new interface has made @-ing out/untagging harder, because it draws attention away from how many people are in the conversation. Be mindful of this. Also, follow this easy-peasy guide to untagging.

(basically, if this isn’t loading for you, click the usernames above the tweet you’re replying to and untick the people you’re untagging. I include the graphic because some people prefer visuals)

Now, I’ve been the dick who hasn’t @-ed people out, and it’s annoyed them. So if it hits the point where they ask to be @-ed out, consider apologising… without @-ing everyone else in!

Use “reply all” functions sparingly

Again, Twitter’s new interface defaults to “reply all”, which increases your chances of spamming up someone’s timeline. Think about who you want to talk to. If you’ve seen a good tweet where several people are tagged, do you want to say “good stuff” to all of them? Or just the person who said the good tweet? Use the tagging-out protocol above, because Twitter will automatically reply all. And, again, in a group conversation, remember to tag people out once they stop engaging.

Try not to spam people with things you want them to see… and definitely don’t spam multiple people at once!

I have a fair amount of followers, so often get “please RT”-type tweets, or someone showing me a bad news story, or someone sharing a blog they wrote. I don’t necessarily mind this, although I will point out that I might not see your tweet, especially if my notifications are all spammed up by people doing the things I’m asking for a bit of etiquette in.

What is annoying, though, is when you tag in multiple people into you tweet. Now, this is annoying for a lot of reasons, primarily among them being half the time at least one of the other high-profile many-followers accounts is someone with whom I have mortal beef. Just because you enjoy following someone, doesn’t mean I want to be added into the conversation. If you’d like me to see something, send it to me, personally, not me and every dimly feminist celebrity or journalist you can think of. If we follow each other, a DM might even be more appropriate.

And more annoying still is when someone tagged decides to reply all when saying “I’ll retweet this” or whatever. Please do not do this.

Unfortunately, Twitter’s new interface makes spamming even easier. Now, spammers are not constrained by character limits so can @ infinite people into one tweet. For goodness sake, don’t do this.

Don’t snitch

Sometimes, people on Twitter will be snarking about a horrible celebrity. And this’ll happen by the medium of subtweeting. And then someone comes along and is all like “Yeah! @KTHopkins is a massive turd.” Congratulations, you fucking snitch. You just drew attention of a high-profile celebrity and could expose everyone to a torrent of abuse. Please, for god’s sake, if you want to tell a celebrity they’re a dickhead, don’t have other people tagged into the conversation. Celebrities are horrid, vain people, many of whom will merrily weaponise their followers.

Incidentally, this is why a lot of people who have experienced abusive Twitter shitstorms may use asterisks to mask a celebrity’s name, because celebs namesearch too. So if you’re replying when somebody has masked a celeb’s name, join them in doing so. Don’t snitch.

tl;dr

Tagging is something you should think carefully about. It’s also something which Twitter has made harder to think carefully about. Keep it on your mind, and try not to be the spammer.

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A short twitter thread on “fake news” and how the media created it

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I have revised my opinion of Wikileaks: it’s trash

Content note: this post discusses prison, suicide, transmisogyny, rape and violence against women

A little over five years ago, I wrote an article titled “I think Julian Assange is a rapist. I still like Wikileaks.” As per the disclaimer on my site, my views have evolved. I now think Julian Assange is a rapist and I also think Wikileaks is absolute trash.

Today, it was announced that Chelsea Manning–who was responsible for the leaks which made Wikileaks a household name–faces indefinite solitary confinement or a harsher prison, almost a decade added to her sentence, and she may lose her parole. She faces this as punishment for already having had such a horrible time in a men’s prison that she attempted to take her own life. And of course, she is only in prison in the first place because Wikileaks failed to protect her, despite all their branding suggesting that they would. (AssAngels will at this point go on like she confessed and blabbed to a man Wikileaks already identified as a threat, because I think this is the Assange-approved talking point. OK. Say that’s true. Wikileaks should’ve definitely at the very least briefed her on basic advice: “don’t tell anyone else, and if arrested, don’t confess.” That they didn’t even do this reflects horribly on them).

One would think that a woman facing torture would be a subject which Wikileaks might deem worthy of comment, even if they weren’t responsible for her being in the hands of the torturers in the first place. One would think.

The news broke this morning, and there has not been a peep on the topic from Wikileaks, although their social media accounts and website have been active.

No. Instead, Wikileaks have been focusing on some pretty uninteresting emails showing that political campaigners squabble among themselves and get mean to media outlets–something which a seven year old could have told you. Also, this leak may or may not have been orchestrated by Putin. But don’t worry. This week, Wikileaks have also been leaking information from a country undergoing severe political turmoil! Yeah, like leaking the details of millions of Turkish women at a time when their government is about to aggressively crack down.

It’s becoming abundantly clear that Wikileaks has an agenda, and it isn’t a very nice agenda. It’s a classic, bog-standard, right wing misogynist agenda, much like the governments they claim to oppose.

I should stop using “they” for Wikileaks, to be honest. I’m not convinced Wikileaks consists of anyone else but rat-faced probably rapist Julian Assange these days.

So anyway, mea culpa. I once liked Wikileaks. I now realise it is utter trash. Wikileaks appear to have thoroughly forgotten Chelsea Manning as much as the state who wish to kill her wish the rest of us would.