Category Archives: rage at the system

Witch hunt.

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

Picture a witch. The worst, wickedest witch you can. The kind of witch who causes crops to fail, floats in water due to Satan’s power, and all-round causes trouble for men.

Your witch doesn’t look like a powerful white man accused of sexual violence, does she?

So why is it, then, that whenever a powerful white man is accused of sexual violence, his defenders rally around and decry the whole thing as a witch hunt?

In the early modern period, many Europeans were killed in witch hunts. Up to 90% of these people were women (ETA I HAVE BEEN CALLED OUT ON THIS AND I AM WRONG. Read this thread. I have erased trans women in this article. READ THIS THREAD. I just want to clarify my stance that of COURSE when I use the term “women” I am including trans women. Every time. But I can do a lot more to be clear about this. I also always welcome call-outs. I’m trying, but I’m still capable of being wrong. I unconditionally apologise for any harm I caused by blarting my cluelessly cis opinions.)These so-called witches were denounced, blamed and ultimately tortured and killed.

The sort of person who cries “witch hunt!” are devoid of any analysis of what actually occurred in the witch hunts and witch trials. Yes, members of the community would accuse the perceived witch. That’s where the similarities end. See, witchcraft and consorting with the devil is bullshit. Sexual violence is not. Sexual violence is frighteningly common, and a lot of men are very willing to admit to having raped someone if the r-word is never used. When a man is accused of sexual violence by one woman, statistically it’s far more likely than not that he did it. When he is accused by multiple women, it becomes a near-certainty. Contrast that with the likelihood that a gobby woman caused a prize calf to come out looking a bit weird by casting a spell.

The profile of the witch was a working-class woman known for a “quarrelsome and aggressive nature“. When men were accused, they, too, were typically working class. Witch hunts were undeniably gendered, with perhaps a class component involved too. It is a very different kettle of fish to accusations of sexual violence levelled at men powerful enough to believe themselves able to do what they want.

It is not hysteria, nor a moral panic, to level true allegations. And, indeed, it’s well-documented that survivors speaking out encourage more survivors to come forward.

For a powerful white man who is also a creep, perhaps survivors coming forward can feel a little like a witch hunt. I’ve written before, on the topic of trigger warnings, that white boys are wrapped in cotton wool their whole life. The same applies here. These men have not experienced true adversity in their lives. They are pampered and protected from ever feeling even vaguely uncomfortable; thinking about how their behaviour might affect other people, and how other people might be experiencing considerably harder lives, is an alien concept. They project their discomfort onto everyone else, blissfully unaware that for the rest of us, it’s not about feelings, but about material circumstances–because, for them, it’s all about his own feelings.

For a powerful white man who has escaped accountability for his actions all of his life, accountability must feel like persecution. And the threat of being held accountable may feel like a witch hunt for men who are aware that they, too, could be held accountable for the exact same thing.

But it is not the same thing, and it never was. These are people who cannot grasp the facts about what a witch hunt actually constituted. They centre themselves in a massive-scale historical femicide, because they are incapable of imagining the world not revolving around them.

So. Powerful white men are not the victims of a witch hunt when sexual violence allegations surface. But nonetheless, there usually is a witch hunt around this time: of survivors.

A moral panic tends to surface, and a round of denunciations comes. The victims of this witch hunt fit the historical profile: they are women speaking out of turn. If you want to see a witch hunt around allegations of sexual violence, look no further than the survivors speaking out.

Every time, it is the same. The survivors’ behaviour is scrutinised, they are smeared, they are accused of all sorts of horrific acts, they are vilified as “grotesque”. All of it, just like shagging Satan helps you kill fields of wheat, is fictitious. It happens in the media, and I have witnessed it too many times to count in networks I occupy when survivors have attempted to speak out against abusers. The function of this is likely much the same as the function of the historical witch hunts: to keep women in their place and to protect power.

That is what a witch hunt looks like; not survivors finally coming forward about mass abusers.

I write this article, partially because once again a rich and powerful white man has been accused by multiple women, and the old media narratives have emerged. But I also write this, fully in the knowledge that the next time a rich and powerful white man is accused, the exact same thing will happen once again. I don’t believe I’ll break the cycle in writing this down, but it saves me having to comment to the exact same effect on every damn time it pops up.

The real witch hunt is never, and has never been, about the men accused. It’s always been the survivors who have been hunted.

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Rose McGowan’s Twitter suspension is entirely in keeping with their existing (awful) policy

Content note: This post discusses sexual violence and rape threats

Actor Rose McGowan has been suspended from Twitter, for speaking out against sexual violence in Hollywood. It’s likely that what got her kicked was telling Ben Affleck to fuck off for his role in covering for a sexual abuser.

I know a fair amount about Twitter suspensions. While I’ve only ever been on the wrong end of one, once–if I remember rightly, I told a man to fuck off, too–many of my friends have been suspended. There’s two ways in which it goes down: swearing at a verified account, or being mass-reported by people in an orchestrated silencing attempt. These mass-reports happen, usually, when a man is offended–or a transmisogynistic bigot, who, as we know, borrow all their tactics from the Nazi playbook.

The problem is becoming so prevalent, I’ve set up a back-up account for when the fash come for me–follow @thestavvening, just in case.

Twitter’s policies on banning and suspending are notoriously opaque, so it’s not possible to say with any certainty what is going on, just what I have witnessed as an active Twitter user for over eight years. These are the reasons people get banned or suspended, while all the while I can report tweets threatening to rape me until my clicking finger wears away to a nub, and nothing is done.

I’m not sure whether Rose McGowan fell foul of the algorithm protecting verified accounts from naughty words, or a mass-report, but either is a preposterous reason to suspend someone: whether a celebrity, or those more commonly banned–trans women, black women, women of colour, queer women…

The former is a manifestation of the two-tier Twitter which has emerged. If you have a verified account, you are protected from people saying rude words like “fuck”, “shit” and “pissflaps”. Someone says swear in your mentions, and they are smacked with the banhammer. Anyone can get the blue tick of swear-protection. To earn this right, all you need to do is send Twitter your personal data, so they can sell it on. This, in and of itself, is absurd. You also may have picked up from my tone that I think it is utterly risible that a few naughty words are the thing they’re picking up on. At best, it’s crude: people swear for a variety of reasons, and as much of it is non-aggressive (“You look so fucking gorgeous!”) as is aggressive. It’s also notable that a vast quantity of actual abuse doesn’t feature a single swear word. When a Nazi is threatening to rape me with a chainsaw, he isn’t using a word you can’t say on telly before 9 o’ clock.

Which brings me onto the broader issue: the actual abusers–the Nazis, the doxxers, the TERFs, the racists, the misogynists–they’re very good at gaming the system. It’s apparent in their care to avoid using curse words in their rape threats, but it’s equally apparent in their tactics.

Back in the more innocent days of the internet, many of those who would later become neo-Nazis occupied themselves in more wholesome pursuits. These included forum wars, often including “ToSing” enemy forums. This involved using the terms of service of the forum hosting platform to get the enemy forum banned. Almost every bit of user-generated content on the internet is breaking the terms of service somewhere or other: you might say something a bit rude, link to something a bit sexy, use political slogans which offend some. One report usually doesn’t flag much up in the system. But many reports do. I was on forums that got ToSed, wandering through digital space like a caravan, trying to find a hosting platform that’d have us.

And I see the exact same tactics in play with the mass-reports on Twitter. One report–often from the victim of a rape threat or a doxxing–doesn’t do jack diddly shit. But when many report, in an attempt usually orchestrated in other online platforms, action is triggered. And this is how people who speak truth to power are silenced. The Nazis have their spaces where they organise, as do their faithful tribute act, the TERFs. Even the centrists have their whatsapp groups where they can decide to get a black woman banned for thinking differently to them. This is what is going on behind the scenes: how the abusers have turned Twitter’s abuse policy into a tool for abuse.

We’ve been on at Twitter for years to jolly well sort its life out, but it hasn’t. It still refuses to understand the nature of the problem in order to even begin to attack it. They do not understand the dynamics of power in play in abuse, and they have no intention of doing so.

I hope that Rose McGowan’s suspension may achieve what has been sorely necessary: an open discussion of how unfit for purpose Twitter’s mechanisms for dealing with abuse are. Lower profile, more marginalised women have been victims of the abuse of abuse policies for years. Perhaps now a celebrity has been targeted, we can talk.

Or perhaps–and this is sadly more likely–Rose McGowan will be demonised for saying “fuck”.

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How to punch a Nazi without actually punching them: some practical self defence tips

Content note: this post mentions fascists, police and physical violence

I will start with a confession: I have never thrown a punch. I know I’m not very good at it. I have a bit of a weakness in my left wrist–my dominant hand–from a break. I can never quite remember whether it’s thumb-in or thumb-out for making a fist. My balance is pisspoor. If it came down to it, I would not be able to literally punch a Nazi.

But that’s all right, because the ethos of punching Nazis does not require us to literally smack them with our fists. Punching a Nazi is an act of radical, physical self-defence. It is protecting oneself and others from those who would have us dead. It is choosing not to run, or not having the option of running, so having to fight physically against someone who wants to kill you. It is hurting them before they can hurt you. It can be a punch–if you do want to punch a Nazi with your fist, here’s how–or it can be other forms of self-defence which will protect you and everyone else from harm.

Now, a disclaimer. I present these tips as self-defence, which is perfectly legal. These tips are for protecting your person when you are under threat, to give yourself an opportunity to escape. If you just waltz up to your neighbourhood Nazi, smack them round the chops and get nicked, I’m not responsible. Okiedoke? Legal duties discharged, let’s look at how you can punch Nazis without literally punching them.

I learned many of these tips in a queer self-defence class a few years back. The class was designed for all abilities, and I found it very helpful. This is why I share these tips, as I hope it will help many of us feel safer in the frightening future.

Feel strong

Think about your own body. What can it do? What are you definitely able to do, and what are you definitely not able to do. Can you twist your shoulders? Can you balance on one foot? Can you raise your arms high? Can you move quickly without joints popping out of place? Not everyone will be able to do all of these suggestions. But there will likely be something in these suggestions that you will be able to do.

How do you feel balanced, and protect the parts of your body that you know might hurt? This awareness of your body makes you strong.

Now think of the parts of your body that are hard and strong. If you want, try gently hitting yourself. Your elbows are hard. Your palms, your fingertips. Your knees. Your feet. What parts of your body feel solid? These will form your fists.

Think about their weaknesses

Above is a handy diagram of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, modelling some of the weaker points on an opponent’s physique. Eyes are squishy, and there’s an instinct to protect them. Noses are easily broken and fucking hurt. Throats, well, throats hurt rather a lot if hit. The solar plexus is full of nerve endings, and causes maximum pain. Ever knocked your knee or shin in a dyspraxic vs coffee table showdown? Ow, right? And of course, the crotch. If a Nazi has balls, they will go down like a sack of shite if that area is hit, but it also hurts rather a lot getting whacked in the pussy.

These are the areas that you will aim for when punching a Nazi.

The silent duck

The silent duck is a queer fist, which is why I like it so much. If you’ve never got into fisting, what you do is make a naked sock puppet with your hand. Unlike with fisting, if you have long nails, all the better: the silent duck might be a tactic for you.

With your silent duck, the aim is to “peck” at the Nazi’s eyes or solar plexus. A short, sharp move like a striking snake, making contact with your fingertips. Try it on your other hand. For fingertips, it makes surprisingly strong contact. In the eyes, especially if you have nails, you will likely no longer have to defend yourself from the Nazi you silent ducked. It also works very well on the solar plexus. When I was talking about this with my partner once, I demonstrated on them with the gentlest tap–my aim was to show that there’s a lot of power there and a lot of nerve endings in the area. Instead, with my light tap, I brought tears to their eyes. I felt very bad about this, but that’s how effective the old silent duck is.

Hands

Your palm is good for slapping. But the heel of it is even better for hitting. Again, you might want to try gently smacking your body with the heel of your own palm. Now think of how much that would fucking hurt a Nazi if you hit them in the throat or solar plexus with that palm. Another option is pushing that heel of your palm upwards into the bottom of their nose. That will give you enough time to get away to safety, while they deal with a nose that is probably bleeding and definitely painful.

The side of your hand also has some uses. Now, I’m not suggesting karate chops, because they’re the sort of thing that requires training. However, if a Nazi turns up behind you, you can swing your arm in an arc and catch them in the nads with the side of your hand.

Elbows

My old yiayia was a formidable woman. Four feet of sheer fury, she always got herself on the bus first. When she moved through a crowd, she’d kind of mince along, elbows akimbo, making space for herself. It worked, because elbows are perhaps one of the most vicious parts of the body, deployed correctly.

There are three angles at which you can use your elbows. You can defend yourself from a fascist to your side, aiming your elbow for their nose, throat or solar plexus. You can swing your elbow backwards to hit the Nazi in those same spots if he is behind you. If there’s a Nazi in front of you, you can swing that elbow forwards.

Knees

A Nazi’s knee is a weak point, but your knee can be strong. You can knee them in the crotch, and it will definitely give you a chance to get away. Even if you miss, you’ll get them in the thigh with a pretty bony part of your body. This move does require a bit of balance, but is incredibly effective if you’re able to pull it off.

Feet

Your feet are good for kicking, especially at shins. However, kicking can hurt you if you’re not wearing suitably comfortable, sturdy shoes. Personally, I wear Doc Martens most of the time, because they are nigh-on indestructible, and I have callouses in all the places that DMs tend to rub. So I can kick at a shin if I needed to.

Your feet can also be a weapon in other ways. You can stamp on their feet, aiming for the instep. If a Nazi is behind you, you can also scrape your foot down their shin, which is painful for them, and works particularly well if you’re wearing block heels.

Combos

A combo is sometimes a useful thing, and think about combos that might work. For example, scraping your foot down a Nazi shin, following up with a stamp on their instep. Feints can prove useful too: for instance, feinting a silent duck towards the eyes, then as their instinct kicks in to protect that, a swift knee to the nads.

Finding what works for you

To find what works for you, you’re going to have to look a bit dorky. Practice into the air, aiming upwards and downwards. See which moves come naturally to you, and which don’t. See if there’s any that you physically can’t do. Which moves make you feel strong and safe, and which make you feel off-balance or unprotected? Not everything will work for you. For example, I can’t swing my elbow forwards very well. For example, when it comes to kneeing, I favour my right knee: I feel better balanced keeping my left foot on the ground than my right. I’m hopeless at elbow strikes when swinging forwards, but it feels very natural going backwards.

If you’re not feeling strong just practicing the moves into the air, then you’re not going to be able to do it making contact with Nazi flesh. So write it off: that’s something that doesn’t work for you.

Develop your own ways of doing things, weaponising the hard parts of your body against the soft parts of a fascist. There is no right or wrong technique, just a way of making contact that hurts them but not you.

Practice, practice, practice

Once you’ve figured out what works for you, it’s time to build some muscle memory. Practice hitting something. A pillow or mattress will do. If you have access to pads and a friend who doesn’t mind pretending to be a Nazi for a bit of time, practice against that. Practice combining the movements that work for you.

And once again, look goofy. Drill yourself. Practice each day, even if it’s into the air. Like an absurd tai chi, I will usually find the time to run myself through my favourite moves. Many of us freeze when confronted with danger, so teach your body some moves that will become instinctive for you.

You got this. If it comes down to it, you can punch a Nazi.

I’ve said, many times before, that fighting fascism is a messy, ugly business. Self-defence techniques are not the absurd “honourable” fighting styles. But they might just save your life, or the life of someone you love.

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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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Tim Farron’s homophobic and anti-choice voting history, in easily-shareable format

Some of my followers asked for this, finding it difficult to share twitter threads or my wider post on why you shouldn’t be fooled into voting Lib Dem.

Now, Tim Farron has done a sterling job of masking his tendencies in his voting record, and votes against the interests of LGBT people, or anyone with a uterus, in a rather sneaky fashion. It doesn’t show up on those basic “this MP is in favour of equality” aggregators, because he covers it up by making himself scarce during key votes, or by voting on amendments. It took a bit of digging to pull the receipts here, and there may be some things I’ve missed. If you think I have, please leave a comment!

During the marriage equality programme back in 2013, Tim Farron voted for several homophobic amendments.

That last one, incidentally, is not dissimilar to a vote back in 2008, where Tim Farron voted to protect homophobic hate as “freedom of speech“. The list of things Tim wanted protected looked incredibly similar to the list of tactics religious homophobes like to use.

Now, let’s have a look at where Tim makes himself scarce. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act brought reproductive and fertility rights to people in same-sex relationships. Tim Farron mostly stayed well away from this, although we know he wasn’t on holiday or in a coma throughout the process, because he voted against laying out a timetable for the bill.

Tim Farron’s general policy towards abortion has been to make himself scarce and abstain or not turn up at all. That’s probably wise, because when he does vote, he votes for reducing the time limit.

So. Be very critical when you see journalists claiming his voting record is fine. They clearly haven’t bothered researching the topic adequately. Tim Farron did a reasonably good job in covering his tracks; to the extent that a follower of mine notes searches for “Farron” and “amendment” has hidden results under the right to be forgotten. Nonetheless, it’s there. And now you have the receipts.

Edit 22/4/17: Beth Granter has assembled a list, containing, more thoroughly, further evidence of anti-abortion and homophobic voting, including pre-abortion “counselling”, and yet more protections for homophobes. Oh, and documents his conspicuous absences on a lot of votes on women’s issues.

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

Content note: this post discusses child sexual abuse and Nazis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tips for staying safe online if you oppose fascism

Content note: this post discusses fascists and their operating tactics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be sparing with your identifying details

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

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

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

Check your privacy settings

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

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

Pictures: be careful there, too

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

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

Don’t out your combabes

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

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

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

Consider using a VPN

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

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

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

tl;dr

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

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