Category Archives: rage at the system

Brexit was an enormous game of Chicken that we all lost.

I hate being right. It’s only been hours since the UK voted, by a very narrow margin to leave the EU, and everything has already gone to shit. In fact, it’s gone so much to shit that I can’t even be particularly happy that the Shinyfaced Pigfucker has finally fucked off.

I am fairly sure that a lot of leave voters did not quite understand what they were voting for. It was sold to them, everything was sold to them, as a bargaining chip. They did not necessarily think that it would actually happen.

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It happened. They shat the bed and now we all have to lie in it.

I am also unsure as to whether there has ever been an exit strategy. David Cameron has performed the political equivalent of dropping an eggy fart in a room and then swanning on out. It will be up to the Brexit faction to pick up the pieces and try to deliver the Garden of Eden that they promised. And they will not be able to do that, because it was not possible, and it never will be possible, and curbing immigration isn’t exactly going to help when the economy has tanked, businesses have ragequit, nobody will trade with the UK, Scotland secedes, university research collapses and on and on and on.

David Cameron’s successor, whichever godawful dingleberry it is, is likely going to find themselves as the least popular Prime Minister ever. Yes, perhaps even less popular than Shinyfaced Pigfucker Who Absolutely Ruined The Country himself. After all, they will be completely unelected, and utterly failing to deliver on any of the lofty snake oil promised before they took us to the polls. Again, I wish I could gloat over this: if it were a TV show, it would certainly be a gripping plot.

I’m not even convinced that Nigel Farage actually wanted to win this referendum. His strength lies in opposing, and now he’s got what he said he wants, he will become obsolete. He has even reversed on a key campaign promise–an extra £350million a week to the NHS–within minutes of the result coming out.  There was no strategy beyond “leave the EU”, and he has nothing to offer now that the decision is made.

What happened in this referendum was a massive game of Chicken. It was posturing, bravado, a game the right thought they could use to make their position stronger. Among the politicians, their victory could only be in apparent defeat. But the thing about playing Chicken is that sometimes you get run over.

It was treated almost like a game among politicians, and perhaps even many voters. Some, like mass killer Iain Duncan Smith, thought it was “fun”.

It was a gamble with devastating consequences.

I wish over the next few days, weeks, months, years, I could take comfort in the downfall of the terrible people who engineered this. I wish I could laugh at the regret on the facts of those who were taken in, looking no further than their own sense of xenophobia. I wish I could take a detached sigh as they have nobody left to blame for the absolute mess, with immigration down and the EU no longer something to point at.

I wish I could watch from a distance as the right wing drown in the slurry they created. But I cannot, because these drowning men will drag us all down.

They played a game, and we all lost.

 


I don’t love the EU, but I’m voting remain out of apathy and spite

I could make sensible appeals based on fact to vote to remain in the EU: that it will likely destroy an economy already circling the drain. I could counter some of the lies being fed to the populace, like the comical assertion that Turkey are joining the EU soon, or that the EU is somehow responsible for destroying the NHS. I could even point to my friends and family, EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens working in EU countries, and say that I don’t want life to get harder for them.

But honestly, all of this has been said before, over and over. And it’s not like the Remain campaign has done a job that is in any way competent in making either a case against the right wing rhetoric of shower of bastards in the Leave camp, or stirring up any interest in the EU.

And furthermore, I actually don’t care all that much: I veer between antipathy and apathy to the political process, and this is definitely my feeling towards the EU.

And that’s why I’m voting Remain.

The EU isn’t great. It kind of sits there, a mostly-neutral force which doesn’t do much (despite what the Leave lot would have you believe). It’s nice to be able to travel through Europe without having to faff about with passports, and I like that so many of my pals live in various European cities where they can work freely and I can go and visit them. At the end of the day, that’s about the long and short of my own personal feelings towards the EU: lukewarm.

This all-powerful bureaucracy of the EU is pretty much a myth, and one which was largely engineered by Boris Johnson, who, in his own words was given “a weird sense of power” for doing it. I know that the EU doesn’t really do much, and certainly isn’t responsible for the failings of capitalism, and a government driven by violent ideology.

Nonetheless, I like the things that the EU is blamed for. I like that it makes life harder for those who want to implement xenophobic immigration policy. I like that it makes life harder for those who want to turn every job into a Sports Direct-style sweatshop. I like that it makes life harder for those who want to force everyone in a city to breathe polluted air. I like that it makes life harder for those who want to abuse the marginalised.

Basically, the EU makes life a little harder for some horrible people who want to do horrible things. I don’t even know the extent to which it does or does not actually tie them up, but since they’re blaming the EU for all this I’ll give the EU a bit of credit for it.

A vote to leave is essentially a victory for some terrible people with terrible ideas. There is no left Brexit, and almost all of its prominent supporters aren’t singing any more. There is only empowerment for the right–and potential disaster.

We are balanced on a knife edge, and I am thoroughly unconvinced by the right’s repeated assurances that leaving the EU wouldn’t completely tank the economy, which would have devastating consequences for those like me who are precariously employed. What absolutely will happen–because they’ve promised this and banged on and on about it–would be a crackdown on movement of people, and I don’t want to see any victory for those who dehumanise refugees and immigrants alike.

I don’t want horrible people who treat fellow humans like animals to emerge triumphant.

The Remain campaign has failed miserably in its aims, mostly pandering to the right wing rhetoric of the Leave camp and agreeing with them that human beings are a problem to be solved. One of the few exceptions was Jo Cox, and she’s dead now, probably killed for that.

The Remain camp don’t really deserve to win this referendum, having exhibited a willful incompetence of opposing the far right.

And yet, the far right deserve to win less.

And ultimately, that’s why I’m voting Remain. Out of spite. Out of spite to those who would willingly tank the economy and turn their country into a petty, lonely island, simply because they don’t like the fact that sometimes people have brown skin or speak Polish. Out of spite to those who believe human rights to be a problem, rather than an absolutely necessary protection. Out of spite to exploitative bosses and bigots alike.

Fuck them. Vote Remain.


Rape-enablers getting whacked round the head with baseball bats is fine. Sorry not sorry.

Content note: this post discusses rape culture, rape apologism and physical violence

In case you didn’t know, a woman called Tabitha Brubaker is in jail for having taken action against a man who, day after day, for months, stood around holding a sign encouraging rape. You can donate to her legal fees for taking this drastic action, because she should not be punished for this.

Predictably, men who have been conspicuously silent on other men encouraging and enabling rape, have suddenly gone all pacifist and think that hitting people is wrong. 

Well yes. Hitting people is wrong. But do you know what else is wrong? Encouraging rape. Threatening to rape. Enabling rape.

Holding up a sign saying “You deserve rape” is a direct threat to all women. A physical intervention is not just an act of self-defence, but an act to defend all women.

I’d honestly rather we lived in a world where nobody smacked anybody with a baseball bat. Unfortunately, we do not yet live in this world. Rape is a fact of life. It is something that happens to far too many women, and something all other women fear. It is frighteningly common, and so entirely ingrained that men can literally hold placards stating their intention to rape while other men leap to their defence. A man encouraging rape is not even seen as inciting violence, but that is exactly what is happening. Rape is an act of violence, and yet defending oneself against it is the violence that men get their knickers in a twist over.

If you don’t want to see a man threatening rape getting whacked with a baseball bat, there is an incredibly simple solution: stop his violence. Intervene before it gets to that point. Make it so that his threat of violence, his encouragement of rape, is so completely acceptable that he fucks off. Snatch his sign from his hands and shout and scream over him. Involve the auth-

Oh wait. When hate speech happens, the law tends to sit around with its thumb right up its arse. When men make violent threats, the law does not give a tiny little rabbit dropping. Is it any surprise, then, that those affected are having to take matters into their own hands?

The law, completely and utterly disinterested when a man is helping out rapists, suddenly comes to life when a victim of his violences takes defensive action. The law protects rapists at the expense of those who think rape is wrong. This is why it is so imperative that we help this brave woman with her legal fees: the state would sooner help out men who would rape.

None of this needed to happen, if men were anywhere near as offended by rape and rape enablers than they are by one getting hit. There is no moral high ground when we have already been dragged down so low. The only way to prevent rape enablers getting beaten with baseball bats is to prevent rape enablers themselves.

Donate to Tabitha Brubaker’s legal fund.


Shit I cannot believe needs saying: don’t blame women for men being crap at sex.

Content note: this post discusses sex and sex shaming

It’s a fashionable linkbait topic which comes up every now and then, and so I shan’t be actually linking to the latest incarnation of this terrible trope. Here is its title–and yes, that completely adequately reflects the content:

A screenshot of a headline from the Huffington Post, reading: "Here’s What Happens When Women Refuse to Be Masturbation Sleeves" by Jenny Block.

Women who consent to penis-in-vagina sex are “masturbation sleeves”, apparently. Take a moment to consider just how profoundly misogynistic that statement is. “Masturbation sleeve” sounds like something a pickup artist might call a woman. Surely Jenny Block is just saying what men think? Nope. She makes it abundantly clear that she thinks that of women who consent to PiV, and blames them for everyone else having shit sex.

"The language might sound harsh. But the message couldn’t be any more important. Woman have to stop allowing themselves to be penetrated by men who think that putting their penises into a vagina constitutes sex, let alone pleasurable sex for both parties."

Yes. We need to stop “allowing” it. Like a cock in your cunt? Tough titties, that makes you a sex scab. You’re making sex terrible for everyone else.

The reason I’m not linking to the article is it’s a blatant play for clicks, and it’s also cissexist as all hell. Jenny Block does not understand that vagina does not equal woman: again, much like a misogynist.

What follows in Jenny Block’s article is a peculiar mash of a complete failure to understand basic biology.

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What Block describes here is, quite literally, a vaginal orgasm. An orgasm which comes from stimulating the vagina. Yes, it involves the clitoris, but, specifically, the bits of the clitoris which hang out in the vagina. Going unmentioned are the other bits packed up a vagina which are also incredibly fun to poke and prod, such as the vaginal prostate (g-spot). The vaginal prostate and the internal clitoris can only be accessed by stimulating the vagina, and some people with vaginas can orgasm from this type of stimulation alone, because it’s not just an empty tube, but stuffed with bits and bobs which would have had a reproductive function had the in-utero hormone balance been different, and without a purpose purely exist for funsies.

Do you know who thinks vaginas are simply unpleasurable masturbation sleeves? Misogynists.

Block seems to think it’s a lesbian thing, this rejection of any vaginal pleasure. I beg to differ.

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Ultimately, it’s absurd to be so prescriptive about sex, and what women should and should not do in the bedroom, because we are all built differently and into different things. For example, this thread, from a friend with syringomyelia, who experiences both hypersensitivity and a lack of sensitivity which can affect sex, explains exactly where Jenny Block is going wrong. Likewise, some people choose to have sex for others’ pleasure:

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And, of course, sex shouldn’t just be about orgasms, and framing it as being simply a matter of chasing the orgasm, like Jenny Block does, does no good for people who cannot orgasms, do not orgasm, and enjoy sex nonetheless. Sex is about a lot more than orgasms: it can be about intimacy, about scratching an itch, about working yourself until you’re exhausted. The orgasm is nice, but not essential.

Does Jenny Block think I should stop eating pussy, for example? After all, my mouth contains fewer nerve endings than a clitoris, and I’m not going to orgasm from it. Exactly what sex does Jenny Block recommend, from which everyone can orgasm at once, but nothing goes into a vagina? I can think of maybe three things: 69s, circlejerking and scissoring–none of which I’d really include on my desert island sex list (the first two, I find throw me off my game in both giving and receiving pleasure; the latter I find comically awkward and distinctly Not For Me). So, no thanks, Jenny. I’ll stick with what works for me.

Ultimately, what works for some people in the bedroom doesn’t work for others, and it does nobody any good to stick with the positively medieval notion that the vagina is some empty vessel that is incapable of pleasure. I know for a fact that my own vagina is capable of producing an orgasm with the right stimulation, and that these orgasms are qualitatively different from external clitoral stimulation alone–and I also know that I’m not the only person with a pussy who feels this.

There is no right or wrong way to have sex as long as everyone involved is consenting, and being prescriptive about it does nobody any favours.

Yes, there is undeniably a problem among cis men that too many of them seem to believe a cock in a cunt is enough for pleasure (or the many who don’t even care at all about their partner’s pleasure). However, this is not the fault of those who consent to penis-in-vagina sex: it’s the fault of men being shit at sex, and nobody telling them otherwise. Blaming women for this, as Jenny Block does, gives men a pass. It exacerbates the problem. It does nothing to teach men that every woman they have sex with is going to enjoy different things, and they must learn what’s good for their partner if they are to be passable lovers.

And this goes for everyone–including Jenny Block herself.


Shit I cannot believe needs to be said: trans women are not shutting down discussion of vagina

Content warning: this post discusses transmisogyny and genitals

Today, I would like to talk about a particular transmisogynyistic trope which shows up with alarming frequency: apparently, trans women are trying to prevent cis women from talking about our genitalia.

As a cis woman, I’d like to take a moment to say it’s complete and patent bollocks. I have no idea of the origin of this meme, but it seems to be spouted mostly by transmisogynists–for example, non-Lambda-Award-nominee Alice Dreger perpetuated the trope while saying how one could be an ally to cis women (!).

Apparently, cis women are unable to talk about vulvas, vaginas, periods and so forth without being shut down by trans women. Except, er, no.

I initiated a project of writing to an anti-abortion MP with gory details about reproductive systems. If it were true that trans women were silencing fanny-talk, presumably they’d’ve sided with Nadine Dorries and declared the whole thing evil. Actually, trans women participated. And boys with wombs. And basically, women with all genital configurations and men with uteruses all kind of have a vested interest in reproductive health because the struggles of reproductive justice, bodily autonomy and transgender struggles are intrinsically related.

I have a tattoo, at the top of my spine, of an anatomically-correct, roughly life-sized clitoris. To me, it signifies two things. The first is that that’s a really sweet spot on me. The second is that medical science really fucking sucks, in that they didn’t discover that the clit was bloody enormous and pretty much anatomically indistinguishable from the penis under the skin–that they wanted to believe there was some sort of big difference between whether your genitals were an inny or an outy, beyond whether they were an inny or an outy. There’s a bonus third thing: it looks fucking cool, it’s a really nice shape.

Guess what? No trans woman has ever tried to flay that tattoo off my skin.

I livetweeted a fanny injury on twitter, and not a single trans woman told me to stfu. Instead, I got nothing but sympathy because ultimately any woman who’s had SRS, or is considering it, will have nothing but sympathy for a sore pussy.

Oh, and then there’s the whole bread thing. You know what I mean. If the TRANS WOMEN ARE SHUTTING DOWN FANNY TALK thing were true, one would expect that trans women would’ve been leading the charge in the bizarre anti-stavvers-bread fandom which seems to have sprung up. Except they… didn’t. There might have been an eyeroll or two, but to be quite honest, I’m pretty inured to eyerolls (especially regarding that) and it was nothing–nothing–compared to the outright hate and disgust which poured mostly from cis men, with a supporting wave of cis women.

I actually got a lot of support from trans women, and the demographic of people who have actually eaten the goddamn bread has included trans women and transfeminine people represented at way above population level (around 40% of people who have eaten it).

One can also add that if there is this huge conspiracy against cis women being able to talk about their minges, I should’ve had a lot of support from the cisterhood, and yet bizarrely there were precisely no lucrative New Statesman opportunities for me to talk about how silenced I’d been. To be honest, I expect that the cis media feminists were wholly grossed out, and not expressing how squicked they were was about as supportive as they’d get. They should probably get over their internalised misogyny there 😇

So, basically, I’ve blathered on about my cunt and never once been silenced by trans women. There’s a chance, maybe, that it’s because I’ve surrounded myself with trans women who are sycophants, although I doubt that it’s possible that literally every trans woman I have ever spoken to has received some memo to allow stavvers. Instead, I suggest that what’s going on here is that there is no grand pussy-censorship conspiracy. It’s just that those who perpetuate the meme are intellectually dishonest transmisogynists.

Actually, scratch that. They’re plain old misogynists, viewing women as just vaginas.

I talk about my cunt in purely personal terms because ultimately it’s purely personal to me. It might resonate with other women: some things do, some things don’t. That was probably the most important thing the Dear Nadine Dorries project taught me: that no two experiences are alike, that we’re diverse as people. Talking about a vaginal experience as though it would apply to everyone is an absolute nonsense. If you do that, I’ll fucking shout you down, too.

There’s no trans conspiracy to shut down general fanny talk, just acting as though owning a vagina is a universal experience of womanhood. Just acting as though having periods is a universal experience of womanhood. Just acting as though getting pregnant is a universal experience of womanhood.

Is it uncomfortable talking about your genitalia as your own genitalia, rather than a generalisable thing that all women share? Absofuckinglutely.  But it’s also the only honest way to do it. It’s so much easier if you pretend it’s a general thing that all women share that your cunt kind of smells like feet around your period, or that your pubes can grow to easily over two inches long is a universal female experience, or that one of your flaps is a different colour to the other and about three times bigger is totally something all women have: hell, it was easier typing these sentences with “your” rather than “my”. However, none of this is universal, generalisable or in any way pertinent to all, most, or even some women.

Talking about vaginas has its place, but let’s not pretend that experiences are generalisable across women or that the fanny itself if a thing which all women share.

So please, please, fellow cis women, let’s shout down the trans-women-are-shutting-down-pussy-talk meme wherever we see it. It does nobody any favours.


Why I’m not cheering for scrapping the “tampon tax”

Content warning: this post discusses Tories and menstruation

It looks like the “tampon tax”–the VAT paid on sanitary products–is going away at last. Hypothetically, this should be something to celebrate, but in my role as miserable killjoy bitch, I’m not cheering. I’m not cheering, because I have some concerns, and they’re pretty fucking big ones.

In Wednesday’s budget announcement, the sadly-not-on-fire George Osborne made a very crude attempt to appeal to women by saying that revenue raised from the tampon tax would go to women’s organisations (despite menstruation not just being “a women’s issue”!)

Less than 36 hours later, suddenly we’re hearing that the tampon tax is being scrapped. So, does this mean that there’ll less money for women’s organisations and services than initially budgeted-for? If the removal of the tampon tax comes in with immediate effect, that’s exactly what it would mean. If it’s going to be a while before it comes it, that’s little better: it just means there’ll be a funding black hole for where there was once a kitty for women’s organisations and services, there no longer is one. In other words, it’s not a problem right now, but it will be in the near future.

Either way, rather than something to cheer about, this is simply something that this Tory government are doing very well: moving money away from the public purse and putting it into private hands. Last night, I made a prediction, and I want to go on record with this prediction and spread it far and wide as possible, so I can at least feel a burn of smugness about being proved right while the world fucking burns.

I seriously doubt that the reduction in VAT will pass on to people who need to purchase sanitary products. Sellers know that people are used to paying a certain amount for tampons, etc. They make the occasional special offers, and so forth, and maybe they’ll even temporarily reduce the price when the tampon tax is scrapped, but within a few months, we’ll all be paying the same we always paid for sanitary products, except now that additional 5% is lining private pockets.

So ultimately, there is nothing to cheer about with the abolition of the tampon tax. It’s a PR exercise, nothing more, nothing less. We’re meant to be happy for David Cameron for Being On The Side Of Women while simultaneously Getting A Better Deal For Britain In Europe, but fuck him with a large pike. His government is killing women, and nominally knocking 5% off of a product that is already a massive rip-off does nothing to alleviate that


Obligatory International Women’s Day post: let the bridges you burn light the way

Today is International Women’s Day, once again. It’s also the fifth birthday of this blog, and I like to think I’ve improved my opinions a lot over the last five years. Honestly, I’m not even linking to that first post, and I’ll instead link to the disclaimer which applies to any old content on this blog.

Five years ago, I was confident there was something winnable, that we were on the cusp of a great tipping point and that if we women all banded together, and surely that’d be easy.

I was naive, and in my defence, it was 2011, when revolution was in the air.

I had yet to see how broken everything is.

I’ve burned a lot of bridges since then.

Everything is broken. Literally fucking everything. There are no causes for optimism. It’s nice to believe there can be, because that way if feels a lot more like there’s something to be won. It’s nice to celebrate small victories, but when these small victories are defeats for the vast majority of women, there’s nothing to cheer about.

 

When I logged into Facebook this morning, it gave me a chirpy message wishing for equality for all. I wish I could have told it to go fuck itself with a wonky church spire, because equality is a crock of pigshit in this broken world. Equality is desirable in an unequal system. Equality is palatable for those in power, because it doesn’t actually make anything any different. If half of the positions on parliaments, boards, armed forces and on and on were occupied by women, that wouldn’t help because these structures are themselves oppressive. Women shouldn’t be fighting to be the oppressor, these systems should be razed to the ground.

As a cis white woman, I now understand myself to be part of the problem. I try not to be part of the problem, and that’s burned a fair few bridges–and I know I still am part of the problem. All I can do is be willing to be held accountable for when my being part of the problem becomes me being a big problem.

I think what I’m trying to say, clumsily and inarticulately, is I’ve realised there are no solutions to the fucking massive structural problems. I have a better understanding of what’s wrong now, but not what to do to put it right. I know what’s broken and I know how it’s broken, but I have no idea to put it right. There’s harm reduction measures put forward by marginalised groups that I support wholeheartedly, but ultimately everything is fucked.

And maybe that’s OK. Maybe a negative feminism is part of what we need. People like to be given a solution and to feel that something is winnable, and don’t like to hear the cold hard truths. I say “no” a lot, and so do many other women. “No” is treated as a dirty word, but is it really? Is it only a dirty word to keep this whole system in place?

I have no answers, and I’ve decided that’s all right. Maybe I’ll feel differently in five years, dropping the shards of a teacup and have them reassemble into the complete object. Maybe solutions and opportunities will present themselves.

In the meantime, I look to the bridges I’ve burned, and feel that they are narrowing a path, and I hope this path leads somewhere useful.