Category Archives: shit i can’t believe needs saying

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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A twitter rant about sleep, capitalism and Jeremy Corbyn

Today, I am mostly furious about a particular capitalist value: lack of sleep. So I made some twitter threads.

Firstly, about Jeremy Corbyn and leaders. Worth noting, as an addendum, that Margaret Thatcher bragged about sleeping 4 hours a night and Definitely Never Made A Bad Decision Ever. Also, Hitler, who used stimulants to stay awake.

Secondly, about disability and accessibility.

The public health double standard: smoking, drinking, eating sugar, etc are frowned upon, and people who do some of these things are deprived medical treatment. Why is it, then, that an equally dangerous health behaviour–willing sleep deprivation–is considered all right… if not actively valued and encouraged? (and, certainly, medical professionals are subjected to hugely dangerous sleep disruption)

Gender and getting up early

What do I envisage? As a transitional demand, I’d like “That’s too early for me” to be a valid and accepted reason not to attend work engagements. I’d like for homeworking and flexible hours to be the norm, and if sleep disruption is necessary for a job, for “danger money” to be paid: we are, after all, ruining our health. And, ultimately, I’d like for work as we understand it under capitalism to be abolished, but I get that that one’s a big ask, and I’d be all right with the other two demands being implemented within my lifetime.

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Situations where it’s OK for men to talk to women they don’t know

Content note: this post discusses a form of street harassment

The tantrum crops up time and time again. This time it’s because there was backlash from women towards an article teaching men how to chat up women who are wearing headphones. When women say they’d rather be left alone, men tend to completely lose their shit. Apparently it will cause the poor babies anxiety:

It’s funny how it’s almost always men pushing this nobody-ever-talks-to-each-other dystopia, while for women it actually sounds like it might alleviate anxiety somewhat, what with not having to worry about whether the latest man coming up to us wants to murder us, or merely rape us.

This is the thing men never understand, in pushing their imaginary world wherein men striking up conversation with strange women is polite, romantic, or otherwise not unpleasant: maybe you’re not a rapist murderer, but you could be. And even if a woman isn’t afraid, your advances may still be unwelcome, because sometimes people just want to ride the tube in peace, walk home in peace, drink a cup of mediocre coffee in peace.

So, men, let’s start from the assumption that your attempt to start a conversation with a complete stranger is more likely to be unwelcome than it is to be welcome. Yes, even if she does respond to you, that’s pretty likely to be out of a conditioned sense of politeness rather than any genuine desire to hear about your opinion of the book she’s trying to read.

Going from this assumption, there are few scenarios wherein it is acceptable for men to talk to women they don’t know in public places:

  • If she’s in mortal peril and you need to rescue her. Maybe a time-travelling robot is trying to kill her. Or maybe the peril is more banal, and she has a long trail of bog roll stuck to her shoe, or she dropped her keys. At these points, it’s perfectly polite to say “You dropped this,” or “Come with me if you want to live.”
  • If you’re a benefactor who is bestowing a completely non-conditional gift on her, such as handing her £50, or a gigantic diamond. It is then socially acceptable to say “excuse me, have this money,” hand it over, and then let her be on her way.
  • If she’s doing a job, wearing a t-shirt saying “Ask me about mortgages”, or something similar. Please note, in this scenario, it is only acceptable to ask her about mortgages.
  • Literally no other reason.

If you’re concerned that this might lead to you never getting to speak to a woman again, consider this: you’re probably an obnoxious tit. Get out and meet women in situations where you’re likely to have something in common with them: develop a hobby, get a bloody job in a non-misogynistic industry, &c., &c.

And meanwhile, leave women alone to just move about in the world without being bothered.

 


Owen Smith is a misogynist masterpost

Content note: this post discusses misogyny and domestic violence

I am going to start this post with some disclaimers:

  • I’m writing this because dudes keep asking me for “evidence” that Owen Smith is a misogynist
  • Just because I think Owen Smith is a bellend doesn’t mean I support Jeremy Corbyn
  • Just because I’m pointing out the misogyny of Owen Smith doesn’t mean some of Corbyn’s supporters aren’t misogynists
  • I didn’t think Angela Eagle was all that either
  • Basically, the Labour Party is a wretched hive of scum and villainy
  • This is not an invitation to honk like a sea lion “debating” whether this stuff is misogyny or not. It’s misogyny. If you don’t think so, you don’t care. And also, I don’t care what you think.
  • I cannot believe The Discourse™ has got so puerile that I need to say any of this

Right, all that out of the way, let’s get on with why Owen Smith is a misogynist.

He opposes mandatory all-woman shortlists

All-woman shortlists are the weak, milky tea of feminism. If your feminism wants women in elected positions (as opposed to the abolition of this hierarchical system), they’re a way of addressing the structural misogyny and ensure a woman ends up in place. Recently, Owen Smith committed to using all-woman shortlists in targeted seats. The qualifier “targeted” here is potentially pretty important, in the context of his previous comments on all-woman shortlists. See, Owen believes (and as far as I can see, has not retracted), that local Labour parties should be able to veto all-woman shortlists if they want to. If a local party doesn’t want an all-woman shortlist, Owen reckons, they shouldn’t have to have one.

Let’s assume that the misogynist Momentum CLP infiltrators exist for the purpose of this. Under Owen Smith’s own assertions, if such woman-hating entryists take against the idea of an all-woman shortlist and kick up a stink, they don’t have to have one. 

His “normal” life

Let’s remember that within the last fortnight, Owen Smith wasn’t just running against Corbyn, but also Angela Eagle, who is a lesbian. When asked if he was normal, Owen decided to explain that of course he’s normal, he has a wife and three children. Perhaps he was taking aim at Corbyn with this comment, simply forgetting about Eagle’s own domestic situation (a wife, no children). However, under patriarchy, it’s women who are hit hardest by this suggestion that they’re weird for not having children. Hell, just a week before Owen Smith made these comments, Theresa May’s leadership contender Andrea Leadsom was rightly called up on her internalised misogyny for having a pop at May for never having had children.

It’s 2016. Some women aren’t just ambulatory baby factories. Deal with it, Owen. It’s the new normal.

The leader of a political party only gets on TV because she’s a woman

Plaid Cymru is one of the major political parties in Wales. It’s led by a woman called Leanne Wood, who is, being the leader of a major political party in her country, on telly a fair amount. Owen Smith felt a little bit bitter about this, and was recorded sulkily saying she got on Question Time instead of him. Wood rather fairly pointed out that maybe this was to do with party balance, to which Owen Smith replied “I think your gender helps as well.

This is a pretty classic case of sexist sulking. When women get more visible, men feel like the women are only getting these opportunities because of political correctness gorn mad, not because of, say, the kind of merit that got you elected leader of your party. Mediocre men think the sun shines out of their special snowflake bottoms, and do not realise that a lot of the time, there is a better woman there.

I recommend watching the short 30 second video in the link above, and listening to the tone he adopts as he says “I think your gender helps as well”. It oozes bitterness, and he spits the word “gender” as though it tastes bad to him.

“That was called a joke, Susanna”

Apologies for another video, but I find watching a man interact with women is one of the greatest indications of how he feels about women. In Owen Smith’s case, his behaviour appears to communicate disdain and contempt. This short video features Owen on a breakfast TV show recently, being asked if he ever took Viagra while working at Pfizer (let’s be honest, you don’t exactly go into the hard-hitting stuff at 6.30 in the morning). After giving an evasive first answer, the woman host, Susanna Reid suggests a more straightforward answer would have been “no”. Once again, Owen’s mask slips, as his tone goes from attempting to get people to like him, to your bog standard sexist creep. “That was called a joke, Susanna,” he says coldly, then immediately slips back into warmer tones as co-host Piers Morgan takes over in the questioning.

Again, this video is worth a watch, even as the dismissive “it’s a joke” defence, as though women have never heard of the concept of humour, will be painfully familiar to all of us.

The domestic violence reference

Owen Smith reckoned the Coalition government was like an abusive relationship, and decided to articulate this in the most flippantly insensitive way he could: “Surely, the Liberals will file for divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up?”

At the time, women’s groups called him up on it, and he backed away from his comments. However, he doesn’t seem to have learned his lesson as just this week, he decided to bring out imagery involving violence against women once again.

Smashing Theresa May on her heels

I’ve seen defences of the phrase “smash her back on her heels”, and none of them sufficient. Some say it’s a common turn of phrase, but it sounds like something someone says on Catchphrase just before being told “it’s good, but it’s not quite right”. Apparently it’s so common that a google of it simply brings you Owen Smith’s comments. Here’s the thing: Theresa May is pretty famous for wearing heels (and her choice of footwear is an endless source of fascination for misogynists). Here’s another thing: it’s generally not considered good form to express a desire to “smash” a woman. And here’s one more thing: this wasn’t an off-the-cuff malapropism. This was a phrase in a prepared speech Owen Smith gave. A speech about equality. Evoking images of violence against women.

But don’t worry! Owen has an excuse. It’s just rhetoricIs this the new political “just banter”?

He downplays the achievements of Black women (added 4th August)

Serena Williams is one of the greatest athletes in the world, full stop. Her achievements resonate even more among Black women, because Serena is a shining example of Black women’s excellence.

What does Owen Smith think about her achievements? He reckons it’s unpatriotic to celebrate the sucess of this outstanding black woman athlete, especially because it detracted from giving cookies to a white man. He reckons it’s ~metropolitan~ to celebrate a Black woman dominating at a sport historically dominated by white people and men. Well, Owen, maybe if you stay away from any city ever, or indeed anywhere with a population of more than one, you too might avoid ever meeting anyone who is inspired by a Black woman sporting idol.

A gobstopper for Nicola Sturgeon (added 2nd September)

Continuing with his theme of wanting women leaders to just shut up, Owen himself tweeted this back in April:

Owen’s defence? The misogo classic of “just a joke”.

 

I also query just what in the name of fuck he means by “slice”.

He uses classic sexist defences (added 5th September; updated 6th September)

It’s finally hitting the point where Owen Smith’s misogyny is attracting attention. As well as using the “just banter” defence for his Sturgeon comments, Owen’s pulled the old “I’m not sexist, I hire women.” Yes, really. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Donald Trump say similar, and it was just as fucking feeble and pathetic then.

Thankfully, Owen seems to be being taken to task about his general sexism problem, with a woman challenging him on it publicly at a hustings event. His response was basically a checklist of the classic misogynist’s responses to being called out:

-Focusing on his own feelings, rather than the feelings of those who may have been hurt. Smith described his own experience of hearing the accusations as “the most mortifying experience for me”.
-Mansplaining how his comments aren’t sexist at all.
-“I’ve never suggested that women should be seen and not heard, which is how some of the other things I’ve said have been interpreted,”. This excuse puts the blame on women for misinterpreting, rather than him for screwing up.
-“painted as sexist” “portray me as being a sexist”: this is related to the above, except has started to imply some sort of murky ulterior motive as opposed to just being all hysterical.
-“decontextualised”. There is pretty much one situation in which words can be taken out of context to sound misogynistic, and that is in sentences such as “Alan said Bertha is a bitch, so I punched Alan,” being trimmed to “Bertha is a bitch”. Having the receipts for Owen’s misogynistic comments, they were not decontextualised in this way.
-“repeatedly apologised”. So fucking what? Saying sorry doesn’t magically undo the fact you made these comments. You need to win back trust by not keeping on bloody well doing it. Which seems like a big ask for Owen, and certainly not one he’s doing well at. Also, he hasn’t exactly apologised adequately: a textbook sorry-you-got-offended: “All I can do is apologise for any offence that’s been caused by any of the things I’ve said.”

He just clearly, obviously doesn’t get it. He doesn’t get why women are pissed off at him, and he doesn’t seem to want to get it. Owen Smith’s reaction here is a perfect guide in How Not To Respond To Being Challenged And Apologise.

He won his wife in a playground fight?! (added 10th September)

In a Mirror interview where Owen Smith was attempting to make people like him, and also go on like he’s credible, Smith claimed to have “fought off” hundreds of “lads”, saying, “1,200 boys, three girls and I pulled Liz. So I must have something going on. That must be leadership.”

Ignoring the possible improbabilities with their being any girls at his school while he was there, since the sixth form only became coeducational in 1993 (when Owen would have been 22), this is yet another comment which is just skin-crawlingly sexist. As @keewa put it: “Owen Smith won his wife in a playground fight like she’s a fucking conker”.

Once again, we see him putting his virility front and centre. From the 29 inch penis comments to his insistence on not needing viagra, Owen Smith is pretty keen to show off that he is the manliest of all men. 

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I’ll likely add examples to this post as I see them. Also, heed the disclaimer. This really isn’t an invitation for debate.

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Shit I cannot believe needs saying: Your mate might be nice, but is an abuser

Content note: this post discusses domestic violence and abuse, and apologism

When a rich, powerful white man is accused of perpetrating violence against women, a dance begins. It is the world’s worst dance, making Agadoo look like the Bolshoi Ballet. In this well-choreographed dance, everybody rallies around the abuser. They support the abuser, claiming that he is the best guy in the world, and couldn’t have possibly done it. They leap over the evidence presented by the survivor, all in step. Nothing can dent their pal’s Nice Guy status.

It probably doesn’t even matter who the abuser is, or how well they truly know him. This dance is political: it is a way of protecting all abusers across the globe by showing survivors what happens if they speak out.

Let us pretend, for a moment, that some of what is being said is true. Let’s imagine a chap called Johnny Blepp, who has been accused of beating up his wife. Let’s imagine some washed-up pals of his, who we’ll call Paul Gettany and Dickey Rourke and Vanessa Cara–oh fuck it, we all know who we’re talking about here, don’t we?

I believe that Johnny Depp beat Amber Heard. I would believe this even without the sheer level of evidence that Amber Heard showed, the sheer level of evidence which was sufficient to get a restraining order granted.

And, to be perfectly honest, I’d believe Amber Heard even if I was BFFs with Johnny Depp, because I know something which has apparently escaped the notice of those who are seeking attention by leaping to his defence: even if a man is nice to you that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of harming anyone. 

If Paul Bettany had given things a moment’s thought, perhaps he would consider how he has never shared a house, a room, a bed with Johnny Depp, so probably can’t have the first clue what his pal’s like behind closed doors. If Mickey Rourke had had a little think before opening his gob, maybe he would have considered that just because he had never been hit by his mate, doesn’t mean his mate has never hit anyone. If Vanessa Paradis had taken a few seconds, maybe she would have remembered she hasn’t lived with her ex husband in at least four years, and a lot has happened in those four years, so perhaps so has her ex’s temper.

All of these people are outsiders. None of them are party to the knowledge of what goes on behind closed doors. So why on earth do they presume that they know so much that they can confidently accuse a woman of perjury?  That is, after all, what they are doing when a woman has gone to court, told her story (and been granted a restraining order), and they accuse her of having made it up.

I understand that it can sometimes feel implausible that your friend might do horrible things, but this is why it is important to remember that you have no way of knowing how they treat others. You have no way of knowing what it’s like when they go home. Abusers are manipulative people, and have you considered that you are being played?

Again, I get why people may be resistant to that question: nobody likes to feel like a fool. Nonetheless, Depp’s friends, coming out in support of him, are serving not just their mate, but abusers everywhere. They’re helpful little pawns, parroting a line which keeps survivors silent, showing survivors that nobody will believe them. Their intervention isn’t even particularly helpful to their friend: after all, nothing happens to rich white abusers. Look at Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, for example.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. You’re not being objective in the slightest when you knee-jerk defend your friend based on your complete lack of knowledge. You don’t need to say anything at all: if you don’t believe the survivor, keep your gob shut, because you’re mostly basing your disbelief on misogynistic tropes you’ve been fed since birth. If you truly want to keep an open mind, you need to keep your mouth shut, and give what a survivor has said equal weighting to your pal’s denial.

All we know about our friends is they are nice to us. It is peculiarly childish to extend their niceness to us into an assumption that they are nice to everyone.

One day, I hope the dance will falter. I admire the courage of every woman who comes forward despite the power of the man who abused her, and despite the fact that surely she must know that everyone will close ranks with tedious predictability.

I believe Amber Heard. I cannot believe I need to say this, when it ought to go without saying. I believe that Johnny Depp attacked and beat his wife, and I believe Amber Heard.


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.