I love you, please give me money

Hi everybody. Regular followers will know that my financial situation hasn’t been brilliant of late, and in terms of sustainability it’s just got a mite worse, because I lost one of my two jobs. I can survive on what I’m making, but I can’t really live.

If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll probably know how many bridges I’ve burned by criticising publications for their awful business models, and hurting the feelings of some of their pet bigots. I regret nothing, but unfortunately this means I can’t do the standard thing of farting out any old thinkpiece and getting paid for it. I’m an independent blogger, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way.

This blog is a labour of love, and I will continue writing it for as long as I can, because it means a hell of a lot to me to have a space to vent my thoughts and feelings. However, I’ve noticed something in myself over the last year or so, and that’s that I just haven’t had the time and space for it that I previously have, because I’ve been working myself to the bone and basically been devoting far too much time and energy to just existing. I feel like financial support for my writing would help with both the practical and emotional barriers to my being able to even think. 

I can’t offer you anything in return for your money, except the knowledge that you are helping me and that means the world to me. I’ve set up a Patreon page, where I’ll probably be putting out some content before I put it here. If you fancy donating to me regularly, that’s probably the easiest way of doing it. I’ve explained a little more fully what your money could help me do.

If you’d rather use paypal for a one-off donation, please email me and I’ll give you my paypal details.

Anyway, basically, please please help me with my finances, and help me get better–as a writer and a person. Instead of patronising me in the comments, patronise me in a constructive way!

Become a patron!

Things I read this fortnight that I found interesting

All right, you lot, it’s links roundup time again.

End demand for marriage (Feminist Ire)- On marriage, borders and the nonsensicality of anti trafficking laws.

What The Rentboy Raid Tells Us About The Gendered Rhetoric Of Trafficking (Morgan M. Page)- Analysis of how language is used.

How the Feds Took Down Rentboy.com (Melissa Gira Grant)- A thorough explanation of the context and the laws used to raid a website for sex workers.

Rentboy wasn’t my ‘brothel’. It was a tool to stay alive in this economy of violence (Anonymous)- A sex worker explains why he needed sites like rentboy.

My transgender sterilization, or why my consent meant nothing. (Queer Anarchism)- When is consent not consent? Heartbreaking piece of an experience far too many people have had throughout Europe.

The Market Goddesses (Katherine Cross)- Great piece on the ideal woman, as created and marketed by capitalism.

Stuck with a terrible landlord? As if tenants have any other choice (Dawn Foster)- Dawn writes a lot of very good stuff about Britain’s housing crisis and this is the latest such piece.

Violent Matter (piercepenniless)- piercepenniless got kicked off twitter for quoting a couple of lines of poetry. Here, he reflects on the poetry and violent rhetoric.

‘Hannibal’ is subverting everything we know about male relationships (Aja Romano)- Interesting analysis of the recently-deceased TV show. Farewell, beautiful murder husbands.

And finally, have a baby meeting a cat for the first time because it is so cute it made my heart burst.


New study says bi women are bi because they can’t get a man (and it’s probably bullshit)

Content warning: this post discusses biphobia and sapphophobia

Well well well. I have a confession to make. I only drink from the furry cup because I had a shit education and I’m ugly. I’m not being self-deprecating, there’s science behind it. There’s a study and everything!

Unfortunately, it was a conference presentation, so we don’t have very much to go on in critiquing the study, so a brief summary from what I can glean from the reporting: the study tracked men and women between adolescence and young adulthood, asking them whether they identified as “100% heterosexual”, heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual or 100% homosexual at four different points. Education, physical attractiveness and delaying childbirth were all factors associated with identifying as 100% heterosexual. The author interprets her findings indicate:

“Women who are initially successful in partnering with men, as is more traditionally expected, may never explore their attraction to other women. However, women with the same sexual attractions, but less favorable heterosexual options might have greater opportunity to experiment with same-sex partners.”


“I do not think that women are strategically selecting an advantageous sexual identity or that they can ‘choose’ whether they find men, women, or both sexually attractive. Rather, social context and romantic experience might influence how they perceive and label their sexual identity.”

One doesn’t have to read much between the lines to see the implication that the less attractive, less educated of us have trouble getting a man so might turn towards just being gals being pals.

While I don’t have much to go on here, there’s a couple of holes in what’s reported which means I have a lot to query on this study.

The causality could go the other way. Hetero women are at an advantage. The world likes them a lot better than us scuzzy queers. Is it any wonder that straight women, therefore, are considered more physically attractive, and get better educational opportunities, and can choose when they have kids? LGBT people have poor health outcomes, which isn’t usually conducive getting an education or looking sexy. Bisexuals have the worst health of all. So, these advantages for straight women might not be because they’re lucky, but because they’re straight. It’s their straightness that causes their better education, attractiveness and reproductive choices, not their better education, attractiveness and reproductive choices causing their straightness. To me, it seems pretty fucking obvious that the causality would go that way round. Anyway, this is all assuming that this was all measured pretty well. You see…

Physical attractiveness is a pretty difficult thing to measure. Bluntly put, there’s two ways to measure physical attractiveness. Firstly, you ask people how attractive they think they are. Given that living under stigma in a society that tells them they’re disgusting has pretty dire consequences on self-esteem (especially if they try to hide it rather than coming out young) it wouldn’t exactly be surprising if they were reporting themselves less physically attractive than the straight women. The other way you can measure physical attractiveness is show their picture to a panel and ask the panel to rate how hot they are. This is, obviously, highly affected by the panel, and maybe things like short hair and tattoos and not meticulously depilating every inch of your body because you’re less interested in what men think might affect the judgment–in other words, because straight women only want to go for men, perhaps they’re rated as more attractive under patriarchal beauty standards because they’re more likely to have to live up to them.

Sexual orientation is also fucking difficult to measure. Just last week, we had this conversation, didn’t we? Just giving people a list of options might not exactly result in covering the diversity of their experience, their attraction, and heck, their own identity. This probably explains better why men’s sexual orientations didn’t change so much as women’s–not because men’s sexual orientation is fixed and immutable while women’s is not, but because it’s a different kind of stigma that men face, and one which does not allow for anything to change.

It’s not exactly a long time between adolescence and young adulthood. You probably don’t have it figured out just yet. I am thirty now, and I still haven’t figured myself out, except acknowledging that I am a work in progress and I probably always will be. Who knows where these people will shift to later in life: if they do shift. I’m not convinced one can draw conclusions based on a sample over a very short period of time.

It’s a conference presentation. That’s very different to a peer-reviewed paper. At conferences, what often happens is preliminary findings are presented. Sometimes they go on to be published, sometimes they don’t. In fact, a whopping 91% of the time, they don’t. So, this could be something crappy which will be stuck away in a desk drawer, maybe to be trotted out occasionally in a popular science book as though it’s proper science.

All this study does is reinforce the general quite icky stereotypes about bi women, and the reporting is downright irresponsible. It’s sad, because from the data, it looks like there’s some interesting stuff going on about shifting sexual identities: stuff that might warrant further examination if the interpretation weren’t so flawed.

Things I read recently that I found interesting

Wake up, sheeple, I have some links for you.

How Dare They Do This Again: Stonewall Veteran Miss Major on the “Stonewall” Movie (Miss Major)- Furious interview with a Stonewall heroine about the upcoming film which is erases people like her. You can donate to Miss Major’s life needs here, because she’s got financial trouble at the moment.

Why Al Jazeera will not say Mediterranean ‘migrants’ (Barry Malone)- Very good decision from Al Jazeera, and this article is also a great primer on language.

I Can Text You A Pile of Poo, But I Can’t Write My Name (Aditya Mukerjee)- On Unicode Consortium’s fucked up priorities.

[untitled tweet chain] (@ztsamudzi)- Important thoughts on white people, racism, complicity, white supremacy and oh god just read it, it’ll only take you a minute and it’s fucking great.

The Bloody State Gave Him The Power: A Swedish Sex Worker’s Murder (Caty Simon)- How the “nordic model” kills women.

The real reason some men still can’t handle the all-female ‘Ghostbusters’ (Anne Thériault)- The science behind why men are such squalling pissbabies.

Learning to Be a Lesbian Online (Josie Thaddeus-Johns)- Great personal piece on finding the right information.

Bisexuals Have Worse Health Than Gay, Lesbian, or Straight People (Eliel Cruz)- Very depressing research findings.

Get over yourself: Your feelings about sex work don’t trump sex workers’ rights (Katie Halper)- Laying out Amnesty’s actual position. The anti sex worker lobby ought to pay attention.

Even Early Focus Groups Hated Clippy (Robinson Meyer)- Women told Microsoft that Clippy was awful. Men didn’t listen to Clippy. Men created Clippy and unleashed him on the world.

The wrong kind of victim. (Sometimes, it’s just a cigar)- Moving personal piece on sex work and victimhood.

Homme de Plume: What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under a Male Name (Catherine Nichols)- Women who write will not be surprised by the findings of this little experiment at all.

How Snobbery Helped Take The Spice Out Of European Cooking (Maanvi Singh)- Western food didn’t always taste like bland nothing with a side of bland nothing. This bit of food history explains what happened to the flavour.

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore (and it’s not because of “political correctness”) (Julia Serano)- Great takedown of bleating about “political correctness”.

And finally, have a demotivational comic. 

Don’t publish women’s sexual details: An open letter to @RHRealityCheck

Content note: This post discusses misogyny, attacks on reproductive rights, harassment and sex shaming.

Dear RH Reality Check,

Let me start by saying, I broadly support your aims. It’s important to provide news about reproductive justice, especially when our rights to safe control over our own bodies are so constantly under attack. Now that I’ve got your attention by being nice, let me tell you to go and fuck yourselves because you’ve done something practically unforgivably dickish.

Yesterday, you ran a piece by Sharona Coutts about Holly O’Donnell, an anti-choice scummer. I’m not going to link to the piece because of the personal details it contains, but this picture of the headline should remind you what it is:


Coutts’s hot journalism was in fact just a misogynistic attack on O’Donnell. Coutts had decided her time was best spent not discrediting the anti-choice bile O’Donnell was spouting to discredit her, but rather choosing to discredit O’Donnell based on her sex life.

Coutts identified O’Donnell on dating websites through her pictures. This is pretty much the kind of creepy stalkerish behaviour we expect from the anti-choice lobby, that we pro-choicers are above.

Coutts then decided to publish details of O’Donnell’s sex life that she had posted about. Again, this is pretty much the kind of creepy stalkerish behaviour we expect from the anti-choice lobby, that we pro-choicers are above.

Coutts even published the usernames O’Donnell was using on various dating websites, exposing her to online harassment. Guess what? That’s the kind of creepy stalkerish behaviour we expect from the anti-choice lobby, that I would have thought we were above.

Coutts even kind of attacked her for supporting LGBT equality, acting as though that’s some kind of thing her peers should be horrified by. Yeeep, smacks of anti-choice lobby bullshit.

RH Reality Check, you thought it was a good idea to publish 1700 words of salacious attacks on a woman for her sexual behaviour and sexual preferences, outing her and exposing her to a high amount of harassment. You claim that you’re exposing hypocrisy, but it is you who are the hypocrites here. You’re sex-shaming a woman. You know that some of the religious types she organises with might attack her for it, and you’ve decided to open her up to that attack.

I fail to see how you could not know what you were doing with this, so I can only conclude you’ve done this on purpose. You’ve decided to act like the anti-choicers you claim to despise, to out a woman and declare open season on her. It’s no coincidence you’ve put it on your front page, you want everyone to join in the puritanical shaming of a fallen woman.

What you’ve done is not OK, it’s never OK. It’s the very opposite of OK. You’ve proved yourselves as gross and misogynistic as those you’re ostensibly opposing.

Get fucked,


Update 14.45 21/8/15: It appears that RH Reality Check have taken down the post, although they so far have not mentioned why. This is not good enough. They need to address the issue and apologise to Ms O’Donnell for their misogynistic, sex-shaming harassment. 

Update 18.00 21/8/15: RH Reality Check have run a piece taking responsibility for running the piece, and saying it was wrong. The words “sorry” or “apologise” don’t factor in, and neither do they appear to understand that they basically used the exact same tactics as the anti-choicers. I also remain concerned about RHRC’s management, considering it doesn’t address the fact their fucking Vice President wrote the original hit piece.

Update 20.50: RH Reality Check have added the phrase “apologise unequivocally” to the above post. Also, I see this post has been linked through a right-wing opinion site. If you’re coming from there, hello, you’re mangy, poxy shitcanoes, and I hope you all die alone in pain. 

Guest blog from 2020: RIP Labour Party

Well, that was the election result I have been expecting since 2015: even worse electoral wipeout than five years ago, under Ed Miliband. They haven’t even managed to control the constituency of the recently-terraformed Moon, where the Predictamatic 3000 was certain in the exit Readings that they’d win by a landslide!

And so the circle of blame that I expected to happen, happened. I think this tweet–note for new readers: Twitter was a primitive social network in 2015. They communicated by typing what they wanted to say. It kind of worked like Gl0bal except without the neural interface and… oh, it’s hard to explain–anyway, this tweet kind of summed up the mindset of the party back in 2015.

FireShot Capture - Ellie Cumbo on Twitte_ - https___twitter.com_EllieCumbo_status_634281783408881668

See, Labour in 2015 was already a cesspit of blame. They blamed left-wing people for losing them the 2015 election by not voting for a party that had endorsed austerity politics. During their leadership contest later that year, a left-wing candidate gained prominence. The left-wing candidate appeared as though he might do the unthinkable, and win back left-wing voters to the party. People joined in droves–people who had been profoundly critical of the Labour Party under its contemporary direction, and saw an opening for it to become something different. They were ejected from the party and denied a vote in the leadership race. They were called “registered supporters”.

That’s right. The Labour Party literally kicked a bunch of people off of their register of supporters for being critical of certain policies, and for feeling unrepresented. The Labour Party literally told supporters “we don’t want your support”.

They told a bunch of people who said, “I’d vote for you if…” to get stuffed.

And now we see the same voices complaining about the wipeout being the fault of left-wing people who didn’t vote for them. Again.

The thing is, of course nobody voted for them. What did they provide people to vote for? Anyone who wanted austerity voted for the Tories, because the Tories present themselves far more credibly as the party of austerity. And those who didn’t voted for smaller parties–or didn’t vote at all, because what’s the fucking point? Labour didn’t create a niche for themselves. They had the opportunity to, and the blew it by telling those who suggested that the niche they could occupy could be opposing the party of government.

Labour lost the 2015 election because of this, and then they lost this year’s election because they were too damn pointless to try to create any kind of reason to vote for them at all.

I’m fucking delighted tbh. I never voted Labour in my life and couldn’t wait to dance on their grave.

I turned 18 in 2003, which was the same year Labour decided to invade Iraq (dubiously legally). I was fucking livid. So I didn’t vote for them in my first general election.

I voted Lib Dem in 2010. That was a terrible idea as it happened, but at that point I’d kind of swallowed the kool-aid on the “austerity is necessary” line, and I’d have rather voted for the party that hadn’t had a horrible track record on civil liberties, invaded another country, and didn’t have a leader who looked like what back then we thought badly-glitching androids would look like every time he smiled. I then discovered a lot more about what austerity really meant, and the absolute scale of the destruction and my politics took a quick turn for the better.

In 2015, the then-Labour leader carved the words “TOUGH ON IMMIGRATION” into stone, and for some reason they thought they lost the election because they weren’t right-wing enough. They went on to help the Tory government to whom they’d handed a majority by legitimising their rhetoric to scale up welfare cuts, rather than making it difficult for them. And the last five years has just been more and more of legitimising the kind of rhetoric which kills, in their position which is less of an opposition and more of outright complicity.

I was relieved when the left-wing candidate didn’t win, because I was concerned he might slow down the party’s inevitable demise, when my whole adult life I’ve felt nothing but a sense of betrayal from them. I am as happy about their death as I was when Thatcher died (I’m so glad she snuffed it before cryogenics became a thing, imagine if they’d resurrected her!). At the end of the day, they would not have made a lick of difference, except they’d wear red ties rather than blue.

Who knows where next. We need to up our own game–as with the last ten years, we need to organise to stop people being killed by the vicious government who want them dead. We need to escalate our efforts in destroying these institutions that allow the message to be broadcast to all that some people deserve to starve. We need to resist, to make it hard for them. And we know this cannot come from within parliament, that the power they have is the power over life and death. So we need to build towards their destruction too. It’s a tough fucking road, and we’re all exhausted, but our survival alone is an act of defiance and spite against them.

Incidentally, the Moon said no to austerity, so maybe we can take a leaf out of a particular Ursula Le Guin book and all go and live there in communal anarchy?

Moon aside, we have options. We always have options, and we need to make the most of them. I suggest we-

Under what powers?

No, that section only applies to-

No, I do not consent to come with you.

[scream, end transmission]

If 43% of young people aren’t straight or gay, why do only 2% identify as bi?

Content warning: this post discusses biphobia and lesbophobia

A YouGov poll was published the other day which revealed that 43% of 18-24 year olds don’t identify as completely straight, or completely gay, with pretty substantial chunks of other generations also being somewhere in the middle on the Kinsey scale (a third of 25-39 year olds identify this way; heck, even 21% of 60+ year olds don’t identify as exclusively straight or gay). Nowhere in the reporting did it mention how many people identified as bisexuals, preferring to focus on heteros and gay and lesbian people.

In fact, having a look at the full dataset revealed only 2% of people surveyed identified as bi. This held up for the 18-24 year old demographic, and was pretty much the same for most generations, although the 60+s had half that, and my generation, the 25-39 year olds had double the proportion of bisexuals than the younger generation, with a still fucking titchy 4% identifying as bi.

So what gives? Why are there so few bisexuals, despite a whopping 35% of hetero-identified people thinking they might have sex with someone of the same sex when it came down to it? Why so few bisexuals when so many aren’t identifying as exclusively straight or gay?

First and foremost, I don’t think it’s a product of the tumblr-generation-made-up-sexualities bullshit line that usually gets trotted out when queer folk come up with new words which better fit their sexualities. I don’t think this because of the absolutely tiny proportions who would describe their sexuality as something “other” than heterosexual, gay or lesbian, or bisexual. Only 2% of young people chose “other”, and even smaller proportions of the older generations. So, whatever’s going on, it’s got nothing to do with having the right words to express how they feel.

Maybe it’s a gender thing, to do with how women’s sexuality is constructed. That’s a definite possibility. Placing themselves on the Kinsey scale, 76% of women (compared to 68% of men) placed themselves at “completely heterosexual”. Despite this, following up with straight-identified women revealed only 46% would rule out ever being attracted to another woman and only half would rule out sex or a relationship with another woman. This pattern was not the same for men, where roughly the same numbers who identified as het would rule these things out. Something doesn’t quite add up here, and I suspect that it’s down to the fact heteropatriarchy doesn’t really believe sex and attraction between women exists–or if it does, it doesn’t count. It’s just gals being pals. So, women’s heterosexual identity is not at all threatened by the fact they could see themselves fancying other women and having sex with them and growing old together in the same bed.

That might account for some of it. Some of it. But there’s still a hell of a lot of people who fit the definition of bi, but do not apply it to themselves. This is probably because of the fact that bisexuals don’t exist. Ask a straight-identified person, and they’ll probably say bisexuals are actually gays who aren’t out of the closet yet. Ask a gay-identified person, and they’ll also probably say bisexuals are actually gays who aren’t out of the closet yet (unless they’re straights trying to infiltrate queer spaces). You might also get the standard grumble about tumblr-generation-made-up-sexualities–despite the fact the word “bisexual” was coined at the same time as “heterosexual” and “homosexual”.

I can barely think of an instance where I have heard the word “bisexual” applied to a fictional character: um, maybe Thirteen in House? Possibly the slutty one in Coupling, I think they mentioned she was pretending to be bisexual for attention? Did anyone actually outright say that Tick in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was bi? I feel, like, 90% sure that maybe the word came up there? Like, seriously, please leave a comment below if you can think of characters to whom the word “bisexual” is actually, canonically applied, because I am desperately struggling to think of them. Yes, we’re finally getting to see characters who fuck people of any gender, who love people of any gender, who experience attraction… but the word just doesn’t come up.

Because of this invisibility, there’s still a lot of confusion over what being bisexual even means, no doubt obfuscated a lot by structural biphobia (e.g. the myth that bisexuality reinforces the gender binary, the myth that you have to fancy both equally, the stigma attached to the label). Given the invisibility (and the often poor representation that comes up when it’s actually applied), the myths and stigmas can run free, making people reticent to wear a label that actually fits. People don’t feel like they’re “bi enough” to wear it, or they think wearing it means they are upholding an oppressive binary, or they think it makes them gross plague rats. And I can totally see why this means one might prefer no label to one which monosexuals–straights and gay people alike–have turned into a dirty word.

And of course “bi” isn’t a dirty word. It’s an innocuous label, and one which would fit a pretty sizeable proportion of the population if there wasn’t all the stigma surrounding it.

Update, about five hours after posting this: I confused myself, wondering if I myself was right to describe myself as bi. And then I decided I don’t give a flying fuck, and I am bi. You can see me waffling to myself here. tl;dr my goodness sexuality and identity is ~hard~


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