If the New Year sexual assaults were made up, it reveals ugly truths about what white men believe

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

News has emerged that the New Year mass sexual assaults by Arab men may have been made up or colossally overstated. If this is true, it’s a rare occurrence of sexual assault allegations proving to be false, and it’s utterly disgusting and unhelpful to everyone.

Except white men. Remember the frothing glee with which white men seized upon similar attacks, a year before. Remember how Nigel Farage, practically hard, threatened that this was why Migration Is Bad. Remember how the police rounded up brown men, ostensibly for the safety of women. Remember the wild-eyed excitement from the right, literally saying “told you so“.

And compare and contrast this with the reaction when an allegation is made against a white man’s idol. Donald Trump, Roman Polanski, Julian Assange… the endless list of beloved white men, protected by other white men who claim to be exercising healthy scepticism. I’ve pointed out to white men in the past that what happened in Cologne on that night sounded quite comparable to what happens every time I’ve had the misfortune of being in a rugby time on a match day, with pissed-up posh white men grabbing away. This has been met with scoffs of disbelief. There is disbelief in attacks by white men, and unconditional belief in attacks by brown and black men.

Allegations of this type have always revealed an ugly truth about white men and the conditional belief in sexual violence. At a most charitable analysis, it’s rooted in the biggest rape myth of all: that sexual violence is perpetrated by strangers, the other–not, as is most common, by someone the survivor knows. However, it’s likely that more plays into this: Nabila Ramdani wrote on how they fit a neo-Nazi agenda. The response to the allegations is dripping with racism.

What will happen next, with the treatment of the allegations, is two things, simultaneously. First of all, white men will seize upon this to add to their pitifully thin file of actual cases of false allegations, to throw about whenever one of their white faves is accused, screeching that false allegations happen all the time. And yet, at the same time, the allegations will be forgotten, because if false, they do not neatly justify the hysteria against Muslims and refugees. The racist genie is out of the bottle, and all that will be remembered is that brown men did some mass sexual assaults. The specifics, and the fact this may not be true, will be forgotten. White men are capable of holding these two conflicting beliefs simultaneously: they have proved they are capable of believing at the same time that all women are liars, and all Muslims are rapists.

It is an unpleasant prediction, yet I fear it will play out in the immediate future, and over years to come. The damage has well and truly been done, and the veracity of the allegations, in a way, does not matter particularly. Instead, we need to examine the motives of a xenophobic and misogynistic media, as well as those who influence and are influenced by it.

What these allegations have laid bare, is yet another ugly truth about white supremacy.

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Things I read

It’s that link-round up post again! This installment brings… mostly doom and gloom because everything is fucked.

#Milosexual and the Aesthetics of Fascism (Daniel Penny)- Analysing Poundland Joffrey’s position within fascism, Nazism and homosexuality, this article provides useful insights.

If British abortion providers turn away Irish women, it will be catastrophic (Megan Nolan)- A moving personal perspective from an Irish woman who received an abortion in the UK.

We Should Really Stop Ignoring All the Terrorists on 4chan (Violet Hargrave)- Tracing a connection between so-called “lone wolf” white terrorists.

Trial Balloon for a Coup? (Yonatan Zunger)- Analysis of the US travel ban, and how its function may be to test who takes which side in a coup.

Linda Stupart: ‘I’m interested in thinking about a world without men’– An interview with the writer and artist Linda Stupart, touching on witchcraft, queer futures, and lots of crystals.

White Women: This Is Why Your Critiques Of Beyoncé Are Racist (Lara Witt)- Picking apart underlying racism in the inevitable “critiques” of Bey’s pregnancy announcement.

A Law Student’s Guide To Free Speech (and what it isn’t) (Feminist Aspie)- A go-to guide as to the meaning of free speech. Bookmark and clobber freeze peach nazi enablers round the head with it.

The Death of Kink? (Nana Baah)- Examining the probable impact of age verification and other factors in the Digital Economy Bill.

Fish recorded singing dawn chorus on reefs just like birds– I did not know fish could sing, despite numerous cartoons showing them doing it. The cartoons were wrong, but the song is kind of nice.

Confronting the Raids (Anti-Raids Network)- This series on accounts of confronting immigration raids is an inspiring read, presenting tactics you can use to protect your neighbours.

This Group of Black Women Is Taking Up Arms to Fight Racism and Misogyny (Wilbert L. Cooper)- A feature on self-defence strategies and organising.

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Hand-Drawn Infographics of African-American Life– As well as being an author, civil rights thinker, sociologist and influential Pan-Africanist, Du Bois basically invented the infographic in 1900.

 

Centring Survivors: The Trouble with Stand Up To Racism (Members of LCAPSV and UK BLM)- An excellent and thorough perspective on why we should not be organising with SWP fronts.

Pragmatic nihilism: how a Theory of Nothing can help health psychology progress (Gjalt-Jorn Peters and Rik Cruzen)- I don’t usually include journal articles in this round-up, but this one’s open access and has useful insights on applying theories which extend beyond health psychology into the social sciences discipline, probably even natural sciences.

Well. That was heavy. So enjoy this lovely video of some people playing Call Me Maybe on bottles.


Adjusting to lamotrigine: 75mg

Continuing my series on lamotrigine and its side effects, I levelled up to 75mg of lamotrigine last week. I now take two 25mg tablets before bed, and one 25mg tablet in the morning. This is very annoying, because the tablets come 14 to a strip. It was easy to keep track of making sure I’d taken my dose at 25mg (I knew when the fortnight was up because it was one strip), and I could keep track at 50 (the pill from the left of the strip in the morning, the one from the right in the evening). But it’s a pain in the arse keeping track now.

The upping my dose brought back the dreaded itch, although a week on, it’s died back down again. I find that regular bog standard antihistamines help make the itching less intense. I’m pleased to report that my skin is still attached to my body, though sometimes when I’m itching, I wish it wasn’t.

The vivid and lucid dreams remain, and are mostly still boring, although I did have an interesting one the other night where Alan Partridge had been murdered, and it was up to me to figure out which member of East 17 killed him. The murderer got away with it, because I couldn’t remember the names of the band members who weren’t Brian and Tony, in order to investigate them (I googled when I woke up: they’re called John and Terry, in case this dream proves to be prophetic). I’m not sure whether dreaming more vividly, and often lucidly, is the cause of me finding it harder to wake up in the morning, and tireder throughout the day, or if that’s a separate side effect of the drug, but it’s a minor annoyance that I wish wasn’t happening, but it’s not so bad that I want to come off it or switch meds.

I finished the packet I was initially prescribed, and this time I went to a different pharmacist and was given the fancy branded lamotrigine: Lamictal. For the most part, I’m not feeling much difference between branded and generic, except that the Lamictal gives me a feeling like very minor indigestion about 10 minutes after I swallow it. I may be the only person in history to prefer the cheaper medicine.

Regarding prescriptions, my medical exemption certificate came through, and now I’m eligible for free prescriptions, not just for my lamotrigine, but for literally everything. If I get prescribed antibiotics, they’re free. If I develop another condition, all my meds for that would be free. If you live in the UK, have epilepsy and are taking daily anticonvulsants, you too are eligible for free prescriptions. The scheme isn’t well-advertised, and the list of conditions that can grant you free prescriptions is preposterously short, but it’s worth applying if you can. Pop into your GP surgery, and ask them for a FP92A form, fill it out, and then get your GP to sign it and send it. Within a few weeks, you’ll get a little card that means you don’t need to pay for any prescriptions. The free prescriptions is a huge upside to having an unpleasant medical condition and being on medicine with annoying side effects.

I think that’s it for now. Please get in touch if you want to talk to me about lamotrigine. I think it’s important that we share information. You can tweet me, drop me a FB message, or email me: anotherangrywomb@gmail.com. I’ll tell you all about the full dose when I’m on it.

Adjusting to lamotrigine series
25mg
50mg
1
00mg

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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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Adjusting to lamotrigine: 50mg

Regular readers and followers will know that I’m currently adjusting to lamotrigine for my epilepsy. I’ve been taking 50mg a day now for the last fortnight: 25mg in the morning and 25mg at night. Today, I’ll be upping the dose again to 75mg (25mg in the morning and 50mg at night), with the eventual goal of 100mg a day.

At 25mg, I reported some side effects (or possible side effects): itching, weird pooping, gnarly dreams and light-headedness. I’m delighted to report that the pooping seems to have evened out, back to normal-for-me, and the light-headedness has mostly subsided. I still get the occasional bout of feeling vaguely light-headed, but only once or twice within the fortnight. I’m wondering if it’s lessened because I’m taking a more even dose: the light-headedness at 25mg tended to happen in the evenings, at points where it had been a long time since I’d taken a dose, and now I’m taking more regular doses.

The itching, once again, cropped up when I upped my dose, although this time I was prepared for that, and knew that it didn’t mean I was going to die. However, just before my period, I had a couple of zits, and obviously I made everyone I know look at them and tell me if they thought it looked anything like a horrible skin rash with the words “toxic” and “necrosis” in the name. Spoiler: it didn’t. It was a couple of normal zits. Meanwhile, the gnarly dreams are still there, and still, for the most part, boring as shit.

Sadly, it’s not all good. I had my first period on the drug last week. And let me tell you, for me, menstruation plus lamotrigine is absolutely horrible. I usually don’t get particularly bad period pains, and only on the first day of my period. This month, I had cramps for two days before (as well as the aforementioned zits, which aren’t very usual for me). And then, on the day it came, I was in a world of pain. My uterus felt as though it was attempting to punch its way out of my body; I had a horrendous headache that no painkiller could touch; I bloated up like a balloon; and every time I mildly exerted myself the muscles I’d use decided to join in with the pain. The next day, the worst of it had subsided, but I was still crampy, and I was for the rest of my period.

In good news, though, my period, despite being absolutely fucking horrible, was much lighter. I bled for three days, and there was far less blood than usual. So, hooray, I guess. Like a monkey’s paw wish, I got lighter periods–but HAHA!–they’re hell on earth for the time they’re present.

And finally, I wondered if perhaps my recent uncharacteristic bout of optimism might be down to the lamotrigine’s mood-stabilising effect. I honestly don’t know. Perhaps it is, or perhaps it’s because a Nazi being punched in the face is really fucking funny. I’m certainly not feeling positive overall, but maybe a little more resilient and less despairing. Last week, something horrible and triggering happened in my personal life, and I fell apart for about two hours, where historically I’d be a mess for at least four days. So, maybe that’s a good side effect kicking in?

That’s about all their is to report for now. As always, please get in touch if you want to talk to me about lamotrigine. I think it’s important that we share information. You can tweet me, drop me a FB message, or email me: anotherangrywomb@gmail.com. I’ll update soon about my 75mg adventures.

Adjusting to lamotrigine series
25mg
75mg
1
00mg

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Things I read recently that I found interesting

Welcome to an incredibly belated link roundup. This is a massive bumper post, because a lot happened this month.

Facts to counteract the normalization of neo-nazis (Flavia Dzodan)- We are truly up against neo-nazis. Here’s the receipts.

Full Transcript Of Angela Davis’s Women’s March Speech (Angela Davis)- The veteran activist and thinker shows us the way forward.

How Ultrasound Became Political (Moira Weigel)- Longread on the politics and history of ultrasound, and their proximity to pro-life politics.

Please Stop Telling Women to Get An IUD (Anna Krist)- Before Trump took office, popular advice was to get an IUD. This advice doesn’t necessarily fly for women of colour.

How ‘Pussy Hats’ Made Me Feel Excluded — And Then Welcomed — At The Women’s March (Katelyn Burns)- A sweet personal story of solidarity with trans women.

When white fears become Big Data: racist emotions and the populists who love them (Flavia Dzodan)- Flavia’s work on data is vital, but this is a great place to start with it.

Dylann Roof Is An American Problem (Bim Adewunmi)- Exploring the death penalty and the shooter.

Book burnings (Han Koehle)- Contextualising a photograph which often does the rounds.

What Abortion in America Looks Like Right Now (Alexa Tsoulis-Ray)- Personal testimonials about the truth.

The Exploitation Of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy By White Supremacy (The Establishment)- A look at who the man was, and the function of rebranding that.

“I couldn’t sleep at night. Had I sent them home to their deaths?” – An ex-asylum officer tells all (BBC Three)- Insights into what this violent role truly entails.

Saying that man and woman are the only genders is actually LESS nuanced than saying that earth, water, air, and fire are the only elements. (10 o’clock Dot)- A quick scientific reminder.

Why I’m No Longer A Punk Rock “Cool Girl” (Kristy Diaz)- Examining the internalised misogyny of being the Cool Girl with specific reference to punk subculture.

Sherlock Holmes is a Jerk. But an Empathetic Jerk who is a Good Person. (Fandom Musings)- In a nutshell, why you should be watching Elementary over Sherlock.

And finally, best Joker of the 21st century Mark Hamill reads a Trump tweet in his Joker voice.

 


A new hope?

Content note: this post discusses Nazis and contains a Rogue One spoiler. And, I suppose, a spoiler for Episode IV of Star Wars, too, but that film is 40 years old and you really should have seen it by now.

I’ll tell you what I wasn’t expecting to feel during the week of Donald Trump’s inauguration: hope. And yet, for the first time in months, I felt something like hope brimming up inside me.

Not because a president was elected whose inauguration honestly felt like the opening sequence of a particularly heavy-handed dystopia movie. But rather, because it looks like perhaps resistance is possible. I’d almost forgotten what hope feels like, and forgotten how to articulate such feelings: forgive me, therefore, if this post is somewhat incoherent, and just enjoy the pictures.

Inauguration day in London started with a series of banner drops as part of the Bridges Not Walls campaign. Each of London’s bridges–and many others up and down the country–carried a message of solidarity from activist groups. There was representation from numerous groups, bearing messages representing transfeminism, Black Lives Matter, welcoming messages to migrants… and there was this, over Vauxhall Bridge.

vauxhall

Activists stand on Vauxhall Bridge holding rainbow smoke bombs. A banner beneath them reads “Queer Solidarity Smashes Borders”

When I first saw this picture, it brought a tear to my eye. It is a simple message, so simple. Queer solidarity smashes borders. Four little words, lighting the way beneath a rainbow. It is infused with hope of undoing the violence we face. Of course it isn’t all that needs doing, but it is heartening to see those words prominently against the middle of London, and cropping up all over the news.

I watched the inauguration in a pub, me and a friend agog in horror. But then later, an even bigger cause for hope rose up. Everything kicked the fuck off. People rioted. People protested. People made it abundantly fucking clear that they didn’t accept the legitimacy of a far-right president, elected through dubious means, and neither were people particularly keen on the rich, white men in charge of the world.

limo

A limo is burned at the Washington DC inauguration day protests. Sprayed on the side of it is the words “We the people” and the circled A.

None of this compares, though, to the ultimate cause for hope which erupted on that day. It was, I think, a Destruction of the First Death Star Moment. I am talking, of course, of…

lol

Nazi Richard Spencer gets punched by an anarchist, then looks really fucking wounded. It’s hilarious.

I have not yet grown tired of watching this. The punch is funny, and the look of wounded pride on that Nazi’s face afterwards as he tries to fix his fucked-up is better still. I am utterly delighted that this punch from an unknown hero has become the first major meme of 2017 (a few of my favourites–honestly I don’t think anyone should stop until it has been set to every piece of music ever recorded). I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at the response from the more liberal side of the left. I’d had hatches battened down, defences ready for having the tedious argument as to why political violence is absolutely a necessary and valid tactics, and maybe they should ask their grandparents about the ethics and efficacy of physical violence against Nazis. However… I didn’t really need it. Even liberals seemed to agree that it was broadly all right to punch Nazis, and deeply satisfying to watch.

I also like to think of how pissed-off Donald Trump must be. Such an arrogant and self-centred man must surely be spitting feathers at the fact that an anarchist upstaged him on his Big Day, by clocking a Nazi right in the jaw. I expect he’s been sulking ever since Friday.

It turns out that punching a Nazi in the face is more effective and less resource-heavy than instigating no-platform notices against fascists. Since the punch, Spencer has said he is afraid to leave the house and that he feels he will require more security at public events. This suddenly makes him a far more expensive speaker to book, which will likely prove detrimental to his lucrative rent-a-Nazi-guest career, and severely impact the number of platforms he is given. If every Nazi got a smack in the mouth, we could probably staunch the rise of fascism pretty darn quickly.

The opposition continued over to the next day, when it was estimated that millions of women were marching against Trump, all over the globe. There was a march on every continent, even Antarctica. Everyone, it seems, is invigorated against the man whose name is a fart.

I am in no doubt that the way forward–even the way to hold ground and stay alive–will be rough. I am in no doubt that we need to maintain the solidarity that feels as though it is being built, to expand and build links. I am in no doubt that the problem extends far beyond Trump, and cannot be solved merely by strategic punches and public symbolic actions.

And yet, my low and jaded expectations have been surpassed already. There is more resistance than I anticipated, more passion, more rage. 

As Princess Leia points out at the end of Rogue One, what we have been sent now is hope.

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