Things I read this fortnight that I found interesting

It’s time for that periodic links round up! I hope you find these links I’ve put together interesting.

The Tory attack on queer youth. A call to arms. (Don’t hold your tongue)- So important that we read this and heed the call to fight.

Don’t let them tell you the election was a victory for women. (Emily Hawkins)- Some feminists genuinely seem to believe this election was a victory for women. They are wrong, wrong, WRONG.

My 22 years on Pakistan’s death row could end this week. What purpose will my execution serve? (Aftab Bahadur)- Heartbreaking essay from a man who has been on death row since he was 15. Sadly, he was killed by the state on Wednesday.

[untitled] (Laverne Cox)- Laverne Cox talks about Caitlyn Jenner and privilege.

Your Child Should Never Be Forced to Hug Anyone (Yes, Including a Relative) (James St James)- Shit that shouldn’t need saying, said well.

From Hamid Mahmood to Harry Mason….. (Hamid Mahmood)- Exposing white supremacy in the job application process.

Facing psychological coercion and manipulation has become a daily part of claiming benefits (Felicity Callard and Robert Stearn)- On the terrifying and unethical use of psychologists from the DWP.

Cyprus at the Crossroads (Leandros Fischer and Daphnos Economou)- On the history and present of communism in Cyprus.

Unshaming the future in my coffee cup (Laura Aharonian)- On shame, and cultural memories of the Armenian genocide.

Calling Yourself Fat For the First Time (Tilly Jean)- An honest piece about claiming a label amid stigma.

How Queer Relationships Can Get Stuck in Harmful Gender Norms (And Why We Really Need to Get Unstuck) (Michael “MJ” Jones)- Shedding light on how misogyny seeps into queer relationships.

And finally, if for some reason you need a break in your tearing through Orange Is The New Black this weekend, there’s a kitten cam live and they’re adorable. Look at their little orange paws!


Urban fantasy

Um, so I’m experimenting with writing fiction. Sort of. Enjoy.

He came out of a jam jar which I’d found at the back of the fridge and wanted to rinse the fur out of. It was a nice jar, and I was sick of Lily and Jen leaving things to rot. I wasn’t working that day, and I needed something free to fill the hours. Before I took in what the hell had just happened, I was pleased at how abruptly the unsavoury-looking greenish fluff had vanished.

“Greetings, master,” he probably said, dipping a little bow , his shiny head flashing as it caught the pale fluorescent light. He probably reeled off the whole spiel that he later seemed narky about repeating, but I didn’t notice as I was too busy shrieking and throwing that jam jar at the bald, middle-aged white man in a suit that had just materialised in my kitchen in a puff of smoke, the same mouldy shade as the contents of the jar.

He stood solidly, arms folded, with a patronising smirk on his face until my bluff was well and truly called, and I didn’t call the police because my the battery on my phone was dead.

“That went poorly,” he sighed. “I’m meant to appear to you in the form that your culture sees as someone who makes things happen.”

I looked him up and down. He looked like a banker, a lawyer, a manager, a head of department.

“You do. Just not someone who makes good things happen.”

“Well. Let’s get on with this then, shall we? Like I said, three wishes, then pop me back in a suitable container and they’ll come true tomorrow.”

The lure of anything being possible was intoxicating, and it quite dampened my initial scepticism of this stranger who had manifested in my living room. My mind whirled with possibilities. I could fix everything, be anyone, become rich beyond my wildest dreams and all because I had decided to wash up some of the filth left in the fridge by one of my housemates. That moral high ground alone would be more than enough to keep me flying for months; Lily and Jen would never hear the end of it.

That dissipated quite quickly as I began to think through the implications of any possible wishes, and I began to think of what it was I really wanted.

He stood there, tapping his foot, arms still folded.

“Usually, people know what they want pretty instantly. Your generation is the exception. Wanting everything, wanting nothing. I don’t even know.”

“I’m thinking,” I snapped. “I don’t want to phrase it ambiguously, in case you kill everyone I know, or something.”

Laughter danced in his eyes. “It has to be short. Tweet-length.” He pronounced the words with an edge of amused disgust.

“Fine.” I took a deep breath, and summoned the words I wanted. He might find the idea of Twitter somehow distasteful, but for me it had revolutionised my ability to articulate thoughts succinctly. “I wish for a regular income, enough to live on and buy some luxuries, doing something I love.”

A raised eyebrow. “Really? Nothing more ambitious? You don’t just want billions deposited in your bank account?”

I shook my head. “That’d probably end up with horrible consequences. You’d crash the economy, or I’d get arrested, or something like that.”

For the first time I saw a flicker of something like respect, followed by a wicked grin. “You’re right. That’s what usually happens. Anyway, what next?”

“I wish to live on my own, in London. Securely.”

“And finally? Usually people ask for love finally.”

I didn’t need love; I had that. And if this thing worked out I’d have my own pad in which to entertain Ella. In fact, I had been close to asking for a black Nando’s card, free chicken for the rest of my life, but doubt crept in at the very last moment. I wasn’t entirely sure if such a thing existed. Besides, something better had just occurred to me.

“One of those Oyster cards TFL employees get. You know, free transport. Oh, except I don’t have to work for TFL to get it.”

“That’s not tweet-length.”

“Yes it is. At my count, it’s 121 characters. I could add ‘you dick’ to the end and it would still be valid according to your specifications.”

“Fine,” he sighed. “Fucking millennials.”

At his instruction, I found a receptacle in which to pour his essence: it was an empty screwtop wine bottle. “Enjoy your wishes,” he said with a smirk as he and the bottle disappeared.

I went to bed that night expecting nothing to happen, the healthy scepticism finally hitting in. I was so, so wrong.

Wishes do come true.

I have a regular income, enough to live on and some luxuries, from doing something I love. I work long hours, and doing things I like in exchange for money sucks the joy out of doing them. I spend more of my time in an office far away, writing content and copy until my brain turns to mush. When I’m asked if I’m happy, I burble enthusiastically, as though I am selling a product, because it’s ungrateful to do anything else.

I live on my own, in London, securely. Sort of. It’s in zone 4. It takes an hour and a half to get to work, and an hour and a half back. I seldom see my friends any more, because none of them really fancy dragging themselves all the way out to Penge. Even Ella rarely stays, so we fuck in her room, a pillow over my mouth and holding still as a statue to avoid the creaking contributions of her mattress.

The oyster card is pretty good, I have to admit. I have few complaints about it, except I wish I had to use it less often. I think about wishes a lot now; and how I’d wish things differently.

I keep my eye out for a bottle, every day. An empty Gallo Brothers bottle, lined with a faint and repulsive-looking green fuzz. And I wonder, if I found it again, would I open it back up, or leave it in the back of my fridge for eternity?

__

So, that work of fiction is semi-autobiographical. 

Fine, that’s a lie, but I am having a bit of money trouble at the moment. It’s nothing serious, but I do need a little bit of money to see me through to the end of the month. If you enjoyed my efforts, please, pretty please can you drop me a couple of quid? In return, I promise I’ll either continue or stop writing fiction, depending on what you prefer.  Thank you so much xxxx

Update 14/6/15- thank you, lovelies. You’ve given me more than enough xx


Things I read this fortnight that I found interesting

Better late than never, eh? Have some links.

#SayHerName Report (AAPF)-A must-read report into deaths of Black women at the hands of the police.

We need to talk about safe spaces (Yomi Adegoke)- Shit that shouldn’t need saying, said well.

I Am the ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ the Men in Your Life Talk About, And I Have a Few Things to Say… (That Pesky Feminist)- Powerful piece, and basically TRUST NO MAN.

The Forgotten History of Romani Resistance (Pierre Chopinaud)- Raising awareness of a forgotten history.

Marriage is not Equality: Thoughts on #MarRef from a worried radical queer (Feminist Ire)- Important analysis, and worth bearing in mind if you’re celebrating.

How to Have a Good Night in Norwich (Jo Swo)- A new project to make Norwich nightclubs safer.

‘I’m gonna kill this lot’, and other things a police officer shouldn’t be saying during a protest (Hannah Dee)- Analysis of how police see protesters.

We trust children to know what gender they are – until they go against the norm (Diane Ehrensaft)- A defence of young children receiving treatment they need.

How Self-Described ‘Whore Nation’ Killed the TV Show ‘8 Minutes’ (Tara Burns)- A case study in community organising.

We Will No Longer Be Promoting HBO’s Game of Thrones (Jill Pantozzi)- Popular fandom website The Mary Sue has had it with GoT’s attitude to rape.

Mad Max: Troubled Road (20th Century Flicks)- How Fury Road could have been improved by including indigenous Australian actors.

Kitty Genovese’s secret lesbian history (Trish Bendix)- This important–and salient–aspect of Kitty Genovese’s life was completely erased from my psychology class.

5 Helpful Answers To Society’s Most Uncomfortable Questions (David Wong)- Send this Cracked article to whiney white men.

Safe Spaces are for White Men (Maya Goodfellow)- How white men desperately try and centre themselves.

Working at an abortion clinic challenged my pro-choice views — and confirmed them (Amy Beeman)- Touching article revealing the realities of working in an abortion clinic.

All Black Lives Matter: seeking justice for Sheku Bayoh (Siana Bangura)- A family is seeking answers. Spread their questions far and wide.

And finally, Mad Max posters improved with quotes from whiney white men who didn’t like it.


On free bleeding

Content warning: this post discusses menstruation and body policing

Every now and then, manchildren freak the fuck out over “free bleeding”. Sadly, the feminist response to this seems to be “eww, no, nobody actually does that, it was made up by 4chan.”

As always, that’s not the whole story. Yes, 4chan may have created a freebleeding hashtag, based on the thing a bunch of 13 year old cis boys find most horrifying. That doesn’t mean that isn’t something that people don’t do.

I know this because I free bleed. Towards the end of my period, I simply cannot be bothered with using my menstrual cup any more, so I boil it up and put it away from next month, and just say “fuck it” and let the blood flow freely. It’s free, and it’s a damn sight less hassle than having to reinsert a menstrual cup when my cunt isn’t completely slick with blood as it is on the earlier days.

Everybody has a different way of dealing with their menstruation, and for me, I don’t really notice much of a smell, and there’s nothing much to stain because I don’t wear knickers and I usually wear black. On the last day or two of my period, there isn’t much blood, so free bleeding for a day or two a month is a thing I’ve found works for me.

Menstruation is a deeply personal thing, and what works for one person might not work for another. Free bleeding is not a myth, it’s something which works for some people.

As feminists, we must always resist the call to assimilate and seek out patriarchal head-pats. Society has a bit of a hangup about menstruation, but that doesn’t mean we have to pander to it. We should all be able to find out what works for us, and that discovery is hampered by squawks of disgust and denial surrounding ways which we live with our periods. It is not right to police how others menstruate, which is precisely what is happening when feminists proclaim that free bleeding is something which never happens, that it was made up by cis boys to provoke a grossout response.

Free bleeding is real, and it’s not something to be brushed away. Feminists should know better.

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with Sam Ambreen. You can read the whole conversation here


I support Bahar Mustafa

Content warning: this post discusses harassment

Goldsmiths Welfare and Diversity Officer, Bahar Mustafa, has upset the right wing press. Her evil crime? Suggesting that women and non-binary people of colour should organise in their own autonomous spaces. The media outlets–coincidentally, owned and run by white men who like to yell over everyone else–are freaking the fuck out over not being welcome everywhere. And, of course, white cis men with “free thinker” in their twitter bios are tediously predictably jumping on the bandwagon that media barons want them to be aboard.

I could go from top to tail about why they’re wrong, but other writers have already said it, and better than I could. I recommend reading these articles by Sam Ambreen and Lola Olufemi, as well as the open letter from Goldsmiths students. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of foolishness coming from Bahar’s detractors.

There is one point I would like to add to the above. Bahar’s detractors are fixated on her ethnicity as a Turkish Cypriot, and keep churning out burbled nonsense about how this makes her the oppressor in Cyprus (and personally responsible for the Armenian genocide). As a Greek Cypriot, let me just say this is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard, and they are mixing up Turkish Cypriots–a Turkish speaking ethnic group who’ve lived on the island for centuries, and the state of Turkey (which perpetrated the Armenian genocide and invaded Cyprus). So, as a Greek Cypriot, these shitbrains really need to stop using me and mine as a shield in their risible crusade against a young woman of colour.

Bahar has done nothing wrong, and everything right. Every screech coming from her detractors strengthens the case that white people must be excluded from BME safe spaces, and men must be excluded from women’s spaces, and that cis white men should basically be excluded from life generally. As a little experiment, tweet the hashtag #supportbaharmustafa, offering your support, and see how many white men reply to you with their absolutely ignorant opinions about what racism is, and their demands to be educated, and the boring and wrong shit about Bahar’s ethnicity, and their #GamerGate hashtagged profiles.

Imagine these people being in the spaces they demand access to, yelling over the real conversation. At best, they’d be demanding to be spoonfed 101 information they could easily google, like squawking gannets. These are people who want everything to be all about them, all the time. They should–and must–be excluded from spaces so that actual organising can be done.

Join me in supporting Bahar Mustafa, for her strong stance on how organising should work. And hear every single detractor proving her more and more right.

P.S. Yep, I’m white. That space isn’t for me. It’s still important, because unlike the pissbabies, I know the world doesn’t revolve around me.


Mad Max > Game of Thrones IDST

Content warning: This post discusses rape and violence against women, and contains spoilers for Mad Max: Fury Road and Game Of Thrones S05E06.

Why yes, this is the second post in a week about what Mad Max: Fury Road is doing right, so right. Or, at least, more right that a hell of a lot of the shite that’s on our screens these days.

Readers of this blog will likely be aware that the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, “Unbroken, Unbowed, Unbent”, featured a rape scene which was not in the books and seemed to serve little purpose (although I’d argue it did serve a function, and a fucking horrid one at that). Defenders of the scene, and defenders of the show’s attitude towards rape in general tend to follow a similar line. “But it’s accurate that in a medieval setting, women would get raped!” “Would you rather they just ignored the issue?”

First of all, the historical accuracy argument is fucking bullshit in a show where dragons and zombies gad about doing dragon and zombie stuff, the climate produces seasons that last for decades, and everybody has a full smile of straight white teeth. Let’s see it instead for what it is: a fantasy setting where, along with all of the above things which didn’t really happen in medieval Europe, it’s also a dystopian world where women are treated as chattel and therefore rape and violence against women is commonplace. Here, the “would you rather they just ignored the issue” argument has slightly more traction.

The thing is, if that is indeed a conscious part of the world that has been built and is being explored in the show, the writers and producers are still doing a fucking terrible job of pulling it off. If they want to explore these issues and show this horrible world they’ve created, they can look to Fury Road to see how it’s done.

Fury Road takes a look at violence against women in a dystopian world, and it does this without a single rape scene–hell, there’s probably only a few seconds of screen time dedicated to showing any violence against women. Instead, they explore it through competent writing, realising that we do not need to be shown these things to appreciate that they are bad and that they are a very real problem for the victims. Instead of being shown women being victimised, we are shown the impact it has on them, their desire to get away. We see instead their feelings, scrawled in paint across the room in which they were kept. We see them angry, we see them sad. We see its perpetrator, and we despise him without having to have every little detail of his violence rubbed in our faces.

It is entirely possible to address and discuss these issues on screen without subjecting the audience to the horrors. In fact, it’s easy to write a blow-by-blow rape scene. It is perhaps more challenging, but infinitely more rewarding for the audience to use some fucking subtlety and actually delve into what this means rather than what happened. Fury Road went to the length of employing a feminist to consult on the handling of violence against women, and it shows, because what emerged was a far better and more nuanced exploration of a world rife with gendered violence than much else.

We live in a ridiculous world full of dreadful writing if I have to call a fucking Mad Max film subtle and nuanced.


Things I read this week that I found interesting

I read things. I find them interesting. I share them.

10 Things the Left Should See the Back of Right Now (Isla Williams)- I do not have enough YES TO THIS to articulate how important this is.

My Birth Story, The Bipolar Birth Plan Was Bullshit and The Stigma Of Mentalist Mums (The Secret Life Of A Manic Depressive)- Honest account of birth and postnatal care for a mother with bipolar. With bonus pictures of an adorable babby.

I stand with Bahar Mustafa – Reverse racism isn’t real (Sam Ambreen)- Sam knocks it out of the park, and like Bahar, has upset a lot of white men. Good.

Sex Workers Don’t Owe You Any Answers (Alana Massey)- Shit that shouldn’t need to be said, said well.

Shit White Feminists Need To Stop Doing (Fernanda Toro)- Ditto. Read, take heed.

It did not start with Stonewall – Black lesbian elders tell their herstories.

A Rare And Remarkable Glimpse Into The Lives Of Trans Women In 1960s Paris– Photographs of the glamorous trans women sex workers in Paris.

The Underground Art of the Insult (Anna Holmes)- A brief history of throwing shade.

Congrats, you have an all male panel!– Shaming the all-too-common all-male panels.

Positive Behaviour S&M (Mark Neary)- This is what schools are doing to autistic children and it’s fucking horrible.

Workfare, Forced Labour and the new ‘Business and Community Wardens’. (Pete the Temp)- Exposing the forced labour in a “voluntary” role.

Mad Max: Fury Road Director George Miller: “I Can’t Help but Be a Feminist” (Vanity Fair)- What Miller describes here as he talks about his creative process is the bare minimum any fucking director should do, and yet they aren’t. Do a George Miller, and make an actually fucking good film.

And finally, the best of the hipster cop meme. Fuck that guy.


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