Things I read this week that I found interesting

Hi everyone! I read things, and I share them because they’re interesting.

Female bodies: A weighty issue (Foz Meadows)- An excellent evidence-based analysis on what “overweight” means and how that category is mostly a nonsense.

8 Accounts of Black People Being Used As Guinea Pigs (K. Abel)- A horrifying bit of recent history.

You Are Too Much (Hannah Black)- Starting with the Over Attached Girlfriend meme.

Mental health: why we’re all sick under neoliberalism (Ray Filar)- Ray examines how the way society is structured contributes to mental illness.

Male Privilege on Muslim twitter (AniqahC)- A social experiment from women of colour.

Our Willow, Ourselves (Lindsay King-Miller)- Presenting an alternate perspective on the character from Buffy, which is rather sweet.

Brixton Fairies: Made Possible By Squatting- A short documentary on the role of squatters in radical queer movement.

If privileged women were as likely to do survival sex work as they are likely to get an abortion, there would be no feminist debate on sex work (Lori Adorable)- This case made, succinctly.

I hate my job, I hate my job, I hate my job – what many think but won’t tell the boss (Dawn Foster)- On hating work.

Sex is not the opposite of feminism (girlonthenet)- Some shit that oughtn’t need to be said, said well.

And finally, have some retro-style posters for recent films.


Why I tweeted a picture of my boobs

Followers on my Twitter may have noticed that I stuck up a topless picture. I’d love to say it was a picture of my boobs, but in fact it was only one of them, as my baps had an argument shortly after they sprouted, and haven’t spoken since.

You don’t tend to see norks like mine in the media, widely-spaced, outward-pointing and subject to the laws of gravity. In fact, you don’t see many boobs at all in the media, and when you do, it’s a very narrow range: they’re almost invariably attached to white cis women, and a certain size and shape. And when they’re presented, they’re almost always sexualised. Tits, according to the media, are sex objects. We don’t see the way they swing when you bend down to find a clean pair of socks, or the way they hang as we take our bras off after a long day. We don’t see the fun of boobs, or the fact that they can also be used to feed babies. When we’re shown boobs, we’re expected to approve of their sexiness, leer a bit and enjoy patriarchy.

The media has control over presentation of breasts, so nothing is going to change. They like having the monopoly. And it’s for this reason that our views of boobs are restricted to how the men who own these publications–the lad mags, page 3, and so on–want to see boobs. It’s a male fantasy, a sense of entitlement.

Social media, of course, presents a major challenge to the traditional media model, and this is where we can really make things happen. I posted a picture of my baps in a fairly innocuous photo, and I’d love for others to do so too. Let’s flood the world images of the genuine diversity of our bodies, and show that nudity isn’t a shameful thing at all. There’s a hashtag–#normalisenudity–and a tumblr. A few people have already participated, and I’m inviting you to, if you feel safe doing so (the tumblr will accept anonymous submissions).

Given the current state of things, given the way capitalist patriarchy has controlled nudity, I can completely understand how terrifying this is for some. I posted a picture of my jubblies because I can as well as wanting to flick a v-sign at capitalist patriarchy. But if you want to join me, please, please do. Let’s try to reclaim and normalise nudity.

ETA 03/04: Welp, men have gone and trolled the hashtag, so maybe avoid that. The tumblr’s still going strong if you want to use that though. Also, the fact that men pissed their pants over this shows that it’s threatening them :)


This is the most misogynistic thing I’ve seen today

Above is a video for the No More Page 3 campaign, and it is the most misogynistic thing I have seen today.

In case you don’t want to watch it, the narrative centres on a man buying a copy of a certain tabloid newspaper, and being stalked around by a topless woman every time he opens the fucking thing, which has a devastating impact on his family and leads to his young daughter making some paper mache norks. It’s so fucking ghastly and misogynistic I’d think it an April Fool, were it not uploaded a few weeks ago.

The whole thing reeks of largely discredited scarlet woman tropes as well as deliberately sexualising children. It’s the sort of thing I’d expect to see made in the 1950s: sexy lady destroys innocent family, and it’s all her fault. The man is not held accountable; indeed, he looks just as perturbed at being relentlessly tailed by the Page 3 girl as the video invites us to be. The blame is laid squarely on the woman, not anywhere else as we are invited to stare at her and mutter to ourselves that she shouldn’t be there.

And let’s talk about sexualising a child, because you know what publication has never, to my knowledge, put out images of little girls wearing false breasts? The Sun. Or, indeed, anything else I can think of, except that fucking video. Yes, we’re meant to be horrified by it, but do you know what I really don’t want to look at? Images of little girls wearing false breasts. Most of the internet and print respect this. Of course they couldn’t have gone for a girl just taking her top off and being cool with it: it was their intention to sexualise this child’s body as much as possible while simultaneously saying “look how terrible this is”. It’s like the Sidebar of Shame in the Daily Mail, except they’re seriously expecting us to fall over and applaud their feminism for this.

It’s sadly not uncommon for initiatives like this to fall back on objectification and sexualisation. In Playing The WhoreMelissa Gira Grant explains that this is the dominant discourse in carceral feminist initiatives against sex work: that sex workers are expected to be seen but not heard, that when they are not being held up as victims, they are being held up as the enemy. One can also draw parallels to PETA, who like to treat women like meat in order to make people eat more vegetables.

Make no mistake: this is what is going on in this video. Somehow, No More Page 3 have managed to produce something that manages to be more objectifying and misogynistic than what they claim to oppose.

___

ETA 1553 01/04/14: The “official” campaign account have distanced themselves from this video following complaints due to its misogyny. This marks a reversal on their original position, where they tweeted it excitedly. It is worth noting that while the “official” campaign do not endorse it, this video is not incompatible with any of their campaign talking points.

ETA 1612 01/04/14: The official account also allegedly deleted a tweet describing the video as “fantastic”. As I said before, there is no way this video is incompatible with the main talking points and aims of the NMP3 campaign. I would really like for NMP3 to engage with and talk about why using the imagery and tropes in this video is as misogynistic, if not more so than NMP3.

I’d also like to clarify that, when I refer to “No More Page 3″ throughout this post, I’m not necessarily referring to the “official” campaign, but the movement itself, which, being ostensibly grassroots, ought not to be limited to a single Twitter account!


Things I read this week that I found interesting

Stavvers shares links while hungover to fuck, once again. For context, this is what I look like. Anyway. Links.

The Body Is Not Gender: Laura Jane Grace Of Against Me! Interviewed (Petra Davis)- Beautiful interview with Laura Jane Grace about gender and femininity.

‘Race Equality Is Gender Equality’ (Reni Eddo-Lodge)- Interview with Dr Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, who coined the term “intersectionality”.

On loving all things femme (Emma Quite Frankly)- Excellent post on the devaluing of femme and “pink stinks” type stuff.

In praise of the women of Elementary (Alana Marcuso)- If you’re not watching Elementary, do. It’s got some really good women in it.

Inherited wealth is an injustice. Let’s end it (James Butler)- I feel like every time I link to James’s writing, I call it a “rousing call to arms”, but this is one.

Interracial Relationships in the BDSM Lifestyle (Valerie_JeanC)- A discussion of issues affecting interracial relationships in the BDSM community.

Why Affirming Bisexuality Is A Public Health Concern (Zack Ford)- On bullshit about “proving” bisexuality exists and why it’s important to just listen to bisexuals.

Feminist Times should not cover trans-exclusive events (Nicole Froio)- I really, really hope the FT reads this, as it explains the issues so clearly.

So much for the so-called people’s police, if they treat protesters like this (Nina Power)- A very important piece on the relationship between the police and the public.

In the Booth with Ruth – Pye Jakobsson, Sex Workers’ Rights Activist from Sweden (Ruth Jacobs)- Discussion of the pros and cons of sex worker rights advocates working with anti-trafficking organisations.

And finally, classical paintings with added hip hop lyrics.

 


Farewell, NHS Direct

I was shocked to discover that NHS Direct had been shut down today. The news media was silent on the fact, perhaps because the planned closure was accelerated. Its own, now-defunct website gives its own closing date five days in the future. NHS Direct - Closure

I only called them myself once, as a teenager freaking out on too many drugs. They were very nice to me, and assured me that I wasn’t going to die.

I’ve had them called on my behalf, while unconscious following a seizure, so people could check if I needed an ambulance. Thanks to that, NHS resources were saved, as an ambulance wasn’t needed.

NHS Direct was a service like no other. It was our way of checking up on those niggling little problems, those “it’s probably nothing to worry about, but…” issues. The things you’d never bother booking a doctor’s appointment for, the things that just didn’t feel right. And often, they’d probably turn out to be nothing, but sometimes that service saved lives.

And now it has been torn down, destroyed, almost unmourned. NHS Direct died alone in the dark. It is a frightening view of our future, the direction that healthcare itself is taking. It’s what they want: the poor, the sick, the disabled, quietly dying out of sight and out of mind.

And we must resist this by noticing. We see what they are doing, and we are disgusted by it. As they strip away the provisions to keep us alive, we must say we see it all. Together, let’s mourn NHS Direct and show that they cannot pull the wool over our eyes.


In which I raise some awareness of epilepsy

Today is Purple Day, a day for awareness and fundraising for epilepsy. In the UK alone, there are about 600, 000 people living with epilepsy, myself included, and it’s still a disability which a lot of people don’t understand. This leads to general stigma, but also a fair few fuck-ups from people trying to help.

When someone is having a tonic-clonic seizure, it looks terrifying. I’d always wondered, upon waking up from one of my own seizures, why everyone was running around like headless chickens and practically snogging me in relief. One time, when I was stuck on an overnight stay in hospital, I saw someone else fitting, and I suddenly knew why. It really does look awful.

Fortunately, a lot of the time, it’s not as bad as it looks. Here’s some really useful advice for what to do, which I’m going to repost here because it’s so important (you should also click the link and watch the video if you can).

Do…

  • Protect the person from injury – (remove harmful objects from nearby)
  • Cushion their head
  • Look for an epilepsy identity card or identity jewellery
  • Aid breathing by gently placing them in the recovery position once the seizure has finished (see pictures)
  • Stay with the person until recovery is complete
  • Be calmly reassuring

Don’t…

  • Restrain the person’s movements
  • Put anything in the person’s mouth
  • Try to move them unless they are in danger
  • Give them anything to eat or drink until they are fully recovered
  • Attempt to bring them round

Call for an ambulance if…

  • You know it is the person’s first seizure, or

  • The seizure continues for more than five minutes, or

  • One tonic-clonic seizure follows another without the person regaining consciousness between seizures, or

  • The person is injured during the seizure, or

  • You believe the person needs urgent medical attention

The thing about calling an ambulance is especially important to me.  Most times after I’ve had a relatively uncomplicated seizure, someone has called an ambulance. I have then been carted off to A&E, which is a waste of my time and everyone else’s, because what I really need to do is just go home and have a bit of a sleep because my body is telling me it’s run down.

I also can’t stress enough the importance of putting someone on their side afterwards: I have a tendency to vomit after seizures, and that can be fatal if I’m not on my side. And I have really appreciated having someone around, partly because after seizures I’m usually a bit confused, and partly because it’s nice to have someone around to look after you, because having seizures is really sucks.

All of this is good advice if someone has tonic-clonic seizures and it’s worth reading over and over until it sinks in, because that knowledge could save someone’s life–or even just stop a seizure from ruining their day.

But what if someone has a different kind of seizure? I’ve written before about the other weird stuff my brain does, and how sometimes I get very intense and weird experiences where I’ll zone out for a bit. Partial seizures affect a lot of people, and affect a lot of people in very different ways. With me, I look intensely happy, because most of the time I’m kind having the sort of experience that most people spend a fair amount of money to get drugs to simulate. But other people might do other things, like pluck at clothes, or smack lips, or look not-all-there, or wander around. The general advice here is wait with them for the seizure to stop, and try not to let them walk into anything dangerous while it’s going on. Again, you can find full advice here.

I’ve lived with epilepsy for half of my life: I was diagnosed at 14 when puberty kicked in and my hormones went haywire and I started having tonic-clonic seizures, in clusters, which meant I’d never just have one, I’d be having four or five in close succession. I was in and out of hospital a lot during that year of my life and placed on some pretty heavy medications which made me miserable and slow. I don’t really remember much about the years I was on those meds (Epilim, 1000mg per day), except that sometimes I’d have hilariously dramatic nosebleeds without noticing until everyone stepped away with an expression of howling horror and I’d look down and notice my entire front was covered in blood. On the plus side, it stopped the seizures completely. I came off the meds about two years later, but went back on a far lower dose about three years later, following another cluster of seizures. Again, I didn’t get on well with the drugs, even at a lower dose, and came off them six months later. That year, I went on the contraceptive pill, which seems to have helped a lot: I still get the occasional tonic-clonic seizure, but never in clusters, and the seizures are shorter and I wake up a lot quicker. They only ever happen when I’m seriously run-down, and on the break between packs of pills, so with a bit of self-care and this understanding of seizure triggers, I can manage my epilepsy without meds.

The thing that helps most of all, though, is that people understand. I need people around me to know what to do if I do have a seizure, but also, I need the stigma and the ignorance to go away. Epilepsy can and does affect anyone, and it can affect everyone differently. It’s worth making an effort to learn about it.

Also, since I’ve done my bit for awareness, I might as well do my bit for fundraising. Why not donate a bit of money to Epilepsy Action, who have been a vital source of support and information since I was diagnosed?

While it can probably never be cured, epilepsy can be managed, and we people with epilepsy need your help to make sure we can do it.


In which I grudgingly concede that I am not the best at misandry

If misandry were real, I’d like to think I were its queen. I feel like I’ve contributed well to the cause of misandry, from advocating for the important cause of killing all men to being that girl who just won’t bone you. I’m such a prolific misandrist, I should run accredited training courses.

But for all of my credentials, I have come to realise that I am small fry compared to a certain group. It pains me to know that no matter how much misandry I undertake, there will always be these people being better at misandry than me. And as a misandrist, it almost kills me to say that those people are men.

Yes, men. Men are brilliant fucking misandrists. Have you ever read something written by men, about men? These dudes fucking hate men with a burning passion I have never quite managed to muster. They think men are nothing but a dribbling set of genitals, grunting and griping as they fail at every endeavour they try. Crawl through any space where men come together to discuss their issues, and you will see just how much men make the best misandrists.

Men feel that men are incapable of understanding basic concepts like sexual consent, that words like “yes” and “no” and “if she’s unconscious, don’t” are to difficult for the pitiful little male mind–something with which I find I disagree vehemently, as apparently I lack an intensity of man-hatred to think that men are innately (or socialised to become) incapable of learning something so simple. Men feel like men just cannot control themselves, that the presence of a short skirt will bring them into some sort of pon farr frenzy leading them to need to mate or need to die. Men think that abled men are unable or unwilling to look after other human beings in a family, and are even so inept that they need all of their food prepared for them by a woman!

I am seriously slacking with my misandry, since I seem to be clinging to the belief that men are actually adult humans rather than the feeble-minded bouncing testes. How much does one have to hate men to accept that any of this is inevitable or normal?

I don’t like losing. I don’t like when I have to concede that men are better at doing something better than me. God damn it, I want to be the fucking goddess of misandry. So to all those misandrist men, I’m coming for you first.

Snapshot_20140325_3


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