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


Things I read this week that I found interesting

Good afternoon. It’s Sunday again, and I read some things and found them interesting, and I’m here to show you the links.

Hashtags as Decolonial Projects with Radical Origins (Suey Park)- A really, super, mega important piece explaining Twitter activism and the underlying theoretical basis.

Academia is killing my friends- Heartbreaking anonymous stories of victims of academia.

How Not to Sound Like a Creationist to a Trans Person (Brynn Tannehill)- Thorough takedown of the bad science in transphobia.

Dissent Unheard Of (Ashe Dryden)- A must-read guide to how silencing works.

In Defense of Kink: My First Role as the Duke Porn Star Was on a Rough Sex Website, And No, That Doesn’t Make Me A Bad Feminist (Bella Knox)- A well articulated explanation of how kink isn’t inherently anti-feminist.

A very thinly disguised analogy (Rantings of the Sexy Pumpkin)- It may be thinly disguised, but it does the job.

Who your friends are matters (Charlie Hale)- An excellent piece on no-platforming and cosying up to TERfs.

Demand homes not jails: queer homelessness is being criminalized (Sarah Golightly)- Why homelessness is a queer issue.

5 Shocking Realities of Being Transgender the Media Ignores (Amy P.)- A very, very useful primer to transmisogyny, on Cracked, of all places.

Sexist culture and harassment drives GitHub’s first female developer to quit (Aja Romano)- This story shows how entering into broken power structures is doomed to fail. 

Learning the hard way about Toxic Sex Toys (Pantophile Panic)- Read this and bear it in mind when looking for things to put in or on your soft bits.

Why I am striking on March 26th (The Shinbone Star)- A teacher explains why he is taking action.

TERF: what it means and where it came from (Cristan Williams)- A thorough history of the term.

The Only Moral Abortion is MY Abortion (Joyce Arthur)- Accounts of anti-choicers who have abortions.

One book, many readings (samizdat)- Mapping Choose Your Own Adventure books. Absolutely fascinating.

And finally, what happens when otters take up carjacking? Answer: much cuteness.


Shit I cannot believe needs to be said: no platforming and censorship are different

Some people genuinely seem to believe that no platforming and censorship are the same thing. It comes up every now and then, this annoying argument, like a turd that just won’t flush. And so I write this post, in an attempt to break it up with a butter knife before flushing again.

Let’s start by discussing what censorship is. Censorship is something that comes from the top down: it’s done by the government or the media, those with the power to control who speaks in the public domain. The aim of censorship is to quash dissent, to silence voices speaking out against their aims, and to maintain the status quo. Censorship can only be enacted by those who are capable of doing so: those who have the means of blocking webpages, redacting documents, editing what gets published, and so forth. Censorship is an expression of power.

Let’s compare this to no platforming. No-platforming, in contrast, is bottom up. Those who organise events can democratically and transparently decide who to invite, and who not to. Likewise, people can suggest to organisers that perhaps it is inappropriate to invite a certain person to speak, and democratically and transparently apply pressure to disinvite people. The aim of no platforming is to avoid giving someone who is known to be an active contributor to oppressive power structures any further airing, and to maintain a safer space. It’s a refusal of complicity in oppression. No platforming is enacted by ordinary people: trade unions, pressure groups, activists, and just the regular everyday sibling on the street. It’s a tool we can use because, unlike the government and the media, we have no direct control over public discourse: all we can do is choose who to listen to. It’s important to note that this is an aspect of free speech often overlooked: the power to not listen, and the power to challenge. No platforming is an expression of free speech and democracy.

Some don’t see it that way, and it’s no coincidence that these people tend to be the sorts to get themselves no platformed. It’s no secret that fascists hate being no platformed, and indeed it’s about the only time they care about free speech, and no surprise that people like Nick Griffin will play the victim and cry censorship when venues refuse to host his vile parade of fascists, or they don’t get invited to shit. George Galloway, rape apologist and all-round tankie bellend, famously threatened to sue the NUS after they passed a no platform motion against him. And, right now, reams of column inches are being wasted on whinging about how it’s unfair and mean that noted enemy of bi women, sex workers and trans women, Julie Bindel is no platformed in a lot of spaces.*

It’s no coincidence that when someone is no platformed, the media will gladly report on the no platforming, often uncritically repeating the hate speech that got them no platformed in the first place: someone who is no platformed will generally have their own platform within traditional modes of communication. They will be a media personality. That’s how people choosing to no platform will find out that a speaker is inappropriate: from public presence. No platforming is a pretty small weapon, all things considered. It’s like throwing a pebble at a charging rhino.

Nonetheless, it’s a weapon that those who benefit from the current system want to take away from us. Their sense of entitlement to our spaces knows no bounds, and their contempt for the will of the people is evident. And so they will do what they can to quash this tiny little tool that we have.

But remember this: no platforming and censorship are not the same thing. Censorship is their tool, to keep us down. No platforming is ours, and a niggling little thorn in their side.

__

*As an aside, yes, I once did share a platform with Julie Bindel. My mental health was poor at the time I agreed to do it, and I didn’t really understand what I was getting in for. It went better than it could have, but it was a mistake, and I own that mistake.


Things I read this week that I found interesting

Hello everyone! I read things. I find them interesting. Maybe you will, too.

I, too, am Oxford- Photo project documenting racism still rife at Oxford.

Culturally Gendered Dysphoria (This Too Shall Pass)- On culture and hair removal.

5 Thoughts on Abolishing The Met (James Butler)- Important ACAB thoughts from James.

Blue Valentine (Left At The Lights)- Sam saw Blue Valentine and had some thoughts.

Marketisation of education: stress and knowledge (Caffeinated Perspectives)- On the state of academia.

Beyoncé, #BanBossy and Feminist Credentialism (Gradient Lair)- On the clusterfuck of the latest Lean In initiative.

TERFs offer only hyperbole (Cristan Williams)- Pointing out how little sense TERf ideology makes.

Will nobody listen to the sex workers? (Melissa Gira Grant)- You know how I told all of you to read Playing The Whore? Here’s an extract. Read it.

And finally, have some beautiful fetish photos from the 1920s.

 


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