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

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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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Adjusting to lamotrigine: 25mg

Those who follow me on Twitter will probably be aware that recently I made the decision to start taking lamotrigine, an anti-epilepsy medication which is also a mood stabiliser. The reason I made this choice was that recently my epilepsy, which used to cause minimal problems in my life to the point I didn’t need to take daily anticonvulsants, has escalated somewhat.

Why lamotrigine? My neurologist initially suggested keppra, but this was ruled out when I told him that I am prone to bouts of quite bad depression, and also irritability. Keppra has a tendency to exacerbating both of these things, so we decided on a medication which would not only prevent seizures, but also perhaps lessen my depressive tendencies.

I’m writing about this because I found it difficult finding out much information about the experience of adjusting to lamotrigine from a personal perspective. There’s lists of terrifying side effects, such as STOP TAKING IT IF YOU HAVE A RASH BECAUSE IT MIGHT MEAN YOUR SKIN WILL FALL OFF AND YOU COULD DIE, as well as slightly less horrifying but still unpleasant things like dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, bad hangovers on just one glass of wine or tremors. Thing is, these lists don’t really help you know much about how badly it actually affects you, so I found myself asking people on Twitter who were willing to give me information, and this was reassuring. So what I want to do is document the adjusting to lamotrigine experience on my blog, where it’s publicly searchable, so hopefully someone in the same boat as me will find the information they need.

I have been taking 25mg lamotrigine, at night, for a week so far. Lamotrigine has a slow build-up, so I’m taking 25mg at night for two weeks, then 25mg in the morning and 25mg (50mg a day) at night for another two weeks, then 25mg in the morning and 50mg at night for two weeks (75mg a day), and finally up to my full effective dose of 50mg in the morning and 50mg at night (100mg a day). The reason for this slow build up is it means you’re less likely to get the nightmarish skin-falling-off rash. I should stress at this point, that the rash is very rare, but it’s serious enough that if you have any skin rashes, especially in mucous membranes, you should stop taking lamotrigine at once and get your arse down to a doctor.

Obviously, this caused me quite a bit of anxiety, and just before I took my very first dose, I went over my skin in a full survey, looking at places where I had little patches of dry skin or ingrown hairs, just so I wouldn’t panic if I noticed these after beginning to take lamotrigine. Nonetheless, nothing scares the shit out of you more than when it turns out a quite common side effect of lamotrigine is itching, and that this does not mean you have The Rash. I was prepared by a Twitter pal that I might experience some itching, and that antihistamines would stop it, but even then, every time I get itchy, it makes me a little worried. Luckily, the itching was worst in the first three days, and seems to have died down now.

The other side effect that concerned me was the idea of the nasty hangovers. I’d heard horror stories from some people using it that even one glass of wine would give you horrendous three-day-long hangovers. Fortunately, this hasn’t happened to me, and I’ve been drinking around two units of alcohol a day since I started (a little part of me is hoping that the lamotrigine expect me to drink a little and not punish me for it).

Other than this, I’ve experienced a bit of light-headedness, just occasionally. I just feel a little bit dizzy for about a minute or so, before everything is fine again. It’s not very severe, and it’s not even particularly annoying, because it’s incredibly sporadic. I’m also a little sleepier in the mornings than usual, but not so sleepy it makes it impossible to get out of bed.

The thing I wasn’t expecting was lucid dreams. I don’t dream much, but I have been dreaming more with the lamotrigine, and they’re lucid dreams. Disappointingly, they are incredibly boring, mundane lucid dreams. Last night, I dreamed that I was an adviser to the Medicis, but my job wasn’t very interesting, I just had to keep the accounts, and I dreamed vividly of making Excel spreadsheets with a quill and ink. Another example: I had a dream there was a wasp in my room, and I was trying to kill it. I realised it was a dream when I noticed my laundry basket was in a different place to usual.

And finally, I’m not sure if this is a side effect because it’s too early to tell, but my pooping has become somewhat irregular. While it was never very regular to begin with, this last week it’s been either constipation or several mega-dumps in a day. We’ll see if that one stabilises.

So, is it working yet, for controlling my epilepsy? Not really, no. I had a seizure yesterday. However, at present, I’m only on a quarter of the effective dose, and it’ll be another five weeks before I’m up to the full effective dose.

I’ll update, every time I up my dose, and if there’s anything else interesting to report in the meantime. If you want to talk to me about lamotrigine, please do! I think it’s important that we share information. You can tweet me, drop me a FB message, or email me: anotherangrywomb@gmail.com

Adjusting to lamotrigine series
50mg
75mg

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Things I read this year: My favourite books of 2016

2016 has basically been a left-up toilet seat of a year, but it wasn’t all terrible. Some great books were published that I gobbled up like a little library gremlin. If you haven’t read these books yet, I strongly recommend you resolve to do so in 2017. Get in quickly, before the world ends.

Non-fiction

The Good Immigrant (Edited by Nikesh Shukla)- This collection of essays from black, Asian and minority ethic writers in Britain explores what life is like. Some are funny. Some stir up fury. Some will make you cry. They are all beautifully-written, smart and moving. Shukla has done a jaw-dropping job in assembling these voices and putting together a collection of must-read meditations on living on this rainy fascism island.

Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain (Edited by Kate Harrad)- A collection of writing, interviews, essays, poems and commentary on bisexuality and its many intersections. It examines the challenges bisexual people faces, and honestly examines bi activism–the good, and the things that we need to work harder on. It’s a great introduction for would-be allies and those who think they might be bicurious, yet also an important read for hardened bi activists.

Fiction

Virus (Linda Stupart)- I honestly can’t really explain this novella, so I’ll quote from the blurb: “WHAT TO EXPECT IN THIS BOOK:* tentacle sex * Kathy Acker * the violent deaths of male genius artists, philosophers and theorists * zombies * sirens * biohacking * rampant plagiarism * cop killing * spells you can use at home”. You get all of that, and more.

Everything Belongs To The Future (Laurie Penny)- Penny’s debut long-form fiction is a dystopian near-future where time is a commodity which the rich hoard, and a ragtag gang of scruffy anarchos want to change this. It’s a terrifyingly plausible dystopia, and the characters are highly recognisable if you’ve ever moved in activist circles.

An Accident of Stars (Foz Meadows)- This fantasy novel is a revival of everything that was enjoyable about your classic portal fantasy novel, but without the stuff that made them annoying (e.g. being all about a bunch of white men). It’s great fun whether you are usually a fantasy reader, or whether you’re new to the genre.

The Turning Tide (Dr Brook Magnanti)- If you’re a fan of thrillers, this is one for you. It’s got grisly murders, political conspiracies, and also, queer rowers, just to sweeten the deal. I also really enjoyed the fact that this is a thriller which actually understands the social media age, rather than just parps it in as a plot device without getting what’s going on.

Happy reading, friends. If you got book tokens or money for Christmas, I strongly recommend buying all of these books, and there’s only six of them, so you can probably burrow through them quite quickly.

This is probably my last post of 2016, so 🖕🖕🖕🖕 to the year!

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Making fists with your toes: Towards a feminist analysis of Die Hard

Content note: This post contains spoilers for the film Die Hard, which you will have probably seen already since it came out in 1988. It discusses death and guns.

It gives me life when a certain sector of thin-skinned Nazis get sad about films I like. From Fury Road to Star Wars, their tears bring me joy. Since, like many other people, my favourite Christmas film is Die Hard, it is my intention to highlight how this film is in fact a celebration of femininity, and perhaps one could even call it feminist, for a rather Eighties value of feminism. Am I trolling? I don’t even know any more.

die-hard-t

Our hero John McClane is more of an Ellen Ripley than the Roy Rogers he insists that he is when talking to other men. There are some explicit parallels between Ripley and McClane: both deal with their terror by talking to themselves, and both have formative traumatic experiences in air ducts: arguably, both heroines are born within the air ducts. For the most part, the similarities are more subtle, though–John McClane, like Ellen Ripley, is a somewhat more feminine action hero. And, of course, the badass and the feminine are not mutually exclusive.

John begins the film estranged from his wife due to his stubborn insistence on having things his way. He is resentful, domineering, and basically a bit of a shitlord. Meanwhile, Holly Gennero/McClane, is a smart, successful, adaptable woman who has risen to a high point in her career with her negotiation skills. It is only in adversity that John learns just how valuable Holly’s skills are, and deploys them to great success and saving the day.

Yes. That’s right. Throughout Die Hard, feminine problem-solving tactics are shown to be demonstrably more successful than more masculine approaches. In cinema, and in society, masculine problem-solving is constructed as very direct and action-oriented, sometimes deploying physical aggression. In contrast, the feminine technique involves communication, negotiation, is less direct and typically non-violent.

From the moment a hostage situation begins while John is on the toilet, he embarks on his journey towards femininity. As John realises that something terrible is occurring, he makes a very smart choice: to run the fuck away, observe what is happening and seek help. He even tells himself that this was the right approach, and that to have gone for the (more manly) option of running in and intervening, he would have got himself and others killed. And he’s right.

John’s instinct to seek help from those in a position to help is a sound one. And yet, in an experience familiar to any woman, he is repeatedly not taken seriously. His first attempt with the fire alarm is ignored and his initial attempt to contact the police is completely dismissed. And yet he does not give up, he simply escalates to something which men tend to call “attention-seeking”, which is usually motivated by frustration at not being heard. It is only by acting out of frustration that he finally manages to communicate the seriousness of the situation. John’s own form of attention-seeking is dropping a body on a cop car, but hey, it fucking well works. Better than yelling or crying, so next time men aren’t listening and I’m getting irked, I’ll remember that trick.

Later on, John learns to communicate better, moving from brusque police telegraphing to conversing, rapport-building, and yet still, always, supplying vital, actionable information. Unfortunately, he is still not taken seriously. This is because most of the men in this film are absolute worthless pieces of toxically masculine shit.

die-hard-walkie-talkie-37

Let’s start with the “goodies”. We have a police force who stubbornly predictable and utterly unwilling to deviate from their standard script, believing themselves to know it all. We have the FBI, who are all of what the police are except even worse. The FBI guys whoop and cheer, comparing their helicopter ride to the campaign in Saigon, and we as the audience cannot help to whoop and cheer when they get blown to smithereens for not fucking listening to John McClane.

This stagnant, stubborn, insistent masculinity is also the downfall of many of the villains, most notably, Karl, the baddie with the long hair who has a hateboner for John because John killed his brother. Karl is obsessed with killing John himself, to the point that this allows John to escape and survive the film. Karl’s textbook masculine desire for revenge is what keeps John alive. It is detrimental to the goals of the baddies, and Karl is a massive liability.

There is also that dickhead Ellis, who embodies that gross Eighties business masculinity. Unlike Holly, who has been shown throughout the film to be a talented negotiator, Ellis is shit at his job. Yet, like many men, Ellis is convinced he’s a lot better suited for the job than the woman who is manifestly good at it. He absolutely blows the deal, to the point of getting himself killed. Ellis, too, is a massive liability.

Hans Gruber, Eddie and Theo are by far the most useful of the bad guys. Eddie successfully manipulates and deceives law enforcement, delaying intervention. Theo is a gifted multitasker, cracking locks, playing lookout and making sure everyone has the information they need, coordinating the escape. We never see Theo acting through direct violence, and yet almost every action Theo takes is completely successful, right up until the end, when he is taken out by Argyle. Even then, arguably Theo has done better than any of the other baddies as he is only knocked out, not gruesomely killed, and the guy is probably capable of negotiating a plea bargain. Hans Gruber himself is also not afraid to deploy his “feminine wiles”: he attempts to (metaphorically) seduce John by pretending to be a hostage, and deploys a feminine style of management. It is clear that he has listened to and processed Theo’s assessment of what is necessary to open the vault, and he has factored this into his plan. Perhaps if the team of bad guys had comprised of more baddies like Hans, Eddie and Theo and fewer like Karl, they would have pulled off the heist.

Is the title Die Hard a warning? Does it mean that hardness could get you killed, while softness leads to success and survival? That interpretation certainly makes more sense, since none of the characters are particularly “die-hard” about any of their beliefs. The “terrorists” are charlatans, and even John has a pretty hard time explaining why he wants the one thing he keeps putting his foot down over (staying in New York), as though he isn’t highly committed to the idea. We are not shown many die-hard commitments, yet we are shown many men dying hard.

DIE HARD (1988) BRUCE WILLIS CREDIT: 20th CENTURY FOX/COURTESY NEAL PETERS COLLECTION

When one tries to imagine a still from Die Hard, it is often perhaps John McClane, brandishing a massive fucking gun–the ultimate symbol of masculinity. John McClane is lauded for his direct, “just shoot them” approach. And yet, in John’s hands, the primary function of the gun is not as a weapon. There are more instances within the film of John using the gun as some sort of tool than as something to kill or hurt people with. Of the kills directly attributable to John (eight, by my count), only four are from his firing a gun (the others are: one broken neck, two from an exploding lift shaft, and one by defenestration). And in most of the instances of shooting, John doesn’t “just shoot them”, he offers them an out first. We could perhaps attribute a ninth death to John, by his wielding Al as a weapon. It is only from John’s (feminine) emotional support and nurturing of Al that Al regains the confidence to shoot. We will not count other deaths for which John could be indirectly responsible, those of men who died from not listening to him (some cops, the FBI guys, Ellis), because that was their own fault for not believing a survivor.

For the rest of the time, John is far more creative in his use of firearms. In his hands, a gun becomes a multitude of useful objects as he displays the kind of creative thinking that neurosexists like to term feminine as opposed to the logical, analytical male approach. The gun, wielded by John, is a device for allowing escapes as a rig and a thing to get back into the building, as well as jamming a fan. It is also repeatedly used as a last-resort communication device, shooting to make noise and draw attention, shooting to direct a crowd away from explosive death.

Hans Gruber, too, understands the power of the gun as more than a simple weapon, as he traps bare-footed John by instructing his bad guys shoot to break glass. Both of these men, in traversing the traditionally masculine relationship with the gun as a weapon, are far more successful than when they use guns for their intended purposes.

Even John’s costume may go beyond its face value of showing of his masculine physique. He begins the film fully dressed, is stripped down to his vest when the hostage situation begins, and bare-chested for almost all of the final act. We see one other bare chest in the film: a woman’s chest on a porn poster right at the beginning of John’s heroine’s journey. Again, we can most readily compare him to Ellen Ripley, who ends Alien in her vest and knickers. Perhaps John is sloughing away his masculine conditioning with his masculine clothing. [EDIT: It has been pointed out to me that I missed another bare chest in Die Hard. It’s another woman’s chest, though…]

die-hard

The still above shows what is one of my favourite scenes in the film, and it is (in my opinion) the emotional climax of Die Hard. John has realised that he is unlikely to personally survive his predicament, his only desire now is that Holly survives. Bare chested, with bleeding feet, he talks to Al through his walkie talkie. And it is here that he finally showcases what he has learned throughout this experience. From the inception of the hostage situation, we are witness to John’s emotional side. We see his terror: far from being a gung-ho action man, John McClane is a man who is scared shitless. We also see that he cares about others. After throwing a bunch of TNT down a lift shaft, successfully removing some explosives from circulation and killing some baddies, his first question on reestablishing communications with outside is a concerned “Is the building on fire?” And yet, up until this moment in the bathroom, he does not explicitly communicate his emotions, nor demonstrate much understanding of others’ emotional needs.

It finally clicks for him. He says to Al, ‘She’s heard me say “I love you” a thousand times. She never heard me say “I’m sorry.”‘ In this moment, John gets it. He gets what is wrong with his wife, why she’s pissed off at him. He gets that love isn’t enough. And he also opens up and shows his vulnerability to his new friend, being metaphorically as well as literally mostly naked in this scene.

Maybe John’s newfound understanding came from spending a few hours acting like Holly, problem-solving with communication and trying to understand what other parties want, rather than acting like his hero Roy Rogers. While Holly is not in the film as much as I’d like, when she is, she is nothing but competent with her feminine skillset. I get the feeling that if Holly had been in the toilet at the beginning of the hostage situation rather than John, the film probably would have been about ten minutes long because she has far more experience in using these techniques than John. John’s direct acts of aggression do little to contribute to his ultimate success–when he attacks, it is in immediate self-defence. The day is saved, instead, through John’s developing communication skills, his asking for help, and relationship-building.

The end of the film, in light of all of this character development, is therefore somewhat jarring. It kind of ends with Holly publicly announcing she is taking back John’s surname, and that’s all. One would expect, given what was foreshadowed, that John would apologise, as he learned he needed to, and perhaps move to join LAPD and partner up with Al. This does not happen. Maybe the crew realised they had just made a chick flick and felt that they needed to masc it up. Or maybe they suddenly realised they wanted sequels and couldn’t possibly do that if John didn’t repeatedly estrange himself from his family to end up in predicaments where he needed to reunite with them. Sadly, John didn’t learn the lessons he had just learned, and ultimately lost Holly and became a deadbeat to his children. It is a warning to us all.

Ultimately, the Nakatomi Plaza was not the cocoon in which John McClane entered a cuck and emerged Feminine, but had its lessons truly stuck, it could have been.

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Things I read this week that I found interesting

For once, this is actually weekly. Enjoy these links.

All politics is “identity politics” (Maya Goodfellow)- This should be required reading for everyone.

Statement on the endemic sexual violence perpetrated by police officers. (Sex Worker Open University)- A necessary analysis of police as perpetrators.

“San Junipero” Is A Beautiful, Haunting Queer Love Story With Mixed Messages About Disability (Valerie Anne and Carrie Wade)- A conversation about the good and not-so-good in the best episode of Black Mirror.

Smear Fear (Annabel Sowemimo)- A black woman’s perspective on cervical smear testing.

The Chicken Connoisseur – On The Exploitation of Black Creativity (Everliving Roots)- The problems with going viral, and white exploitation of creativity from black people.

For the love of God, stop donating canned goods to the food bank (Tristin Hopper)- This warning is important. Always ask your foodbanks what they need–cash? Specific items?–rather than just donating whatever is in your cupboard.

Why Do Innocent Women Confess to Crimes They Didn’t Commit? (Amanda Knox)- Highlighting an often-overlooked aspect of examining false confessions.

A simplified political history of Big Data (Flavia Dzodan)- This accessible history of data is vital.

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