The identity of The Fourth Man

Content warning: This post contains lots and lots and lots of Line of Duty spoilers, and mentions of CSA. Also, I couldn’t always be fucked to look up the spellings of names or even what characters were called, so there’s that.

Let me start by saying this: you’re wrong about the Line of Duty finale. It was good. So there. See, the thing is, we all need to go back to the premise of the investigation: Dot’s dying declaration.

Dot’s dying declaration led the AC-12 team down an incorrect investigative corridor: the identity of H, the mastermind behind all of this. They then pottered off down another corridor when it turned out they were up to their tits in naughty policemen called H, which was that in fact Dot was tapping out “four Dots”, meaning there were four like him.

Both of these conclusions, in my view, are catastrophically wrong, and I sat through several goddamn seasons of the show going “what the fuck what the fuck how can they possibly come to that conclusion what the fuck.”

Four Dots

First, the four Dots. This was, as the team said many times, four embedded police officers, including Dot. Their little list, based on the very very sinful rozzers they’d encountered so far, was Dot, Hilton, ????? and Gill fucking Bigelow.

Gill? Are you actually fucking with me? Gill? The lawyer who just joined the police? Don’t get me wrong, she was bent as a three bob note, but part of the embedded police conspiracy? Come the fuck on. It’s definitely not her.

There are three officers one can definitely think of as “Dots”: lifers with the OCG who have been strategically nudged into the police and embedded themselves, working there for a career rather than just rocking up there as a lawyer. Dot is one, of course. The second is Jo Davidson, who very helpfully didn’t die, so she could tell us all about the Caddy career, from recruitment at a young age through to entry to the police service through to doing things. We also see this arc in Ryan Pilkington, but he’s obviously not someone Dot was referring to, because he was probably failing his SATS around the time Dot gave the world’s most unhelpful evidence – ultimately, what Season 6 gives us is a bit of context for what the life of one of four Dots looks like.

And I am sorry, but a third officer who very much fits the Caddy career and could be considered a Dot, and Dot was almost certainly aware of, having worked closely with him in the past was…

Detective Superintendent Ian Buttons Buckles Buckells. I have no idea how old the hapless lad is, but he’s definitely younger than many, and even if he was only recruited around the Lawrence Christopher cover up, he’d have been young enough to be a Caddy.

So who’s the fourth Dot? It could be anyone. There’s an argument to be made that it was indeed Hilton, but we don’t really know enough about Hilton to draw this conclusion. We don’t, in fact, know enough about the early lives and careers of any characters to draw this conclusion. So I’m going to go ahead and just say it could have been Kate.

Kate is the only person smart enough to have identified that this “Four Dots” line of enquiry wasn’t even barking up the wrong tree; it was so wrong it was meowing at a deckchair. For goodness sake, a man tapping his hand while trying to stay conscious isn’t evidence. Ted is interested in one thing and one thing only, his hard-on for Reg-15s, and Steve is a Jack Russell in a waistcoat, so they’re not going to figure it out, but Kate would have. That she didn’t go “hey, lads, this is silly” reflects poorly on her character.

But, of course, the Four Dots investigation was built on such a flawed premise that Kate couldn’t have been the fourth Dot because there was no fourth Dot.

Who is H?

I feel like at this juncture, we should look at the question Dot was answering when he gave up four dots and the letter H: he was asked about the name of the individual senior police officer from whom he was taking orders.

This is a very direct question.

Now, I’m not currently bleeding my lungs out of my nose, so I’m going to be honest with you, maybe I would have tried to communicate that there were in fact four individuals that I was aware of who were involved in a criminal cabal of naughty policemen by blinking at the letter H and tapping out a wee bit of Morse code. However, I feel like there’s far less oblique ways of passing on this information when unable to speak but able to move eyes and a hand. Like, I don’t know, putting up four fingers and looking wildly at my hand to draw attention to it. Or just coughing out an internal organ to indicate the invalidity of the question.

What I’m saying is, Dot was probably giving a direct answer to a direct question. He was asked about a senior police officer, and he answered. It was Hilton.

He wasn’t asked about co-conspirators at any other levels, or the names of other mischievous bobbies. Kate asked him a specific question. Which he answered.

And yeah, maybe Kate was doing a subtly bad thing by asking such a specific question because she’s bent. But probably not. I just respect her intelligence too much to think she’s like the rest of AC-12, just glomming onto any old bit of information and assuming a criminal mastermind behind everything, based on the answer to a very, very narrow question.

In short, based on the H question, Dot gave up a name. He didn’t give up a mastermind. AC-12 just kind of assumed that one.

Dot’s lying

Let’s really take a moment here and wonder what on earth possessed AC-12 to put such credence in the testimony of a man who, less than an hour ago, had shot his way out of a police interview where they were planning on asking him these exact same questions.

Dot may be a bent copper, a liar, a gangster, a murderer and a bit of a shit, but he’s a loyal guy. Had it never occurred to anyone in AC-12 that this cheeky chappie might not have been telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Dot had a somewhat fluid attitude towards loyalty with regards to people he didn’t particularly like, such as Steve, but was ride-or-die for those he liked. Despite their disagreements, he never chucked Morton under the bus. And he took a few bullets for Kate, for goodness sake!

Yes, he gave them Fairbank, which was useful information, but I suspect the reason he was so willing to give up some, but not all of Naughty Policemen Club was fuck that mutton-chopped nonce. Personal theory: Fairbank definitely abused Dot, who would have been a child when they met. Hunter, too, probably. And those were ones Dot was willing to burn.

But not mates. Like Morton. Or Kate. Gosh, her name really is coming up a lot, isn’t it?

Maybe the real fourth man was the friends we made along the way

Ultimately, what I have been attempting to articulate throughout is AC-12’s investigation based on Dot’s dying declaration was a house built on the sand; a mire of flawed assumptions. It was never a valid investigation to begin with.

Ted bought into it because he’s a stubborn and old fuck. Steve bought into it because Ted did, and Steve’s a bit of a himbo. Maybe Kate did or didn’t, fuck knows what her deal was.

But, ultimately, they could never find the fourth man, because there never was a fourth man.

At best, what they had to go on was Dot, one of the many, many bent coppers that went across AC-12’s desk, reckoned there were between one and four others that he knew of. And that could have been anyone. In the course of the show, we saw a lot of cops groomed from birth to be tithead saboteurs. We saw others, previously “good” ones, turned – Maneet, Denton, Gates, to name but a few. And we saw some who were just kind of shitty by incuriosity, such as DSu Sourpuss Carmichael or the elected PCC.

But AC-12 got it into their heads that there was a grand conspiracy involving numerous embedded officers, and there was some sort of mastermind. Which was just, based on all available evidence, plain wrong. And besides, even if there was a grand conspiracy involving numerous embedded officers and a mastermind, this was only pertinent to one specific crime operation. Which is kind of a bad use of resources, to be honest.

Ted was interested in one thing and one thing only: catching one particular naughty policeman associated with one particular criminal group. He was obsessed, as were his subordinates.

But ultimately, the identity of the fourth man didn’t matter, and never mattered because, as the show keeps telling us, over and again, the entire force is corrupt. The problem isn’t and could have never been one, or four individuals. How can one break institutionalised corruption by catching this one guy? What would getting this one man achieve in terms of enacting change or cleaning house? It doesn’t matter. All the cops were all bad, because the police is bad.

Even our pals Ted, Kate and Steve, are shown to be low-key bent. Ted with his envelope of crisp fifties, Steve with his drug problem, and Kate with whatever the heck is going on with her inscrutable deal. And furthermore, they all displayed the same characteristics of the brass with whom they were frustrated: incuriosity, single-mindedness, and bad investigation tactics. We were treated to an unsatisfactory conclusion throwing up more unanswered questions than it addressed because we were shown six seasons of a bad investigation.

All coppers are bent coppers is the moral of the story. And that’s also the moral of real life. There’s no such thing as a good cop.


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The lesson in the Robert Webb interview: Inside the mind of The British Strain Of Transphobe

I listened to the clip everyone is talking about: Jesse Thorn’s interview with Robert Webb, challenging him very mildly on transphobia. It’s a fascinatingly instructive as to how the mind of The British Strain Of Transphobe works. When presented with an incredibly mild refutation of his stance, there was one thing he was incapable of saying: “I was wrong and not in possession of all the facts.”

This is the crux of The British Strain Of Transphobe mindset. It’s a core part of their identity that they’re smarter than everyone else. The vast majority of them start life on the private/grammar school-Oxbridge pipeline, where in place of education they’re just told this. The possibility of being incorrect is something The British Strain Of Transphobe is incapable of processing, because they’ve spent their lives believing they’re cleverer than everyone else, and this belief is integral to their belief of who and what they are. The British Strain Of Transphobe lives within an echo chamber of similar people. This is why, for example, transphobia spread like wildfire among the sceptic community, where many organisers are posh white folk, and it hinges on the belief of being smarter than everyone else.

And so, how does the British Strain Of Transphobe react to someone raising the mere possibility that they might be incorrect about something? Badly, because they take it as a fundamental attack on their identity as a person who is smarter than everyone else.

In the Webb interview, you can hear his rising sense of defensiveness, of something dancing around anger. This is because he is a man who cannot process the concept that he might not know everything, because if he’s not smarter than everyone else, what even is he? The British Strain Of Transphobe, cosseted in their echo chambers, can, most of the time, ignore or dismiss the thing which frightens them most – not, in fact, being smarter than everyone else. They shut out the messengers who might point out they could be wrong about something. On social media, they can put it down to trolls. In their vanishingly tiny circles, they shut themselves away from anyone who might point out there’s something they don’t know.

But the Webb interview was different. In this instance, Webb couldn’t dismiss the source of the message. He’d just spent half an hour talking with a well-educated arts and culture host – someone he respected. And then – wham! – this person Webb considered an equal smacked him with the thing he feared most.

Essentially, what you are witnessing in the Webb interview is the man having an existential crisis.

The actual subject matter of what Webb was wrong about was irrelevant to him. The thing which rattled him was a concept he and other British Strain Of Transphobes structure their lives around avoiding entertaining: that he was wrong about something.

Now, it’s unfortunate that despite having an understanding of the problem, I have no suggestions as to how to solve it. It’s just too powerful a part of their identity to challenge, someone living their whole life thinking they’re very smart and cannot be wrong. And when they are wrong, a polite (or impolite) refutation, “you’re wrong, here’s the facts”, just isn’t going to cut the mustard, because it’s not about the facts at all, it’s about their sense of self as a person who is smarter than everyone else.

At the end of the day, I don’t know what to do with this information. Maybe someone smarter than me can figure it out.


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This is the image from the mass violence against women that stays with me

A still image from this video. Less than a minute later, this woman was arrested.

Content note: this post discusses sexual harassment, violence against women, and police

Last night, women gathered to remember a sister who was killed. A police officer has been arrested for her murder. The police responded to a series of vigils across the country by trampling flowers, trapping and beating women, and snatching them.

You may have seen an image of the woman in the photo at the top of the post, just minutes later. A small, red-headed woman, pinned to the floor by police. Haunting, yes. But that’s not the one that stays with me. It’s this one.

It is a uniquely banal image, and that is why I find it hits so hard. It is something most of us – all of us, perhaps – as women have experienced. It is a man, standing over a woman, touching her, while she looks visibly uncomfortable. If you watch the video, you will see that there is no reason for him to stand like that, no reason for him to touch her like that. He’s not arresting her.

He is doing it because he can.

And that’s what it comes down to every time a man stands over a woman like this. Every time a man gets in close for no good reason (in the middle of a pandemic, no less!). Every little touch to your body, those touches you’re told you’re overreacting about. It’s no different.

This picture, perhaps, shows clearly the veiled threat in this behaviour. This woman really was snatched away simply for existing in public after the little wholly-not-innocent unwanted touch. It’s not an overreaction to flinch away from the man too close. He really is a threat.

Policemen are just bog-standard men with even less accountability. I don’t doubt that through mouthfuls of boot, men without a tit-shaped hat will defend police behaviour on Clapham Common. At its root, it’s because they all want to be able to continue to assert dominance over women, and they don’t like anything that makes that even slightly more difficult.

There is no innocence to the unwanted touch. It’s sexual harassment, whether the perpetrator is a policeman or not. It’s an assertion of power, an assertion of dominance, an assertion of ownership. And they don’t like it one little bit when women point that out.

And how have police responded to criticisms that maybe enacting mass violence against women – both the banal and the egregious – is a pretty bad thing to do?

Remember, they’re just common-or-garden creeps. So they released a statement with the age-old motto: “look what you made me do”.


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This picture shows how the virus is spreading

Cabinet meeting on 12/01/2021, via Downing Street flickr

They want you to believe it’s your neighbours. The client journalists howl about the covidiots, illustrated with carefully cropped images of people on a beach. They tell you it’s people drinking coffee on a park bench who are spreading it. It’s the young people, they say, the kids and their parties.

A shame none of it is true.

The majority of transmission of the virus is taking place in workplaces and schools. The photo at the top of this blog illustrates what is happening. Look at those craven bastards, blood all over their hands. This is not just a photograph of those who are responsible for over a thousand deaths a day. It’s a photograph of how the virus really spreads.

They sit indoors, in an airless room. You can tell they haven’t so much as cracked a window because they’re not wearing a coat in this bitter January cold. Not one of them is wearing a mask. And, to add insult to injury, this photograph shows that none of them need to be there at all. This is a mass mixing of households – six in the photograph alone – which did not need to happen. They could have done this on Zoom. They are doing this on Zoom!

This is where the virus is spreading. This is how the virus is spreading. On every high street you can peek into the (closed, they’re always closed) windows of an estate agent and see them following the government’s lead, tapping away at office work which could be done at home. You’ll hear the murmurs from the meeting rooms in every office block. People are going to non-essential work, and they shouldn’t have to. People are made to spend their days in non-ventilated rooms, mixing households when they don’t have to.

There is no evidence that poor public adherence to the rules is responsible for continuing spread. And that’s because it isn’t true.

Once again: transmission is happening in schools and workplaces.

Remember this image. This is what is really happening. This is how the virus is taken into people’s homes, because of vanity and resistance to letting people do their work from home. Because those in charge are too vain to wear their masks and don’t want to do it while at their thoroughly unnecessary meeting.

The worst thing is, it was those in charge that published this photograph. Those in charge who thought it made them look good. And those in charge who will, probably, like everything else, get away with it. So remember this image. Don’t let them get away with it. For every person who buys into their narrative of “covidiots”, show them this picture of the real covidiots. Unionise, and ensure that your workplace does not look like this superspreader event waiting to happen. And most of all, rage. Let it burn inside of you until it’s fit to burst.

Turn your anger the right way, at those responsible. And don’t let them get away with blaming us.


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Doomful and gloomful predictions for 2020

Welp, this decade has been a continuous stream of shit, hasn’t it? It reminds me a lot of the time I got food poisoning off an out-of-date salad, except at least that cleared up fairly quickly.

In great news, I think it’s going to get worse. Incrementally, but undeniably worse. Here’s some things that I think will probably happen.

Literally everything will just get a bit worse.

Sorry, I wanted to say more, but basically that’s it. You know how Boris Johnson is Prime Minister? That, and he’ll do a lot of bad things. You know that US election? Yeah, Trump will probably win it again. You know how centrists are repeatedly sabotaging any effective resistance, either through incompetence or design? Yep, you guessed it, more of the same.

This will be the recurring theme of 2020. The same, but more.

Kind of like that dodgy salad, except the pooping goes on into infinity.

I mean this in the nicest posssible way, but we’re fucking doomed. Just literally doomed to death, Doomy McDoomface.

…but there is something we can do

It’s small. I started this decade thinking collectively we could change the course of history, and we probably can’t. But we can help each other to survive what is to come. We might fantasise about going back in time and killing Hitler as a baby, but that won’t work. We’ve had chances to prevent the same problems playing out once again, and we’ve failed again and again.

But you know what we can do? Keep each other alive. Reaching out to others, giving material or practical support if we can. Showing up for others. And defying where we can. Make the monsters feel monstrous, because they’re fucking monsters.

We’re fucked, but like that scene in Toy Story 3, let’s hold hands as we plunge into the furnace.

Um, happy new year, I guess.


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Tactical voting: how to do it manually because all the media advice is solid crap

Hello. I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re reading this because you want to get rid of the Tories. If that’s not true, please go back to your usual hobbies of playing polo, torturing animals and masturbating over the children you’ve killed.

For the rest of you, I know everything is shit. You know everything is shit. But we all know in our hearts that the most important thing we can do right now is to prevent the Tories getting a majority, and get Boris out. This means we have to vote tactically.

I should remind you all that I’m actually an anarchist, and this is how serious this shit is right now. I’m going to give you advice that involves (a) voting and (b) might possibly mean you have to vote for some awful people.

Advice presented online is largely… well, bad. There’s all these Piss Diamond Analytica websites out there telling you to vote Lib Dem when you absolutely, completely, definitely shouldn’t, because that’ll split the vote and lead to a Tory getting in. Same goes to a lot of bad bar charts a certain cavalcade of wee-wee coloured rhombuses have been putting out. And so, my friends, just like when your Hitachi breaks down, we’ve gotta do this manually. And so I present to you a very easy peasy guide to voting tactically in your area.

Step 1: Find out your constituency. Type your postcode in here. It will tell you the name of your constituency.

Step 2: Take a look at recent election results in your constituency. The most accessible place to find this data is Wikipedia. Go to the Wikipedia page for your constituency and scroll down to find the recent election results. 2017’s result is a good place to go on, being the last parliamentary election and representing a shift in the Tories starting to fuck off.

Step 3: Vote for the party with most votes who aren’t Tories. This is a general rule of thumb, because under the Westminster model, some votes matter more than others, and in some seats you can absolutely get away with voting with your heart, while in other seats you might have to eat shit. You can tell how much your vote matters by how close the vote is – in safe seats, the leading candidate has a lead of a high number of thousands of votes, while if you’re in a marginal seat, it’s much, much tighter. If you’re pretty sure you’re in a safe seat – i.e. the lead of the person in front is substantial (I’d say by at least 7000 votes) – then just do whatever the fuck you like with your ballot paper because it really doesn’t matter. Wipe your bum on it for all I care. Thanks, Westminster system!

You’ll notice that in the majority of seats, Labour is the party with the best chance of defeating Tories, though in some seats, particularly in England, it may be the Lib Dems. In the other countries of the UK, nationalist parties might be your best bet. Your tactical vote might make you do a little bit of sick in your mouth, but you know what’s going to be a full-blown chunder? Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, with a renewed mandate.

Step 4: FUCKIN VOTE. 12th December, folks. Get the fuck out and vote. And if you’re having to vote for someone you find absolutely gross, know that as long as you make voting intention clear on your ballot paper, your vote counts. It doesn’t have to be a cross in the little box beside your necessary candidate. Draw a crudely drawn knob in there. Write “this candidate is a poopy poo” in tiny letters in the box. Write “fuck Boris” in there. Get creative, because you can.

Look, everything is truly fucked right now, and everything will be much more fucked if Boris Johnson were to be Prime Minister. At the end of the day, there’s no good options, but there’s awful options and options that at least we’ll be alive enough to feel icky about. So please, please vote tactically – and do it manually.


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Theresa May will be remembered as incompetent and pitied. She was ruthlessly, competently evil.

Theresa May is gone soon. Ding fucking dong. Already, the swelling strings political obituaries are coming out. A Prime Minister who was given a difficult job and did it badly, but she cried so poor thing.

I chose the picture above because it sums up what she truly was. She looks like a villain from a movie. In truth, any movie would consider what she did in her stints as Home Secretary and Prime Minister a little on the nose. She was ruthlessly, viciously and competently evil.

The Theresa May I’ll remember is the politician who ruthlessly deported and detained people, the politician who denied medical treatment to migrants, the politician who created a hostile environment and levered open racist and xenophobic cracks in our society.

In nine years, she successfully established a new normal, where papers are demanded from anyone with brown or black skin, or an accent when they go to hospital. “Go home” has moved from a street fascist slogan to a message on government-funded vans driving through communities. She deported a generation of elders. She, personally, is the architect of this climate.

She was an enthusiastic collaborator with austerity, which has caused countless deaths, and, as PM, turned to being an enthusiastic perpetrator. People are starving, sick and endlessly tormented by poverty. That’s her doing.

So she fucked up Brexit. Who cares, when she has so much blood on her hands? So she cried a bit. How many people have cried as they were forced onto a plane of a country they don’t even remember after living a lifetime here? How many people have cried trying to feed their children on a precarious pittance? How many women have cried, indefinitely detained in Yarls Wood? How many people have cried as they’re turned away from medical treatment due to having been born somewhere else? How many people have grieved a loved one, killed by austerity? How do you even quantify the tears Theresa May has caused as she ripped lives apart in almost a decade as PM and Home Secretary. People died, people were deported, and too many people are living on a knife edge in poverty.

She is being given more respect and dignity than any of the victims under her regime. She has, throughout.

She is a cruel monster, and has successfully embedded racism and xenophobia in every level of state institutions, as well as turning it mainstream in society.

Who succeeds her will likely be a monster, too. But make no mistake: all they will be doing is building upon the foundation she has laid.


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Are we inadvertently feeding the anti-abortion monster?

Content note: this post discusses abortion, forced pregnancy and rape

As the USA slides ever-closer into fascism, states are functionally outlawing abortion. There’s resistance, thank goodness, it’s not passing by unremarked. But as with every time abortion bans rear their ugly head, many of us find ourselves falling into a trap: we begin to say “but what if someone is forced to carry an unviable pregnancy?” “But what if a woman was raped?” “But what if being pregnant causes enormous health problems?”

I’ve fallen into this trap myself, too many times.

We never say “But what if someone decided they just don’t want a kid?”

And why would we? There’s nothing emotive about someone who finds themselves knocked up and doesn’t want to spend nine months with swollen ankles only to find themselves saddled with stress incontinence, stretch marks and a screaming brat. A lot of people resent that figure. That person is a bitch. We don’t raise the example of a non-binary person or a man whose dysphoria is exacerbated by pregnancy: that shit’s too complicated. So we favour the ones who sound innocent. It feels comfier making the argument.

A lot of it is internalised patriarchal bullshit, because we’re all carrying it around with us, and we find ourselves projecting it onto those vile womb-botherers, trying to come up with examples that maybe, just maybe, they’ll relate to.

We are all missing the point entirely when we bring up our most emotive, most innocent examples to try to explain why the unforgivable things that are happening are dangerous and terrible. Our point should not be that some good people will be harmed. The only reason anyone should need to give to access an abortion is “I do not want this embryo or foetus inside me.”

It’s not an argument about whether a young rape survivor deserves to be harmed. It’s an argument about basic bodily autonomy. Should you be forced to be a meaty incubator just because you have the internal gubbins to function that way? Of course not. Some people think we should, and they’re scary as fuck, and you know what? We can’t reason with them, no matter how emotive our examples may be, because at their core, most of them believe we’re skin draped around a reproductive tract.

Perhaps some can be swayed, and that’s even scarier. Imagine, for a moment, that you hit the mark. The governor of Georgia blinks in shock and says “Shit, of course abortion should be legal if someone’s been raped!” How would that be enforced? If you can think of a not-completely-horrifying way that a rape survivor could access abortion while stopping everyone else from accessing it, you deserve a Hugo for your incredible eye for fantasy. It would require so much invasive and traumatic testing – and considering how invasive and traumatic a criminal investigation of rape is anyway, and with so little chance of a successful prosecution, functionally all you’ve gained is some additional invasion and trauma.

This is the risk we run when we begin throwing around some situations where it feels most like an exception should be made. We can’t means-test bodily autonomy, and we mustn’t.

More than five years ago, I wrote this manifesto for the demands we must be making, taking the proactive fight to the disgusting creeps who think our uteruses are their business. We need to do this. We need to look at that Overton window and chuck a fucking brick through it. We need to insist on abortion access centred around bodily autonomy: if you don’t want that embryo or foetus inside you, you must have the right to end that pregnancy safely and legally.

As well as this, we need to support those who need support to access a safe, legal abortion if they’re banned from it. In the UK, consider supporting the Abortion Support Network, who help people from Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Malta and Gibraltar travel to access legal abortion. Yes, a reminder that one of the countries in the UK actually has harsher abortion law than Georgia or Alabama’s. If you’re aware of groups providing support in other countries, please leave a comment.

We all need to fight this together, and we all need to support each other. Let’s not cede ground just to try to win an argument.


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BBC Woman’s Hour: shitty journalism and transphobic bias – a backed up thread

A backed up Twitter thread, because I regularly delete my tweets (here’s why, and why you should, too).

What a fuckin surprise. Shame on @BBCWomansHour; this shows their bias as clear as day.

Crowsa Luxemburg@quendergeer

Weirdly, @BBCWomansHour has decided to go with this story, which misgenders a woman and calls her “entitled” and a “liar” and implies she’s selfish for transitioning 

BBC Woman’s Hour


“He handed me a letter…It said ‘I’m a woman’.” ‘Michelle’s’ ex-husband transitioned after 16 years of marriage. She spoke to @bbcwomanshour about how it made her feel. Her words are read by an actor as ‘Michelle’ (not her real name) requested anonymity. 

Now, I don’t doubt that we’ll be getting ~Sensibles~ defending the choice BBC Women’s Hour made here because “a story where nothing bad happens isn’t interesting”. This is bullshit, and it reflects a very bigoted and biased agenda at BBCWH. Let’s talk about why.
They chose a story which ties into negative stereotypes about trans women, and used “Michelle” as a proxy to spread these myths, they used “Michelle” as a mouthpiece to repeatedly misgender a trans woman. Misgendering is a transphobic act.
I’m going to charitably go along with Women’s Hour and pretend “Michelle” is actually a real person, rather than someone they made up internally or some bigot op submitting a fake story.
Now, there’s lots of reasons they’d choose “Michelle’s” story over any other story submitted, and all of them reflect badly on @BBCWomansHour. It’s pretty much a pina colada of individual transphobia, institutional transphobia and shitty journalism.
Let’s go back to this story that @BBCWomansHour refused to tell, which its defenders may say “wasn’t that interesting”. Even the most mediocre student journalist could wring an interesting story out of this by asking the right follow-up questions.

Libby 🧜🏳️‍🌈@LibbyLights

So @BBCWomansHour are doing a series on the impact transition has on partners and are asking for submissions. This is mine:

e.g. what did you have to do to communicate better? How did you learn to deal with conflict? Tell me more about that experience of falling in love all over again.

These are just some of the options, had they bothered to do any journalism.

There’s a lot of other interesting stories out there that @BBCWomansHour could have explored regarding partners and transition. e.g. they could have spoken to someone who went through the complicated legal situation of ending a marriage to get legal gender recognition.
But no. @BBCWomansHour made the conscious decision to run a really bigoted story playing into negative stereotypes, because they couldn’t be bothered to run an interesting story. It was a choice they made, and it tells us a lot about the quality of the programme (i.e. it’s bad)
The stories you choose to tell show a lot about you. And what @BBCWomansHourchose to tell shows us they’re biased, transphobic and terrible journalists.
“that bitch ruined my life” is the most boring, tired story ever told. It’s told about women of all stripes and experience, and this is the story @BBCWomansHour chose to tell. It’s not a novel story, it’s just lazy and misogynistic, every damn time.
Yup. The media in general has a strong preference for a lurid, negative story over one with a happy ending, which is often bumped to “and finally”, or magazine shows. Like @BBCWomansHour – the happy story is really more in line with their brand.

Louise Ferreira@frrlou

I would think that the happy story is the more interesting one, because it shows that such a huge change doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship. It’s a different narrative to the dominant one. Seriously, that’s just basic storytelling.

Ultimately @BBCWomansHour‘s story on trans parners is like if they’d run a feature on working under woman CEOs and decided to pick the story from an employee who said “my boss is an ugly, ball-breaking bitch”


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2018 in review: a holding pattern

If it felt like major sea-changes were afoot last year, 2018 seems to have been the restoration of order, the restoration of everything being somewhere between a bit rubbish and hellishly awful.

How do we even begin to measure what changed in 2018? Every time it felt like something was shaken up it all just settled back down.

Everyone’s talking about Brexit, but let’s be honest here: nothing happened. There’s been no changes there, and the discourse has probably masked some of the other stuff that went down.

Perhaps we measure 2018 in politicians’ careers: Theresa May, how many times did we think she just had to go? How many times did she actually go? Or we could look at her clone, Amber Rudd, resigning this year to take a bullet for her boss over Windrush, only to be restored to favour six months later. They’re all still there. No heads claimed.

Can we measure in the arguments we had? Dear god, it’s just been the same shit over and over, hasn’t it? Nazis just farting out the same talking points about freeze peach, rapid onset gender dysphoria, lobsters, all that junk. I cycle between bothering and just fucking going to bed. They don’t seem to have recruited more, despite their concerted effort to sabotage a consultation on gender recognition, thankfully, but I wish they’d just go away.

This has been the major theme of 2018. We’ve been in a holding pattern, like drones over Gatwick Airport are not. It’s as though this is a filler episode in the annals of history, we’ve just gone through cycles, but everything just settles back down. Is it because the order is impossible to tear down? I’m an optimist, so I don’t like to think so. I think this may have just been – and it happens sometimes – a dud year. A year where we’re all tired from the constant parade of death that was 2016, then the constant parade of rapists that was 2017. Our enemies, too, are probably exhausted from doing all that evil.

Maybe we measure in memes: the progress from eating tide pods to put your hands up to surgery on a grape. Don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it but there have been some decent memes this year, a little bit of weirdness in a world which, unfortunately, as unpredictable each event seems, turns back to the same old shit. Alexa, that’s so sad, play Despacito.

Can we break out of the holding pattern? I think we can. It can’t stay like this forever. It’s not sustainable. Something’s got to give.

So my friends, this is what I ask you: be kind to yourselves. This is going to be a long fight, but as the She-Ra theme song (one of the small lights of 2018) said, we’re going to win in the end.


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