Things I read this week that I found interesting

See above.

The Idea of Feminism Isn’t The Problem; The Current Manifestation Of “Mainstream Feminism” Is (Gradient Lair)- An absolutely must-read piece.

If You Masturbate To This, Then Your Children Will Be Next (nyebaron)- Excellent stuff on David Blunkett’s nonsense.

How to Be an Ally to Trans Women (Julia Serano)- An excerpt from her new book, which you should probably read.

When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? (Jeanne Maglaty)- Fascinating article about the history of baby clothes.

Being bisexual and dating a trans person (Cis is not a dirty word)- Beautiful and heartfelt.

No one campaigns for back street abortions… (everyday whorephobia)- Deconstruction of a double standard within feminism.

We Won’t Kick Transphobia Out of Football with Rainbow Laces (Useful Nuisance)- A deconstruction of S’onewall’s latest crap.

And finally, here is Mads Mikkelsen near a cat, because apparently pictures of him holding one don’t exist and this breaks my heart a tiny bit.

Dear David Blunkett

Dear David Blunkett,

I was surprised and disturbed by your somewhat revisionist historical analysis. In case you’ve forgotten the speech you gave, these is the alarming sentiments you articulated:

“The Lib Dems in Glasgow debated this and decided they were against automatic protection unless people chose to over-ride it, in terms of pornography on the internet and the protection of children. I think they were wrong.

“I think we have a job in this country, in a civilised, free, open democracy, to protect ourselves from the most bestial activities and from dangers that would undermine a civilised nation.

“In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Berlin came as near as dammit to Sodom and Gomorrah. There was a disintegration of what you might call any kind of social order.

“People fed on that – they fed people’s fears of it. They encouraged their paranoia. They developed hate about people who had differences, who were minorities.

“There always has had to be some balance, in terms of the freedom of what we want to do, for ourselves and the mutual respect and the duty we owe to each other in a collective society. I think getting it right is the strength of a democracy.”

See, the thing is, David, I’m not convinced that Weimar was the worst era in modern German history. It was a pretty decent time to be queer, really; we were accepted. It also wasn’t too bad to be a woman: our sexual agency was accepted and abortion was actually legalised in some cases, almost a century ago! The music was cool: they embraced music like jazz. It was progressive, in short, and marginalised people were treated more like humans than the little bit of history that came later.

That little bit of history that came later, David, was Nazi Germany, the spectre you raise as a consequence of not treating marginalised people like shit. Those who were accepted in the Sodom and Gomorrah times suffered heavily under Nazi Germany. The queers were forced to wear pink triangles and herded into camps, murdered in droves by the state. The women were treated as breeding machines, nothing more than a means of reproduction. The rich art and culture made by people who were not white, once embraced, was now illegal, degenerate. It was a period of history which sucked absolutely enormously for basically everyone who was not a straight, cis, able-bodied white man.

For some reason, you think this was the responsibility of exactly the people who suffered the most. You know who else thought that? Hitler.

I am writing to you, David, to express concern because I am fairly sure that you have ripped a hole in the space-time continuum by twisting Godwin’s Law so much. I presume you’re decrying Nazism and saying it’s bad, while simultaneously using some rhetoric with a distinctly fascist flavour. Of course I’ll help out if some of the Sleeping Ones awaken and pass through the portal you have opened, but I’m a little annoyed that I have to, to be perfectly honest.

On the other hand, David, I’m grateful. What could I possibly be grateful for, when you are essentially blaming millions for their own genocide?

I am grateful, David, that you have laid bare the inherent authoritarianism in the moralistic attitude towards banning porn. I am relieved to see that you have managed to point out that ultimately this isn’t about porn itself, but it is far wider, and far more chilling. It is rooted in a hatred of all that is not straight, a rejection of sexual freedom for women. It reflects a disgust at the queer. You have demonstrated this with your words far more clearly than all of the commentary that comes from the marginalised.

So fuck you, and all who share your views. You frighten and sicken me, as do all who agree with you.

No love,

Stavvers

EDIT 02/10/13: I made Blunkett feel sad.

Bisexual adventures with stavvers

Today is Bi Visibility Day, the day of the year wherein we bisexuals stop pretending to be humans and reveal our true forms as soul-eating beings of shadow and vapour.

I’ll be honest. It irks me no end that awareness days have to exist on any issue. It pisses me off that a single day of the year is allocated to groups of humans to go “Hi, we exist, please don’t treat us like shit.” It bothers me that one day of the year is considered somehow adequate to cram in pointing out “hey, this is an enormous problem, let’s maybe do something to make this not a problem any more”. And yet this is a thing, and today is all about us bisexuals being visible.

From my first stirring of a weird little feeling in the pit of my tummy while watching The X-Files and wishing I could marry both Mulder and Scully right up to my first drunk snog with a girl at the first cool party I went to, I’d kind of assumed I was straight. Why wouldn’t I be? That was the thing most people were, right? I had not experienced some sort of weird magic lesbian transformation like Willow, ergo, I must have been straight.

Well, obviously I wasn’t, and I never had been, but the fact I fancied boys kind of complicated matters in a world where bisexuals–if they exist at all–are apparently all lascivious sex tanks, evil axe murderers, or a combination of both.

Yes. I had managed to grow up in a world where I was bombarded by media produced in a society which isn’t particularly keen on bisexuals.

I was the queerest person I knew very well, until I was quite far into my twenties. I’d met a few gay and lesbian people, maybe a bi person here or there, but for the most part I was the only one I really knew. I was presumed straight, of course. The times I mentioned I was actually bi, I saw eyebrows go up. I received demands for a complete inventory of all the sex I had had in my life, ever. I heard mutters that bi people were just doing it for the attention. I often stayed quiet about my sexual orientation unless I was drunk, because people were often dicks.

In an attempt to connect more with my lesbian side, I read The Well of Loneliness. As a bi femme, it did not make me feel particularly good about myself.

As I got more involved with feminism and the queer community, I discovered how worryingly prevalent biphobia is among gay and lesbian people. We’re in the closet, apparently. We’re ruining feminism forever by sometimes having sex with men. Basically, we’re all gross and icky and we should just make up our feeble little minds and become properly gay.

And because of this, once again, I wanted to shut the hell up about my sexual orientation; people were being dicks.

Sadly, the monosexuals still dominate discourse. Whether straight or gay, they’re there, yapping away. Most of the time, bi people are just ignored like a beige carpet. This is the best option in a society which operates under some rigidly oppressive power structures. And at worst, it’s utterly horrid. We get homophobic abuse from the straights. We get biphobic abuse from lesbians and gay people. It is a pincer manoeuvre, the discrimination we face.

I’ve internalised a lot of it, from both sides, and it’s been a long process unlearning all of it, believing that there’s nothing wrong with me or anyone else like me. I think I’m getting there.

And I’m fucking sick of it all.

Make up my mind? I’ve made up my mind, and I’m proud of who I am.

Pick a side? I’ve picked my side, and that side is a stand against biphobia.

Just come out? I am out against bigotry.

Doing it for the attention? You’re damn right that I’m going to keep screaming and shouting that I exist and maybe I pose a problem for your blinkered and tedious worldview.

I exist, and I will not be quiet.

Things I read this week that I found interesting

Hello internet. I read things.

Of privilege in progressive circles. (Dani)- Go and read this.

SWOU statement in response to mis-representations from the Nottingham conference (Sex Worker Open University)- Signal boosting this, because it’s important. Yesterday, sex workers were literally locked out of a feminist conference, and misinformation was spread. Please read their statement.

“Racists React To [thing]” posts are just passive white supremacy (4thletter!)- An explanation of the problematic aspects of a particular trope in lazy journalism.

Why #ibelieveher, and don’t believe rape suspects need anonymity. (That Pesky Feminist)- Shit that shouldn’t need saying, said well.

Don’t Blame the Victim: Freshers’ Week Sexism (quiteirregular)- Timely post on a problem that is most visible at certain times of the year.

Health is not an obligation (hlokaya)- Excellent piece on the nonsense spouted about health and weight. Content note for eating disorders and self harm.

How about no more misogyny,racism and outings? (everyday whorephobia)- Your necessary occasional reminder that there’s a lot more wrong with the Sun than the third page.

And finally, the winners of Astronomy Photographer of the Year. Pretty!

Why I signed the statement of trans-inclusive feminism and womanism

At the time of writing, 158 feminist and womanist individuals and organisations have signed a statement of trans-inclusive feminism, myself included. It is sad that such a thing needs to exist in 20-fucking-13, but it’s vital that we are vocal in our opposition to feminisms which decide to exclude women. I will quote my favourite part of the statement below.

By positing “woman” as a coherent, stable identity whose boundaries they are authorized to police, transphobic feminists reject the insights of intersectional analysis, subordinating all other identities to womanhood and all other oppressions to patriarchy.  They are refusing to acknowledge their own power and privilege.

It is so important to acknowledge that transphobic feminisms are not just wrong, but dangerously so, and this statement does just that. Please read the whole statement and share it as much as you can! We need to be vocal about the unacceptability of bigotry in feminism.

Feminism and control of other women

This week’s issue which is calling some premium-grade nonsense to fly forth from the mouths of feminists is the topic of banning face coverings, specifically the niqab. It is something which appeals to politicians, satisfying both their desire for racist policy and managing to get a bonus bit of giving themselves further reason to mass arrest protesters as a shitty little cherry on top. As always, there are hordes of feminists who are perfectly happy to deal with this as it manages to sate their appetite for controlling other women.

I don’t think I need to go into why getting the state to dictate what women may and may not wear is hardly a feminist position, and is simply a manifestation of a white saviour complex. Go and look at what Muslim feminists are saying about this; this is not my argument to make.

Among certain strains of feminism, we see a lot of attempts at controlling what other women do, wear and exist as.

We see it in Nadine Dorries, who calls herself a feminist while simultaneously craning her neck for the best viewing angle of our uteruses. She literally wants to control our reproductive freedom, and believes this stance to be a feminist stance.

We see it in the TERfs, the bigoted feminists who bully and harass trans women for existing, who spread lies and misinformation, who exclude and who try to deny access to treatment. They call themselves feminists, yet they are trying to control women’s bodies, to set themselves up as gatekeepers to womanhood through establishing a firm grasp on what a woman must be like.

We see it in a lot of high-profile campaigns calling for bans on this or that manifestation of sex work. Behind all of this is a desire to control what work is acceptable for women to do. We see it in the entire prohibitionist angle towards sex workers.

Am I saying these people are not feminists? No.

They are feminists. They are simply feminists who will ultimately do more harm than good.

See here’s the thing. It’s a little bit Captain Obvious to suggest that patriarchy places controls on women’s bodies and women’s behaviour. We know that this is terrible and bad and we rightly kick up a fuss about it. And yet to many women, the control imposed by certain strains of feminism is just as bad as these manifestations of patriarchal dominance. It is no different, aside from the perpetrators. And this is why we see so many marginalised women turning away from feminism: feminism just appears as rebranded patriarchy, rebranded control and coercion.

The feminists who want to control other women will defend their stance by saying that the women they are attempting to control need rescuing somehow, that this control is salvation. You will note that they are never trying to save themselves, only others who are somehow letting the side down by letting themselves be oppressed.

And yet this defence is much the same as the patronisingly sexist attitudes we face from men. We don’t know what’s good for us. We need someone to sort it out for us, someone who knows best. We are literally incapable of knowing what it is we need.

We reject it from men, and we must also reject these impositions of control from women.

If we want to help marginalised women to be liberated, our task is not to lead or to legislate, but to listen. We need to ask what help is required, rather than barging in like a carceral Leeroy Jenkins and making everything worse. It is support, not control, that will lead to freedom.

Things I read this week that I found interesting

This week, I have been mostly playing Pokemon. Still. I also read some things. Perhaps you will find them interesting. I did.

On The Male Privilege That I Totally Have. (Alien She)- A badass trans sister says some shit that really doesn’t need saying.

An open letter to the men of the world (Days Like Crazy Paving)- Blisteringly brilliant.

Victim blaming: the easy option? (Sarah Thomasin)- On a very common reaction to abuse.

How *not* to write a blog about sex work (Sometimes, its just a cigar)- A useful primer on pitfalls to avoid, with reference to a particularly terrible example.

12 Angry Men… Or a dozen confused folk? The weeks in 1998 that changed me forever. (gibbsgubbins)- An account of being on a jury, and how the writer doesn’t trust jury verdicts anymore.

The hypocrisy of calling for anonymity for rape defendants (sian and crooked rib)- Bookmark this for when that waahmbulance ride of an argument comes up.

Battles of Cable Street (Michael Richmond)- Contextualising the Tower Hamlets antifascist arrests.

Allies Who Are Not Allies (Eponymous Fliponymous)- A story about needing a towtruck, which articulates a problem neatly.

And finally, this is the finest tumblr ever, fulfilling all your definitely-not-misandrist needs.