I’m bored and I’m tired

Let me tell you something about me. I let you see the flashes of rage, incandescent anger which invigorates me. It comes, it builds, it explodes like an orgasm and I collapse into momentary catharsis. It’s not a good feeling but it’s better than the alternative.

Most of the time I’m bored. I’m bored and I’m tired. It is grindingly wearing simply existing in oh so many spaces. It’s exhausting and tedious having the same fucking arguments time and time again, not managing to chip away at the immovable force.

It happens a lot in anarchist and radical spaces. The men don’t like it when you challenge their supremacy. A few weeks ago, all of this happened, and it was dismissed as nothing. Now we’re being told we should listen to some sort of TV celebrity because he made some vaguely supportive noises on some issues. From microaggressions to outright misogyny, it goes and goes and goes and it repeats and it repeats and it’s just fucking tiresome.

Social justice circles are no better. Too many feminists think they can get away with kicking down, not up and we’re expected not to challenge this because they’re making some vaguely supportive noises on some issues.

It’s a sinkhole of solidarity, that’s what it is. Unidirectional. I will pour my solidarity behind their causes and yet, do they ever have my fucking back? No. I am a trouble-maker, I am a monster, I am a liar.

There are so many privilege metaphors I could think of. I am Ginger Rogers, backwards in high heels and I want to kick off my shoes and sit down. I am being told the game is easy by someone who is playing it on easy mode and I want to throw my controller at their fucking stupid smug head. I am being attacked by an evil invisible zombie horde who are all armed with chainsaws and also invisibility lasers and I am too tired to make up a metaphor which actually makes sense.

I have goals in common with a lot of awful human beings. Why should I be expected to dash myself against the rocks repeatedly to support them while they would never do a thing for me? Why is it that I am expected to undertake so much thankless emotional labour, and if I don’t then I am the unreasonable one? Why is it me who has to do the heavy lifting?

And I know I’m better off than some. At least I’m white. At least I’m cis. At least my disability isn’t too bad. At least I have a livable income. And I try to do what I can to help with the heavy lifting in the struggles of those who get more shit than me. And for some reason, I have more energy for this than I do with the banal struggles of my own. It’s easier to direct my own limited resources into people who need my solidarity rather than the solidarity-suckers with all of their privilege.

What I need is something that I cannot foresee happening. I need for what I am fighting for to be understood. I need to be able to move freely, not to be constantly hampered by the same petty squabbles over what should be a tiny amount of ground. I need those with the capacity to take up the heavy lifting, I need support and to know that others have my back when I challenge the terrible or even just the mundane.

We need a revolution, but before that happens, we need to clean out the shit in our own back garden, because if it’s a tiresome struggle to simply exist amid fellow revolutionaries then it’s not my revolution.

So please, please can we start with the banal, before we expand to the grand? I am aware that for a lot of people, this will be unpleasant, and will require taking on a higher degree of emotional labour than they have ever tried before. But this is how so many of us live day to day, simply to negotiate spaces. It is this dynamic that needs to change, needs a complete inversion.

I know this can happen, because those who I can trust do so. There are some who fight at my side who are supportive and make the fight feel winnable. These few who have my back are unquantifiably precious.

I have seen so many people fall  from sheer exhaustion, from being hounded out of spaces. Voices silenced and bodies taken out of the fight because some would rather maintain and replicate hegemonic power structures within spaces rather than challenge them. I haven’t succumbed yet, mostly because I’m fucking stubborn and I don’t want to let the bastards win. But it hurts. It hurts my soul and it hurts my body, and I’m bored and I’m tired.

Further reading:

Activist Burnout Part I and II by Alice B. Reckless

Your periodic reminder that the system still fails rape survivors

Content note: this post discusses rape and rape apologism

The latest figures suggest that the police are getting increasingly bad at referring rape cases to the CPS, despite the fact reporting is on the rise. This must be absolutely devastating for the survivors who chose to report, finding this route to justice the best.

For me, the official route has never been particularly appealing. I’ve written before about why I feel that way. I feel for those who felt that reporting and the court system was what they wanted; they have been failed so much. Why have the police suddenly decided that so much isn’t worth prosecuting, after gaining the trust of more and more survivors?

The answer is, of course, rape culture. It’s worth noting that this is alive and roaring from the establishment in this situation. Take a look at these two juxtaposed headlines:

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This was likely accidental, inasmuch as these things are accidental. Certainly, I don’t think anyone set out this page thinking “I want to associate rape reporting with lies”. It’s just that these associations exist in our minds, because we were all born and raised in a rape culture.

And very few of us see that everything we thought to be true about rape is wrong. So we end up here.

Their intent is not magical, and I do not trust the police, the media, the justice system to deal with rape adequately. They have too much power and too little understanding. Remember just how much they fail us.

Things I read this week that I found interesting

I read things, and would like to read more things. So here’s some things I found interesting, please stick more in the comments.

Another Sex/Gender Controversy (Skepchick)- An excellent takedown of the received wisdoms about “biological sex” often espoused by bigots and ignorant people. Bookmark it so you can fling it at people when they’re spouting that shite.

Gender Is More Than Performance (Julia Serano)- Tackling the other side of a nest of nonsense.

A Rough Draft on Rape Culture in Anarchist Subcultures (Doom! Doom! Doom!)- A fairly old piece but oh my sweet fuck this is great. Names the problem so eloquently. Note that it predates so many of the recent flare-ups.

Why I won’t call myself a “slut” (Lutze B.)- A perspective on “slut-shaming” and white feminism.

Glorification of Celebrity Dicks – Stop It. (Full Commujism)- Gloriously sweary takedown of Russell Brand.

I don’t stand with Russell Brand, and neither should you (Natasha Lenard)- Less sweary, if that’s your cup of tea.

Another attack on the most vulnerable- my mission to find a school for my son (bottomfacedotcom)- A heartbreaking account of disablism in the education system.

“Witch Hunts”, “Pitchforks” and Privilege’s Fear of the Mob (Infantile Disorder)- Why is it that the powerful fear the mob. Good analysis here.

Outcasts Among Outcasts: Injection Drug-Using Sex Workers in the Sex Workers’ Rights Movement (Suzyhooker)- Interviews with a marginalised set of voices. Eye-opening.

Outing, platforms, harassment and privilege (Jem)- A must read on outing and power and how it affects trans women and sex workers.

And finally, fellow internet feminists will probably relate to a lot of this.

 

 

Time to pick a side

I see a lot of fence-sitting, and it pisses me the fuck off. I see so many so-called comrades refusing to challenge the multi-layered oppressions within our own communities.

Time and time again, I see feminists proudly declaring that they want to be neutral to various issues. In its latest manifestation, this has been a complete apathy towards a payday loans lawyer with a history of harassing women and actively siding with homophobic organisations in her quest to make the lives of marginalised young women hell. However, this attitude frequently comes up when women of colour report racism, when trans women report cissexism, when disabled women report disablism, and so forth.

I see it happen repeatedly within anti-fascist, anti-capitalist and anti-state networks. A deliberate neutrality towards sexism and racism among white men, too often escalating to the point where women reporting sexual violence from comrades are disbelieved. The other day, my friends and I tried to challenge it. So many comrades just stood by and did nothing.

This sort of shit happens everywhere. Intersecting liberation struggles are treated as nothing more than a petty spat, a minor intellectual difference. Instead of solidarity, there is only apathy. I have lost count of the number of times I have been told “I really agree with everything you do, you’re wrong about [really important issue], but I can ignore that.” How in the name of ever-loving fuck can you willfully look away from something so integrally connected?

This position of self-proclaimed neutrality is not some sort of moral high ground. It is actively harmful. Yes, you may not be actively perpetrating violence, but your inaction allows the perpetrators to keep on doing what they do. Think of the murder of Kitty Genovese. A young woman attacked and brutally murdered, while many heard her screams and did absolutely nothing. Kitty Genovese could have been saved, but the inaction of her neighbours left her to die in terrifying circumstances. The decades of subsequent research have revealed that people have a remarkable capacity for justifying their own inaction when someone is being harmed. I don’t doubt that the comments will swell with a sea of self-deception as people try to validate their own apathy, and do you know what? I’m not going to fucking approve any of it, because I’ve heard it all before.

If you don’t take a stand against oppression, you are helping it happen. You are helping the bigots and the rapists, the murderers and the fascists. You are helping the powerful exert their power and making them ever stronger.

It might make your life easier, but it also makes the task of the oppressor far, far easier. When solidarity is diffuse because so many just stand around doing nothing, it is easier to abuse and harass and murder. You are not neutral, no matter how much you like to think you are. You are helping all of this happen. You are not neutral, you are listening to the abuser’s account and deciding you like it better.

So let us dispose of any notion of neutrality. Let us open up our eyes and let in the full picture of the raging injustices. Let it disgust us, and develop our understanding of what is really happening, to actually look at the direction in which the power flows and everything connects together. Let us look at the consequences of our past apathy and strive end victimisation. Let us challenge oppression wherever it appears: within and outside our own communities. Let us nail our colours to the mast and rise up against these abusive structures.

It is a terrifying task, taking a stand, because the powerful just want to swat us down. They cannot do this if we stand together in solidarity with one another: there are too many of us. Let us ally our struggles and end this oppressive facade of neutrality.

Things I read this week that I found interesting

I have eyes and I use them to read things.

Breast cancer isn’t sexy, and telling women to “set their tatas free” isn’t going to cure it. (That Pesky Feminist)- Shit that shouldn’t need to be said, said beautifully.

Can conversations about women in pop move beyond a binary of agency or exploitation? (Reni Eddo-Lodge)- Reni talks about Miley and Rihanna, and examines race.

Kanye West Knows You Think He Sounded Nuts on Kimmel (Cord Jefferson)- Excellent piece on race, racism and gaslighting.

Friends (bethanysays)- Bethany chats friendship and jealousy and poly and stuff, and it’s very heartwarming.

There’s no such thing as clean food (Marianne)- Really useful article about food and some of the bullshit that surrounds how we talk about it.

White House Down and a Black man worth dying for (Flavia Dzodan)- Flavia names a trope, and an aversion of it.

Comment: Undercover police can have sex with their targets – but you’re not allowed to know about it (Jane Fae)- Explanation and analysis of where we are with cops deceiving activists into sex.

Safety advice and victim blaming – an open letter to my local police force (sian and crooked rib)- Sian says some shit that shouldn’t need to be said, then busts more myths in a follow-up piece.

And finally. In the market for a new phone? Torn between an iPhone 5s and a £1.99 Peppa Pig phone? Make sure you read this head-to-head product comparison before you decide.

 

How V53 might not be a liar (but is still a racist and a murderer)

No doubt some of you have been following the Mark Duggan inquest today. The officer who shot Duggan, V53, gave some rather baffling evidence. He swears blind that he saw a gun in Duggan’s hand, to the point that he could describe it, and yet the alleged gun which he saw in so much detail was also shrouded in a sock and somehow managed to teleport quite far away. Supernatural explanations notwithstanding, it looks rather a lot like our porcine witness is telling fibs. This seems like a particularly logical conclusion on a day where it has emerged that–shock horror!–cops are fucking liars.

Even assuming that it is impossible for guns to apparate by magic out of a sock and over a fence some distance away, however, it is possible that V53’s evidence is entirely honest. There is a psychological effect known as “weapon bias” which makes people see guns where there are none. Simply the effect of seeing a black face can make research participants imagine that they have seen a gun, especially when they are tasked with making a split-second decision. Interestingly, this effect seems to happen even when the participants are black. It is theorised that the underlying cause for this is racial stereotypes, which is exacerbated by making snap decisions.

Ultimately, then, it is entirely possible that V53 was telling the truth when he saw that magical gun. That doesn’t make him any less of a racist or a murderer, simply that the fact he is a racist has warped his memory. Likewise, it doesn’t make him any less culpable for the killing.

The knowledge that a bias exists which makes imaginary weapons appear in black hands means that we ought to treat such police claims with utmost scepticism, and question the notion that it is ever necessary to arm those who will make snap decisions based on racism with the capacity to end lives.