So you care about Sochi? Here’s some other shit to care about

I’ve been seeing a lot of people concerned about the Sochi Olympics, what with Russia’s frankly disgusting attitude towards LGBT rights. Many of these are the sort of people who I don’t usually see doing much for LGBT rights–or indeed broader human rights. And so I feel it’s necessary to point a few things out.

I’ll start with doing something I haven’t done in a while–quoting MediocreDave, who has managed to condense the issue very neatly:

Where is the outcry on these deportations of LGBT people–as I write, Jacqueline Nantumbwe faces deportation to Uganda, where there is a life sentence for being queer and corrective rapes are common. And she is not the first to be victimised in this fashion. Dave has succinctly put why this may be:

There are two things you need to think about when criticising Sochi without a broader analysis. First is that most nations are shitty towards LGBT folk. Their laws may pay lip service to LGBT rights–same sex marriage, anti-hate crime legislation and so forth, but that doesn’t mean their citizens are very good. Let’s look beyond the UK’s attitude towards deporting queers, and to a pile of other hideousness. This is a country where the national press can merrily print transmisogyny with impunity, and with little attention paid to this because the media just don’t give a fuck. This is a country where queer people are mass arrested before large spectacles. This is a country where heaps of unending bullshit are faced by bisexuals, and even the leading lobbying group for queer rights completely ignore and erase trans people. If you’re not furious about how things are here, then I am seriously side-eyeing your intentions as you tweet another fucking petition about sponsors of the fucking Sochi Olympics.

As an aside, if you’re the sort of person who is sharing things about how TOTALLY HOMOEROTIC Putin is, or how KINDA GAY sports are, to “highlight hypocrisy” or whatever the fuck you’re trying to do, congratulations, you’re a homophobic pisshole.

The second thing you need to be pissed off about is the Olympics on the whole. Bluntly put, they’re not a very nice thing to happen to a city. In London, a lot of people lost their homes in order to build a park they’d never be able to afford to visit. Some of those who kept their homes had missiles put on their roofs. And during the opening ceremony, almost 200 people were arrested for riding bikes. And was the world watching aghast, threatening to boycott as this happened to London–or any other city which has hosted the Olympics and faced similar problems? Not really, no. This is a world, after all, that doesn’t freak the fuck out when a country with more than two million people locked up in prison hosts the Olympics.

I’m not saying don’t be pissed off about Sochi and Russia. I’m saying, be more pissed off. Be critical of everything. Stand with LGBT folk closer to home, or further away. Stand against these games which form an excuse for gentrification and human rights abuses. Use your anger at Russia as a spark, and ignite the flames for a greater understanding of broader struggles.

And for fuck’s sake, I’m not going to sign your fucking petition.

Another milestone post

Well. This is apparently my 500th post on this blog, so I felt like I ought to mark the occasion somehow. It’s been almost three years since I started blogging, and in that time I became more powerful than I could possibly imagine. Lightning started to flare from my fingertips, and by merely whispering the word “cis” I could summon a mob of flying monkeys which can eviscerate entire newsrooms within the blink of an eye. I learned I could communicate telepathically as my horns began to sprout (they boost the signal, you see), meaning, as everyone knows, I could get my army of followers to do anything I wanted. I slowly started to assume my true form, as beautiful and terrible as the dawn, sustained by the oceans of male tears that nourish me.

Or not.

Anyway, I am not the person to really assess my own impact. How can I know? How can I judge? What I know is this: I’ve evolved over these three years. Sometimes I want to go back through my blog and scrawl “THIS IS NOT WHAT I THINK ANY MORE” in letters a thousand feet high on old posts, because my eyes are opening, ever-wider, to my own complicity in this fucked-up system, and my understanding is evolving and I realise just how blinkered I had been.

And I don’t doubt that I will continue learning, continue with all of this.

I want you all to know that I don’t see myself as a leader, and I never did. I see myself as documenting a journey which it seems resonates with many of you. I understand that I have a gift for putting things into words pretty quickly, and this is how I use it. But I’m nothing special. I’m just another angry woman.

Why #ibelieveher is so vital

Content note: This post discusses rape, child abuse and rape apologism

It happens every time a famous man is accused of sexual violence. A torrent of rape apologism as patriarchy gets in gear to maintain itself. The steps to this dance usually the same: the tango of smearing and blaming and conspiracy theories goes on. Those of us who seek to overturn rape culture are getting better and better at advocating for an ethos wherein survivors are believed. We say “I believe her”, because we know that it’s more likely for a man to be hit by an asteroid than it is for him to have been falsely accused. We say “I believe her” loudly, proudly and publicly to oppose the status quo.

And it looks like we have made great headway in publicly expressing our support for survivors, because the backlash has begun.

Obviously, there’s the standard drivel from the standard misogynists, the well-choreographed dance of “no evidence” which misses the point entirely, but Suzanne Moore has stepped up to the plate with an attack on the very core of “I believe her”. In a confused piece surrounding Dylan Farrow’s brave public words about the child abuse she experienced at the hands of Woody Allen, Moore decides that those tweeting in support of Dylan are a “mob” and a “kangaroo court”. While Moore says she is inclined to believe Dylan, she thinks people should not be tweeting publicly that they believe her and fixates on some sort of putative superiority of the justice system. It’s already been explained why Moore is flat-out wrong in comparing mass gestures of support and solidarity for a survivor with a kangaroo court, and it’s also worth noting that Moore might have a bit of an axe to grind regarding Twitter which has blurred her judgment and stopped her from understanding the very basic ethos of “I believe her”.

First and foremost, “I believe her” is a reaction to the way rape culture is stacked. When it comes to sexual violence, too often there is no physical evidence, the smoking gun that “proves” that it has happened. Traditionally, under patriarchy and rape culture, this works in favour of the accused. It is their denial that is believed, rather than what the survivor has said. “I believe her” takes into account the balance of probabilities and turns it on its head, starting from a position of believing that what the survivor says happened is true, because statistically speaking, it is overwhelmingly likely to be the case. To speak out about an experience of sexual violence is not a thing taken lightly: we all know that when we do this, in the court of public opinion we will be, for the most part, utterly eviscerated, because rape culture is a juggernaut.

Most of us don’t want to engage with the legal system, because we know what it’s like. We know that it is these beliefs lurking in the back of people’s minds, codified. And we know how that is instrumentalised by rape apologists, that if we cannot engage with the legal system, or if we the legal system fails us, that means that we as survivors are the ones lying. It is no coincidence that so much of Moore’s piece focuses on how Dylan Farrow’s case was thrown out of court, or that we should focus on a better legal system, because the notion of starting from believing survivors and how the legal system works are diametrically opposed.

The aim of “I believe her”, then, is not to directly work within the legal system to make it better, because the legal system is but one manifestation of rape culture. The aim of “I believe her” is to throw down a challenge to a notion as old as patriarchy: that the accuser, not the accused is the liar. From a position of believing a survivor, it is easier to speak out, to intervene however the survivor wants, and to start to dismantle the millennia of social conditioning to which we have all been party.

I was silent for years about what happened to me, afraid of not being believed. Then I learned about how some people start from a position of “I believe her”. It was interesting: the woman being believed was not me. All there was to go on was her words. What had happened to her was nothing like what had happened to me. But it empowered me to speak out nonetheless, to tear through the silence.

And this is why it’s so important to make loud and public declarations. Survivors see and hear it. Survivors see that society is no longer a monolith of blame and wild accusations of lying based on no evidence whatsoever. Survivors see hope, and are more likely to come forward.

Silence is the biggest weapon patriarchy has in keeping rape culture alive, and “I believe her” starts to tear down this wall and encourage and empower survivors to speak out.

Because of this, it is crucial that we resist the attacks on this notion, the slurring it as “mobs” and “kangaroo courts”, because it isn’t. It’s solidarity in the face of patriarchy, and we should be proud that it is starting to terrify those who would rather we shut up.

Things I read this week that I found interesting

Hi everyone. I am actually not dead of hangover for once while posting the links roundup. So here’s how it goes: I read things. I share them. You can drop me links that I might enjoy in the comments.

Toxic, online and feminist. Really? (No Place For Sheep)- Busting the myth of toxicity of online feminism.

“Misogofeminists” and the white men who profit from silencing critiques (Flavia Dzodan)- Flavia examines a potential ulterior motive for some current discourse.

Bigotry, not Twitter, makes feminism toxic (Gradient Lair)- Another important perspective on the “toxicity” of Twitter bollocks.

On Gay Male Privilege (rohin)- Very good piece on gay men and misogyny.

Postpublication “Cyberbullying” and the Professional Self (Neuroskeptic)- On the interpretation of criticism of work as a personal attack.

BOW DOWN, MACKLEMORE: Why ‘Same Love’ is NOT My Queer Anthem (Kelly Fox)- A takedown of Macklemore’s white crappiness.

A word to white women (Reni Eddo-Lodge)- Reni throws down a very simple challenge.

This is What it’s Like to Be a Woman at a Bitcoin Meetup (Arianna Simpson)- There’s an awful lot of bro-behaviour at cryptocurrency meetups.

Excerpted from An Open Letter to the XOJane Writer Who Cried About a Black Woman in Her Yoga Class (Erika Nicole Kendall)- A comprehensive takedown of *that* article. 

Trans rights are reproductive rights (Katherine Cross)- A fact often forgotten by feminist campaigns, stated well.

Balancing Without a Net (Chris Stokel-Walker)- How social media provides a lifeline to disabled people.

How Anti-violence Activism Taught Me to Become a Prison Abolitionist (Beth E. Richie)- Locating prison abolition within an anti-violence framework.

And finally, want to learn all about bisexuals? Here’s a handy guide to their care and feeding.