Things I read this week that I found interesting

It’s link round-up time again. Dig in!

MY NAME IS LEGION – The British Legion and the Control of Remembrance (Rod Tweedy)- It’s Remembrance Sunday so read this if you haven’t already.

Choosing Queer: I Was Not Born This Way, And That’s Ok. (Hari Ziyad)- Beautiful article on the choices the author made to be queer.

“Radical Self-Reliance” Is Killing People. (Kitty Stryker)- Deeply personal discussion as to how this trend is harmful.

Street Harassment in Nottingham: The Problems with Policing (Nottingham SOLFED)- A feminist critique of using police to deal with street harassment.

Why I Don’t F**k with Feminism, Even If It’s Intersectional (Jaime A. Swift)- How feminism has failed Black woman and how important Black women’s own organising and spaces are.

Fact check: study shows transition makes trans people suicidal (Cristan Williams)- Fact checking a favourite study that transphobic bigots love to trot out: the author thinks their interpretation of her findings is bollocks.

I Love Dick is one of the most important books about being a woman – no wonder it’s being dismissed (Dawn Foster)- This is a great article about one of my favourite books. You should read this, then read I Love Dick.

And finally, here’s a live stream of kittens, because you deserve it.

I don’t wear poppies, and this image perfectly encapsulates why

Content warning: this post discusses death and war

The Royal British Legion tweeted this image of a fundraising event. Look at it.

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In the image, four children aged around twelve stand, holding gigantic plastic poppies. Three of the children wear t-shirts saying “Future Soldier”.

The poppy was once a symbol to remind us of the senseless massacre of millions upon millions of people in muddy fields far away from home. The poppy was supposed to say never again to the horrors of a spat between politicians murdering a generation. What it is now is a symbol of militarism, and standard used to recruit children to don a uniform and go off and get themselves killed. It means the opposite of what it is supposed to.

I admit I’d stopped wearing the red poppy about six or seven years ago. I am not sure if it was because my eyes opened to what it symbolises these days, or whether it was because the poppy itself had become twisted into a mark of jingoism. The trend certainly seems to have grown stronger in recent years.

Policing of wearing the poppy has grown absurd: public figures face attacks, all the way up to death threats, for not wearing one. There are fucking poppies all over everything, from buses, to a big fuckoff wearable poppy costume. GCHQ are taking a break from peeking at our internets and turning themselves into a humongous poppy, and looking a lot like budget Doctor Who villains in the process.

Meanwhile, opinion pieces glorifying the deaths in the First World War seem to be on the rise, with pundits and politicians alike acting as though it was anything other than a meaningless mass killing that fucked up the world for generations.

And now it all becomes clearer than ever. They want us to forget what happened and pretend–as they did a hundred years ago–as though wars are nothing more than a jolly good lark. They brainwash children: not to mourn, but to strive to emulate. I cannot stop looking at that picture. It makes my gorge rise. These are children, and yet in a few years’ time, if they follow the naive dream they are being steered towards, we could be seeing them shipped back in coffins.

Instead of the symbols, the reminders, we should focus on actually remembering. On remembering, one sees the brutal senselessness of this slaughter. With a symbol, it is all too easy to simply radicalise children into militarism.

I don’t really know how to finish them, so we’ll end with Wilfred Owen, who saw this coming almost a century ago.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

If there’s an afterlife, I imagine Owen is very, very angry right now.

Further reading:

MY NAME IS LEGION – The British Legion and the Control of Remembrance (Ron Tweedy)- An in-depth look at remembrance and the RBL, covering similar themes to this post, but far more extensively.

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A tip for the guys: don’t be the guy who records consent

Content note: this post discusses rape

Today in “here’s a bloke who totally doesn’t understand how consent works” we have this chap, who was “falsely accused” of rape, and now makes recordings of consent before he has sex:

It has taken me a really long time to be intimate with another women and if and when that situation does arise I tend to ensure that I have recorded full consent before anything takes place.

I would ask questions like “What is your name? Are you comfortable in being here?” Just to make sure that I have proof that everything and anything that had happened, was fully consensual by both of us.

Yes. Seriously. That’s what he thinks is OK. And the BBC seem to have run his top tip completely uncritically. I shouldn’t have to explain why this is a bad idea and not actually seeking consent, but lest any young men try to imitate this, here’s why it’s absolutely not a decent way of seeking consent:

  1. Consent isn’t this magical switch which, when switched on, means you consent to absolutely everything that happens afterwards. It’s a process. It can be withdrawn at any point. So just because someone says “yes” at first doesn’t mean it’s going to be a “yes” all night, to absolutely everything that happens thereafter. It’s important to keep on checking, over and over.
  2. A recording can be coerced. Think about how most hostages say they are being “treated well”. Do you believe they are truly being treated well?
  3. A recording can be tricked. Is it going to cover absolutely anything? Probably not. This is probably just a general gesture of “consent” rather than what you are actually consenting to.
  4. Basically, the whole thing sounds like a rapist’s get out of jail free card. It misses how consent works in favour of legally covering bases. Knowledge that

Women, if a man whips out his phone and insists on recording your consent, I strongly urge you to run the fuck away. Maybe he is just a decent chap who doesn’t get it. But he is behaving like a predator by doing this. And he is behaving like a predator for wondering how he can avoid prosecution rather than being sure the person he is having sex with is enjoying it.

As an aside, it’s also worth avoiding men who say they were falsely accused of rape like the plague. Statistically, it’s more likely that they did it and got away with it.

For young men, consent isn’t actually difficult. It might result in you not getting laid exactly whenever you want. But what it does do is ensure you’re not a rapist. And isn’t that the most important thing in the world?

Things I read

Hi everyone. I read things. Perhaps you may find them interesting?

Do You Know About Action T4? The Erasure Of Disabled People From The Holocaust Narrative, And Why It Matters Today (Granite and Sunlight)- This is a very important bit of history, and we must remember it.

How likely is an all-male speakers list, statistically speaking? A mathematician weighs in. (Lauren Bacon/Greg Martin)- This is a beautiful little bit of maths, and confirms what a lot of us suspected.

I am not here to inspire you. (stars & spirals)- Following a post that went viral, Becca examines being seen as an inspirational disabled person.

From #BlackLivesMatter to Anti-Austerity: Women of Colour and the Politics of Solidarity (Akwugo Emejulu)- What women of colour are doing, and how they are shut down in white-dominated spaces.

Black Girl Down… and Up (Prison Culture)- Concise piece on the violence Black girls face.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics, The Most Popular Physics Book Ever Written, Now Completely Online (Open Culture)- Free seminal physics, everyone!!!!!!

Why I call my son ‘he’, against my better judgement (Dorian Stripe)- On the difficulties of raising a child outside of societal obsession with assigned sex.

I don’t need fire safety talks (Barty Bantbrose)- A humorous take on the whole George Lawlor thing.

 If Germaine Greer’s views were radical, this transgender woman wouldn’t have been sent to a men’s prison (Ella Griffiths)- Shit that shouldn’t need saying, said well.

And finally, even though it isn’t Halloween any more, have a bat cat.