Things I read

It’s link round-up time!

The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black (Ijeoma Oluo)- This longread is all you need to read about Dolezal, and we never need to hear about her again. It’s also a masterclass in critical interviewing.

The Hostile Environment: turning the UK into a nation of border cops (Corporate Watch)- A comprehensive report on the fucking state of things.

Breastfeeding Is A Beautiful, Terrible Scam (Khadijah Costley White)- A political and personal exploration of the side of breastfeeding often not discussed.

British feminists we need to talk…. (Eleanor White)- Irish abortion restrictions also exist in Northern Ireland. This is a problem we must work together to solve.

Surviving Rape Apologists in the Classroom (Anon)- The impact of rape culture on educators.

Who’s listening? (purplepersuasion)- A story, showing the absurd state of mental health services, and critiquing simple “Time To Talk” rhetoric.

How academia uses poverty, oppression, and pain for intellectual masturbation (Clelia O. Rodríguez)- The problem, and where to go next.

Freida Pinto’s casting as the only lead female character in Guerilla erases women from the history of Black Power (Wail Qasim)- As always with Wail, this is the piece you need to read on the issue.

In Full Sight: ‘The pimp lobby’ at the Amnesty AGM (Frankie Mullin)- Report on a debate at Amnesty AGM, and the abuse hurled at sex workers for their support of safer policy.

And finally, this piece on 2000’s Thong Song is quite something. Straight out of Pseud’s Corner, it also solves the riddle of what “dumps like a truck” truly are.

Tim Farron’s homophobic and anti-choice voting history, in easily-shareable format

Some of my followers asked for this, finding it difficult to share twitter threads or my wider post on why you shouldn’t be fooled into voting Lib Dem.

Now, Tim Farron has done a sterling job of masking his tendencies in his voting record, and votes against the interests of LGBT people, or anyone with a uterus, in a rather sneaky fashion. It doesn’t show up on those basic “this MP is in favour of equality” aggregators, because he covers it up by making himself scarce during key votes, or by voting on amendments. It took a bit of digging to pull the receipts here, and there may be some things I’ve missed. If you think I have, please leave a comment!

During the marriage equality programme back in 2013, Tim Farron voted for several homophobic amendments.

That last one, incidentally, is not dissimilar to a vote back in 2008, where Tim Farron voted to protect homophobic hate as “freedom of speech“. The list of things Tim wanted protected looked incredibly similar to the list of tactics religious homophobes like to use.

Now, let’s have a look at where Tim makes himself scarce. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act brought reproductive and fertility rights to people in same-sex relationships. Tim Farron mostly stayed well away from this, although we know he wasn’t on holiday or in a coma throughout the process, because he voted against laying out a timetable for the bill.

Tim Farron’s general policy towards abortion has been to make himself scarce and abstain or not turn up at all. That’s probably wise, because when he does vote, he votes for reducing the time limit.

So. Be very critical when you see journalists claiming his voting record is fine. They clearly haven’t bothered researching the topic adequately. Tim Farron did a reasonably good job in covering his tracks; to the extent that a follower of mine notes searches for “Farron” and “amendment” has hidden results under the right to be forgotten. Nonetheless, it’s there. And now you have the receipts.

Edit 22/4/17: Beth Granter has assembled a list, containing, more thoroughly, further evidence of anti-abortion and homophobic voting, including pre-abortion “counselling”, and yet more protections for homophobes. Oh, and documents his conspicuous absences on a lot of votes on women’s issues.


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Shit I cannot believe needs saying: don’t vote Lib Dem. They caused this mess

Today, I have mostly been wondering if I have slipped into an alternative timeline wherein 2010-2015 never happened, and it seems like a good idea to vote Lib Dem. For pity’s sake, don’t. There are a lot of reasons why this is foolhardy, and I’m going to try to explain it all as non-judgmentally as possible. Unfortunately, because I fell for the Lib Dem crap back in 2010, I’m probably not going to do a very good job.

Before I start, please note that telling you not to vote Lib Dem is not an exhortation to vote Labour. They might be the least harmful option on the table, and you might want to do that for harm reduction, but honestly, if you think “don’t vote for this party” means “vote for this other party”, you desperately need to develop a political imagination.

This general election is not a referendum on Brexit, in the same way that the Leave vote was not a referendum on immigration.

It’s nice to think of general elections as single-issue, but they aren’t. It would be a lovely little bedtime story if voting for the right people stopped the one big bad causing all the other big bads, but that’s not how things work. Brexit, just like immigration, is not the sole cause of every problem in the country.

Would a hard Brexit make things worse? Yes, probably. But this is because the safety net is being stripped away, bit by bit. This was a process that started in 2010, abetted by the Lib Dems. And it is for this reason that another economic crash would hit so many vulnerable people so hard. When jobs disappear, people will have no access to welfare. When the NHS gets worse because of losing staff, it will collapse harder because the Lib Dems opened the door to privatisation. There will be a skills shortage due to a double whammy of escalating border policy already in place, and education being wholly boned. Things are already bad, and without rebuilding what was lost, we will be well and truly fucked. This would happen with or without Brexit: Brexit would only speed it up a bit.

So don’t let yourself be tricked into thinking that Brexit is the only problem facing the country. It isn’t. Think bigger. Much bigger. Think of what will keep us alive to weather this storm, because…

Brexit can’t be stopped, and even if the Lib Dems could stop it, they probably wouldn’t.

The Brexit genie is well and truly out of the bottle. It was a foregone conclusion from June 24th precisely because of media narratives about the will of the people and their curious boner for Nigel Farage. Regardless of who voted for it in the public or in parliament, it would have happened. Triggering Article 50 was simply turning off the life support.

This election is not about whether or not Brexit will happen. It is going to happen. It’s about who will be in charge of the negotiations.

If the Lib Dems gain seats this election, what’s likely to happen is that they will form a coalition government with the Tories again. Let’s cast our minds back again to 2010, the year the Lib Dems don’t want you to mention. While in government, the Lib Dems couldn’t even manage to stop the government from tripling tuition fees. Do you think a party that was incapable of keeping an election promise in 2010 will somehow be able to keep one they made this year for stopping a runaway train? While in government, the Lib Dems shamelessly capitulated to literally everything the Tories wanted. This is why…

The Leave vote was partially caused by the Lib Dems

The Tories and Lib Dems spent five years collaboratively ruining lives and driving the country towards ruin with their “austerity” government. As social security and the NHS were stripped away, and as public services were wrenched into private hands, things got a lot worse for a lot of people. Fingers were pointed, not towards the culprit, but to migrants. If only we had tougher controls on borders, we would be in the land of milk and honey, the Lib Dems concurred with the Tories on (incidentally, the Lib Dem policy on immigration was aligned with the Tories’). The Lib Dems waved through every single austerity measure, impoverishing countless people, while lying to them about the cause of their poverty, and didn’t utter a peep in support of migrants while they were in government. Indeed, they helped Theresa May, as Home Secretary, impose further draconian border measures.

Every time they helped the Tories, they’d claim their naked collusion was political pragmatism.

The impact of austerity and xenophobia surrounding migrants are considered two of the key causes of the Leave vote. The Lib Dems never wanted to stop these major factors, simply to not give people a vote on it. This is because they were complicit with the Tories in creating the social circumstances that led to the Leave vote.

Tim Farron is fuckawful and him and May together would be like 2010 but WORSE. 

If you don’t care about the impact of Brexit (or, in a fantasyland, a land without Brexit where Tory cuts are still going strong), maybe you have a uterus or you’re LGBT.

Tim Farron is devoutly religious. He believes, and I quote, “Abortion is wrong.  Society has to climb down from the position that says there is nothing morally objectionable about abortion before a certain time. If abortion is wrong, it is wrong at any time.” When it comes to anti-abortion legislation, Tim usually makes himself scarce and abstains. I will leave it up to you, uterus-owners, to determine whether that, in any way, constitutes support.

Tim’s also not particularly on the side of LGBT folk. While much has been made of his abstaining on same-sex marriage, it goes beyond this. He teamed up with the more backbenchy, unpleasant Tories, to introduce amendments to same-sex marriage legislation to allow officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples on the basis of their own personal religious beliefs. You may recognise this as exactly the same kind of crap that religious conservatives are pulling in the states.

So, Tim Farron is fairly socially illiberal, and your vote for the Lib Dems would be putting him into coalition with the cartoonishly evil Theresa May. It will be worse than 2010, with Theresa May being granted carte blanche by a homophobe to begin eroding equalities… and pretend that’s political pragmatism.

Edit (20/4/17): I’ve compiled receipts for his homophobic and anti-choice voting record here. It was actually worse than I thought. He voted for many homophobic amendments, and mostly made himself scarce on abortion votes, except voting to reduce the time limit.

You’re not going to listen to me on this anyway, are you?

Look, I was a booby who voted Lib Dem in 2010. People pointed out how awful they were on crucial politics like welfare and immigration back then. I didn’t listen, because I thought of all the nice, shiny things Nick Clegg was emptily promising. So, I strongly suspect none of you will listen to me here, and that’s as much to be expected.

I hate to be a Cassandra here, but the Lib Dems aren’t going to fix jack diddly shit, as much as you’d like them to. They’d likely make things worse for a lot of us. What you will get with a Lib Dem vote is a tax haven Britain, at the expense of the poor: you may recognise this as basically the same as the Tory vision. Having or not having the social safety net is the issue which will hit real people harder than a Brexit of any degree of tumescence. So go against the dogma, and think bigger than Brexit. Despite what the news would have you believe, there’s a hell of a lot more pressing issues.


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Things I read this week that I found interesting

It’s round-up time again!

Waking into Dream (Roz Kaveney)- This collection of poems isn’t out yet, and you need to help make it happen. Roz is a gifted poet writing on art and love and transness and sex and death and queerness, and she’s excellent. Order your collection in advance, you won’t regret it, unless you don’t like nice things.

Anti-Trans ‘Free Speech Bus’ Tour Ends in Total Failure (It’s Going Down)- A report on how militant tactics won out in organising against bigotry.

Docs not Cops: New policy transforms NHS workers into border guards (Sara Mohtaseb)- Looking at what NHS workers have been reduced to, what’s being done to organise against this, and how you can help stop it.

Introducing: Teaching Resources (Against Borders for Children)- Resources for people who work with children and young people, for teaching about anti-racism and migration.

Dear Legislators, Gender Transitions Are Not One-Size-Fits-All (Lonna Dawson)- While trans care pathways are improving, there’s a lot to be done and a lot of assumptions being made. This article explains the issues.

Erika Moen, cuckolding, and the casualties of “Oh Joy Sex Toy” (Literal Shipley)- I’m not familiar with the specific context here, but this article hits upon many problems within sex-positive media, which urgently need addressing.

And finally, forget that broadcast interrupted by the talking head’s kids. This one is much better because it involves a cat.

We can have unisex toilets… if everyone, of *every* gender is more considerate. Yes, this includes cis women.

Content note: this post talks about bodily functions a lot, and touches on discussing transmisogyny.

This week, I seem to have become quite the Miss Manners, with a second etiquette post in the space of just a few days. This one is about toilet etiquette, because apparently the tired old unisex toilet “debate” has come up again, with transphobic bigots pranging out about the notion of toilets where anyone of any gender can shit without fear of violence. I can only imagine these bigots have sex segregated dunnies in their own houses, which sounds pretty expensive on the upkeep.

Now, I’m a firm believer in unisex toilets, but I’m also aware of what makes toilets horrible. Having pissed in toilets for all genders across my life (I hate queuing, when I need to go), let me state straight off the bat: disgusting toilets are not gendered. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe in the ladies’ loo, and these things, unfortunately, will never be lost in time like tears in rain. I am not sure where the myth that ladies’ toilets are nicer comes from: they’re just differently disgusting.

Regardless of what your genitals look like, there is one simple rule for a public toilet which I cannot believe needs stating, because I learned it when I was a tiny child: be fucking considerate of others.

This probably isn’t clear enough, given the fucking state of toilets I’ve been in in my life, so allow me to give a few simple pointers.

Wipe the fucking seat

This is especially targeted at the dreaded hoverers, those monsters who stalk through the ladies’ and consider their delicate bums too precious for the filthy bog seat. So they stand over it, piss on the seat and then leave it there, thus making the dirty seat a self-fulfilling prophecy. These people are by far the worst terrors of public restrooms, and I will be grinding more of my axes with hoverers later in this post.

Nice, normal citizens might also get pee, poo or period on the seat once in a while, although are likely less an egregious toilet terrorist than the hoverers.

Either way, if you get something on the toilet seat, wipe it off. Just… take a little bit of loo roll and wipe the seat before you flush. It’s fine. You’re not touching the excreta, and even if you did, slightly, you’re going to wash your hands anyway, right? …right?

Please wash your hands.

Put the fucking seat down 

About half of the population can stand to pee. Statistically, however, less than half of what you’re doing in the toilet requires standing. So, statistically speaking, put that seat down afterwards. It takes about a second to do, and shows you’re thinking of others.

Also, I return to my first point. Wipe down any stray wee-wee. Yes, even if you missed and got in on the floor. Clean it up. If you’re missing your aim regularly, just sit down to piss, regardless of your genital configuration. You clearly lack the knack for it, so… do it.

If the toilet won’t flush, don’t fucking block it

Nobody likes having to leave a public toilet with an enormous floater left there, for which everyone knows you’re responsible. So you might try to cover it up with toilet roll to make it look less blatantly present. Don’t do this: it’ll possibly block the toilet which makes everything far less pleasant for other bathroom-users than having to see the turd you produced.

It’s fine, using a toilet which someone else has used. It’s a public toilet. We all know that people do poos and wees in there. Nobody’s touching your poo, and it’ll probably flush after someone else has used the toilet. Yes, it’s a little embarrassing, but so what? It’s just a poo. Brazen it out.

However, if you somehow missed the toilet with your pooping, return to my first top potty tip and–say it with me–clean that shit up.

Dispose of things, fucking properly

Some hoverers have an even more unpleasant habit than merely peeing on the seat: they’ll cover the seat in toilet paper, then invariably piss all over it and leave damp clods of urine-soaked bog roll so nobody else will be able to sit down that day. Don’t do that. If you must cover the seat, then get rid of what you’ve covered it in.

If you use disposable period gear, make sure you get rid of that, too. There’s usually bins. Put these things in the bin. This includes tampons. While some may be flushable, most will eventually block the loo and be terrible for the environment, so pop that in the bin. Cardboard applicators, which sometimes advertise themselves as flushable are, in my experience, manifestly not flushable.

Now, I’ve seen some horrors in ladies’ loos, and the worst of these involve inappropriately-disposed-of sanitary towels. I have seen them stuck to the fucking toilet door. Why would anyone do this? Please don’t do this, it’s absolutely fucking vile. See also: smearing blood. Blood gets on your hands. You are going to wash your hands though, right? …right?

It’s especially important to dispose of menstrual products appropriately, because the period and/or nappy bins are often maintained by different cleaning companies, who come in less frequently, because the stuff counts as biohazard. So if you stick your towel to the door, chances are it’ll be there for days.

Shout-out to any toilet-having venues: make sure you have the bins.

Toilets are for bodily functions, not for hanging out

Returning to my point about the large floater, above, the embarrassment factor often comes from the way other people interact with one another in the toilet. Let’s treat toilets as what they are: a functional place to empty your bowels, bladder or mooncup, without any red faces. Treat it as broadly anonymous. What happens in the toilet, stays in the toilet.

Don’t stare at people, give them privacy. We’re all just here to go, and nobody has any more or less right to use the bloody toilet.

Transphobes like to pretend that it’s trans women who are the danger in public toilets, but honestly? The most intrusive experience I ever had in a public toilet was when the cis woman in the queue behind me, who I dimly knew, tried to follow me into the fucking cubicle. This is not on. Just wait an additional thirty seconds, Susan.

This is why the best public toilets of all are the ones which have the full-sized door and a sink in the cubicle, so you can just get on with your business in peace. More like these please.

Oh yeah… wash your fucking hands

Toilets are not, and will never be a germ-free environment, and neither is the human body from which you just cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war. This is not nice, but it’s hardly a deal-breaker. Please wash your hands after using the toilet, whether you think you need to or not. Your hands are covered in germs (and probably not just toilet-germs, but snot germs and cough germs and pet germs and… to be honest, your hands are probably far grosser than the toilet seat you won’t deign to touch). Your hands are touching everything, including other people, or things other people will touch. So wash your goddamn hands.

Toilet-builders do need to get better

A lot of places have toilets where maintenance is poor, the set-up is awful, and all sorts of other horrors. A lot of the issues can be mitigated by people using the loo being considerate. However, some of the problem is firmly in the hands of the venue. I mentioned completely individual toilet-units. These are the dream. Especially if they’re all accessible. As a stopgap, make sure each cubicle is relatively private, that there’s enough toilet roll and soap to go around, that the toilets have been cleaned and that the bins are emptied frequently.

What about unisex loos?

Unisex toilets are not only a possibility, but they’re already a reality. And many of them are an absolutely fine pissing environment. Venues should consider more unisex toilets, not fewer. All of these tips should be used in gendered toilets, in unisex toilets, in your own toilet at home.

So please, please be a nice toilet-user, and stop blaming marginalised people for your toilet experience.


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The Twitter etiquette that matters: A brief guide to not being annoying in our mentions

Twitter’s recent new (hideous) interface has, rather vexingly, made it easier for trolls and well-meaning people alike to commit some behaviours which are, at best, terribly annoying and at worst, thoroughly rude. Now, I can tell that some people don’t mean to be this bothersome, so this post is for you. Try to avoid doing these things, and perhaps my mentions will no longer have to RIP.

@ people out

I cannot emphasise this enough. If someone who is @-ed in to a group conversation isn’t responding or engaging (by favouriting, for example), maybe @ them out. Otherwise their mentions will be clogged up with a conversation which doesn’t interest them. Consider @-ing them out once it’s hit about five tweets in the conversation that they haven’t engaged with.

The new interface has made @-ing out/untagging harder, because it draws attention away from how many people are in the conversation. Be mindful of this. Also, follow this easy-peasy guide to untagging.

(basically, if this isn’t loading for you, click the usernames above the tweet you’re replying to and untick the people you’re untagging. I include the graphic because some people prefer visuals)

Now, I’ve been the dick who hasn’t @-ed people out, and it’s annoyed them. So if it hits the point where they ask to be @-ed out, consider apologising… without @-ing everyone else in!

Use “reply all” functions sparingly

Again, Twitter’s new interface defaults to “reply all”, which increases your chances of spamming up someone’s timeline. Think about who you want to talk to. If you’ve seen a good tweet where several people are tagged, do you want to say “good stuff” to all of them? Or just the person who said the good tweet? Use the tagging-out protocol above, because Twitter will automatically reply all. And, again, in a group conversation, remember to tag people out once they stop engaging.

Try not to spam people with things you want them to see… and definitely don’t spam multiple people at once!

I have a fair amount of followers, so often get “please RT”-type tweets, or someone showing me a bad news story, or someone sharing a blog they wrote. I don’t necessarily mind this, although I will point out that I might not see your tweet, especially if my notifications are all spammed up by people doing the things I’m asking for a bit of etiquette in.

What is annoying, though, is when you tag in multiple people into you tweet. Now, this is annoying for a lot of reasons, primarily among them being half the time at least one of the other high-profile many-followers accounts is someone with whom I have mortal beef. Just because you enjoy following someone, doesn’t mean I want to be added into the conversation. If you’d like me to see something, send it to me, personally, not me and every dimly feminist celebrity or journalist you can think of. If we follow each other, a DM might even be more appropriate.

And more annoying still is when someone tagged decides to reply all when saying “I’ll retweet this” or whatever. Please do not do this.

Unfortunately, Twitter’s new interface makes spamming even easier. Now, spammers are not constrained by character limits so can @ infinite people into one tweet. For goodness sake, don’t do this.

Don’t snitch

Sometimes, people on Twitter will be snarking about a horrible celebrity. And this’ll happen by the medium of subtweeting. And then someone comes along and is all like “Yeah! @KTHopkins is a massive turd.” Congratulations, you fucking snitch. You just drew attention of a high-profile celebrity and could expose everyone to a torrent of abuse. Please, for god’s sake, if you want to tell a celebrity they’re a dickhead, don’t have other people tagged into the conversation. Celebrities are horrid, vain people, many of whom will merrily weaponise their followers.

Incidentally, this is why a lot of people who have experienced abusive Twitter shitstorms may use asterisks to mask a celebrity’s name, because celebs namesearch too. So if you’re replying when somebody has masked a celeb’s name, join them in doing so. Don’t snitch.


Tagging is something you should think carefully about. It’s also something which Twitter has made harder to think carefully about. Keep it on your mind, and try not to be the spammer.


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Things I read recently that I found interesting

Roll up, roll up, it’s linkspam time!

Witch-hunt (Hannah Black)- On gossip as a women’s weapon of resistance.

5 reasons why we stopped a UKgov deportation flight to Nigeria last night (Nadia Graham)- Reporting on a great bit of activism, and why actions such as this are so necessary.

We Added a Gender-Neutral Pronoun in 1934. Why Have So Few People Heard of It? (Merriam-Webster)- Interesting little bit of history on a pronoun that never flew, although some Twitter pals inform me it’s still in use in Northern Ireland.

wrongkindofcrazy (Ali Brumfitt)- A spoken-word piece on mental illness.

Raids on workplaces and homes (Anti-Raids Network)- Printable resources so you can help your friends and neighbours.

White Women Are Less Likely to Protect Black Women From Sexual Assault, Study Finds (Brittney McNamara)- Empirical evidence of the problem. As white women, we must address this and protect our black sisters.

Transgender bullying is on the rise. How can we stop misinformation spreading? (Paris Lees)- Examining the very real consequences of the “debate” where bigots are allowed to fib.

A 130-Year-Old Fact About Dinosaurs Might Be Wrong (Ed Yong)- A rather enjoyable piece on a possible huge taxonomic misclassification.

The Jolyoncene (Alex Baker)- Have you noticed the sudden influx of Jolyons?

How many 16th century French laying hens would be required to feed Gaston his five dozen eggs? A surprisingly educational answer to this weird question.

Disabled Feminism (Ray Filar, Tumu Johnson and Nikky Smith)- A long listen, but this radio show covers key issues with disability and feminism.

Context & The Most Famous Artist: Why the Boring Bro of Art Needs To Shut TF Up (A Brief History of Brief Histories)- On art bros, readymades and men sucking.

And finally, if you want to get me an Easter egg, I’d like this one, please.