Some doomful predictions for 2018

2017 has been a hell of a year, hasn’t it? A year of doom, gloom and misery. And, sadly, emerging from this shit, I can’t see much good coming of the year that will follow it.

Now, I hate being right. I don’t want any of these predictions to happen. Unfortunately, I fear that they will.

The Tories will escalate vicious cuts

The government is in a bit of an awkward position at present. They know that, we know that, and if an election is called, they are more stuffed than a Christmas turkey. The party hates Theresa May, and thus, she must do all she can to appeal to them. The Tory right has little manoeuvring space, because they got everything they wanted with Brexit, but that’s always just been a wedge issue. So, what do they need to be appeased, to maintain a minority government? And what do the DUP want for propping up a minority government? Why, death and poverty, of course! As a cynical gesture of pandering, I suspect that the ideology-driven Tory “austerity” agenda is going to get even worse. And your fave “liberal” Tories like dear old Soubz are just going to vote it right through, because they’re fucking Tories.

Let’s face it, there’s not going to be a snap election next year. Tories are primarily creatures of self-preservation, and they always have been.

TERF and Nazi collaboration

I’ve included TERFs and Nazis under the same heading because tactically, they are identical, and I strongly suspect there’s more overlap between the groups than either would care to admit. These groups thrive on pretending they’re under attack, and now they’re facing small consequences like not being invited to so many lucrative speaking gigs, or people being a little bit rude to them on Twitter. Like petulant children, they lash out.

They are inherently unreasonable, and utterly dangerous. They will play the victim harder than ever while punching down. TERFs and Nazis alike will escalate their “free speech is under attack” lines, with their more respectable faces photographed wearing duck tape on their gobs. Jo Johnson is already making noises about forcing universities to platform the far right. Changes to a law about gender recognition that would bring Britain into line with countries like Ireland and Malta are already being kicked into the long grass. There’s a lot of sympathisers in politics, and many more in the media. They’re probably going to side with these hateful bigots.

Trump will be deposed or die

Why have I listed this as a bad thing? Surely it’s good that Badwig von Orange will no longer be president?

Only if you’ve failed to notice who’s waiting in the wings behind him. Get your red gown and wings, because under Mike Pence things will likely get a lot worse. He’s quietly, competently evil, and under him, the USA will move further in the direction of The Handmaid’s Tale. There’ll be less fightback to this than is needed, because everyone will be talking (or debunking) conspiracy theories surrounding Trump no longer being president. Meanwhile, access to reproductive healthcare will be quietly stripped away, LGBT rights and access to healthcare will be rolled back, and it’ll all be done with silent, ruthless efficiency.

Trump’s on some thin ice, and I can see an impeachment happening when his position finally becomes too corrupt and untenable. I can also see him dying, because that much cocaine and anger isn’t good for anyone’s heart.

The robot uprising won’t happen, they’ll just be spying on us

I, for one, would welcome our new robot overlords. Unfortunately, they’re not coming to save us. Instead, something more frightening lurks. Already, people are gladly welcoming devices that are always listening into their handbags and homes. Concurrently, many governments are looking at ways of increasing surveillance–take, for example, Amber Rudd’s crusade to end encryption. It’s not a far leap to be worried that these little doohickeys that make life marginally easier will be used against us.

There is an unprecedented amount of personal data already being processed, which could be accessible to those who would use this data to sell us shit we don’t need or to incarcerate us.

A little bit of advice: don’t pay with your face, and be careful.

Nothing will change

This is, perhaps, the scariest thing of all: that literally nothing will change. That the positive developments over the last year–such as abusers facing accountability–have no impact whatsoever.

It’s possible. We’re up against a lot, and systems are slow to change and highly resistant.

Can anything get better?

Possibly. I’ve written some more hopeful predictions to accompany this over on Patreon. I suspect these will happen alongside the gloomy forecast I’ve presented here, but I think they might happen. And if they do, at least the “nothing will change” prediction is moot.

As I said, I hate being right. I hope none of this comes to pass. I just fear that it will.

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Dear suffering Mail journalists: get another job

This is a message for all the suffering journalists out there, writing hate speech or misogynistic fluff and feeling bad about it, like poor Sophie Brown or Thea de Gallier’s pals: just, don’t.

Yes, you have to make rent. So do we all, but of course, your job is to demonise any of the rest of us doing things to keep roofs over our heads like being on benefits, doing sex work, working service jobs, or working in the public sector. Have you considered that there are better uses to your skills?

For example, the skills you have as a journalist can be used in a comms role. Or a copywriting role. Or writing books. Don’t you think that’s a better use of your time than, say, discussing a celebrity’s visible c-section scar in a derogatory fashion?

I understand that being a journalist was your dream job. It sounds romantic, doesn’t it? The taste of noir, the plucky intrepid journalist getting to the bottom of the story and exposing the bad guys. But let’s be honest here, shall we? That’s not what the industry is any more, and it hasn’t been for a long time. You’re unlikely to ever be doing the cool investigative stuff.

Once you start down the road of combing through a teenager’s old tweets so you can smear all trans women on the basis of it, that’s going to be the rest of your career for the rest of your life.

It might hurt your feelings when people criticise what you’re doing, but you’re doing material damage to marginalised people. That’s worse. Sorry. It sounds harsh but it’s true. You want to not feel like an arsehole, but you are.

If your dream job involves inciting hate against marginalised people, get a new dream.

Stop crying, because nobody has any sympathy for you. You are accountable. You are complicit. Your feelings are absolutely trivial compared to the active harm you’re doing.

At one point in my life, I considered moving in the direction of journalism. See, I was changing careers, and there were two options that sprang out to me immediately, because they were two things I’m reasonably competent at and quite enjoy doing: sex work and journalism. I had a think to myself. I decided against sex work, because there’s an amount of personal grooming involved which, frankly, I cannot be bothered with. I decided against journalism because the thing one sells in journalism is utterly repugnant to me: one sells ones opinions and makes them marketable to a bigoted public, and in doing so, one also sells one’s principles. In the end, I chose neither course, and I’m all the happier for it.

I have no sympathy for those who choose to incite hatred.

The job market is appalling, but anything, anything is better than working for the Daily Mail or the Sun, being assigned to write 500 words of poison.

And here’s the thing: if you conscientiously object, publicly, more will follow you. If you refuse an assignment and get sacked, you’ll be supported. Take a stand, like the tube workers or the teachers. Take that loss of income for the benefit of yourself or others.

I am, of course, assuming that you are the good person you think you are. That you don’t really believe the racist, disablist, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic drivel you’re writing. There’s a chance that you are, in fact, the piece of shit that believes that stuff.

Either way, you’re not immune to criticism or accountability.

Fuck your feelings. Take a stand, or be the abominable prepuce that we all think you are anyway.

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OK, Matt Damon, let’s talk about the Hollywood men who aren’t abusers… and their role in enabling abuse.

Content note: this post discusses sexual abuse and sexual harassment

Latest in the string of awful opinions about Hollywood’s structural problems with sexual abuse and sexual harassment comes Matt Damon, who first spouted off about “degrees of abuse”, before being heroically taken down by Minnie Driver, and then continued talking, because nobody loves him enough to stop him, this time saying that we need to talk more about all those oh-so-lovely men who aren’t sexual predators.

Now, I’m not in the business of giving out cookies, but all right then, Matt, you want a conversation about the men who are not sexual predators? Here goes.

Any Hollywood man who is not personally an abuser, but remains silent, is complicit in sexual violence. He is enabling sexual violence. He is also, probably, benefitting from it.

Silence is violence, and what men need to be doing right now is nailing their colours to the mast in support of victims and survivors speaking out. They need to unequivocally side with those who have named their abusers. Those who do not are making it easier for abusers. The only words one of these lovely Hollywood non-predatory men need to say is “I believe her. I stand with her.” No more, and no less. We do not want to hear about your opinions of the accused. We do not need to hear about your opinion of what counts as sexual violence. And finally, we don’t want your silence.

The path to dismantling rape culture needs everyone to explicitly reject it. To stay silent is allowing the problem to continue: it allows abusers to feel like they will not be challenged, and discourages survivors from speaking out.

While we’re talking about the men in Hollywood who are not, personally, sexual predators, we might as well also talk about how all men benefit from a culture of sexual violence. Yes, all men.

Let’s take Hollywood as an example, since that’s what Matt Damon wants to talk about. Sexual harassment is rife there, and many women have found themselves party to sexual coercion. This affects women in numerous ways. Firstly, it tells women that they must make themselves sexually available in order to work, and that they must not reject men, or they will face serious consequences. This benefits abusers, but this mindset forced upon women benefits all men who seek sexual access to women. Outside of sex, the threat of sexual violence also seeps into women’s general attitudes towards everything, and they are less willing to rock the boat in any way, lest it damages them–which means Hollywood remains horribly unequal. Relationally, many heterosexual women think a man who is not a complete piece of shit rapist is therefore a good man. It lowers the bar. “He treats me well” translates to “he isn’t physically or sexually violent towards me”. Professionally “this is a good job” translates to “well, he didn’t sexually harass me, even if I am being paid significantly less than my male co-star.”

So yes. Let us talk about the men in Hollywood who are not predators. They shoulder guilt and complicity, too.

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Congratulations to the anti-trans bigots who got reproductive healthcare defunded

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Patreon’s awful new fee policy and an alternative

Update 14/12/17 Patreon altered the fee policy. I am still gratefully accepting patrons on my Patreon. Well done for kicking up a fuss, folks!

Some of you might be aware that Patreon have recently launched a new fee policy which forces the brunt of fees onto patrons. This is a huge problem for small creators like me, who ask for small contributions, but more importantly, it affects those lovely people who like to give a small amount to creators.

Here’s a little bit of maths from @niquaeli to show how the new system affects you (and me):

If you want more detailed information about how awful the new Patreon charges are for small pledges, check out this thread from @FoldableHuman.

Basically, it’s screwing us. With that in mind, I’m looking at alternatives. Kickstarter Drip is still in invite-only beta, and I’m not yet sure as to whether it’s a superior option to Patreon, so in the meantime, I’ve made a liberapay account, with a view to closing my Patreon if they don’t back down on the fees soon.

https://liberapay.com/stavvers

Liberapay is made by a European non-profit, and helps those of you who choose to give small amounts to one, or many creators. The upside is you don’t pay so much in fees. You can give under a pseudonym, protecting your privacy. Also, it pays in Euros, which is nice for everyone, and you don’t have to give whole-euro amounts. It’s weekly, so if you wanted to support me by paying 1 Euro a month, you could pay 25 cents weekly.

The main downside is that when you make an account, you have to pay at least 15 Euros into your “wallet”, and I understand this might be a little steep as an upfront payment for some of you. You don’t have to spend it all at once, you can just set it up to pay your favourite creators the small amount, and it’ll email you when you need to top up your wallet. Bit of a faff, maybe, but it might work for you.

If you’re interested, here’s my liberapay again…

https://liberapay.com/stavvers

Of course, if you just want to make a one-off tip, there’s always my paypal

Thanks for reading, and I’m so sorry about Patreon. If they don’t change their fee policy, screw them, and screw them hard. I bear grudges, and they are currently right up on my naughty list.

JK Rowling is complicit in domestic abuse

Content note: This post discusses domestic violence, VAW and sexual harassment

JK Rowling has finally addressed the elephant in the room: that the kids’ movies going out in her name star a domestic abuser. And her response isn’t good. In fact, it’s the very opposite of good.

Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.

Rowling says. “Genuinely happy”.

However, the agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives, must be respected.

Take the words Amber Heard said about wanting to put the violence she experienced out of your mouth, JK. A survivor wants to move on. And that’s what Amber Heard is: she documented the violence she experienced, and was dragged through the mud for it. Is it any wonder she wants it behind her? Meanwhile, let’s think about the motivations for a man who has been physically and verbally violent towards a woman might want to put it behind him. It’s a little different, isn’t it?

I accept that there will be those who are not satisfied with our choice of actor in the title role. However, conscience isn’t governable by committee.

This is a line as old as time. The mob! The mob!

Meanwhile, David Yates, who Rowling name-checks in her article, and seems to imply agreement with, said this:

With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something. I can only tell you about the man I see every day: He’s full of decency and kindness, and that’s all I see. Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.

“Took a pop”. Well, that’s not feeding “lying bitch” narratives at all. And nice that a man thinks an abuser is all sweetness and light, that’s something we’ve never seen before.

JK Rowling is complicit in domestic violence. There, I said it.

I am not alleging she has personally been violent. I am alleging that her choices and her words will, at best, not reduce any violence against women. At worst, they may perhaps expose more women to violence.

See, JK Rowling is in a position of great power. She has an army of young people following her, young people who listen to her views, and young people who will be influenced by these views. The message that we need to send to young people is that domestic violence, and violence against women on the whole, is completely unacceptable.

That message was finally starting to come out, as women speaking out against gendered abuse is becoming more and more visible. The #MeToo movement opened up an unprecedented door for abusers to finally face consequences for their actions. Those speaking out against abuse have been named Time’s Person Of The Year. Finally, is the tide turning?

Of course it isn’t. With movement comes utterly predictable backlash, from perpetrators and those who enable them. There’s been rather a lot of pearl-clutching over those poor abusers who have lost jobs. JK Rowling has nailed her colours to the mast and become part of this backlash, telling young people that actually, she’s “genuinely happy” to have a wife-beater starring in her cash cow. That she doesn’t think abusers should have to face consequences, and it’s all gone a little too far.

Rowling likes to pretend that she’s objective, that the truth lies somewhere in the middle: this pervades much of the politics she has communicated. In reality, you’re always picking a side. And in this instance, the side she’s picked is the side of the abusers. She can use all of the excuses in the world, but this is the meat of it. With her weasel words, she’s laid it all out, that she believes domestic violence to be acceptable under certain circumstances.

I cannot emphasise enough how potentially dangerous this message is to send to her young audience, just beginning to see that domestic violence is unacceptable, and then seeing a person they respect saying “actually, no, it isn’t.”

I hope this film is a fucking flop. I really do. I hope audiences are wiser than JK Rowling, and will not accept a film showcasing a washed-up perpetrator of domestic violence. I hope that Johnny Depp becomes the cinematic equivalent of the coconut Quality Street. I hope that JK Rowling is wrong, and that all the fuss about him isn’t a gobby few spoilsports, and that more of us think his casting is inappropriate than I fear.

Sadly, we’re up against a lot. We’re up against power, and had a brief little window in which to speak truth to it. I believe that JK Rowling, in her “I hear your concerns and I couldn’t give a shit” statement, may have kicked that window shut, and all who speak with it.

I don’t doubt that by writing this piece I will draw the ire of the “women are lying bitches” crowd. I accept that, because I know that they’re afraid that one day, they’ll feel the consequences of violence against women becoming unacceptable, too.

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