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.

_

Enjoyed what you read? Consider becoming a Patronsupport me on Liberapay, or leave a tip

 

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

_

Enjoyed what you read? Consider becoming a Patronsupport me on Liberapay, or leave a tip

Am I Bi Enough?

Content note: this post might be very confusing for straight people. Sorry, buddy, I can’t help you. This isn’t for you. 

Happy Bi Visibility Day, the one day of the year where we blink into the visible light spectrum, usually only existing somewhere between X-rays and gamma radiation.

Every September 23rd, I find myself wriggling around the same themes and asking myself, “is bi a label that fits me?” then concluding, “yeah, OK, I use it, screw everyone else.” I am afraid to say that little has changed, and I’m still bloody wondering.

In the last few years, I’ve found that my life has arranged itself so that I don’t really spend much time with men any more, and the men I do spend time with–friends’ boyfriends, and my dad–aren’t in any sort of sex or dating context. This wasn’t a move that I made on purpose; it just fell out that way. I can literally count the number of good male friends on one hand. While wearing a mitten. I’m cool with this, because I have much more in common with people who are not men. Women and non-binary folk are awesome, while most men are, frankly, rubbish. Due to a freedom from men in my day-to-day life, this has naturally affected my sexual and romantic life, also for the better: it’s been years since I’ve shagged a man, and longer still since I’ve been in a relationship with one.

And I feel good about this. Sometimes I find myself describing my sexuality as “lesbian”, because it’s simpler, and feels more accurate for the time being. A lot of the time, I use the delightfully vague “queer”. But yet, on top of a cabinet like a Nespresso machine that ran out of the free trial pods, sits the label “bisexual”. Actually, that’s a bad metaphor. I use “bisexual” occasionally, while that Nespresso machine just gathers dust.

When I think about it, I wonder if it fits me any more. Should I just give it up and be uncomplicatedly lesbian? Am I even bi enough to be bi? Am I bi when I kind of made a choice away from men? Should I be using different labels in different contexts; shouldn’t a label be stable, or wait, were they meant to be mutable? Fuck, I should probably read some queer theory, shouldn’t I? Do I need bi for myself? Am I appropriating?

If someone asked any of those questions of themselves to me, I would immediately say, “Honey, if you want to use bi, use bi. You are bi enough.”

Yet as it applies to myself, the questions are questions, open and persistently jabbing at me. I don’t know, and it feels a little bit appropriative calling myself bi, when I’m merely a dyke who would probably sit on Idris Elba’s face if he asked me to.

But perhaps this is exactly what makes me bi. Perhaps this is the grand unifying factor between we bisexuals, more than who we fuck and who we fall in love with. Perhaps what brings us together is us asking Am I Bi Enough?

Am I bi enough?

It’s a question I only ever hear from bi people, diverse, beautiful bi people. I have never heard a bi person not ask it. It is a label which fits so many people, but yet we all question whether it suits us. I tell everyone else that if that’s what you want to use, then use it.

And I am bisexual. I could “justify” myself here by talking about facing sapphophobia; how I fancy and fuck people of other genders as well as my own gender, still (it’s really only men that I’ve minimised from my life); how yes, labels are mutable, context-dependent and ever-changing and yes, you can be a lesbian bisexual queer. But I don’t need to. None of us need to. We are bi enough; the “bi” in bisexual stands for how we are constantly second guessing ourselves, and what is queerness but questions without simple answers?

So here’s to all of us out here, asking whether we’re bi enough. We are. And today, we’re visible.

__

Enjoyed what you read? Consider becoming a Patron, or leave a tip

How to punch a Nazi without actually punching them: some practical self defence tips

Content note: this post mentions fascists, police and physical violence

I will start with a confession: I have never thrown a punch. I know I’m not very good at it. I have a bit of a weakness in my left wrist–my dominant hand–from a break. I can never quite remember whether it’s thumb-in or thumb-out for making a fist. My balance is pisspoor. If it came down to it, I would not be able to literally punch a Nazi.

But that’s all right, because the ethos of punching Nazis does not require us to literally smack them with our fists. Punching a Nazi is an act of radical, physical self-defence. It is protecting oneself and others from those who would have us dead. It is choosing not to run, or not having the option of running, so having to fight physically against someone who wants to kill you. It is hurting them before they can hurt you. It can be a punch–if you do want to punch a Nazi with your fist, here’s how–or it can be other forms of self-defence which will protect you and everyone else from harm.

Now, a disclaimer. I present these tips as self-defence, which is perfectly legal. These tips are for protecting your person when you are under threat, to give yourself an opportunity to escape. If you just waltz up to your neighbourhood Nazi, smack them round the chops and get nicked, I’m not responsible. Okiedoke? Legal duties discharged, let’s look at how you can punch Nazis without literally punching them.

I learned many of these tips in a queer self-defence class a few years back. The class was designed for all abilities, and I found it very helpful. This is why I share these tips, as I hope it will help many of us feel safer in the frightening future.

Feel strong

Think about your own body. What can it do? What are you definitely able to do, and what are you definitely not able to do. Can you twist your shoulders? Can you balance on one foot? Can you raise your arms high? Can you move quickly without joints popping out of place? Not everyone will be able to do all of these suggestions. But there will likely be something in these suggestions that you will be able to do.

How do you feel balanced, and protect the parts of your body that you know might hurt? This awareness of your body makes you strong.

Now think of the parts of your body that are hard and strong. If you want, try gently hitting yourself. Your elbows are hard. Your palms, your fingertips. Your knees. Your feet. What parts of your body feel solid? These will form your fists.

Think about their weaknesses

Above is a handy diagram of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, modelling some of the weaker points on an opponent’s physique. Eyes are squishy, and there’s an instinct to protect them. Noses are easily broken and fucking hurt. Throats, well, throats hurt rather a lot if hit. The solar plexus is full of nerve endings, and causes maximum pain. Ever knocked your knee or shin in a dyspraxic vs coffee table showdown? Ow, right? And of course, the crotch. If a Nazi has balls, they will go down like a sack of shite if that area is hit, but it also hurts rather a lot getting whacked in the pussy.

These are the areas that you will aim for when punching a Nazi.

The silent duck

The silent duck is a queer fist, which is why I like it so much. If you’ve never got into fisting, what you do is make a naked sock puppet with your hand. Unlike with fisting, if you have long nails, all the better: the silent duck might be a tactic for you.

With your silent duck, the aim is to “peck” at the Nazi’s eyes or solar plexus. A short, sharp move like a striking snake, making contact with your fingertips. Try it on your other hand. For fingertips, it makes surprisingly strong contact. In the eyes, especially if you have nails, you will likely no longer have to defend yourself from the Nazi you silent ducked. It also works very well on the solar plexus. When I was talking about this with my partner once, I demonstrated on them with the gentlest tap–my aim was to show that there’s a lot of power there and a lot of nerve endings in the area. Instead, with my light tap, I brought tears to their eyes. I felt very bad about this, but that’s how effective the old silent duck is.

Hands

Your palm is good for slapping. But the heel of it is even better for hitting. Again, you might want to try gently smacking your body with the heel of your own palm. Now think of how much that would fucking hurt a Nazi if you hit them in the throat or solar plexus with that palm. Another option is pushing that heel of your palm upwards into the bottom of their nose. That will give you enough time to get away to safety, while they deal with a nose that is probably bleeding and definitely painful.

The side of your hand also has some uses. Now, I’m not suggesting karate chops, because they’re the sort of thing that requires training. However, if a Nazi turns up behind you, you can swing your arm in an arc and catch them in the nads with the side of your hand.

Elbows

My old yiayia was a formidable woman. Four feet of sheer fury, she always got herself on the bus first. When she moved through a crowd, she’d kind of mince along, elbows akimbo, making space for herself. It worked, because elbows are perhaps one of the most vicious parts of the body, deployed correctly.

There are three angles at which you can use your elbows. You can defend yourself from a fascist to your side, aiming your elbow for their nose, throat or solar plexus. You can swing your elbow backwards to hit the Nazi in those same spots if he is behind you. If there’s a Nazi in front of you, you can swing that elbow forwards.

Knees

A Nazi’s knee is a weak point, but your knee can be strong. You can knee them in the crotch, and it will definitely give you a chance to get away. Even if you miss, you’ll get them in the thigh with a pretty bony part of your body. This move does require a bit of balance, but is incredibly effective if you’re able to pull it off.

Feet

Your feet are good for kicking, especially at shins. However, kicking can hurt you if you’re not wearing suitably comfortable, sturdy shoes. Personally, I wear Doc Martens most of the time, because they are nigh-on indestructible, and I have callouses in all the places that DMs tend to rub. So I can kick at a shin if I needed to.

Your feet can also be a weapon in other ways. You can stamp on their feet, aiming for the instep. If a Nazi is behind you, you can also scrape your foot down their shin, which is painful for them, and works particularly well if you’re wearing block heels.

Combos

A combo is sometimes a useful thing, and think about combos that might work. For example, scraping your foot down a Nazi shin, following up with a stamp on their instep. Feints can prove useful too: for instance, feinting a silent duck towards the eyes, then as their instinct kicks in to protect that, a swift knee to the nads.

Finding what works for you

To find what works for you, you’re going to have to look a bit dorky. Practice into the air, aiming upwards and downwards. See which moves come naturally to you, and which don’t. See if there’s any that you physically can’t do. Which moves make you feel strong and safe, and which make you feel off-balance or unprotected? Not everything will work for you. For example, I can’t swing my elbow forwards very well. For example, when it comes to kneeing, I favour my right knee: I feel better balanced keeping my left foot on the ground than my right. I’m hopeless at elbow strikes when swinging forwards, but it feels very natural going backwards.

If you’re not feeling strong just practicing the moves into the air, then you’re not going to be able to do it making contact with Nazi flesh. So write it off: that’s something that doesn’t work for you.

Develop your own ways of doing things, weaponising the hard parts of your body against the soft parts of a fascist. There is no right or wrong technique, just a way of making contact that hurts them but not you.

Practice, practice, practice

Once you’ve figured out what works for you, it’s time to build some muscle memory. Practice hitting something. A pillow or mattress will do. If you have access to pads and a friend who doesn’t mind pretending to be a Nazi for a bit of time, practice against that. Practice combining the movements that work for you.

And once again, look goofy. Drill yourself. Practice each day, even if it’s into the air. Like an absurd tai chi, I will usually find the time to run myself through my favourite moves. Many of us freeze when confronted with danger, so teach your body some moves that will become instinctive for you.

You got this. If it comes down to it, you can punch a Nazi.

I’ve said, many times before, that fighting fascism is a messy, ugly business. Self-defence techniques are not the absurd “honourable” fighting styles. But they might just save your life, or the life of someone you love.

__

Enjoyed what you read? Consider becoming a Patron, or leave a tip

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.

__

Enjoyed what you read? Consider becoming a Patron, or leave a tip.

Dear NSPCC, please don’t debate child abuse

Content note: this post discusses child abuse and transphobia, mentions suicide

Update October 13th: They have cancelled the debate

I’ve sent a copy of this letter to NSPCC Press Office mediaoffice@nspcc.org.uk. Please feel free to send similar emails.

Dear NSPCC Press Office,

I was very concerned to see a tweet from you on 11th October, advertising a “debate” between Sarah Ditum and Kellie Maloney on transgender children.

I was under the impression that NSPCC stood against all forms of child abuse. Why, then, are you holding a debate which will essentially equate to, “is it all right to abuse some children?”

One of your speakers, Sarah Ditum, is an apologist for abuse of transgender children. In late 2014, the world was horrified as a trans teenage girl was abused into suicide by her parents. Ditum expressed empathy with the parents, rather than the young girl who was abused to death. I am highly concerned that you think it appropriate to host a debate where one of the speakers empathises with child abusers, and I strongly suspect you would not decide to debate any other forms of child abuse while platforming somebody who empathises with abuse.

There are also concerns about your other speaker, Kellie Maloney, who is a domestic abuser. I know the NSPCC as an organisation are concerned about children being exposed to domestic abuse, you’ve got a whole web page on it. I can only assume you went with Maloney because no other trans person was willing to share a platform with somebody whose sympathies lie with parents who abuse a trans child to death.

I’m asking you, NSPCC, to please, please rethink this debate. Do you really want the NSPCC brand to become synonymous with debating whether certain forms of child abuse are all right?

Please cancel this debate.

Update:

I received a reply. It feels very form-lettery and does not address my specific concerns?

Dear Zoe

Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your comments.

Children and young people are increasingly raising concerns about transgenderism and gender dysphoria. Issues that are of concern to children are of concern to us.

The NSPCC hosts a series of regular debates on matters that affect children and around current and sometimes controversial child protection issues.

The NSPCC’s role is to chair the debate. It is simply providing a platform for the issue to be discussed and awareness of it raised. It is not taking a view either way.

We chose speakers who are pertinent to the debate. Both are known to the media, have spoken publicly about their views on transgender, and have differing opinions which will enable a good discussion. They do not represent the views of the NSPCC.

Regards

NSPCC

Sadly, no answer as to whether they usually like to have a speaker in favour of child abuse, or not, but having googled their previous events, they don’t usually invite someone who reckons everyone’s being a bit mean to people who abused their child to death. There’s also no answer as to whether or not they think it’s acceptable to debate whether a bit of child abuse is all right. I’m a little surprised the NSPCC claims to have no view on whether or not child abuse is acceptable.

Absolutely unacceptable, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be donating to the NSPCC now they’ve become the sort of charity that thinks that abuse of vulnerable children is a topic for a fun little debate.

Further update, as of 6pm: Kellie Maloney has now pulled out, meaning the NSPCC’s “debate” is now literally just the bigot.

Further update, October 13th: They have cancelled the debate, and sorted out their language.

 

Obligatory #BiVisibilityDay post

Hi, I’m still bi, even though the workings of fate seem determined to make me a lesbian.

I didn’t really have time to write a whole post today, but here are some of my past Bi Visibility Day posts:

Today’s word of the day is “sapphophobia”

Bisexual adventures with stavvers

In which I am visible and bi

 

Incidentally, here is a fact you probably didn’t know about bisexuals. As you must, surely, know by now (and if you don’t, you’re welcome), the “bi” in bisexual doesn’t mean “attracted to the two binary genders”. What “bi” actually refers to is that we exist in a quantum state, simultaneously existing and not existing until observed and either accepted, or  told that we’re just doing it for attention or whatever. Happy Bi Visibility Day, and may you be a Schoedinger’s cat that is alive and well.