Once more for the people at the back: abortion rights and trans rights are the same struggle

Content note: this post discusses anti-choice sentiment and transphobia

Today, I got a tweet from a TERF expressing a desire to reduce the abortion time limit, using the same concern-trolling language as noted womb-botherers such as Nadine Dorries.

It didn’t surprise me.

Let’s get the most obvious out of the way first: TERFs are about as feminist as Jim Davidson. They’re also very comfortable with forming political alliances with conservative men, and indeed prefer to date conservative men as they have more in common with them politically. So it’s hardly a shock that they’ve been parroting patriarchal talking points.

Then we have the media transmisogynists like to pretend that trans women pose a problem for reproductive rights activism, which is a deliberately disingenuous misrepresentation of the fairly uncontroversial demand that when we talk about reproductive organs and human bodies, we’re gender-neutral about it, because that’s more precise. It simply isn’t true that trans women are a block to reproductive rights. In fact, they’re doing more than any media transphobe ever has.

How do we know this? One of the places to look is Ireland, where there is a huge struggle for access to abortion. I follow this activism keenly, and do what I can to support and boost their work, so I’m aware that there are a lot of trans women deeply involved in this crucial action. I’ve met many Irish trans feminists who participate in reproductive freedom work. And likewise, Irish feminists don’t want these UK TERFs anywhere near their work, having recently produced a widely-signed open letter telling TERFs exactly where to fuck off to.

If you actually care about reproductive rights, you’d know this, and that’s how it becomes abundantly clear that your transmisogynistic bigots are simply using abortion access as a dogwhistle for “women are defined by reproductive organs and only that.”

To me, feminism is always and has always involved liberating women from our biology. A refusal to define us by whether or not we can bear children. I’ve written before about how this biological essentialism promulgated by transmisogynistic bigot feminists is identical to that promulgated by misogynists. I’ve also defined my stance as pro-trans and pro-choice.

But I want to say it once more, loudly, for the people at the back: trans rights and reproductive rights are intimately linked. You cannot have one without the other. It all boils down to bodily autonomy.

Organisations like Planned Parenthood understand this, and provide therapy for trans people as well as reproductive care. On the flipside of this, 20 countries in Europe still require sterilisation for trans people if they want legal gender recognition.

It is no coincidence that the religious right and fascists want to crack down on both reproductive healthcare and trans healthcare: all they want to do is refuse us bodily autonomy.

Our struggles are the same, and scratch a transmisogynist, and it’ll bleed womb-botherer in the end. Don’t let them win, and let’s continue to stand shoulder to shoulder against these attacks.

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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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Your especial dislike of Diane Abbott is irrational (and probably racist)

Diane Abbott has once again been The Worst™, having done something a lot of other politicians do and… actually I’m not 100% sure what it was this time, but I think it was a bad TV interview. And, from all sides of the political spectrum, there’s scaremongering about the fact that there’s a possibility she could become Home Secretary.

Some people are openly misogynoiristic about Abbott, and that’s grim. But at least it’s honest. The rest, who like to think of themselves as Nice People™ leap through hoops to try to justify their dislike of this politician, and their irrational opposition to a black woman occupying one of the great offices of state.

It starts with “but she’s not qualified to be Home Secretary!”. That’s an interesting assertion to make. Taking less than thirty seconds on google reveals that her CV presents her as more qualified than most previous Home Secretaries or shadows. Abbott’s career before politics included two very notable roles. She was a civil servant in the Home Office–which is significantly more direct experience of working in the Home Office than most of the others who have held the office. Later, she worked for the National Council for Civil Liberties, which is again a crucial home affairs role. As an MP, Abbott has served on committees pertinent to home affairs. And her track record is reasonably good: even the goddamn Spectator recognised her speech opposing the New Labour government on civil liberties issues with an award for speech of the year! Her voting record on home affairs is all right, and if you’re a Lib Dem who wants to root for a party with a chance of getting into government, she’d probably be your best bet for Home Secretary, because she’s not bad at all on the civil liberties front.

Like I said, this took me all of thirty seconds on google to find. So ask yourself, why didn’t you take those thirty seconds to check? Why did you just assume Abbott was unqualified for the role?

Rather than interrogating themselves at this juncture, usually the goalposts get shifted to “but Diane Abbott isn’t great at TV interviews.” This one is particularly nonsensical coming from Tory voters, in the midst of a campaign riddled with Tory car crash TV interviews, and Lib Dems, whose leader has done a pisspoor job of portraying himself as Not A Homophobe. It’s also not like Labour are particularly excellent at TV interviews either. In short, this is because the TV interview format is generally not designed to make the politician look good. Nobody’s above the car crash interview, and when it’s a politician you like, you’ll generally either ignore it, or claim that it’s media bias. Funnily, such defences never seem to come for Abbott, and it’s assumed she’s given a harder time because she deserves it, because apparently the media and journalists are always flying above racism and misogyny.

This, incidentally, is the same sort of thing that happens with the equally-irrational “but she sent her kids to private school!” Yes, she did. So have other politicians. She’s not even the only one on the Labour front bench who has. Is it good? No. Is she alone in that? Of course not.

So, once we’ve hit the unfair singling out, shit starts to get abstract, and what we usually end up with is a mumbled, vague “her manner isn’t good.” If we interrogate this, it’s almost always one of a few things. Which are almost always rooted in racist stereotypes.

“She’s angry!” Such a common misogynoiristic stereotype, it’s got its own wikipedia page.

“She plays the race card too much!” Again, a pretty common racist stereotype, and not evidenced, considering she’d been an MP for 30 years before she finally spoke out about personal abuse she’d received.

“She doesn’t look like a politician!” Ask yourself. What does a politician look like to you? The answer is, invariably, a possibly-shinyfaced pigfucking public school boy. A white man in a suit. You might extend your vision of a politician to a white man out of a suit. Or a white woman in a suit. Or a black man in a suit. But for some reason, the black woman doesn’t look like a politician to you, with her wig and her black skin, her tendency to sound like she’s black and from London, as opposed to Rodean. Abbott isn’t the only black woman MP to “not look like a politician”. Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central, and a black woman, was once mistaken for a cleaner by a fellow MP. And remember how you just assumed Abbott wasn’t qualified for the job?

“I… I just don’t like her.” Fair enough. Maybe you grew up in a vacuum, and your brain just irrationally fixated on this particular MP with your especial dislike.

We’re bombarded with messaging, daily, about what a politician should look like and be like. We’re also bombarded with negative messaging about black women. It sinks in. And it sinks in, even, to people who don’t think of themselves as racist, don’t think of themselves as carrying misogynoir within themselves. But that’s impossibly unlikely, and you’ll only unlearn and unpick it if you start from the statistically-likely assumption that it’s there, in yourself and in other people.

The truth is, Diane Abbott isn’t any less competent than any other politician–in fact, she’s more competent than many. She’s no more awful than any other politician–all of whom are a bad bunch, and she’s one of the ones I have least of an axe to grind with. She’s not bringing the negative media attention on herself, it’s that the media themselves have an issue with a black woman in a position of power; don’t forget they’re very much owned by racist white men. Ask yourself: why are your expectations of Diane Abbott higher than they are for any of your white male politicians? It’s not Diane Abbott rubbing you up the wrong way, it’s that you’re rubbing yourself.

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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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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.

tl;dr

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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It wasn’t “our side” platforming Milo that sank him

Content note: this post discusses child sexual abuse and Nazis

Over the last day or so, the far-right troll and supposed rising star of fascism, Milo Yiannopoulos (or Poundland Joffrey, as I prefer to call him), has experienced something of a very sudden fall from grace. His right wing friends are dropping away from him: within a 36 hour period, he was disinvited from CPac (a right-wing conference), had his incredibly lucrative book deal dropped, and colleagues at the far-right fake news outlet for which he occupies a senior role are threatening to walk out if he isn’t sacked.

It seems, to the far right, transphobia, inciting xenophobic and racist violence, virulent misogyny and being a literal neo-Nazi aren’t a problem, but defending child sexual abuse is a dealbreaker. Their moral compasses are perhaps a little peculiar, since all of this advocating for vulnerable people to die is also very bad. Nonetheless, it brings a small satisfaction to watch them tearing a man to shreds who, just hours before, was their poster boy.

It also gives me great satisfaction that perhaps we’ll no longer have to keep having the tiresome fight within our own side about whether or not to platform this dangerous Nazi. There have been people who claim to be with us–against fascism–who have been only too willing to play into the far-right’s hands, by inviting Poundland Joffrey to share his opinions, and then signal-boosting it as far as it will go. The rationale, they say, is to “know one’s enemy”. To give him “enough rope to hang himself”.

That didn’t really pan out. Instead, what it did was create an ever-bigger media persona around Milo. They were feeding the troll, making him stronger and stronger, his bad bleach job ubiquitous in photos at the top of articles, his hatred amplified and largely unchallenged. Even when lip service was paid, it went like “Milo is charismatic and interesting and here’s what he thinks about undocumented migrants, but that’s a bit controversial, I don’t agree with it personally but anyway let’s talk about why this guy is so phenomenally popular and it’s because he’s so cool and well-dressed.”

It spread far-right ideology further, and normalised it and the Nazis who spout it. And furthermore, it never managed to give Milo enough rope, no matter how many disgusting things they allowed him to publicly say.

What sank Milo was his own side, who manoeuvred away from him when he was no longer useful to them. It was not a comment of his in an interview with an ostensibly liberal television host that destroyed Milo, but something in his own domain: a far-right livestream with like-minded nerd-Nazis. Poundland Joffrey’s downfall came from within intra-fascist networks, not from “our side” falling over themselves to platform him.

The far-right is built upon fragile alliances. A gay man’s teaming up with homophobic conservatives was always somewhat delicate. I expect homophobia had its role to play within Milo’s fall from grace: in his comments, he was careful to confine his defence of child sexual abuse to within the gay community, which meant his erstwhile allies could gleefully dust off an age-old homophobic trope: the gays = paedophiles trope. I am concerned that this may lead to the LGBT repression that the far-right have been champing at the bit to implement; they have been presented with a tasty “think of the children” defence that might prove too tempting to resist. Milo has, perhaps, served his purpose, played the token “my gay friend”, and now become the shadowy nonce villian they need. Most of the far-right likely agree with the acceptability of child sexual abuse and support men like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, heterosexual child abusers: but right now, homophobia is more useful.

If the far-right is so successful at tearing itself apart, what remains for us to do? Do we just sit, thumbs in arses, and watch their world burn? Of course not. These fascists are built on fragile fragile, that crack when pressure to the whole is applied.

We must be ready to resist what comes next: the probable turn towards anti-LGBT policy. All the while we must maintain a distinct lack of pity for Milo, who chose his path in siding with these people, and remains politically and morally aligned with them. He may fake a Damascian conversion, and we must not be fooled. We must keep challenging everything: the whole, not its constituent parts. We must reject their bigotry, their hatred: every last bit of it. All of it is repugnant, not just specific individuals, not just specific aspects to their beliefs. And we must not invite these fascists to spout their hatred to wider audiences: we must not normalise them, we must not signal-boost them, we must show they are unacceptable by refusing to be polite or even available.

If we keep fighting, the whole sorry shape of present-day fascism could crumble to dust, throwing each other under the bus one by one, then two by two, and more and more until they are all mangled figures in the axis.

They can and will destroy themselves. And we will give them nowhere to run to when they do.

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