Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

I have been gone for a while; offline life decided to gang up on me a bit with heaping on ALL the academic pressures as well as continuing to give me health crap. I shouldn’t be doing this now because I have an important deadline on Monday, but I made the fatal mistake of reading the paper. My wrath was aroused.

I am fed up to the back teeth of the go-to means of getting more money is ‘cut benefits.’ (been reading about this in the Times as well.) Yep, that’s a great idea. I mean, where else to turn for more money but the people who are struggling to get by as it is? /sarcasm. Because here’s the thing. These top politicians, with their expenses claims and their wealth and their privileged backgrounds, may not realise it, but some people actually rely on their benefits to survive. And yes, that does matter. And no, we can’t use the demon-in-the-lower-galleries* spectre of ‘benefit fraud’ to justify it, which is something I’m also fed up of. Same with the ‘but people on benefits spend more,’ which was what someone quoted in the Times said. (as an aside, isn’t ‘people spending more’ a key thing for the revival of the economy? Yeah, great logic there, folks /sarcasm. And I’ve never taken economics or found myself in a position to run an economy.)

About the fuel increases – I think it’s more complicated than ‘rich people in their Chelsea tractors;’ transport is vital for a lot of people in this age of living areas being mostly separated from workplaces. Fuel costs do put a hole in a lot of vulnerable people’s budgets, and it’s not really feasible to wave that away with saying, ‘just drive less;’ while that’s a good aim and often possible, sometimes it just isn’t. But politicians really like presenting us with these dichotomies, and they know – especially in this case – that their demon-in-the-lower-galleries fallacy is going to reduce sympathy for people on benefits, while fuel costs is something that even people who could afford to pay the increase comfortably will oppose.

It’s not fair that people are suffering pay freezes as prices rise either. Let’s face it, it’s not fucking right that people on the low end of the income scale are the ones feeling the squeeze. It’s not right that as a result of that, the marginalised are becoming more marginalised. It’s not right that the rich politicians who seem to be about the only flavour of politicians there is at the moment are both out of touch and contemptuous of our plight. It’s not right that our rich make money off the exploitation of the poor elsewhere in the world while making everyone else dependent upon a system of exploitation and abuse. The world’s not right.

* Demon-in-the-lower-galleries fallacy – term is from a work of fiction, and a hundred points to anyone who knows which one. Basically, it refers to a created threat, fostered by the powerful in the marginalised and used to exploit them.

Trigger warning – self-harm, silencing

Muddled post is muddled, I’m sorry. If I’ve done a massive fail, the normal thing applies.

It’s happened to most of us at some point or another – being accused of attention-seeking. It crops up in all sorts of contexts, and attention seeking is generally held to be a negative thing.

I’ve seen it used to denigrate (and, oddly, to provoke concern over) self-harm, to stop people seeking help for things, to shut people up who need to talk, to silence people who are actively combatting their oppression. Pulling out the ‘attention-seeking’ accusation is an attempt to trivialise, delegitimise and silence. It’s a ridiculously problematic accusation to make, since it reinforces kyriarchal standards and a culture where honest emoting is discouraged.

It’s also a term that gets applied along kyriarchal lines – it’s rare to see a normative, straight, cis, conventionally able, white male accused of attention-seeking, for example. People whose minds and behaviours don’t fit the kyriarchal standard are accused of attention-seeking for expressions that are natural for them (and then accused of it when they speak out against discrimination based on that). People who are seen as ‘feminine’ are accused of it because femininity is often held in contempt. All kinds of oppressed folks who speak up against their oppression are accused of it.

Point is, attention-seeking isn’t necessarily bad – even when it appears to be about trivial things. Many of us are raised to conceal our true feelings, so we may not feel able to ask for help when needed; that’s where behaviour may appear attention-seeking, when someone is trying to get help without saying it outright because of the messed-up culture that tries to discourage honest emoting. Like most other behaviours, it’s pretty neutral overall.

People’s minds tend to run a lot on patterns and associations. When someone says a word, we can generally summon up a bunch of connotations from our experiences and the messages we’ve imbibed from our culture. If I try this with a random word generator and get ‘chat,’ I think, ‘room, little, office, experience of the words ‘wanting a chat’ preceeding a lecture that I will squirm through and not dare speak up in.’ (I think this means that I never caught on to using the word ‘chat’ when talking about ringing someone up to talk…)

This gets really important when the words we use impact on people. Words and the way we use them are really influential when it comes to the way we think, especially as we are growing up and learning how to weave those words into expression. We learn them through communication and connotations, which means that the things we associate with a word will forever have an impact on how we perceive what that word is attached to. I had a slight negative reaction with ‘chat’ because it appears I’ve mostly come across it as a prelude to earnest conversation directed at me that I felt very uncomfortable being a part of. That’s what I associate it with; squirming in my seat and feeling silenced.

So what happens when people-words get bad connotations? Those connotations generalise to the people concerned, and negative, prejudiced attitudes creep under the carpet of people’s minds. Also impacted by negative presentations and cultural messages, these negative attitudes are generally at the root of discrimination. Where inequality is legislated, it comes from the underlying prejudices of the people who created the legislation, the people who passed it, the people who elected them and so on. Where inequality is tolerated, that comes from discriminatory behaviour striking a chord with those same underlying prejudices. Language, presentations, culture – they’re important. There is other stuff to fight for, big stuff, solid stuff – but these underlying currents are where they come from. When the big stuff gets fixed, it’s unlikely to stay fixed until the culture changes, as the underlying attitudes find new ways to mess the marginalised up or push the big stuff back to its original position.

It’s very uncomfortable to see people-words get bad connotations, and yet it happens all the time. ‘You throw like a girl,’ makes ‘girl’ the object of contempt, something to be avoided, something lesser. And negative attitudes towards women and girls and those perceived as such are reinforced. I… may be overstepping myself here, since I’m white, but ‘acting black’ troubles me since I’ve generally seen it used against people who act in a way seen as negative – thus enforcing racism. ‘That’s gay,’ one of my own little hobby-horses, associates gayness with something pathetic, contemptible, useless, bad – thus enforcing heterosexism. Slurs work this way. Longer messages, such as the many that enforce rape culture, work this way.

And the worst thing is, it looks like nothing. It’s hard to correct, because you’re seen as being pedantic and petty-minded. And to be honest, merely, ‘don’t say that word’ is unlikely to work. We need to examine the reasons why we’re saying what we’re saying, and the message that sends out, and consciously work on changing it. It’s definitely important to salvage the stuff floating out of reach, issues that have a concrete impact on our quality of life, but one can’t ignore the little eddies and swirls that show the current beneath the surface, the current that could eventually tear the solid stuff out of our reach.

Newsbag.

Posted: September 21, 2011 in Bodies, Capitalism, Education, Finance, Health, Science, Sexuality
Tags: ,

Okay, I’m going to attempt to be back now even though I’m still having trouble using a computer comfortably.

Really, Government, really? Possible proposals to cut the benefits of terminally ill folks? This is obscene. We always knew that this government was incredibly ableist, but here’s another rock-solid indication. It honestly scares me that the people in charge of the country are so very contemptuous of anyone who doesn’t fit the conventional notion of ‘ability’, and that they are actually enacting this stuff (as with other benefit changes that have gone through).

If the data bears it out, which I think is likely, this is exactly as expected. EMA has proved important for many people, and scrapping it is always going to have an effect.

Aaand from a sciencey point of view, the information that deep-sea squid mate with no regards to sex is fairly interesting.

I’m sorry this is a shite post. I’m still trying to think of a way to make a post out of my recent health issue and how that has been complicated by my lack of gender, which is definitely interesting. I realise, however, that I’m probably saying nothing that other people haven’t said before so… Still need to think some more about that one.

Posted: September 13, 2011 in Bodies, Health, Personal

Hello folks, I know there hasn’t been a post in ages. I’m afraid that may not change for a bit; I’ve had a bit of a health emergency and while I am able to use a computer typing is uncomfortable and difficult.

At least I live in a country with public healthcare…

It’s not unreasonable to expect to be treated fairly, equally and without bigotry.

This is a defence I see all too often, and it’s pretty despicable. All too often in my life it comes up about the little things that make it damn clear that my self is not accepted, things like forms asking for ‘gender – m/f’ and so on. According to this particular defence of bigotry, I can’t expect services to bend to fit me; due to my so-called ‘abnormality’, I should bend to fit them. I should bend to fit with society’s narrow-minded ideals, at whatever cost to myself.

Or, another place it crops up is around terminology. Apparently we can’t expect language to change to acknowledge our humanity and our experience, and we can’t expect people to change their language so as not to cause us pain because we’re apparently not ‘normal.’

Normal is constructed as something people should aspire towards, so as not to cause trouble and disrupt the social order. It’s not. If the social order cannot serve all people, regardless of the demands of meaningless ‘normality,’ then it needs to be disrupted. It is not unreasonable to expect society to change to accommodate all its members, and to be honest society should want to.

No matter how much it seems to be, society is not a monolith that exists independent of the people in it. We construct society around us. Yes, the scars of history lie heavy on us and on the society that has evolved down the generations – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be changed. It evolved through the actions of people – a lot of bigotry can be traced back to historical roots that were instigated by people – and that means that we can steer it away from the broken-down mass of kyriarchal pressures riddled with bigotry and violence that it is now.

To do that, though, we need each other. We need to look around us and realise that the kyriarchy is hurting and killing ourselves and each other. And then we need to realise that defeatism will only defeat us.

It’s not unreasonable to expect society to change to accommodate the people it shoves to the margins, and for a person to say this about an axis they have privilege on is harmful. The privileged’s words have more weight anyway, and the more this is said the more the immovability of society is constructed, the more privilege can shore itself up by thinking that it can’t change and shouldn’t have to try.

It’s not unreasonable to be hurt, and to demand that people stop hurting one. It’s not unreasonable to demand one’s rights.

We are all connected, and frankly we have no reason to deny others decent treatment, fair, equal and without bigotry. That is an attack, and so is defending others who hurt people in the name of kyriarchy with the feeble cry of ‘it’s unreasonable.’ There is no excuse for bigotry, and the only slight justification is genuine lack of knowledge – but that can be cleared up with a short conversation, a quick google. There is no excuse for denying people the things granted without thought to others because of who they are. There is no excuse for services meant to help us refusing to acknowledge our selves. There is no excuse for people who bear us no ill-will beyond the poison the kyriarchy has dripped into their brains from birth to refuse to stop using words that hurt us. Once the problem is brought to light, it is not unreasonable to expect that solving it should be the next step.

Slow process? Well, yes, it probably will be. But it’s not an unreasonable demand.

Trigger warning; cissexist/binarist erasure, sexist rhetoric, discussion of reproductive coercion

Oh now this is encouraging. Not. The Government caving in to plans to reduce abortion rates by adding another layer of counselling. A lot hinges on the word ‘offer’ – is it being used to mean a service that is there if wanted, a compulsory ‘service’ or one that may as well be due to the level of throat-shoving people receive? However, I’m going to post independently of that – my personal opinion is the latter option, but I don’t know. And anyway, it doesn’t sound like the extra counselling would be from anyone good. I’m not the biggest expert on abortion issues (I’m staunchly pro-choice but don’t follow the discussion as much as I should because there’s often an unfortunate degree of erasure of uterus-having non-women), so I will probably miss a facet or two. EDIT – such as the demonisation of abortion providers implicit in the idea of trying to stop them doing the counselling.

So basically, boil this down to the bones and we get the claim that abortion-seekers (of any gender/s/non-gender/s, although no doubt the introducers of this are thinking purely in terms of ‘women’, sigh) need extra counselling, need to have the process slowed down, because they can’t be trusted to know what they want for their own body. Great. That really shows dedication to people’s welfare, doesn’t it? Ha ha. As if most of these abortion restrictions are even about welfare. They’re about control. They’re about asserting the power of the kyriarchally-privileged over the marginalised, about restricting the marginalised’s agency, about controlling them.

There’s this delightful quote from Dorries on the issue; “The abortion process is so fast – seven to 14 days. Women who do have doubts or niggles are on the other side before they have a chance to think it through. The majority may feel it’s fine but there are a growing number thinking it wasn’t what I wanted to do. As it gets faster and faster more women are falling off the edge. This is a women’s rights issue.”

Translation; Women don’t know what they want and are too emotional and weak to deal with things happening at this pace, they need everything slowed down for their tiny little ladybrains. Abortion is wrong and I’ve pulled some vague stats out of nowhere, and now I’m going to use emotive language and completely ignore the fact that there is a kyriarchal component to who is most likely to be pressured into aborting. And besides this, I’m incredibly cis privileged and will continue to erase the selves of anyone who might need an abortion who isn’t a woman.

We’ve seen so much of this stuff from the USA, and these ‘additional counselling’ things so often end up being barely disguised attempts to discourage abortion. There are people who get pressured into abortion, but that sort of thing is not the way to help. As for the people who choose it – their choices are valid. It’s their body, their choice.