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.

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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.

Anniversaries

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Internet, Personal
Tags: ,

This blog is a year old today. The year went pretty quickly in a load of ways, both on and off the internet, and I imagine that next year will probably go even quicker.

I started it because I thought I had enough to say and enough time to say it in to make it worth my while. Since then, my posts got longer and more nuanced and then less and less frequent. I’ve learned a lot in the year and made a bunch of mess-ups but it’s definitely been worth it, and I’m definitely not stopping. This has been somewhere to rant about the things that are messed up in the world while hopefully putting the rant in a place where it can possibly help others deal with their own situations.

This is also around the time of year I came out to people, a while since. A couple of months after the first coming-out, but about the same time as what was probably the most distressing, since the person concerned was closer to me than anyone else and neither of us handled it that well. I think I’ve changed since then, become more confident in myself and who I am – even if I do have the normal pangs of self-doubt – and I hope that I’m handling talking to others about it better.

Some things have got worse. I think my experience of dissonance got worse after I came out to myself – I’m pretty sure that having a name for it and the knowledge that it wasn’t just me meant that I stopped suppressing it – but on the other hand stopping suppressing it freed up some of my other emotions. Which was probably a good thing. Maybe.

So this is just a ramble. Thank you for reading, comrades, and I’ll try to get my post output up. Hopefully that will happen when I stop getting to hide my head under a rock, which I have been for a while and will be rudely jerked out of very shortly by the resumption of my education.

Trigger warning – discussion of common silencing/denial-of-oppression techniques.

My apologies for the unofficial hiatus; I’m trying to recharge my batteries but sometimes it feels like the charger just isn’t working. EDIT – changed post title to reflect the fact that defences of bigotry seem to be a Thing of mine at the moment.

Anyway. I’m going back to an old hobby-horse of mine – tone policing. Along with the accusation of oversensitivity, which oddly enough are often found coexisting. Not only are both infuriating, wrong and kyriarchy-enforcing on their own, but in tandem they become increasingly illogical.

The reason for this is simple. Tone policing, simply put, is the dismissal of a person’s argument (generally a less-privileged person in social justice discourse) because of their tone, which may be perceived by the bigoted more-privileged person as ‘too personal,’ ‘too emotional’ or ‘too angry.’ Meanwhile, the oversensitivity argument basically amounts to the bigoted more-privileged person telling the less-privileged person to suck it up and deal with the abuse the kyriarchy deals out. Put together, these things add up to a massive display of double standards. ‘I shouldn’t have to deal with your [justified] anger/pain, but you should just sit back and take my [unjustified] bigotry.’

Which, conveniently, is just the way the kyriarchy works. Hence, it’s perfect for enforcement of it.

The attitude is wholly reprehensible. Not only are the less-privileged (along whatever axis of privilege being discussed) subjected to kyriarchal abuse which is seen as normal and acceptable, but they are also condemned for responding. And there’s really no limit to the tone argument. It can be invoked even when a person is deadly calm; when a bigoted more-privileged person decides to silence a less-privileged person, there is no tone that is exempt. Often even the act of quietly making a point is an attack upon the more-privileged person, personally, and they see it as unprovoked because they are privileged enough to be able to ignore the shrapnel-sleet of micro- and macroaggressions the less-privileged experience every day.

It is a function of privilege to be able to see oneself as an objective speaker, and to expect detachment in the discourse. Many of us can’t detach ourselves from the oppression we scream under; it’s burned into our bones and our bodies, into our selves and our souls, while the privileged (on whichever axis) can ignore it and pretend it doesn’t happen.

And it’s a function of double-thinking to be able to simultaneously tone-police, and demand that less-privileged people become less ‘oversensitive’. Not only is ‘oversensitivity’ a pretty ableist concept (especially in the way I’ve often seen it applied, with regards to trigger warnings), it’s also a direct result of the fact that the privileged are able to ignore oppression and so interpret people’s entirely natural responses to it as oversensitivity.

If anyone is being oversensitive in a conversation such as this one, it’s the [bigoted] more-privileged person demanding that the less-privileged person suppress their justified pain and anger for the more-privileged person’s comfort. (They’re also being entitled, which is another basic function of privilege.)

I get so fed up of this pair of problems that so often occur together. We have a right to our feelings about our oppression, and as long as we are being non-oppressive and not actively harming others we have a right to express them. We have a right to talk about our oppression and to try to end it. That means that in situations like this, more-privileged persons (I include myself in this group as well as the other, since I have privilege along many axes) need to listen and allow less-privileged groups to lead the discourse.

Trigger warning – pop culture oppressiveness, slurs, some violent imagery etc.

When we talk about social justice and popular culture, we find ourselves talking a lot about the twin problems of invisibility vs bad representations. Invisibility means the complete absence of marginalised group/s from the piece we’re analysing, and generally from most popular culture as well. That’s things like pieces that are white-only, that feature only conventionally-able folks, that erase non-het/cis folks entirely etc. Bad representations are exactly what it says on the can. Where someone from a marginalised group is present, but is presented in a stereotyped/reductive/negative/comical way due to the inherent fact of their belonging to that group. So we’re talking there the ‘lol chick with a dick haha ur gay now’ transhatred, the all-too-common portrayal of white people as the ‘good folks’ and PoC as the ‘bad folks’, the ‘Smurfette principle’ whereby in a group of men the woman’s only defining trait is her womanhood etc.

I tend to have this vision of myself as not much of a pop culture consumer and therefore tend to stay away from talking about it. It used to be true – until a few years ago, I could count the films I’d seen in the cinema on the fingers of one hand. I still watch basically no TV, and my consumption of books and music is generally confined to certain genres. These days, I’d say that even if I’m not an aficionado, I’m probably well enough up on things to comment in a general kind of way.

The invisibility vs bad representation dilemma is a hard one. I hate both – I want to see rounded, diverse, interesting characters of all abilities, ethnicities, gender/s/non-gender/s, sexualities, classes etc in all sorts of genres and media, placed there irrelevent of their divergences from the kyriarchy’s ideal. But that’s damned rare, especially for something to be non-oppressive in all ways. You can find a book that is queer-positive, but see racism writ large all over it. You can find a film that passes the Bechdel test, but is really cissexist. You can find music that is non-classist, but hear misogyny everywhere.

The distinction between the two types is hard to police. You might have a film that features no non-het characters and no discussion of non-heterosexuality – but it might say, ‘every man needs a good woman’ and blur the boundary by moving from implicit erasure to explicit erasure.

This started churning around in my head because, during a visit to some older members of my family, we saw some 70s comedy and I was told repeatedly that, ‘This is incredibly un-PC.’ Now, leaving aside the fact that PC is a terrible term, leaving aside the fact that there was badness in it even if it wasn’t the specifically-oppressive badness I’m more used to seeing, it was evident that my family expected me to be wildly ‘offended’. And I wasn’t. I sat there going, ‘that’s a bit sexist…there’s no-one in this who diverges from the kyriarchal ideal…that wouldn’t be funny if it was real even if it’s not oppressive…’ but I didn’t get sporked in the eye.

That’s probably partly because I have unfortunately seen quite a bit of mainstream modern ‘comedy,’* and am therefore a bit desensitised. But it was mainly because on the whole the problem was that of erasure rather than explicit bigotry.

I really hate that I find myself having to choose between invisibility and bad representation in popular culture, and I hate that I find myself actively favouring the older, more insidious option. But frankly, I’d rather not see oppressed groups being used for cheap laughs and I’d rather not stop consuming pop culture entirely. Which mostly leaves me with the option of things that completely erase marginalised groups. And I think I would have to say to creators that if they can’t create – if they’re too lazy to create – a character who is a member of a marginalised group without exploitation and bigotry, they shouldn’t be doing so at all. It feels like admitting defeat, and it’s not a strategy to guarantee better representation – the only thing that will do that is creators actually doing their research and making their characters diverse and rounded no matter who they are – but it at least means that we don’t get that terrible ‘I want to punch you through the screen/book/speakers’ feeling.

I don’t think that any representation is better than no representation. If the representation is oppressive, better not have it at all.

* Do not get me started about the modern ‘comedy’ that I’ve seen. Now, I’m not denying, some can be okay. Especially if it favours the ‘invisibility’ side of this equation. However, it appears that a lot of people who call themselves ‘comedians’ prefer getting cheap laughs out of their and their audience’s bigotry and oppressiveness rather than coming up with genuinely funny material. People who rely on oppressive crutches for their ‘comedy’ aren’t funny. (I saw a production of one of Shakespeare’s lesser comedies recently. The company had decided to make it into a parade of gay stereotypes. It was horrible. I squirmed in my seat. It relied on the audience’s misohomy for virtually all its laughs – and then when it stopped being a misohomist shitstorm, they managed to be funny. If they’d steered clear of the misohomy, they could possibly have pulled it off. But it left such a bad taste in my mouth.)