Bits and bobs from a British glasses-wearing, sweary, fat, disabled, atheist ex-Catholic, anti-capitalist, pacifist feminist lesbian with eclectic tastes.

I normally blog at incurable-hippie.blogspot.com.

fat-grrrl-activism:


Sharon Rooney, star of My Mad Fat Diary, has a facebook page (and is also on twitter: @sharonrooney!)

fat-grrrl-activism:

Sharon Rooney, star of My Mad Fat Diary, has a facebook page (and is also on twitter: @sharonrooney!)

lipsticklezzie:

grrrl power.

lipsticklezzie:

grrrl power.

(Source: ed-free-maggie)

hauteproportions:

Oh my god… This is just so fierce, there are no words…
This is exactly what I think I look like in my brains

hauteproportions:

Oh my god… This is just so fierce, there are no words…

This is exactly what I think I look like in my brains

(Source: bad-milk)

katymonster:

My favorite thing I’ve ever done. 

katymonster:

My favorite thing I’ve ever done. 

I’ve taken the pledge - have you?

Clumsy language and equality

alexblandford:

Twitter has been a bit angry recently. If you’re a reader of left wing twitterers, bloggers and columnists you will likely have been privy to some of the most interesting changes in public feminist discourse since the early 90s. As ever with paradigmatic shift, it can leave people high and dry, especially if they have been intellectually comfortable for quite a while.

I’m going to do this in quite twee language as it might take the edge off the frustration I’m feeling with this situation. I’m also not linking to articles or twitter feeds or naming people if I have spoken with them.

It reminds me of the point in the late 80s where feminism was having trouble with LGB rights (well chronicled in Urban Amazons by Sarah Green) and how queer theory then came in and started to completely change the way that the arguments were framed.

Privilege is being examined and challenged on the internet more and more, from tech conferences to discussions on art, film and TV. The frequency of it has moved it from a sort of “after the revolution” attitude to something far more centre stage. If it becomes impossible to not situate yourself in relation to your writing (something which academic anthropology has demanded since the 1980s), then that can only be a good thing.

A lot of this has come about from an increased discussion of intersectionality, race and gender in feminism. In principle, this is fine. The problems that there have been could charitably be interpreted in a number of ways:

Audience

This has been strange. A little clique of journalists and media people has developed on twitter, and it is just a smidgen self-reinforcing. They back each other up in arguments and have gradually been shifting the definition of troll from what we had back in 2003 where it was posting links to goatse on a message board with a situation now where it looks like a redefinition towards “someone I don’t agree with”.

Now, I don’t think it’s fair to be rude to someone in a public forum. My day job is basically being sworn at on twitter all day, and it is a bit crushing, especially if you are working really hard on something and then you just get a pasting from people who wilfully misinterpret your actions and intentions.

But, if you write something political, you can expect a robust discussion, as everyone has an opinion and social networks have given a space for people to put them somewhere.

When I train people on social media stuff, I remind them that it is an interactive tool. It is not a broadcast. I also train them that your follower count doesn’t really matter all that much, it’s just a number, don’t let it go to your head. Having that many followers (I’d say over 500) is difficult because you’re essentially standing in a car park full of bored people and lighting a verbal firework. You will get into fights/disagreements/discussions, how you deal with that is important. But following the “RTs =/= endorsement” message on many people’s twitter bio, you might want to remember that your followers aren’t all fans brimming with adulation and automatic agreement with you, because you’re you.

Which brings us to…

Unfamiliarity with issues

Right. This is privilege as an issue coming up. Now, I have a number of health conditions that would lead me to consider myself, in political terms (and under the DDA) to be disabled. But that’s about it. I know when I feel offended by something.

I have no right not to be offended. I welcome a thriving blogging world full of people I don’t like, don’t want to agree with, don’t trust and often just find downright rude. That is good/bad for my blood pressure. The great thing about social media, unlike the Old Days where you just had to shout at the TV (or radio if Any Answers is on) is that you are able to reply. So don’t be surprised and prepare to be offended when people do.

If one of my trans friends says that something is offensive to them, I believe my friend, no one cries wolf over being offended, it isn’t worth it. You don’t have to study gender theory for 3 years (but do it anyway, it is a genuinely good thing), all of this can be boiled down to “don’t be a dick to groups you don’t understand, and if you did it without realising, say sorry”.

“Thought Police”

Right. I hate to be *that guy* who quotes Stewart Lee material, but the whole thing about political correctness being a clumsy negotiation towards a more inclusive language is bang on. It’s not the “thought police” if you want to stop words that reinforce negative stereotypes being so common. There are enough fantastically shaped words in English that you can probably find one that suits your purpose equally well.

Digging

Some of my best friends are _______ so I can’t be.

Some of my friends are homophobic. Doesn’t make a jot of difference to my politics. Some of my best friends like celery. I fucking hate it. Apparently opinions and tastes aren’t contagious. This argument is so easily disprovable and it makes the user look intellectually lazy.

Being able to quote authors who have written on trans inclusion or intersectional feminism is great, and certainly a step forward, but rarely are these quotes used to back up an argument, they’re just used like a bucket list of feminist/gender theory books that you need to read before you can participate in the debate, which would be true if the level of debate were at that point. In most cases, it is still generalist enough not to have to bring bell hooks into things.

Defence

I had a little conversation with someone on twitter who expressed (and I paraphrase slightly) a just general fatigue with “left in fighting”. And I understand, I was involved in student politics and I know just how frustrating it is when you want to just unify up and act as a movement instead of playing games. My comment on this would really be that I don’t want to go anywhere without my friends.

This isn’t anything new, but what I find a little tiring about all of this is that critiques that are coming whether to Lena Dunham, Caitlin Moran or Suzanne Moore are not about them as people. Suzanne Moore’s article was pretty decent. I hear Girls is quite good. How to be a Woman is probably as good a general intro to feminism for white middle class people as you’re going to get at the moment. The problem is a sort of obstinacy when it comes to being called on stuff and then circling the wagons and blaming the people who were belittled for daring to remonstrate against the campaigning journalist. This isn’t good enough. If you write copy, you are doing it for an audience, and they are not homogeneous. Listen to critiques, take them on board, take them off-line if you need to. Get into email chats not twitter battles and just try to think beyond you’re own experience. No one gets it right all the time.

We need to realise that these things work like cabinet responsibility - we can be strategically unified if necessary, but behind the scenes we have a lot of talking to do about how to make sure that we’re not excusing bad behaviour.

Privilege coming out of my ears mate, please let me know about anything to do with it or this piece - @blangry

Ableism and apologies

penny-red:

Last night my use of ableist language in a previous post, ‘Take Back The Net’, was called out by feminist allies both on Twitter and on The F Word. I think that those who called me out were absolutely right to do so - when the mistake was pointed out, I was mortified. Philippa Willitts, author of  the post at the F Word, explained that when I wrote this:

“It’d be nice to think that the rot of rank misogyny was confined to fringe sites populated by lunatics. Unfortunately, not only are men like White clearly at least minimally sane enough to hold down desk-jobs, their school of misogyny has become an everyday feature of political conversation online, particularly in the UK.

…It felt “like a punch in the stomach.” 

I’m sorry, Philippa. Here’s what I meant to say: the use of terms like ‘crazy’ and ‘mental’ to describe online trolls is hugely problematic. There’s absolutely no correlation between violent misogyny and having mental health difficulties. Most of the people I’m closest to have at some point struggled with their mental health, and none of them have posted rape fantasies about women online. Writing off disgusting, violent prejudice as ‘crazy’ is intellectually vacuous and perpetuates the worst sort of stereotyping. Unfortunately, that’s not what I actually wrote.

What I wrote was a crude way of describing the situation, for multiple reasons, not least because one should not need to be quote sane unquote to be able to hold down a job - that’s precisely the kind of attitude that perpetuates the stereotypes that make employers push aside the CVs of anyone with a history of, say, depression.  I fucked up here, and I fucked up doubly hard because I’ve written for mental health publications in the past. I’ve been both a carer and a person with mental health difficulties, I’ve for godssake spoken at conferences about how and why ableist language, misuse of words like ‘schizoid’ and ‘nutter’ in the media, is unhelpful. In other words, I *should know better*.
I was originally intending to simply change the wording of the piece with a note, and I imagine that’s what I’ll do if and when I’m called out with justification in future. The reason for explaining the process at more length here is that - well. Some people seem to have a big problem right now with a culture of online debate that allows those without large public media platforms to challenge those who do if and when they fuck up and play into lazy stereotypes. I don’t mean to hijack a discussion of ableism with my own hand-wringing, but this is relevant to wider issues of ‘privilege-checking’ right now, so read on if you’re interested.
This is not, as some people have already suggested following my brief apology on Twitter, about language-policing, or about letting the internet dictate what you write and think. People toss criticism at me all the time (really: ALL THE TIME) that I don’t respond to, because not all of it is meaningful and some of it is disingenuous, uninformed, or comes from a place of hate. However, in light of the “Take Back The Net” post, which was all about online ethics and silencing, I’m actually a big fan of the net culture that lets people call others out on their occasional fuckups and gives them space to change.
 
Legitimate, useful critique is not the same as hate-trolling or censorship. I know other people have different opinions on this, but personally I think that if we are to deal with either of the extremely real, pressing problems of online censorship or of harassment and hate speech, then we also need to get used to taking ownership of our mistakes.

Ableism and apologies

penny-red:

Last night my use of ableist language in a previous post, ‘Take Back The Net’, was called out by feminist allies both on Twitter and on The F Word. I think that those who called me out were absolutely right to do so - when the mistake was pointed out, I was mortified. Philippa Willitts, author of  the post at the F Word, explained that when I wrote this:

“It’d be nice to think that the rot of rank misogyny was confined to fringe sites populated by lunatics. Unfortunately, not only are men like White clearly at least minimally sane enough to hold down desk-jobs, their school of misogyny has become an everyday feature of political conversation online, particularly in the UK.

…It felt “like a punch in the stomach.” 

I’m sorry, Philippa. Here’s what I meant to say: the use of terms like ‘crazy’ and ‘mental’ to describe online trolls is hugely problematic. There’s absolutely no correlation between violent misogyny and having mental health difficulties. Most of the people I’m closest to have at some point struggled with their mental health, and none of them have posted rape fantasies about women online. Writing off disgusting, violent prejudice as ‘crazy’ is intellectually vacuous and perpetuates the worst sort of stereotyping. Unfortunately, that’s not what I actually wrote.

What I wrote was a crude way of describing the situation, for multiple reasons, not least because one should not need to be quote sane unquote to be able to hold down a job - that’s precisely the kind of attitude that perpetuates the stereotypes that make employers push aside the CVs of anyone with a history of, say, depression.  I fucked up here, and I fucked up doubly hard because I’ve written for mental health publications in the past. I’ve been both a carer and a person with mental health difficulties, I’ve for godssake spoken at conferences about how and why ableist language, misuse of words like ‘schizoid’ and ‘nutter’ in the media, is unhelpful. In other words, I *should know better*.
I was originally intending to simply change the wording of the piece with a note, and I imagine that’s what I’ll do if and when I’m called out with justification in future. The reason for explaining the process at more length here is that - well. Some people seem to have a big problem right now with a culture of online debate that allows those without large public media platforms to challenge those who do if and when they fuck up and play into lazy stereotypes. I don’t mean to hijack a discussion of ableism with my own hand-wringing, but this is relevant to wider issues of ‘privilege-checking’ right now, so read on if you’re interested.
This is not, as some people have already suggested following my brief apology on Twitter, about language-policing, or about letting the internet dictate what you write and think. People toss criticism at me all the time (really: ALL THE TIME) that I don’t respond to, because not all of it is meaningful and some of it is disingenuous, uninformed, or comes from a place of hate. However, in light of the “Take Back The Net” post, which was all about online ethics and silencing, I’m actually a big fan of the net culture that lets people call others out on their occasional fuckups and gives them space to change.
 
Legitimate, useful critique is not the same as hate-trolling or censorship. I know other people have different opinions on this, but personally I think that if we are to deal with either of the extremely real, pressing problems of online censorship or of harassment and hate speech, then we also need to get used to taking ownership of our mistakes.
I hardly ever read these magazines any more. This is why #bollocks (from @incurablehippie on Streamzoo)

I hardly ever read these magazines any more. This is why #bollocks (from @incurablehippie on Streamzoo)