We are, none of us, beyond hope

crazy

I didn’t read the xojane article doing the rounds, I found myself reeling from the headline as I tried to process what the author, Amanda Lauren, was saying. “My former friend’s death was a blessing – some people are so sick, they are beyond help”.

It kind of speaks for itself, the author believes there are people who are a lost cause and they should die because it will make it easier for everyone else. She feels justified in saying this, reassured enough to publish her thoughts on a global platform. I am perturbed by people who make these controversial statements, unconcerned by how they might be perceived, either possessing the hide of a rhinoceros or else feel that public opinion will sway their way (another painful reminder of the growing inhumanity we’ve normalised against anyone considered ‘other’).

I have CPTSD, a condition I am stuck with for the rest of my life because it is as the name suggests, complex. I didn’t ask to be repeatedly put in harm’s way, with no chance of escape, it’s just the life I was born into. I have explored in great detail the reasons I broke down, so that I can understand it was not my fault (when you’re mental you’re convinced you deserve it) and so that I could hope for a better future, one where I can have a fulfilling life, where I won’t be immediately at risk of a violent death.

My efforts to at least appear normal for the sake of ordinary people exhaust me, as anyone who suffers from a condition which impacts on their day to day dealings will tell you; how to not only stay alive, but to live well, to be fun and interesting and relevant. There can be no stone left unturned, no door chained and bolted in the recesses of my fragile mind, triggers must be neutralised as they arise. I frequently say things that make other people uncomfortable. I don’t do it intentionally, it’s just my experience of the world is so far removed from the norm, I come across somewhat intense and affected. When people try to cover things up, or downplay the truth, I consider that to be gaslighting because it messes with my sense of reality. When I told the truth as a child I was disbelieved and punished.

My childhood was violent, my teens isolated, my 20s split entirely from reality. Amanda Lauren would probably say my life wasn’t worth living. I believed that too, until just a year or two ago, when I suddenly remembered who I was before I became unhinged, a state I found myself in through no fault of my own. I remembered the things I was good at, the hopes I had as a pre teen, for university and beyond. This brought with it confidence and self esteem, qualities I’d mislaid following my failings as an adult in a cishet white supremacist patriarchy. When I think back to the lowest period of my life, the monotony of anhedonia and how utterly convinced I was that my time on this earth was rapidly coming to an end it frightens me to think people like Amanda believe in the legitimacy of their own bigotry.

I never thought I’d have the confidence to write my own blog, or weather a twitter storm. I didn’t dare dream of friends and lovers who hear me, even when there are no words. Even when I was a bordering on psychotic, withdrawing from SSRIs, they kept me supplied with valium and kitten pics. That’s what friends do, Amanda, they love you despite your flaws. They understand there is nothing inherently wrong with you, that you’re a product of an unjust society and that to feel depressed or disconnected from the world is a sign you’re actually (most likely) a decent sort. I don’t reject the mental ones, I welcome them with open arms, as they have me. I want to offer Amanda’s ex friend my condolences and wish for her to rest in peace. I am sorry you were stuck with people who didn’t deserve you.

“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.” Be wary of those who pretend they haven’t a care in the world, more so the ones who genuinely don’t.

‘Confronting’ random women is called street harassment

All too often I use this blog to rage about all the bastards in the world but today I’m going to engage in some unprecedented activity (like the badass ex Muslim I am) and actually thank some of you for doing your human duty. If I’d had you Twitter treasures on the bus that time I was racially abused I’d probably still feel ok to go out on my own. On that occasion 50 odd people chose to laugh at my pleas for help. They fell on the side of the racist who’d just called me a Paki bitch for ignoring his sexual harassment. The packed top deck of a London bus, in Kilburn, a multicultural area, at 3am, and not one person thought it unacceptable I’d been targeted for racist and sexist harassment. Even the other poc on the bus looked away, a black man shook his head and looked at his feet. Luckily my white best friend was there to slap the offender and stand in his way so he couldn’t actually physically reach me.

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When Matthew Doyle tweeted this, whatever his intentions, he had assumed solidarity from Twitter. The majority of people I follow were still reeling from #StopIslam which was trending in the UK yesterday following the Brussels attacks but it was trending for a reason, a significant number of my fellow citizens/twitterers are in fact white supremacists, even if they do not think of themselves as racist. With this in mind, Doyle tweeted his encounter with a random Muslim woman on the street in which he demanded an explanation for Brussels. What he wasn’t expecting was for common sense to prevail and for people to afford that woman the humanity and dignity each and every single one of us deserves; the right to exist free from harm and collective punishment.

On seeing that tweet my heart fell, my initial reaction isn’t anger as you might expect of me. I ALWAYS feel toxic shame first, a latent trickle of self hate and abject fear, I feel intensely vulnerable, then apprehensive because I was still unsure of how Twitter would react. How many times have we said x is racist only for the fair, well meaning apologists to deny/erase our perspectives? On this occasion though, I felt buoyed by the outright repulsion for this man and his bigoted actions.

Thank you friends, allies, comrades for showing me that there are some of us at least who took on board what it is to be human, that we can be outraged on the behalf of a woman none of us personally know, who might not even exist, because whether she does or not it’s the absolute right thing to do, especially when many more suffer incidents like this in their day to day dealings with the Great British public. Every. Single. Day. Every time there is a terror attack the media reporting provokes/incites a wave of increasingly violent attacks on women like me, because white men like Doyle are too cowardly to pick on someone their own size. He calls himself a feminist and I guess he can; telling Muslim women what to wear *is* the white feminist’s modus operandi, I just wish they’d stop pretending they see us as equals.

On a final note it is worth mentioning that there were still some people on ‘our side’ who thought that tweet wasn’t real or else intended to be a ‘joke’ or *insert well meaning excuse here* just not what we as people of colour say it is. Nice middle class white people, why do you still refuse to listen? People have been murdered in this country for being brown or ‘looking Muslim’ these past few years and still you think we’re just making it up, or overreacting? You cannot tackle a problem until you call it what it is. Doyle tweeted it in all seriousness then backtracked when he realised people were upset but changed his mind again, perhaps galvanised by incoming tweets of racist solidarity.

When you deny the experiences of the people living it, it only gets worse.

Are you Islamophobic?

If you think Muslims are all the same, you are Islamophobic.

If you think all Muslims are ISIS, you are Islamophobic.

If you think it’s fair and right to demand all Muslims apologise for terrorist attacks committed by completely random people who also happen to be Muslim, you are Islamophobic.

It is undoubtedly Islamophobic to make the connection between Muslims and terrorism and ignore the terror inflicted on everyday Muslims by white terrorists.

If you think Shariah Law is out of control in western countries there is a chance you might be Islamophobic.

If you espouse enlightenment values and secularism as a cloak for praising western liberal democracy over the global south then you are most likely Islamophobic.

If you think it’s ok to demonstrate your feminism with a misogynistic attack on a Muslim woman’s right to choose what she wears then you are definitely an Islamophobic wankjob.

“Islam is not a race” is an inappropriate response to being told you’re a racist. White people assume black and brown men with beards are Muslims but white men are hipsters. Heck I’m routinely targeted online for being a Muslim when I’m an atheist and I can only presume it’s because I look like a Paki. It wasn’t always racialised but it has become that way; white people, in their ignorance, target Sikh people for looking Muslim ie brown and wearing something on their head. White people have racialised a belief system because it’s easier to claim supremacy over all of us that way.

If you think Muslims are the only rapists and paedophiles and have chosen to ignore the many white victims of (off the top of my head) Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall, Gary Glitter, Ian Watkins, Max Clifford, various establishment perpetrators and their co-conspirators; the police, media and social care staff plus the many millions of victims who never do report because of aforementioned rape culture then you are an Islamophobic shit heel and I hate you with every cell in my body. It’s your fault victims of sexual violence are denied justice because you’ve decided the problem’s over there.

*Inspired by David Schneider’s “Are you anti-semitic?”

 

 

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Traditionally submissive.. bollocks

I cannot be the only woman troubled by the audacity of white men. I cannot be the only person in the world to feel contempt for the white men who target brown and black women in racist crusades to provoke the men they ‘belong’ to, a retaliation that would be deemed fair and necessary if men of colour were targeting white women (see Rotherham). These tit for tat childish penis wars must stop (and it is white women alone who can make it happen).

The prime minister of Great Britain has commanded ‘traditionally submissive’ women do xyz in a bid to curb terrorism. They must learn to speak English because apparently not speaking the language can fire wannabe terrorists into action. This idea can be applied universally, after all there are many ‘native’ English speakers who cannot write/speak English very well at all, and you tend to find them at fascist demos where their sole purpose is to strike terror into the hearts of ethnic minorities but the key difference is we don’t blame the mothers of the EDL for their brutish comical ways, we lay blame squarely at the feet of the government which knowingly incites violent hatred between marginalised groups.

This attack on women of colour (mainly) has been relentless of late. Muslim women are ‘traditionally submissive’, they do not have agency so cannot make decisions on how to dress themselves, and if they do not learn English they can be held personally accountable for the radicalisation of their kids. It’s like feminism died and made white man ruler of the world. White feminists think this is a separate issue because they agree with white men that woc are submissive and downtrodden. They treat us as such themselves. They, like white men, want to tell us what to do and how to do it. Not only do we need saving but we must bow to the superiority of white feminism and let them do things the way they always have. This domineering behaviour is the fault of the control freaks in power not the people who are trying desperately to avoid conflict for fear of another war. Given the escalation in actual incidents of violence against (primarily) Muslim women, the narrative trickling down from the top ensures this will continue. If there were any cowardly racists unaware of the traditional submissiveness of Muslim women, the PM has issued a timely reminder they are there should one feel the need for an unprovoked racist misogynistic attack. They are in effect blaming women for the abuses carried out against them, and setting the stage for all future attacks.

All feminists, whether corporate or otherwise should be outraged at this.

We live in times shockingly reminiscent of a past we were not there to see yet heard about in great detail because learning and raising consciousness was supposed to free us from the evil perpetrated against humans by other humans for being a little different. ‘Never again’ loses all meaning when yet again, the most vulnerable in our society are being marked out for easy identification. Asylum seekers – another group of humans forsaken by Fortress Europe – need our love and space to heal not wristbands and red doors, markers that have already seen violence inflicted on these people we should be protecting. The Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust wore yellow stars, an eblem for the purpose of easy identification, which is how authorities are explaining away the modern day symbols of oppression. Do not be the person who tells their grandkids “you just did what you were told”, that excuse does not fly in a humane and civilised society. Nor does “we didn’t know” because we have been telling you this will happen for some years now and instead we were vilifed, silenced, marked out as bullies. It doesn’t change the fact we were right.

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The denial of power and control dynamics by our ‘lefties’ who are really ‘righties’ has enabled the shift in public consciousness so that it’s ok to dehumanise a whole race. I haven’t been a Muslim for decades but have always hoped I’d find my way back to God, largely due to the atheist scene. However I will defend Muslims as though I am practising as one myself because the white supremacists sees me as one of them. We’re all exactly like the others. I do not wear a hijab and I speak perfect English in as standard an accent as you can get but I am still targeted by racists. It is with this in mind, I call to the white feminists of the 21st century in a plea to shut ‘their white men’ the fuck up. I’d really rather not play this ownership game but white people seem determined to target women when it is really the men they are afraid of so I’m gonna give it a go.

Words lose all meaning when you are confronted by the reality of this world. We can pretend the privileges afforded to a handful are representative of the world in general but sincerely, from my rung all the way down here, we have broken this world with our bullshit. The cheek of this man to suggest it is Muslim women who exemplify traditionally submissive women.. have you seen his wife?

The Politics of Violence Against Women

As a survivor of domestic violence and a repeat victim of online harassment and abuse, neither of which were acknowledged by the authorities or the commentariat responsible for throwing me to the trolls in the first place, I am angry but also demoralised by the display of ignorance and entitlement our feminist women MPs have treated us to the last few weeks.

Lucy Allan the Conservative member of parliament for Telford was found to have lied about the death threat she allegedly received in response to the fact she’d voted to bomb Syria. Similarly Stella Creasy lamented the ‘call doxxing’ she’d clearly imagined being as there is no such thing. Doxxing is what happens when someone trawls the Internet for your home and work details, pasting them online so that anyone can access your private information. Trolls and those with actual criminal intent (to rape or kill) are then free to hunt you down and hurt you. This hasn’t happened to Stella and even if it did the police would do their jobs, unlike the reality for the majority of victims who are not permitted to even defend themselves with words because it shows they weren’t frightened or intimidated by the perpetrator. Victim blaming aside, in my personal experience the authorities pass the buck on whose duty of care it is to safeguard vulnerable people online. If you’re an MP though, the cops are answerable to you, it’d be more than their job’s worth to treat the elite the way they do the rest of us plebs so to use this language not only incorrectly but to suggest there is no recourse is a blatant lie, especially when someone has already been jailed for getting on Creasy’s privileged side.

Siobhan McDonagh, another Labour MP claimed the attacks on her were comparable to domestic abuse, using emotive language in order to appeal for sympathy because we do care about victims in this country. Domestic abuse is so called because it happens in the home. It is where one person lives in fear of another, a relation, intimate partner, regardless of gender. It is not at all comparable to the righteous condemnation that goes hand in hand with being a representative for the people, particularly when you’re not doing a very good job of listening to your constituents. How do these MPs suggest we behave given that we’re being sold down the river for objecting to more war (and a million other policies) by these elitist warmongering neolibs?

However their words have not had the desired effect, instead survivors have expressed their dismay and unease at this appropriation of survivor language by women who should definitely know better. Why aren’t they trained in women’s issues, how can they be unaware of the ways in which patriarchy denies justice to victims on the basis that “women lie”? When one woman makes a false allegation of anything that is viewed within society as a women’s issue, it has a knock on effect for us all. It’s sad and unfair but a fact that whenever we do make progress we do so for the whole of womankind. Similarly when one of us fucks up, we make things difficult for all.

When Jeremy Corbyn was voted in as leader we were told how unfeminist it was to overlook the female candidates but the feminists themselves don’t understand how unfeminist it is to use these particular words in the wrong context, when so many women are denied justice.

Please stop using the words we use to describe our lived experiences. As marginalised people we need them to describe the actual things we suffer without justice and for people to understand what those experiences mean. To undermine this language is to undermine the work we do in the community and online to raise awareness of violence against women, something of which I’m sure the capitalist fems haven’t the slightest clue.

(To bomb Syria, where there will most likely be women and children is a feminist issue but then white feminism was adamant race wasn’t a feminist issue at all so they’re hardly going to join the dots here)

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An Open Letter: To the racist next door (well, upstairs)

We haven’t met yet, I tend to avoid the stairwells at home time, in fact most of the time because I rarely go out but I frequently hear you come home after a relatively short day at work. The landlord says you’re a teacher and this was meant to prove your suitability for the flat above me, the walls are thin and I knew the last couple far too intimately, although I hadn’t met them either. Whilst it’s true there haven’t yet been any all night raves as yet, I am getting used to the drone of your very boring self important expressions. I don’t think this is your natural speaking voice but an affectation of what a teacher should sound like. You sound very male and very entitled even when I can’t make out the words, you frequently talk over your guests. When you’re not enunciating for the whole street you’re belting out Lloyd Webber classics for Britain First’s Got No Talent so it’s fair to say you like all the attention being you gets.

It is with this growing irritation that I peeked out of the peep hole when I heard your voice bellow loudly as you trudged up the stairs this afternoon. I caught the back of your head, looks like you don’t have any hair, and you seemed as tall as the door to the next floor. A shorter man with brown skin followed behind. He didn’t pique my interest as much as the words you were saying to him though. You said “whilst women in India are oppressed at least they get an education. In Pakistan they don’t even have that.”

Oh really? I’m even more pumped to meet you now, can’t wait to look at all your photos of Pakistan and hear about your best and worst adventures. Of course as an educator of future generations I assume you must have the information to make a statement so matter of factly, so I’m going to believe you when you say anything, otherwise why would you? Unless say, you were just repeating a thing you’d always heard and just assumed to be true because you’re a thickheaded arrogant racist (cos white supremacy runs deep even with the ones who don’t appear outwardly fascistic) and why should you care about whether things are factual or not, it’s not like due process is a thing poc even understand in their own corrupt countries so why would they expect it here, or something?

In my large family most of the graduates are women. My grandparents had a focus on educating the girls because they wanted us to be independent and not reliant on a husband who could do with us as he pleased. They saw education as freedom from patriarchy, which certainly confused me growing up being as my family weren’t lacking on the patriarch front. I think it was a latent desire to keep “our women” free from the clutches of western patriarchy, to increase our value as women in the western world where we are seen as servile and disposable. This attitude was prevalent in the community I come from. These were the poorest of Pakistanis and many married their girls off young but the suitors were always turned away at the door for us and my aunts. “They’re too busy with their studies” was the blanket response my gran had for anyone suggesting we were ripe. This remained the case forever, at least with regards to myself. I’m still unmarried, in my 30s, and still learning, at my own pace.

This isn’t the first time a person in a position of power has espoused dangerously problematic opinions with regards to the natives of my fledgling motherland. Another teacher, older than the racist upstairs and also a devout Christian asked me once whether it was true there was a whole village of imbeciles somewhere in Pakistan, where the IQ was nominally the lowest in the whole world. I didn’t even know what to say to that.

This kind of jarring ignorance has become commonplace in the wasteland of post recession Tory Britain, it’s breathtaking because it was not the norm for me, at least not growing up in my multicultural town with my multicultural friends and teachers. It was perhaps always there but cleverly disguised because at one time people believed in power of laws which forbid racism, I know I did. The various authorities inadequate response to racism has allowed for that attitude to seep into wider society because the racists know the cops are on their side. Whiteness trumps justice. In fact racism is condoned by the people occupying seats of power at the very top, for example when they call Cobra to deal with an unprecedented death of a white soldier on British soil even though that sentence is untrue in its entirety.

I have come to conclude there is no right or wrong in society only power and control, that is to say I believe there is a moral compass and most certainly a version of life exists for some where doing the right thing is the noblest and happiest way to live but for the majority of people it really is about what you can get away with in any given situation. These opinions white people have, where they deny the humanity of others and speak of them as aliens without any direct experience of the people in question is a narrative that is centuries old. Racism is most prevalent in the UK in the areas where there are actually no people of colour, so when you’re trying to reason with a fascist that they are wrong about all Muslims, you may as well be speaking to a shit brick wall. There is no reasoning with those who are devoid of reason, education, experience yet exist in a suit of white skin that elevates them to a state of enlightenment where they can make damaging untruthful statements about other humans without batting an eyelid or challenge.

They’re teachers and I left school at 16 so they’re right and I’m wrong, or at least that’s the version some of you allow yourselves to believe.