Society

Sexism in Healthcare

In my mid 20s I was diagnosed with a 17cm cyst on my left ovary. Prior to this my ex partner would gaslight me, saying I had given myself these symptoms of bloatedness, pain and nausea, because “the brain is a powerful thing”. The diagnosis came after months of to-ing and fro-ing with my GP, then Brixton based, who dismissed my concerns instead choosing to respond with wildly inappropriate remarks like “women don’t drink enough water, you’ve probably given yourself a UTI” and “stop eating your Bangladeshi partner’s cooking then” when I insisted he refer me for further testing. He didn’t and I had to seek alternative treatment, taking myself out of work for a couple of hours without telling anyone (I was a temp on a short-term contract and didn’t get paid for hours I took off) and visited the local sexual health clinic. I asked for a female doctor, because I felt she would take the matter more seriously. I hadn’t always thought of gender as having such a pronounced effect on the sort of service I would receive but here I was.

It didn’t take very long for this doctor to ascertain that something was indeed wrong. Following an internal exam where she pressed down on my stomach simultaneously, she announced there was a mass and it wasn’t small. She wrote a note to my GP insisting he refer me for an ultrasound. He wasn’t too pleased when I turned up with it and grumbled “I’m only the doctor, what do I know?” Not a fat lot of good, as it turned out.

6 weeks later, I had a scan at King’s College hospital where I watched as the sonographer’s face flitted from one part of the screen to another and she rolled the probe further and further up my abdomen. “You have a cyst, a larger one on your left ovary, and I’m just checking to see whether it’s affecting your kidney function”. This was all rather alarming, to say the least. She said she would be recommending an elective surgery to have it removed and they would need to test the mass for malignancy. After my surgery they told me they had drained 1.2 litres of fluid off the cyst but had managed to get it all and it was benign. I was perplexed then, when barely 6 months later, it had grown back to 14cm. Following this surgery I was left with very little functioning ovarian tissue but my doctors said my other ovary would compensate leaving me with about 80% function overall. I read a study that said people who’ve had more than 2 large ovarian cysts have an increase likelihood of premature menopause, which was just the shite icing on the shite covered cake.

A decade on and I am settled back in Birmingham. It’s not been more than a few weeks since I changed my GP (for the umpteenth time). I had an exceptional experience with them when I first fell ill with mental health in 2010. My female GP was a rock, she made all the right referrals and got me started on therapies and medication, honestly without her support I dread to think what could have happened. She left the practice a short while later and I was seen by 3 male doctors, whichever one was on duty. I felt as though I was a nuisance and they were just patching me up instead of looking at the causes of my symptoms. It all came to a head when one of their new partners, whom I’d never seen before, withheld my pain meds just before a weekend and only relented when all hell broke loose (me blubbering on the phone and my aunt actually marching on reception, plus the local pharmacist having a word). He said I was due a review for these meds they’d never put on repeat prescriptions because I was ‘a suicide risk’ and candidate for cardiac arrest. When I attended the surgery on the Monday following the weekend, he shouted at me, and threatened me and my aunt with police action, prompting me to run out of the surgery.

I registered with a new GP who did a review of my pain meds and decided to keep me on them because I ‘wasn’t abusing them’ and the risks of taking me off one drug and putting me on a new one outweighed the potential fallout from codeine. No surprise this was a female GP. She even put it on my repeat prescriptions so I wouldn’t need to speak to a GP to have it prescribed. When I mentioned the palmar erythema and tingling on my top lip and how I’d read that these symptoms are caused by elevated oestrogen levels and how I’d suffered with ovarian cysts when I was younger, she booked me in for a blood test to check my hormone levels. She was surprised this hadn’t been done before but I wasn’t. She said I’d need to be tested on my period, so they can gauge what is and isn’t normal. That must have been what done it for the male GPs, all that icky period talk, who can be bothered with that eh? What is most unsettling is that the symptoms all point to a bunch of scary conditions that can be life threatening, things like lupus or ovarian cancer, other auto immune diseases, cirrhosis of the liver.. things you don’t take chances with and yet.

Doctors are putting women at risk of premature death because sexism. All that power goes to their heads and they cannot conceive of a scenario in which a patient knows their own body better than they do. Yes, I use Dr Google, with the caveat that I am not a trained medical professional and am only seeking clues as to what could be wrong. I can understand medical jargon and make reasonable assessments that I would then like a doctor to follow-up on. I think this pisses them off because being a doctor is such hard work that mere plebs shouldn’t even attempt to understand. Perhaps it diminishes their self-worth, to be shown up like the sexist job’s worths they are.

I am proof that those of us on multiple axes of oppression will fall through the net, again and again. We’re easy to write off and brush under the carpet. I say this as someone who will scream injustice even when I’m on the floor and giving up, but most people aren’t like me. Most people do curl up and die, without a whimper.

Advertisements

YouTube (sounds like a slur)

If you haven’t already notified YouTube they are enabling neo nazi fascists, do it now.

Click ‘videos’ on https://www.youtube.com/c/KiwiFarms

When you report a video, there is a short paragraph advising you of the circumstances in which you can report a video and below that there is a link to ‘report channel’. You could report each video individually but be aware YouTube go on to reiterate that you must not use videos to report other problems or they may close your account. Personally I think the whole channel should be removed.

If you are struggling to describe the reasons for your report, copy and paste the text below.

This is a complaint about Joshua Conner Moon and Kiwi Farms operating a YouTube account at

https://www.youtube.com/c/KiwiFarms and https://www.stream.me/kiwifarms

for the sole purpose of Joshua Moon cyberbullying people already being bullied on his Kiwi Farms website.  Joshua Conner Moon is running a notorious neo-nazi, white supremacist hate group and cyberbullying website called Kiwi Farms, which targets minorities for cyberbullying.  Kiwi Farms bullied 4 people into committing suicide.

YouTube has a responsibility to civilised society and cannot allow savagery like this to go unnoticed and unpunished. Stop collaborating with nazis.

Reminder: Kiwi farms are nazi incels

Joshua Conner Moon has been quietly trying to make a comeback as a YouTuber and has set up a patreon. If you could all report him and make them aware of the kind of violence they are enabling (for a reminder click here):

https://youtube.com/c/KiwiFarms
https://www.patreon.com/MadAtTheInternet

Mainstream platforms such as Youtube and Patreon cannot be seen to condone or tolerate white supremacist violence, not forgetting the systematic targeting of vulnerable adults. We need to remind them of that.

More in common with Prince Harry

I’m not a fan or a royalist, I’m not writing this for any other reason than posterity. For this particular purpose we have more in common than that which divides us, if the news reports are anything to go by. A group of nazis on the internet have been tracked down and arrested for terror offences against the prince and his exotic bride. Members of the atomwaffen/sonnenkrieg division, an American neo nazi gaming site have made threats to kill Prince Harry for being a ‘race traitor’. A 17 year old from London, 18 year old from Portsmouth and 21 year old from Bath have been arrested although they deny the charges.

Atomwaffen, like the nazi site kiwi farms, is a forum for emotionally/developmentally stunted caucasian males (and the odd East Asian and Jew who’ve identified whiteness as the ultimate get out of jail card) who can’t get laid and live in their mum’s basement, spanking their marmoset furiously over a dream they’re going to genocide people of colour some day (as if that would give any meaning to their worthless amoebic lives). Atomwaffen, like the neo nazi site kiwi farms, is linked to the murders of multiple victims, including Blaze Bernstein, a 19 year old Jewish student who was brutally slain whilst visiting his parents. Samuel Woodward, a former classmate and member of atomwaffen was arrested and charged with murder.

The parallels between atomwaffen and kiwi farms are clear to see, not least of all the troubling body count. I find it hard to believe authorities would have allowed men of colour forums in which they described murder and sexual abuse of white women for even a short while, yet groups like kiwi farms and atomwaffen have been given the freedom to propagate sexual violence against women of colour and incitement to murder and even terrorism without so much as a ripple from those who have the power to make them stop. If West Midlands police had done something in 2014, when I reported stacks of racist rape and death threats against me by nazi gamers, perhaps they wouldn’t have proliferated so exponentially and been so emboldened as to threaten a prince. I mean, they really believe their own hype. To be fair, consequences have been a little thin on the ground, in that there have been none. Perhaps these fledgling nazis are so confident in the support they receive from the establishment, the justice system and media they actually believe they are more powerful than a prince who is 6th in line to the British throne. When you look at the ways in which the media presents Meghan Markle, how it portrays her as a thorn in Kate’s side, drip feeding unfavourable quotes from ‘sources close to the royal family’ (probably that golliwog wearing climber of kent or even that racist old fart in law, so many to choose), they are telling the world she is an outsider, and we know they mean cos she’s black.

When scores of teenagers were getting ill and dying as a result of thinspiration styled sites encouraging starvation and self harm, campaigners were able to get those sites banned. No free speech nazis demanding the right to be indoctrinated by harmful gurus and being validated and yet when we bring up the subject of nazi incel forums and how hate speech is not free speech, we get shut down because the people who have the power to change things are white men and they have more in common with pubescent nazis than they do with the women of colour they target.

Take for example the BBC’s decision to publish an image that Atomwaffen nazis made depicting Harry getting a shot to head with the caption ‘race traitor’. The image was taken down after a complaint from the royal household. It was argued that the BBC were giving unnecessary exposure to an item that could compromise the safety of the royal couple. I quite agree, those who persistently platform nazi propaganda are collaborators at the very least. The BBC have in the past allowed a member of the public to flaunt his swastika tattoo without challenge from the presenters. They have consistently favoured fascists like Farage, platforming him more times that the other party leaders combined in the run up to the last general election.

Harry has the power to do something and demand accountability. He’s come some way from the nazi armband wearing youth who perhaps regrets his past. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out and whether the powers that be are ready to admit they failed to do their jobs and all in the name of white supremacy.

Harry Leslie Smith: A Hero for All Ages

It’s not often I cry at the news, get angry yes, feel afraid too but not so common to feel deep in the pit of my stomach gutted, for all that is lost and will never be. I felt that way when Leonard Cohen passed away and here I am again, with the devastating news that Harry Leslie Smith, a world war veteran exemplifying the best in human nature has died at the age of 95.

Harry Leslie Smith grew up in poverty and provided firsthand accounts of the inequality he witnessed over the course of almost a century. Whether he was describing the TB his sister succumbed to whilst the king of England received the best in care for his lung cancer or the hellscape he encountered during and after the war, it was honest and powerful and spoke to a wide section of people. I had no patience for the weasels who’d attack him on Twitter for standing up for refugees. Or the trolls who preferred their seniors frail and tucked up in bed and bullied Harry and his family for his active lifestyle, promoting his work and visiting refugees to highlight their plight. Although I’m not one to espouse respect for your elders without condition, I took it personally when these bigots targeted him. They were attacking his legitimacy as an advocate for the poor and needy because he was so effective, slandering him is all they had. It was my duty to shut them up. Harry always liked those tweets where I stood up for him and I’m glad that he knew there were people who appreciated everything he was doing.

Harry was a special human being because he’d been there and seen it with his own eyes, things none of us should ever have to see and his heart broke instead of turning to stone. He was a white man and it would have been so easy for him to ignore the hardship and suffering of others. He’d have had a much easier life if he’d chosen to only care about himself and his loved ones but he didn’t. He made hard choices, even when they were detrimental to him. He was brave and he was strong and the world will be poorer without him in it.

Harry Leslie Smith was proof that human kindness is timeless, that there are no excuses for Churchill’s genocides. He was ‘from a different era’, ‘things were different back then’, of course ‘it was another time’, but he wasn’t a hateful murderous sod, ever. Harry was proof that white people can do better and when they don’t, that is their choice. We couldn’t ignore history for as long as he was around to remind us. Now we must honour his memory and keep it alive for future generations.

I don’t know what, if anything, happens when we die but I *hope* he is ecstatic to be reunited with his wife and his other son and they are drinking champagne and toasting his long and remarkable life together.

harryand wife

RIP good sir, your efforts will never be forgotten.

Sex abuse is synonymous with power

CN – Sex Abuse

Another day, another slew of reports on sexual predators facing justice in our criminal justice system, and how some of them evade it. The use of scare quotes for eg can suggest the reporter is scornful of the information being relayed or that it is has struck a chord with them, and is throwing it out there for the reader to make up their own mind. By introducing an element of doubt, by questioning the use of particular words they cast shadows on the validity of the interviewee’s opinion. The mainstream media don’t so much as report the news, or uncover grave injustices, they shape it, they can fashion it out of thin air. How would you know otherwise, unless you were there at the time? You don’t believe everything you read, do you?

20181115_183758‘Committed paedophile’ PC Ian Naude was convicted today of raping a 13 year old girl in the back of his car and filming the attack. He also pleaded guilty to 31 other offences including misconduct in public office and grooming of other teenage girls, one of whom threatened to kill herself. What’s particularly harrowing about this case is how Naude was due to start as a junior officer in 2017 but the process was put on hold when an allegation of rape was made against him. I believe them, and the authorities perhaps should have done too but no further action was taken and the recrutiment process was continued.

Thinking back to my work as a support worker for women fleeing male violence, the standards that must be satisified in order for a case to make it to the CPS are as much about whether or not a victim is telling the truth as they are about evidence against the perpetrator. Surely PC Naude would have been required to undertake a CRB check before he was permitted to interact with members of the public? They take a while to process for non police related professions, about 3 months, but the police have access to multiple systems including POVA and other registers for the protection of vulnerable children and adults they can check before the official papers come back. Odd then that the police authority failed to notice the two child grooming allegations naming him reported to Staffs and West Mercia police in 2017.

A persistent and ‘committed paedophile’, Naude was able to bypass security checks that should have flagged him up as a concern before he was ever recruited. He should never have been allowed to interact with members of the public least of all vulnerable minors who were looking to him for protection. He is not the first and he won’t be the last. The police should just stop expecting the public to trust in them when they cannot guarantee our safety in their presence.

Who can we trust? We can’t trust the police, who seem disproportionately represented in sexual and domestic violence statistics, they offend at a rate 5 times higher than the national average. We can’t trust the media, they spent decades watching and covering up Britain’s nasty treasures, and crawled out of the woodwork post Savile to confirm they had seen it all unfold but that stopped rather abruptly when we turned on them for being such useless complicit witnesses to horrific child abuse. I would suggest it’s one of the reasons they stay focused on Asian grooming gangs. The racist outrage and plots for revenge are all consuming, there’s no space to think about anything else. With propaganda focused on predatory savages, the police, media, government and all their collaborators got a get out of jail free card.

I suppose Lord Lester is so self assured in this scheme he can approach Asian survivors of violence like Jasvinder Sanghera (an inspiration to many women like myself) who founded the Karma Nirvana project in 1993 to provide culturally specific support to women experiencing domestic violence, and promise her a peerage if she slept with him. He groped her and chased her around his kitchen, after offering a place to stay when she missed the last train home. They had been working on changing the law to make forced marriage an offence, back in 2006. I remember that project, I too was involved in a small way when the Asian refuge I was working in invited members of the house of lords to come see the crucial work we were doing with women who had no recourse to public funds. I am utterly disgusted by the revelations that one of ours was being harassed and assaulted by the very people we were appealing to for social justice.

20181115_183730

I believe Jasvinder Sanghera. I am not at all surprised however that there are people including Lord Lester himself, saying she is a liar. What kind of a world do we live in when a trusted and upstanding member of a network that protects victims is being framed as dishonest? “I was acutely aware of the power imbalance”, she said “If I’d said anything, who would believe me?” She felt all the same things all victims do, even with her CBE and many awards and accolades. She has waived her right to anonymity because she continues to stand for all women, in every way she can.

She is going to need support, especially as it seems the establishment are doubling down. How on earth do we contend with the all powerful, those with such a blatant disregard for common people, who use their punitive powers to cast aspersions on victims and survivors? Jasvinder herself has said she feels as though she “has been victimised all over again”. Power has asserted itself.

They can frame it however they like, the mainstream media and politicians, we know different. They’ll print an article here, and another there, news they can’t afford to ignore but they won’t join the dots to expose the network, not like they do with Asian grooming gangs. There’s no middle page spread on the privileged establishment old boy networks running through the centre of all public services, because they run all the papers too. They’ll throw the odd working class monster to the dogs, for balance, but won’t ever report on the pervasive and far reaching sickness of familial child abuse, the most common of all sex abuses in the United Kingdom. You are more likely to be raped by your father or brother or uncle than you are ever to come in contact with an Asian grooming gang.

The problem is too huge to take care of one sector at a time. Instead we need a class war and survivors must take the lead.

Britain’s Rejects

My 72 year old immigrant grandmother died in 2002, prompting a rushed visit to Pakistan. She had specified her wishes to be repatriated to her final resting place when the time came. Growing up we’d always objected to their pipe dream plans to show us the motherland, even going so far as likening it to death, given that we were never short of a cautionary tale or two of what could go wrong if they were not truthful of their intentions. There was always talk of so and so’s kid who’d gone off the rails so the folks took them ‘back home’ to straighten them out. This usually meant a forced marriage but there was always the worry you’d never return.

For 20 years I’d ignored their pleas to at least give them a chance and see what they had built with their own hands, for us, so that we had roots and a place we could always call home. My gran, or dhaadhi as we called her, would look at us in disbelief and shake her head, unsure of how else to sell it to us; the stories she’d tell of exotic fruits abundant in the courtyard, trees grown especially for us, her face wrinkled up in a smile as she recalled the exceptional quality of, as she put it, the juiciest mangoes on God’s green earth and other fruits I don’t know the English word for.

Whilst I love listening to her and seeing her clear delight I wasn’t convinced. I considered myself British, English even, and harboured an unhealthy self hate; I wasn’t above sneering at Pakis. Eager to set myself apart I believed the things white people said about Pakistan and Pakistanis and asserted my Britishness whenever it was required of me. I do cringe whenever I think back to that mindset. I think about the sort of white person who’d get off on hearing my disgust for people like me, the kind to collect tokens and play brown people off each other, dividing Muslims and Hindus for example and profiting off the misery that inevitably follows. Divide rule and conquer works to this day.

It didn’t matter when she died though, I suddenly felt I owed her a trip. Almost immediately I was consumed with guilt that I hadn’t honoured this wish of hers whilst she had been alive but I hoped she knew I was with her for her final journey. Barely six hours after she took her last breath we (my twin, dad, aunt and I) were in business class on a PIA flight bound for Islamabad. It was the first time I’d ever flown and my nerves were shot, I’d barely slept or processed what had happened but the hot cloths and silver service made up for the turbulence a little bit. My dad even let twin and I smoke a cigarette! It was that kind of a day, normal programming abandoned, venturing into the unknown out of a sense of duty and family pride. I tried not to think of her, alone, entombed in a wooden box, along with the rest of the cargo.

We landed at Islamabad airport at 6am. I was hit by the heat, as if I’d walked into a wall of hot air and it would suffocate me, upon exiting the plane. The sun hadn’t been up long but it was already 27 degrees. My thoughts went to my gran and the effect these conditions would have on her lifeless body. We waited for her coffin to be released and clung to each other through the chaos and din of the arrivals lounge, we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Random strange men pawed at our luggage offering to carry it, not being entirely forthcoming about the tip they expected for this service. It smelt funny, and the people were scary, staring at us as if we’d fallen from the sky. An uncle herded us out of the terminal and explained we looked different to regular Pakistanis and they were probably trying to figure out if we were worth anything.

It didn’t feel like a homecoming but the worst day of my life and the natives weren’t exactly helping. I didn’t want my worst fears to be confirmed, that we were easy pickings and could be disappeared, never to return. Dad’s cousin thought we were hilarious, batting furiously at the flies that seemed to throng the air, shrieking at the various creepy critters that had dared to greet us. We were a novelty. Fragile. Typical of desis who’d lost their way. A highly amusing form of entertainment for the locals.

The funeral was as expected; the outpouring of grief par the course but I had never imagined my dear gran knew so many people. I was bewildered by the number of women sat around smoking, a practice that was almost entirely gendered amongst the older generations in Britain. I only ever knew one lady smoker, my granddad’s sister in law and she had a free pass on account of her mental status. Here it just seemed to be a way of life, the chilum, similar to a shisha, was a permanent fixture. Granted they weren’t holding penis shaped cigarettes as they do in the west (cigarettes were originally marketed to women on the basis that women envied the penis and smoking would achieve equality or something) but this was really a sight to behold for someone who’d been brought up in a strict household where women most definitely did not smoke. I was also surprised at the relative freedom my girl cousins had with regards to their personal grooming. We’d been forced to keep our hair long, our eyebrows natural and our sleeves below the elbow and yet my cousins had no such restrictions. It’s when I first started to believe our grandparents were trying to preserve something of our culture in the west, that we were a snapshot frozen in time of an era pre colonialism whereas the rest of the world had just moved on.

They referred to us as the English princesses, for being so vulnerable to the elements. In our hurry to bury dhaadhi according to Islamic law within 24 hours, we’d had to forgo the usual preparations; shots for foreign diseases and the like. Within 48 hours we were struck with a mystery bug that was determined to shoot itself out of both ends and stifling temperatures in the mid 50s weren’t helping the situation, especially when the electricity was guaranteed to give out at least twice a day. I had never felt more miserable in my life and decided there was nothing else for it, we had to go home. Everyone else had other ideas though; we hadn’t given it a chance, we needed to eat more and think about getting better, the airline wouldn’t carry us if we were too sick and for a brief time I was petrified they weren’t going to let us leave at all. Maybe this had been the plan all along.

Fortunately the bug seemed to attack in waves and a day later our uncle took us shopping, we hadn’t come with very much stuff, in my case I didn’t even own more than one pair of salwar kameez. All was going well until we actually spoke to the vendors and my uncle clocked they were hiking up the prices. He said if we liked the look of anything to point at it rather than say anything aloud. I was confused, we’d been conversing in Punjabi but apparently even that sounded different to them and English people could afford to pay more.

I felt personally attacked, not gonna lie. I didn’t belong here, as people were keen to point out with every interaction. I didn’t like the heat, I didn’t like the food, or the people even, they were rude and looked at me the way closeted racists did in England. I didn’t feel safe. All I wanted was a cheese and tomato sandwich and my bed, at home in rainy blighty. I asked for fries on one occasion, thinking there isn’t a place in the world you can’t get fries, and bawled my eyes out when they arrived dusted with chilli powder. In the end, I shook off as much of it as I could and sliced up some tomato and onion for the weirdest chip butty ever. I dreamed of Nandos. I vowed to kiss the ground when I got home and never complain about the cold ever again (delirious or delusional, you decide) and made it my mission to pester the folks at all times, ET had to go home. Eventually, 10 days after the ordeal began we boarded a flight home, excited like you wouldn’t believe I made lists in my head of everything I would drink and eat.

I wasn’t sorry to say goodbye to my dysfunctional country of origin, but I did think of what it might be like, 50 years on. There’s no doubting Pakistan is a hellhole for many reasons but it was made this way. It was a consolation prize given to the victims of the British empire, those who once considered themselves Indian, those of my grandparents generation who would’ve been young children at the time of partition. They’ve seen horrors we can only imagine. They are the product of such horrors. To show humanity you must be shown it and Pakistanis are amongst some of the first to be dehumanised. They are the losers of the empire and all the alliances that followed, between extremists bound by mutual desires for power and control and must be mocked and denigrated in order to maintain the global hierarchy. They are Muslims and they were once proud rulers of India, loved by moderates of all faiths. Their fall from grace is the only lasting legacy for young Pakistan, it simply hasn’t had enough time to recuperate.

Our grandparents were refugees of a kind, the land they occupied was destroyed by the British who busted a dam, destroying everything. Britain promised those people refuge from a disaster of their own creation and so they came, naive to the racism that awaited them. They never accepted they were British, my grandparent’s generations, their hearts were too broken, unable to mend. Such is the life of the stateless citizen. I had tricked myself into believing I belonged in the UK but 9/11 changed all of that. The unspoken hate bubbled to the surface and became impossible to ignore. It’s gotten exponentially worse in recent years, there’s no denying it now. They say we don’t integrate but when we do they want to ban us from getting involved, just look at the furore over the Xmas ads, life is impossible for those of us who do not belong anywhere.

There’s no love lost between me and centrist Sadiq Khan but I felt for him today. We don’t belong anywhere, we only have an idea of what it is to belong somewhere and our place of birth is the nearest we can get to realising it, despite what the racists might say.