As a short Asian woman (5ft 1in) belonging to one of the largest demographics on this here planet of ours, representation matters. We’re an easy target, we’re smaller so we can’t get away quick enough, or we’re more visible because we are child sized in an adult world, frequently fetishised by orientalists and predators who think we’re easy pickings. Everyone has a go, and I mean EVERYONE, because we’re traditionally submissive and scared of most people. The penalties for deviating evident on this very blog, as a notoriously small yet unusually loud and ‘aggressive’ south Asian woman I’m a shock to most people’s systems because I refuse to play to type, not that it matters, people only see what they want. We never have legitimate concerns, we’re merely acting out, throwing a tantrum.
Perhaps this logic can be applied to some people, just not all. The equally diminutive Laurie Penny has since deleted the offending tweet but I gather it went something like this:
Here’s the thing Laurie, there isn’t a niche market for little Asian lady clothes, we live in a society that almost exclusively caters to white people, with their big bones and flat bodies. We are masters of the wunderweb or else we have our clothes professionally altered, it’s always been more expensive to be a little Asian lady on Rainy Fascist Island, unless you manage to find a child sized garment with enough room for woman sized boobs and bums.
We’re the same size more or less, Laurie and I, in height that is. Our bodies are completely different, as you would expect. I suspect Laurie, whilst similar in stature, has a fetishisation for bodies she would deem exotic, the curvier silhouette of a woman of colour for example. It is perhaps why, when she overheard me bemoaning the severe lack of smoochable comrades at a party, she offered her own mouth. What was I going to do, put on the spot like that? I couldn’t exactly reject her (I’m much better at saying no these days, beware) so I obliged. It was nice enough but I couldn’t shake off the feeling it was a bit awkward and entitled and she walked away straight after, if it wasn’t already weird enough.
Thinking on it now, with my more rounded view of Laurie and the world she inhabits, she probably did it just so she could say she’d kissed an Asian girl and she liked it. It’s not the first time she’s gotten into trouble for saying inappropriate things about woc, specifically small Asian women.
Or you could just be a white woman with an orientalist fetish, and enjoy the relative privileges being white gives you. You can dip into short people’s oppressions when it suits, and also the ways in which you are perceived, for instance, I think you play on the infantilisation people impose on you. We’re expected to forgive the awful things you say because you haven’t eaten, when people like myself are expected to never make a mistake even when we’re on opiates for ill health.
Frankly, I’m sick of this petulant brat. She is beyond reproach, schmoozing Nazis, helping to rebrand white supremacy for the 21st century and her sycophantic audience laps it up, time and time again. Laurie has many opinions on womanhood and how we use performative femininity to attract men, completely ignorant of the various cultural reasons non white women have for keeping their hair long. She thinks of herself as enlightened, almost Godlike (a white supremacist trait) in her analysis of other women.
I don’t care what she meant, or whether she thinks her words are being taken out of context, every interaction Laurie has with the wider world speaks volumes about the kind of person she is; irresponsible, self absorbed, entitled and ultimately, a predictable bore.
I have deactivated my Twitter account. There are many reasons but it was in fact a straw that broke this camel’s back and I don’t particularly want to discuss it. By and large, I have achieved my objectives, we all seem to be on roughly the same page now; the nazis are here and we won’t let them pass. Liberals have left no doubt in our minds whose side they’re actually on. You all know what to do (punch nazis, in case you forgot).
You can catch me on here, or if you have my email address, feel free to drop me a message there. If you’d like to work together, please ask. It’s been life affirming and destroying, I want to ponder on this awhile.
Thanks to everyone for their unwavering support. A big fuck you to all the white people who made these past few years a gaslighting hell, the truth always outs and your words and actions will speak for you when future generations look back. An almost equally humongous fuck you to all the people of colour who were quick to believe the bullshit yet never quite managed to pull their finger out for me. I’ve had to play this duplicitous game but please, do not think me stupid or unaware.
For once, it is actually going to be all about me. I want to learn a skill I can put into use in my local community. Time to learn how to be around people again, like, physically in front of me. I plan to give my time to those who need it. Take care of yourselves.
In 2010 I finally found the courage to turn my back on a toxic relationship I had suffered for 5 years. As an historic victim of child abuse with toxic internalised object relations, I had very little experience of healthy interaction within an intimate setting (my father was extremely abusive to my mother) I was hardwired to experience negative emotions in a positive light. My brain translated fear/anxiety into excitement. The very early interactions you have in a romantic relationship, unspoken even, determine whether you give someone a chance and if I’d been just like any other young woman in her 20s with a secure attachment to her early caregivers I would have given this man a wide berth. Unfortunately, I was not, and I was already in too deep the first time he revealed his true nature.
When people suggest victims of abuse could leave if it really was that bad, they are in fact suggesting they do not believe the victim. I tried, many times, to break it off, run as far as I could but abusers know you have nowhere to go, it is in fact one of the things that attracts them to you in the first place, not so much the neon sign on your forehead asking for trouble but the vulnerability we carry all around us, the sadness that seeps through and the need we have to fill all the empty spaces with love, whatever the cost. Estranged from my family, whom I’d fled to escape abuse, I found myself leaping out of the frying pan into the fryer, barely a year into the relationship, when he ‘put his foot down’ and decided he would no longer pander to me, because I had asked him to rinse the bath out after he was done.
Abusers know you have no recourse so they do what they like. They use your body, place their own thoughts and feelings in your brain, pushing yours into the furthest recesses where you can’t find them so easily, gaslighting you until you don’t know who you are anymore. You forget who you are, in a bid to keep them happy, because you know they’re capable of love and empathy, that’s how they draw you in, and you can’t help but wish it will be like that again someday. In the course of an abusive relationship a part of you dies forever. For what it’s worth I am glad that part of me is dead and buried, I was afforded the opportunity to be born again, in a sense. I am at peace with the fact my 20s were destroyed by this leech of a man who did not deserve me. One of the lasting memories I have, if only because of how ironic, is of various male friends of my exes crowing in disbelief he’d managed to score a girl like me. Of course, it was all done in the name of ‘banter’ and whilst I am not personally an advocate for jokes that make no one laugh but insult often vulnerable people, it did cheer me up and now I know they were telling the truth, which is probably why he used to get so upset back then and scream at them he had me cos he was worth it.
You might be wondering why I am bringing this reprobate up now, 7 years after I washed my hands of him. When feminists talk about domestic abuse in the context of gendered relationships, a binary set up, usually with one person in a traditionally male role and their partner female, this dynamic also being prevalent in homosexual relationships, we are keen to illustrate the difference in how this abuse is perpetrated because it matters. It matters in a society where opponents of feminism will accuse women of holding equal structural power and control and being just as likely to commit domestic abuse and get away with it. This is simply not true, gendered violence against women is encouraged in a patriarchal system. The penalties for gendered violence are poor, conviction rates abysmal and support is hard to come by. The rate for repeat offence is the highest in domestic abuse, compared to all other crimes. 76% of victims/survivors will endure further violence for daring to leave. There are many ways men continue to control women they believe to be their property, sometimes many years after the relationship broke down, directly but also indirectly, affecting your future relationships and career even.
This is where my ex Shihab Salim Joi creeps in. Despite his unacceptable behaviour during and shortly after our split, using gendered slurs against me, saying I was a slut for e.g. and good for nothing else he had the audacity to ask me for information regarding a book he was thinking of writing. He wanted to write about domestic abuse refuges and what could go wrong, and wanted to pick my brain for insider information. Obviously I said no. He promised me exposure, as though it was the magic word that would erase memories of him domestically abusing me (most of it was mental/financial/sexual but he thumped me a couple of times). I put *my* foot down and told him to get stuffed.
A few years later, I was googling myself (at least I’m honest) when I saw a link to Asian Woman Magazine which confused me, I had written stuff for Asiana but that was when I was still dating the editor, Shihab Salim, his work for Asian Woman was definitely post-split, after he’d been made redundant as a victim of the credit crunch. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read what it said. Not only had someone used my name and job description from Asiana, I was the ‘agony aunt’ for a bit, they had given out the kind of advice an abuser would deem suitable. As a staunch feminist who hates most men I am hardly going to advise you pander to any manz fragile ego. If these shoddy little men can’t get a grip on their own toxic masculinity I would advise you kick their asses to the kerb and let them cry wank into the night, you are worth more than some man child who missed out on key developmental stages and really just wants you to be his mum. THIS is why I have written this post. When you google my name, or Shihab’s I want this link to show up too.
I contacted Issuu who said they cannot amend or delete any content without the publisher’s consent but the publisher/editor is as elusive as Wally, in that I can’t find her, even though her name is all over the internet. I can’t/won’t submit a DMCA request because copyright infringement would mean they used words I’d written without my consent and I want it noted I most definitely did not write the frankly, badly written frottage of an excuse for journalism published by J Wimal, clearly without editing, otherwise she would have known I wasn’t at all involved in Shihab’s shameless display of male entitlement and indirect harassment.
It has been 7 years and I am still having to deal with this man turd and his attempts to control my opportunities. This is why women don’t leave. We’re afraid they’ll carry out threats to destroy us, our reputations (as it is in my case), or even our lives, the 52 women murdered by their intimate partners every year a testament to this, for daring to think of themselves for a change, for saying enough is enough.
UPDATE: Issuu have quarantined the offending article as the publisher appears to have deleted their details from the Issuu database. Thank you to Jonas at Issuu for taking my concerns on board.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I will never cease to be amazed at the lies people tell, even when you have evidence to the contrary. What is going on in that tiny little brain of yours Shihab? Is it perhaps a barely veiled threat to out me, giving the name on my passport without my permission (kinda your MO), as though you can scare me into a corner in defense of my anonymity? You were one of the people who convinced me to change my name! You said you wouldn’t employ anyone who sounded like they might wear a hijab and suggested I include a photo of myself with my CV.
That’s really odd, because if you really are telling the truth here that’d mean you also used my image without my permission.
It behooves you to tell the truth as it happened, Shihab, lies always have a way of unraveling themselves.
Poor Shihab, leaving a trail of angry ex girlfriends in his wake, when he is just a kind and decent sort. I’m not the first to say he’s an abuser, and I won’t be the last. I have plenty more evidence should anyone require it. You won’t take me to court because you’ll lose. Just saying.
Today marks the 17th Holocaust Memorial Commemoration Day. It reminds us of the date the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz was liberated by the soviet union in 1945. We also remember the victims of subsequent genocides; Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur. It comes as a timely reminder of just how close we are yet again to experiencing a similar fate, if certain forces are allowed to continue spreading hateful propaganda.
With so many genocides behind us, you’d think we’d know by now how to prevent one. It seems easy enough to me, failed states look for scapegoats; whether Jews, Muslims, trans, disabled or LGBT, already marginalised groups are easy targets, because they have no way of defending themselves against a system that begrudgingly allows them to exist.
It seems obvious to anyone who is willing to sign their name to the truth; neo Nazism has risen off the back of a white supremacist agenda, promulgated by people/organisations we thought we could trust (like the BBC). The instinct to protect humanity is chipped away at by the state and media, gradually, drip feeding the message that all of society’s ills can be attributed to this group, unlike us, that has failed to do x. In times of economic crisis, failed states and their leaders crank up the propaganda machine to distract us from their deficiency, so we are not baying for their blood and demanding our dues but killing each other, conveniently letting our toffee nosed overlords off the hook.
How can we in good conscience honour the victims of genocides past when we seem to be teetering on the brink of another, nefariously intimated by the same individuals espousing liberal platitudes such as ‘Never Again’?
‘Beware Hate Speech, says Auschwitz Holocaust survivor’ is a featured story on the BBC website. There are also segments on Newsround such as ‘Holocaust Memorial; what can we learn?’ Yet it wasn’t so long ago the internet was aghast at the BBC for their promotion of real live fascists like Farage who was given more airtime in the run up to the general election than all the other leaders combined. You might have caught the swastika tattooed Nazi on the news who went by unchallenged by BBC presenters when he suggested the swastika was not in fact racist. The BBC likes to claim its non partisan stance reflects its programming but in refusing to label Nazis they have failed in this respect. By downplaying the Nazi, they have chosen the Nazi.
The execrable minimisation of genocidal white supremacy by your faves has enabled a 21st century descent into fascism, yet still there are those who claim to uphold liberal values whilst ushering in this kinder, gentler attitude towards Nazis. Nazis just need to be shown some humanity, allegedly, to stop behaving like Nazis. You absolutely must not punch a nazi or you’re as bad as those who slaughtered 11 million people in the name of white pride. If you’re the sort of person who has even a shred of empathy/sympathy for Nazis, you might be a nazi too, or at the very least a white supremacist. When I think of Nazis, I don’t stop at a punch, Nazis are for the wall. Y’see I understand Nazis don’t even think of me as human, just medical waste. I knew as a child Nazis would have come for me, it made learning about the holocaust shockingly real and painful.
I guess this could go some way to explain the dissonance of those who mark memorial days yet platform Nazis in their newspapers and magazines. Fascism won’t ever directly impact on Nazi collaborators, they’re white by and large, middle class too if they’re journalists and academics. A bunch of these folks were fine othering Muslim people or trans people and denying it would lead to fascism but now that it is here, they’re down for punching Nazis. Dissonance or naivete, I can never tell but it might have helped stall things had they believed us.
If we read enough we know historically Nazis respond only to violence, rather it is the only thing that can stop them dead in their tracks. Nazis are cowards, they are opportunists, they thrive only because liberals legitimise their extremism, they claim to be moderates yet turn away refugees and make distinctions between good and bad immigrants, Europeans and non Europeans, Muslims and Jews. Nazis do love to divide rule and conquer so we must respond with solidarity, whether it personally impacts on us or not. When they other even one of us, we must fight back together as a whole. Othering is a white supremacist tool used to justify dehumanisation then genocide, it has no place in a civilised society. It is bullying to speak of other identities whilst excluding them from the discussion, protesting this fact does not make the protester a bully but a revolutionary.
The world is in need of a therapist, to show us all the incongruence of our words against our actions, and the good grace to admit our deepest faults, in the belief we can all be forgiven if we uphold the truth.
In our post truth, fake news world, I despair.
“It’s not racist to say the p or no words, maybe offensive to those who love to be offended but they’re just words.”
“Those might be racist words but they were not said with racist intent.”
“It’s not racist to say.. you don’t care about black people.”
Much of the rhetoric around racism the past few years has been rooted in denial of its very existence. It’s not racist to have an opinion, even if that opinion dehumanises non whites. The definition of racism has been distorted so that we cannot complain of racism unless a white person was on hand to witness it and their criteria is met.
Even then it might not be that racist, the white person is just ignorant through no fault of their own, we must try to understand the economic difficulties that inspired their Very Legitimate Concerns and accept their superior status on account of their whiteness.
When Caitlin Moran told the word she literally couldn’t give a shit about black representation, what effect did that have on ignorant white people? The woman who taught liberal middle England how to be a white feminist attended Michael Gove’s wedding even though she’s a ‘leftie’, also thinks it’s funny to punch down at those with less privilege, people with HIV status or trans people for example. All we ever did was point out how wrong this was, nauseated as we were at this odious bigotry. Imagine if she and her friends had replied “I’m awfully sorry I’ve made you feel this way, it was not my intention. Please accept my sincere apologies, I will do better”.
Admitting fault in a toxic post truth world of their own making is impossible for these most fragile of snowflakes. They double down. They responded to our increasingly (understandably) hostile call outs with pointed irreverence.
The journalists we knocked heads with online continued with the very agenda we were opposing because they knew they had the power to silence us and carry on as if this kind of racism was the norm.
Later that day.
Only powerful white people have the power to say what is and isn’t racist.
They can claim they’re being silenced by our call out culture and no platforming, the only tool we have to combat hate speech, but we know otherwise.
3 years of this blatant propaganda (Lee Rigby provided a catalyst on the back of years of fake news following 9/11) and denial of its trickle down effect has culminated in the rise of cowardly fascism, white supremacists emboldened by the actions of those with the power to do immense good, who’ve demonstrated consistently their intolerance of folks deemed *other by the most privileged in society. Those who possess the kind of privilege that could bring world peace, if they weren’t so white, greedy and self obsessed. They lie, they turn the truth upside down and in doing so condemn 100s if not 1000s to a backlash incited from their national platforms to their international audiences.
60% of people don’t read past headlines, and the journalists know this. Object and they’ll pull out the Journo Card “if you’d actually bothered to read it.. I address that further down in the piece”. How gullible do they think we are? Every word is deliberate. They make the news but they also want to be the news, so playing the victim even under all of that privilege keeps them relevant. They understand power and control dynamics and are aware they possess most of it. This campaign to undermine and erase various feminists of colour, trans women, sex workers etc has been successful, most people bought into their divisive narrative. Most people believed the lies.
We cannot now be expected to believe they are on our side, ready to fight fascism and smash white supremacy. Not when they’ve done some of their best work drip feeding bigotry to the unquestioning masses. No one wants to go down in history as a nazi collaborator, but there are no free passes here.
Picking things up from where we left them in the last post, I want to draw your attention to the idea that journalists reporting their views from national platforms to international audiences via the web are the true victims of oppressive forces, among them people of colour, trans people and a bunch of *others marginalised by the meta-narrative. We’ll focus on the words they used and measure that against their actions in order to demonstrate the dissonance.
When I first discovered feminist spaces on Twitter it felt revolutionary to have a forum where feminists from all over the world could congregate and share their ideas. We built networks and had big plans for the future for all women. I actually joined around the same time as Caroline Criado Perez who was known as Week Woman back then, communicating via Twitter but also various mailing lists where the idea for a new feminist party was conceived. Caroline Criado Perez personally recruited me.
She used words like ‘rousing’ and ‘inclusive’ when she raved about my work.
That is until we objected to a survey that was sent out to all members including one of our trans friends, on the subject of trans women and whether they should be included.
Obviously we objected. Not only had they othered one of our group, reinforcing existing prejudices, they spoke about women on the margins as if they needed to fill quotas for policy makers and were not invested in achieving real equality (there was a call for more woc, disabled representation and accountants, in that order). We were operational, not crucial, this wasn’t an organic coming together of likeminded individuals but a kyriarchy, where the nice white middle class ladies gave orders to the rest of us. Of course they didn’t like it when we pointed this out and so feminism was fractured, and the imbalance was apparent, all the nice white middle class ladies held all the power.
Around the same time we heard of a brutal gang rape in India, the victim had died and the international community was baying for blood. Western nations condemned the savagery of India’s rapists and a few good Indians were only to happy to oblige, commenting that India had fallen from grace, as though this was the first rape to have ever occurred in India’s history and she was and had fallen short of some gold standard that all other nations on earth adhered to.
I thought this was wrong, speaking as someone who supported hundreds of women through abusive relationships, many of whom suffered sexual violence as well as physical because I had personally witnessed the representation of all peoples engaging in coercive behaviours. It’s not a trait of any particular culture, patriarchy is present in all patriarchal nations, and it is this toxic structure which enables and maintains rape culture all over the globe. It bothered me that nobody paid attention when I, a woc, also a survivor of male perpetrated violence responded to Hundal’s meltdown over his homeland but jumped right on the comment below, perhaps because people actually listen to white men, even when it’s not about them. So you can imagine my irritation upon seeing the racist narratives peddled in the mainstream media. I wrote this and it had 1000s of hits and after the 5th or 6th person suggested I should pitch it to Helen Lewis, I sent it to her and she read it and said this.
This bothered me. Not because, as she has claimed in the past, I wanted to be published and as Cath Andrews once said “it’s all about her”, and my work wasn’t up to scratch but because she had revealed about herself the ingrained prejudices most white people have about non whites. She had commissioned an Indian to write about India’s horror. I had considered it an opportunity to tackle rape culture everywhere, by letting them know we see them pointing the finger at other men to cover up their own abuses. She will have seen me snark about this. She would have also been aware of the feminist party fail and felt protective of her feminism, for white ladies. Perhaps this is why she was the first to respond after the Mary Beard brain fart, where I wrongly quoted the wrong historian and their racist tirade on BBCQT (it was in fact Starkey on a previous show).
I had shown solidarity to other woc who’d been cast aside by Helen and this too will have informed her actions. To be fair if I was a racist opportunist I would have used the Mary Beard incident to silence my critics too. I wasn’t prepared for the number and calibre of white professionals, arguably some of the top dogs in their respective fields, including those skeptical sorts who seem to question everything other than another white person’s prejudices or intentions.
They believed her when she said that intersectionality was just an excuse for people like me to bully people like her and how awful it was to call anyone a racist. They said women of colour like me and my friends were oppressing them and this was having a terrible effect on their mental health. They didn’t once condemn the influx of racist whites keen to white knight for their damsels in distress, all it would have taken was a few words to distance themselves from the knuckleheads but it never happened. It was like they had deliberately constructed a buffer between us and them. They didn’t have to listen to our criticisms of their white privilege, we were too busy trying to stay alive against the tide of death threats, rape threats, attempts to dox and hack our online accounts, cope singlehandedly with the racist and deceitful authorities AND continue to remain active in the various communities we were hoping to bring relief to. Right wingers like Mensch complimented Lewis on her womanhood but couldn’t do it without diminishing ours. Nobody batted an eyelid.
They didn’t care when we were abused online. They didn’t care when racists hounded us off the net. The just carried on talking about things that had nothing to do with them, writing them in their national papers, framing grievances so that they were the victims when it was always us that bore the brunt of online hate campaigns, whatever that ridiculous Twitter silence said to the world.
These folks, with their elite educations and their whiter than white attitudes towards non whites really expect us to believe fascism suddenly transpired and there wasn’t a concerted effort on the part of these pusillanimous fascists, that is to say, cowards, you’ll never find on any front line yet ironically personify the very notion of a keyboard warrior, the Twitter celeb’s fave turn of phrase when they haven’t the first clue what you’re on about.
Paul didn’t reply to my tweet. Standard.