commentariat

We need to talk about the commentariat

I write this not for the Brexit ate my braahn baby crowd but for those of us who are willing to admit harsh truths in order to effect change. To know what it is we must do for the future we learn about the past and study trends so we can be better prepared for what’s coming. You don’t need an academic record in order to observe how the world is affected by narratives however, especially if you are burdened by unspoken rules placing you at various intersections of oppression, you experience them through social inequality. Speaking for myself I have been a keen observer of all things social and have been since I studied sociology at high school. It informs my interactions with the world. I never anticipated the backlash though, I had expected some resistance but not on the scale I received and not from the people I thought I could trust, the Guardian types keen on saving us all from ourselves.

When you learned about the Holocaust did you stop to wonder as I did, how so many were organised and in such a short period of time, carted off to their deaths without so much as a whimper from their white German neighbours? Did you marvel at the breathtaking ignorance of the allies who were allegedly unaware of the camps until it was almost over anyway? Perhaps now you know, given the ways in which truths are erased in our supposedly post truth world, and how narratives are framed, by those who claim to know better, those publications considered ‘leftie’ or socialist in some respects are squarely to blame, along with the perhaps deliberately embellished version of war we were taught on the national curriculum where Britain saved the world, and the Jews.

It could be true that some of us have a monumental chip on our shoulder, that we make excuses for our inadequacies or we might just be telling the truth. Recently the Guardian featured a story regarding the inhumane treatment a Dutch woman had received following Brexit when she applied for a British passport and was subsequently turned down because she had failed to include her original passport because *reasons*. There was outrage on social media not least because this mother of two was going to be ejected from the country minus her children, who did have British citizenship. How cruel the system was under Brexit, how devastatingly inhumane. Except this is the system and has been for as long as I can remember through my work with women who have no recourse to public funds. You won’t hear about them even if people like me blog about it. Where’s your outrage for women like Meena* and her toddler? She came over on a spousal visa from Pakistan and only just fell short of the then 2 year rule which stipulated residency in the country for at least two years under the supervision of a sponsor, in this case her husband, before she could make an application for indefinite leave to remain giving her full access to British benefits. He was violent. One day she made the decision to leave, because it was no longer safe enough, the violence was escalating and she feared for their lives. She’d endured his violent episodes but there was a limit. I’m only explaining this because she knew she had nowhere to go and so had suffered many months of abuse before she made the final break, potentially being faced with homelessness but that threshold had been crossed. Homelessness was preferable to certain death. Think about the hell she endured all on her own, without a clue. In fact she was one of the lucky ones and had a kind and thoughtful doctor, one who’d spotted the signs and knew of a culturally sensitive refuge that had a single room set aside for women with no recourse.

Subsidies for these women who, almost every time, fall through the net and get disappeared by the state or their abusive partners are practically non existent. There has never been adequate representation or provision for these women. When Meena traveled the two hours to the home office every time they said ‘jump’, baby in tow, she came back a sad shadow of her usual chatty self. I saw the state chip away at this personality, this woman who had every right to exist free from harm and to be supported in her darkest moments but instead she was yanked around like cattle to the slaughter. I can’t forget the way she cried as she prepared for the final hearing and was advised by her solicitor to bring all her valuables with her, if the home office denied her extenuating circumstances (despite the reams of evidence) she would be remanded immediately and sent to a detention centre. When we pleaded for the baby’s sake the home office, along with social services and even our own legal advisors said the state was obliged to provide for the little one and take her into care but Meena would still have to go. I was a temp and I left before her case was closed but I think about her even now and where she might be. When I read about privileged white women bemoaning airport queues, I think about Meena, and all the others the Guardian overlooked through indifference and probably racism, until Brexit provided the sacrificial king upon which to pin all of our woes.

Even more recently the Guardian published a lament from one Lindy West who left Twitter because it serves best the trolls, bots and dictators. I hear she wrote about the Nazism that Twitter is now famous for and also about all the ways she personally was sick of it and to be fair, this wasn’t regular trolling but a sustained campaign of abuse, harassment and stalking. I feel for her, absolutely, but I’m also a little pissed off. Anyone who knows what I and many other woc have been forced to endure the past few years will tell you the gigantic role journalists had in directing that abuse, harassment and stalking our way. When we protested the Guardian and New Statesmen ghouls for their hot takes on our lives they said we were bullying them and they as white middle class people with all the top jobs were being oppressed by us. What effect do you think that had on wider society? At a time when the far right mobilised in the wake of the killing of Lee Rigby these allegedly leftie papers were saying women of colour, queer people, trans people were bullying them and making false allegations of racism that were just unacceptable, oh, and intersectionality was just an elitist buzzword whilst poc had sinister undertones. You want to talk fake news?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

jonathon-haynes-race-card

This guy is an editor for the Guardian. When we called out the racism his girlfriend, who works for the New Statesman, was subjecting various people to, in her actions if not so much her words, this is how he responded.

His girlfriend later went on to ask:

farage-of-the-left

It is the middle class liberals and lefties citing Brexit as the root of all evil who have enabled the rise of fascism. Virtually every last one of them is white, plus a few tokens on hand to massage their egos. They did know, we tried to tell them a million times. They didn’t just do as they were told, they were the ones doing the telling. These are the facts we must remember.

It doesn’t matter what we think, as grandchildren of immigrants, and legitimate citizens of rainy fascist island, where our lives are scrutinised and twisted beyond our recognition. We are not permitted to defend ourselves or to react from a place of fear and vulnerability. When we react to these privileged white people’s assessments of our lives they double down instead of listening to us because they cannot believe we would have the audacity to talk back. We are bizarrely hostile, not understandably so. We should ask nicely, with our heads bowed and exult upon our colonial masters how special and superior they are, if we are to be given a voice, otherwise we simply do not exist.

 

READ NEXT: Part Two – Comments on the Commentariat

Advertisements

You are exactly like all the others, whatever they say

If you were one of those people who insisted it is not Islamophobic to scrutinise Islam and Muslim people when you are neither of those things yourself then you personally contributed to the actions which led to a Sikh man being identified as a Muslim terrorist (by Gamergate trolls who exist only to torment vulnerable people cos ethics) and reported to the rest of the world before the information was even verified. This happened beacause the western world is largely ignorant of the rest of us and experiences it as a sort of quaint skewed little fairy tale which best fits their centuries old prejudices. The media were fooled because they are perhaps the most ignorant of the bunch and a brown face to them is always a terrorist. When a poc is probably responsible, as it is whenever there’s a disaster then due process becomes a privilege only afforded to white people. It’s consistent with the experience I have of the western world, where it doesn’t matter what you do to distinguish yourself from all the others, you’ll always be a paki, regardless of whether or not you are actually from Pakistan.

I’ve been asked where I’m from more times than whether I’ve had a good day, I know this much without doing the maths. Once upon a time I humoured it and asked people to guess and they did; Maltese, Greek, Arab, Iranian, Afghani, Latina, the list goes on and on. White people literally see colour before they see anything else and depending on your answer to this question draw conclusions before you need say anything further. I was always wary of saying Pakistani because I’d grown up feeling like the proverbial shit on one’s shoe for no apparent reason, it was just a feeling that was ever present. I used to say I was Kashmiri and this was partly true, my mum hails from there but I always had a sense it was preferable to identify as Indian, as all the Muslim Indians I knew liked to rub it in, for why, I had no idea, but it was there, this unspoken rule. I imagine now it was the residual tenets of divide rule and conquer which had passed down the generations, infecting us before we were even born. It’s apparent in the token few who deny our existence and experiences of the world so that white people can write us off as bullies and attention seekers, this idea that we must only object because we are jealous and not genuinely critical for the greater good. They will attach themselves to each other as allies and ambassadors for one another just to keep you out and struggling.

The ignorant world we find ourselves in is a direct consequence of white supremacists and their token allies. Every time a white person says to you you are not like all the others and you’re actually some kind of special snowflake, it is a lie. You are maybe a toy to the person who says that to you, someone they can wind up and watch make a fool of themselves but you are most definitely just like the others to all the white people you haven’t yet met, and probably most definitely the person who would say such a racist thing in the first place. If you’re a poc and you’re still struggling with observing and identifying divide rule and conquer, if Veerender Jubbal’s case has not made your blood run cold in horror, that the people in control of narratives can get it so very wrong, then you alone will be responsible for the ways in which you are abused.

A Sikh man (wearing a Sikh turban which is completely different to other brown people’s head coverings) can be thrust onto the world stage without his consent, without any viable reason for this attack on his identity (not that racist targeting is a viable reason even when the subject is Muslim), have a Quran photoshopped into his hands (replacing the ipad) and the media will probably get away with it, but we mustn’t let them. Remember that time little old me made a mistake that barely a few thousand people will have seen (though they will have most definitely witnessed my unprompted apology) yet the media acted as though I had killed someone with my false allegation of racism, the way they used it to whip me with because it was just such a terrible thing to accuse someone of being a racist shitheel. Well it’s actually worse to be a victim of racism, even more than being falsely accused in a system where actually, racism is inherent, it being a proud nation built on the looting and erasure of other people and cultures, and unrepentant in its ways.

The media is massively racist, whatever they might say. They just proved it.

OITNB and Islamophobia

It’s rare to find a piece of popular culture that isn’t hugely problematic in some way. The mainstream media caters for the mainstream, an audience that finds humour in human suffering. If this sounds a bit far-fetched, consider the ways in which comedians hit back at victims of abuse when we have asked them to stop giving rapists the green light with their rape ‘jokes’, those witty bantz where the punchline is like a blow to the stomach, knocking the wind from unsuspecting victims of abuse further victimised by those extracting joy from their pain and calling it comedy, and then some more, by defenders of free speech but only the sort of speech that maintains existing structures of power and control and hierarchy; hate speech most often espoused by the white middle class commentariat, framed as genuine concerns for the maintenance of society, for the betterment of us all, yet translates into violence against the most vulnerable; women of colour, trans people, Muslim people.. Those voices we never hear because they are so marginalised, the ones who cannot defend themselves against the charges made against them because the white middle class heteronormative media controls our perceptions on all.

This is why Orange is the New Black was such a resounding success. Women in prison as a genre is a sure fire way to pull in the viewing numbers; if you’re old enough to remember Prisoner Cell Block H (or have been watching Wentworth – a 21st century spin off based in the same Australian prison), this has been a winning formula in reaching a specific audience because they are so frequently overlooked; those working class women doing time for survival in a patriarchal world. There are the shoplifters; women criminalised for stealing food or nappies, serving disproportionate sentences when comparing with males because women are not supposed to commit crime and are therefore punished more harshly to serve as a deterrent, but there are also those women encumbered by their acts of resilience, those who finally snapped and stabbed their abuser to death. We may not have served time at her majesty’s convenience but we do know what it is to suffer a woman’s lot in life, and this exploration of hardship and injustice keeps us hooked.

It should be easy to maintain focus on the inequalities women face without resorting to microagressions; however I was disappointed to find that my latest fave is threatening to be just as problematic as the rest. Before I begin to take it apart I feel it is relevant I make a full disclosure about my beliefs because I am frequently told I have only reacted in this way because I am a Muslim.

I am not a Muslim. I was once but I ran away as fast as I could. It took many years for me to come to the conclusion that I could not blame every last Muslim for the horrendous ways in which God was used by some of them to control me. It is not God who demands murder and rape, rather humans using the authority of God to justify their abusive practices. God, in any religion, acts for peace. It is with this fair conclusion I judge the writers of OITNB for being so disingenuous in their not so subtle reinforcement of the mind-set that Muslims are there for the ridiculing.

SPOILER ALERT – The prison is infested with bedbugs, all soft furnishings and books must be incinerated to prevent the pests from spreading further. A small gathering discusses the books that were burned, the Catholic nun character is on hand to correct Morello when she states all of the books were gone. “Not true” she asserts “there was one book they were afraid to burn” which Sister Ingalls immediately follows with a dramatic sigh as though she was suggesting that even she, as a Catholic – with all their pomp and ceremony – thinks it ridiculous to consider it a sacred text exempt from the rules to which we must all adhere. Morello responds “I stand corrected – there is a bug infested Quran.”

If this was the first mention of the Quran and a bonfire in western history you may be forgiven for thinking I am seeking issues where there are none, but you’d have had to been living on the moon to deny the continuity of this theme, especially when it’s a bunch of Americans alluding to it. Not a week goes by without another story of some Yankee yahoo threatening to buy up all the Qurans and burn them, a flagrant attempt at fanning the flames of bigotry, because those sorts of people actively seek war and know which buttons to press. Burn a bunch of poppies and see the calm Christians and even secularists fired up for vengeance because burning a book or a paper flower isn’t the random inconsequential act antagonists profess it to be.

Later on in the show, Vause is seen reading the Quran and makes an unnecessary statement about how she is probably forbidden from touching/reading the Quran but she washed her hands and figures an omniscient God would appreciate this. Just a suggestion but perhaps the show’s producers could have asked a Muslim queer for the lowdown on what is and isn’t permissible? They could even look into the positive things Islam does and encourages in its followers, for eg, recognising that trans people have a right to state funded surgery because Allah has made it our duty to save all people and treat them to good health if it is within our power to do so. This doesn’t fit western narratives though.

Yes, the Quran is a sacred book to its followers. Yes, it is given the respect one affords to a sacred artefact, it is kept in a safe place and one must be ritually cleansed in order to touch it. This is a fact. Similar could be said for the Bhagavad Gita or even the bible. That’s the thing about religious texts; they are sacred to their followers. Just because that Catholic nun thought it preposterous the Quran was given special treatment doesn’t mean there aren’t evangelical Christians who’d justify killing you for disrespecting their holy bible. Again, it is people who are fundamental in their interpretations of religion and like there are some Christian fanatics murdering abortionists yet failing to see the incongruence between their beliefs and their actions there are Muslims who will use God to justify misogyny and violence. There are also atheists demanding the culling of religious sorts because they allegedly cause war and stuff without an awareness of how ironic their solution to dehumanisation and depravity is to mirror those things we protest in extremists.

This is the crux of my ill feelings towards the framing of social narratives in the 3rd season of OITNB. The Quran and its followers have not only been posited as these people who consider themselves above the laws governing everyone else but also as the worst offender. Consider the makeover given to Pennsatucky. Be reminded that she was actually a homophobic bible bashing snitch who was employed by prison staff to rat out inmates suspected of lesbian activity. Suddenly she’s a reformed ally and lover of all things LGBTQIA, supporting Boo in her butchness? Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that Pennsatucky isn’t so violently racist and sexually shaming as she once was, I just object to the fact she’s elevated to a human position where she is capable of empathy and being part of a system even if it means completely demolishing her belief system and replacing it with an idea of what an acceptable human should be; the two are too far removed from each other for it to be a natural process, especially when they’re driving home the message that Islam is the one to watch. Instead I believe this to be an intentional move in which the writers, or whoever, get their childish jabs in at something they don’t understand or care for, in a bid to improve their ratings, reaching out to the mainstream they’re appealing to by confirming prejudices, showing solidarity to those on the same side (because Muslim queers don’t exist and therefore won’t be offended because they wouldn’t have seen the show cos it so full of sin or something).

I loved OITNB for its portrayal on the diversity of women and sexuality. For every racist, sexist trope the show explored there was a positive character to speak out for that way of life but as time goes on the characters fall into lazy racial stereotyping; homophobic Latinas and white queers, as though queer women of colour do not exist in equal numbers. Trans women for eg found a beautiful representative in Laverne Cox, she gives as good as she gets (the transphobia doesn’t let up much, even in the 3rd season) making her a perfect role model for those seeking out idols. The same cannot be said for Muslim women, perhaps because in reality they’re immediately shipped off to Guantanamo without trial, whatever the offence.


Only four episodes in, but this new series is way worse so far. The points you mention seem symptomatic of it reaching out for some mainstream populism which is totally diluting what made it great. I find it quite bizarre that we’re supposed to want the prison stay open, and cheer when it survives due to privatisation! I don’t want the prison to stay open, I want a work strike which unites everyone against the authorities, or I want the place to burn.

Adam Ford

(Since writing this piece I have seen a little more of the 3rd season and it doesn’t get any better. Soso makes an entirely irrelevant reference to stoning women in Iran and various characters join in with antisemitic remarks, no doubt triggering for some considering the nature of the ‘jokes’, and later on we get a reference to a Somali pirate thrown in for good measure. The disparaging comments against Jews don’t let up either.)

I stand with Bahar Mustafa – Reverse racism isn’t real

I was considering jumping straight into this post but when I did so on Twitter white people got unnecessarily agitated so I shall explain first. Goldsmiths University bme students have been hounded by the white left and right of the mainstream media and beyond, for demanding safe spaces for ethnic minorities. Bahar Mustafa, a student officer has been accused of racism, with white people everywhere chucking their newly acquired race cards in for their two pennies. This post will attempt to demonstrate how ludicrous these accusations of reverse racism are. Racism isn’t about fighting back at people who have structural power and control over you or initiating spaces within which it is safe to speak about the systematic targeting of people of colour by the state or indeed institutions like universities, it’s those people in power using their wealth and position to deny non-white people freedom in all things.

If reverse racism was real and PoC had any influence this is the world we would live in.

____________________________________

Edward Smith? What kind of name is that? It rhymes with dead bird shit! No seriously, look, it sounds exactly the same. Your parents obviously didn’t love you with a name like that.. Couldn’t they have given you something that sounded a bit more, well, Indian? Explains why you people don’t get very far, you’re not willing to muck in and work as hard as the rest of us. Why is that? You think you’re better than me? At least I don’t smell of bacon sarnies. At least my skin doesn’t look like I rubbed pigeon shite all over it. I don’t believe in some weirdo nailed to a cross, what kind of lost prophet allows himself to be crucified? What a weak God, must have been a paedophile. I suppose that’s the only way you people still exist, no standards y’see, just at it like rabbits, like a virus..

Hello there madam, please take your shoes off and open your bag, take off your coat, and your belt. Ahmed will search you now. What is the purpose of your visit? Why have you chosen to come to our country? You say you’re here visiting friends but why aren’t they here to pick you up from the airport? Are you lying? This name Churchill, who gave you this name? What is its significance? Oh, it’s just a name is it? Well I disagree. He put 3 million of our people to death, he was a tyrannical dictator. I think you’re hiding something. I think you want a cavity search.

Police have just arrived at the scene and are hoping to apprehend the assailant described as white with a thick west country accent following an incident in which dozens of young Asian girls were thought to have been drugged and plied with alcohol then raped whilst they lay passed out and vulnerable to other white predators. Every day we see a new case pop up, musicians, TV personalities we let into our country who repaid us by raping our daughters. When there is obviously such a huge cultural element to the exploitation of vulnerable children, is it any wonder we are in the crisis we are in today, when so many white people simply turn a blind eye and condone abuses like this? (Actually, this one is just too true)

So what do we have on our agenda today sisters? I know! Let’s demand better makeup artists on all Bollywood movie sets! It’s only right the likes of the Kapoors get only the best that capitalism has to offer. Erm, what? Why are you criticising me? Why do I care if white working class disabled people are gonna get all their benefits cut? They should have thought of that before they bothered rocking up to the Indian border with their bullshit asylum claims. Oh sure, the Irish are starving them, the Welsh have cut off their water supply, the Scots are bent on revenge.. why is any of this our problem? That’s the problem with white people, no solidarity. Only interested in themselves and now they dare try to oppress me.. I’ll show them. The gall of it all! A proper feminist doesn’t criticise other women or make it all about herself. She learns when to shut her mouth and stand quietly behind people who are smarter. Positive discrimination is for idiots who wouldn’t get through otherwise.

I see that you’re thinking up ever more elaborate excuses for not bothering to get out of bed. I don’t believe you’re depressed or in pain. I think you know exactly what an easy ride India is for scroungers like yourself and you’re playing the system. You say you’re not like all the others but you’re still leeching off the state which is paid for with MY taxes. I don’t want to bankroll you and your 13 kids. Typical whitey, with your stupid Marxist analysis. Bet he was a rapist too.

Honkies out! Honkies out! Burn all bibles! No more churches or cathedrals here! We have the right to protect ourselves and our country from this whitey invasion. You can tell the atheists to fuck off home too, just cos they don’t believe in God doesn’t mean they’re not fanatics.

Oh God, not another white terrorist incident. When they so clearly want a war, why don’t we give it to them? Oh innocent people will die will they? What about the Amritsar Massacre eh? #neverforget Let’s call it collateral damage and speak no more. I don’t care what the international community, UN or anyone else has to say about human rights violations. If we take away their human rights, there’s nothing to violate.

They said fucking WHAT? White people have the right to express their faith and beliefs through their way of life? But their way of life is savage and not for the civilised. Is that what we want? A planet overrun by crusading Neanderthals? I say we exterminate them before they sully the purity of our supreme race. Who’s gonna tell us we can’t? The good Indian citizens of our fair and just land? No course not, they’d have to be a race traitor to even consider it and worthy of the gas chambers for even thinking it.

The Christians right *slurs* They’ve got these Christianity balls that are made out of glass and they chuck them at your head really fast like, and smash into millions of tiny little swastikas that then sprout legs and crawl under your skin and baptise you from the inside out. Their Godot is a bastard, he’s not after peace but revenge.

__________________________________

This is just a short example of a weird world none of us recognise. That’s because it doesn’t exist. If we reverse racism and behave as many white people do, we are perhaps no more than a hateful violent nuisance, as the white critics of Bahar Mustafa claim to be, but if we then also assign ourselves structural power and influence as journalists, academics, politicians who are white with the privileges of a national platform, well then the power imbalance is plain for all to see except hypocrites, liars and cheats. That’s racism; having the power and reach to claim you are being racially abused and people believe you, despite the everyday abuse actual marginalised people experience which you enable and nobody believes. Without power, racism is simply prejudice. In some cases prejudice is justified, for example if you’re a woman and you’re sick of men killing women or you’re non-white and tired of white supremacists killing non-whites.

When you are conditioned to fear something and you fight back, that’s not racism but radical and revolutionary.

reverse racism dictionary

reverse racism dictionary 2

Happy International Emancipated Womanist Day

Every year I think about what I’m going to do for my international women’s day post and each time I spend far longer than is necessary thinking of a suitable introduction. Wishing you a happy one never seems right, it doesn’t feel like a day for celebration rather one where we honour those who’ve died at the hands of the patriarchy by never forgetting their names and the authorities that failed them, and the struggle that continues for many more women just like them; the ones who suffer in their homes (never mind the sexual harassment in the work place, educational institutions and streets).

Over 2 years ago I wrote a piece where I pleaded with white feminists to acknowledge the rape culture on our own doorstep and whilst it received positive attention initially, certain white women became overly focused on the word ‘white’ than the double standards I was intending to highlight. That was the last time Caroline Criado Perez said anything nice to me before she proceeded to explain away my concerns as though I was just being sensitive to an otherwise sound ally who wasn’t just fishing for cookies.

cute

It was when I had my first run in with Helen Lewis too, she’d read my blog and agreed I’d made some good points but she’d already commissioned an Indian woman to talk about the rape problem India has as a nation. They failed to see how they were being racist by contributing to the narrative of eastern savages whilst erasing the truly brutal incidences of gang rape in the UK. They refused to acknowledge me as a woman with a foot in both worlds, belonging in neither, brimming with criticisms of patriarchy whatever the colour of his skin. Perhaps this is why Lewis chose to stamp me out before I could do any real damage to her superiority.

If my experiences of physical and sexual violence were inadequate (how, I don’t quite understand, am I not a fucking woman?) then surely my experience as a women’s worker assisting victims of male violence would be all the qualifications I’d need?

issues

No, even when you have the expertise of a career, training in awareness and advocacy and almost a decade’s worth of professional experience you can be dismissed and discredited as someone with a chip on their shoulder because you dared challenge the status quo. I challenged white supremacy and the same women (and men) castigating us for speaking up about abusive women (cos cisterhood) then made a very public example of me and the violence they enabled hasn’t relented since. You all know this story.

At any time any one of these white media ‘feminists’ could have advocated for me. But y’see they responded that it wasn’t about me cos I’m not a woman? People like Laura Bates freely admitted to not even knowing what feminism was before they were discovered online yet her feminism is more valid than mine; a queer disabled femme presenting woman of colour with working class roots and historical abusers intermittently threatening my personal space and sanity. Laurie Penny lends her support with the caveat that Helen Lewis is an inspiration (she uses the same words every time) for all similarly minded ignorant arrogant white feminists and we should stop bullying her cos her fragile mental health never once hearing the agony we express at their treatment of us. The ways in which these women have personally silenced me, having once been ‘comrades’ on the same side, triggers the same PTSD response in me that I feel whenever I run into an old abuser. My blood turns cold and I get a stabbing pain in my chest. The room sways. I feel the tears prick my eyes and the sinking sensation in my gut that the privileged will never face the consequences of their cruelty and hypocrisy. The fact that I know, and they know but no one else seems to care or notice.. It’s the same physiological reaction in me.

Tell me, what space should I occupy? At one time I was an operational asset, recruited to represent the ethnic division of the ill fated Feminist Party but picking that apart was the beginning of the end when I realised I could no longer ignore the injustice for my own place at the table. Pariah I may be, but I live each day with integrity, truth and humility. I have been accused of believing my own hype (cos I let men abuse me so that I could build a career on it later) and also of not being very intelligent or worthy but also super smart and privileged when they pretend they don’t believe your story (we exemplify rape culture in this country).

So it is with this in mind that I want to emancipate myself from a movement within which I have no voice. It’s not for my lack of trying, look, I told you 3 years ago the movement was fractured and we’d lose it if we weren’t honest with ourselves. I’ve had enough of feeling my heart break whenever a feminist I looked up to comes out as a transphobe or a polarising token. I cannot say there are more good feminists than there are bad. I cannot in good faith ally myself with a corrupt, vindictive subset of women wearing their £45 ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirt on behalf of us all, for all those who cannot access the internet and seek their own truth. I realise now that many of the reactions I’ve had for identifying as a feminist comes from the image the world has of feminism; white women behaving like entitled white men to the detriment of us lesser beings.

Happy International Emancipated Womanist Day from me, an ex-feminist who finally gets she can never be a feminist, not like they want me to be.

(I dedicate this post to all the Muslim women suffering at the hands of white men and feminists claiming race is not a feminist issue)

Hey Caitlin, AIDS isn’t funny

I write this from a very loud corner of the Twitterverse. There isn’t so much of a silence but a fervent party atmosphere. People are expressing themselves, tweeting politely at each other but getting to the crux of the problem for many of us.  Why should we be made to feel like trolls when our only crime is righteous and crucial dissent? Cos there is a difference you know? Here, I will give you an example:

moron

In this set of tweets, Caitlin responds to her friends ‘rape joke’ with affection. It’s a given amongst feminists, whether they be of the intersectional or bigoted variety that rape is not a laughing matter, in any context.  It is my DUTY as a woman and feminist striving for a safer future for our children to point this out to Caitlin and ask why someone of her experience and stature does not get that this is unacceptable. If there hadn’t been a long history of silencing from Caitlin’s corner, we might even discuss this like grown adults and respectfully come to the conclusion that rape is never funny, particularly not on a public platform where people will take their lead from you. If my pointing this out to someone who should know better is considered trolling and not genuine concern regarding rape culture, then I call bullshit. I am not threatening to rape Caitlin cos THAT would be trolling. I am not saying she deserves to be raped, cos THAT would be trolling. Yet troll I am allegedly because I choose to vociferously disagree. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Now. AIDS. It’s not funny. It kills. It traumatises people to suicide. But that doesn’t stop Caitlin rinsing the 90s of all its “ew, you’ve got AIDS” type jibes. Here’s a small collection for your perusal (via @eurovicious)

HOW IS THIS ACCEPTABLE? HOW IS THIS WOMAN ALLOWED TO REPRESENT FEMINISM? How can you defend her?

Equal opportunities are for all including those who have an AIDS/HIV status. Why should they be made to feel a certain way so that Caitlin can have a go at ‘humour’?

I’ve been trolled the fuck out of since January, where I have had rape threats, where people have remarked on my appearance and my background. THAT IS TROLLING. They’re not concerned with my politics, or my beliefs, they object to my very presence. They probably hate the fact that I am a woman, or that I am brown and so their interactions routinely focus on these personal attributes. I haven’t once commented on Caitlin’s appearance. I did however respond to her “literally not giving a shit” about me and others like me. I do respond to her ignoramus articles but then I do the same for her peers too. They cannot just be allowed to write whatever bullshit they feel they can make fly that day. Or if that is the case, then we must have the right to respond. Twitter is the platform with which to do that, yet they want to take it away from us?

Why?

*There is a fuckoload of transphobia/homophobia in that Storify link but you knew that already

** I refer to threats made against me as trolling. Obviously this differs somewhat from other people might consider trolling but I’ve had no recourse to discussing what these threats mean and how they may be more serious than your regular nuisance troll.

*** Oh, she apologised did she? So did I. Without prompt. But nobody cared.

What I learnt this week

On the 23rd January 2013 I made a terrible mistake. It was a duvet day because I was in a fair bit of pain due to a spinal injury. I knocked a cocktail of drugs back and settled under the covers so I could Twitter. After a skim read of the timeline, I posed a tweet to Mary Beard. I mistakenly accused her of racism. Out of nowhere I was met with a tweet from Helen Lewis who demanded I prove it. Still none the wiser to my mistake, Helen’s tweet got my back up. It’s what they say when they know your proof won’t matter. But Helen had prompted me to think about what I had just tweeted and so I thought I had better make sure.

On realising exactly how big a mistake I made, I immediately apologised. I wasn’t cajoled, I wasn’t defiant, I was honest. And I believed I deserved the fallout taking over my mentions. I bowed my head in shame but I was determined to turn it into a positive thing. I was grateful for the amicable respectful exchanges between me and Mary. I chose not to delve too deeply into what people were saying about me, I didn’t have the spoons. After many requests from fellow tweeters, Helen agreed to delete the storified set of events. I thought it was because she understood that I had meant no malice. I also thought she might have understood that even though she was fighting with my peers on all matters regarding intersectionality, this incident was separate. It wasn’t in any way connected with her other battles. But she saw an opportunity. If she could make an example of how terribly wrong it can sometimes go, it maintains the power structure and status quo. Rather we have 100000s of ethnics suffer real racism than let one white person be wrongly accused.

On the 15th April 2013, I found that Helen’s storify piece was still online. I was stunned. Why would someone agree to delete something only to republish without ever informing you? What were her intentions? When I went to ask her, I discovered I was blocked. After a while I was made aware it was something to do with a blog and the storify had been up for a couple of weeks. My friends politely asked her to reconsider and instead, she left Twitter. It was only when she’d done this that I saw she’d written a piece that day. I still haven’t read it because people believe the ‘bullying’ she received in response to the piece was the reason she ‘flounced’. It wasn’t. It’s because she was challenged and she couldn’t justify what she’d done. I hadn’t blogged about her; I just tagged her on a criticism of a New Statesman piece.

She wants to silence intersectionality. That’s what the offending blog was about. A NS writer had pondered on the least privileged women of them all and I had nominated my mother. It was heartfelt and for that, Helen Lewis decided I’d take the bullet. How many of us have discussed intersectionality in recent months? Why is a 3 month old incident being dredged up to prove her point that privilege is being silenced? Am I the best argument you have against true equality? “Don’t listen to those stupid deranged idiots, they lie or they make things up.”  Except I didn’t lie, I made a mistake. One I publicly acknowledged and apologised for.

But she has her allies. Anya Palmer seems to want to stalk my every move on Twitter. She never speaks to me, just hangs over my shoulder, waiting for the money shot. She seems to revel in the fact that the incident caused me embarrassment. Of course it would, I don’t make a habit of hurting people unnecessarily.  There have been all manner of eggs tweeting racist, ableist, sexist shit at me, somehow strengthening my resolve against all who seek to undermine me. The course of events has quickly spiralled into the honest truth of it all. My feminism is not their feminism. Mine is intersectional. Theirs is bullshit. Their feminism is about: never changing, never thinking, denying privilege as if it’s a zero sum game. All positions are positions of privilege- like the way racing cars start on a sliding scale. You could have the fastest car in the world, but if you’re last you’re gonna have to pull a miracle out of the bag to make it work. I may have had an abusive childhood but I also fit the patriarchal ideal of a cis gendered woman. I may have not had a formal education but I can grasp new concepts without too much trouble. Some people can walk through life carrying their baggage, some people are crushed by it, just getting up in the morning brings back painful memories and triggers etc.  It’s also about justifying using hurtful words because they can’t be bothered to think about their power.

The Mean Girls piece spoke of scary wimminz who attack well known wimminz and we shouldn’t cos sisterhood and that. Well, when we attack the famous ones, we have a few hundred people at most fighting our corner. When the commentariat attack us little people, they have many more thousands poised to crush us. That, my friend, is privilege. All of the arguments the non-intersectional feminists have made in recent months regarding solidarity and the bigger picture, fuck that. This incident has proven that it is not so much we’re all in this together but they will actively stifle any dissent. Just like my mothers and grandmothers before me. “Pipe down now brownie”.

When Helen Lewis showed us words she’d been called, it transpired that she had been searching for her name (lurking, again) and discovered two feminist women using gendered slurs.  Two tweets she had to go looking for. Two WOMEN she was not afraid to make an example of. When I received tweets, they were from accounts set up to hound me, mainly men. I’ve had lot of white ‘opinions’ on this. All of them have also referred to me as some kind of cunt or whore. A few think it’s ok to mock me for my disabilities. And all of them simply do not get, why I, as a woman of colour would feel this in any way than every other time a white person has made me feel shit. I had 5000 views of my blog the other day. Imagine how many comments. People are also searching for information on my family and ex partners names.  It is telling that Helen’s most vocal advocate is a prolific misogynist hellbent on securing an apology from me. If at one time I would have considered approaching this is in a calm and reasonable manner to make amends with my cisters, that opportunity is long gone. The commentariat are quick to identify and expose dissenters, launching their mobs at us with full force but somehow, condemning abuse from a misogynist would be drawing unnecessary attention to us. They suggest they are ‘protecting us’ by not calling out abusive behaviour committed by the patriarchy against another woman.

Nice one Helen Lewis, solidarity from one feminist to another feminist on an entirely even keel in this fuck up a world.