Laurie Penny

Penny Sized Thoughts

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:

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fetishising yes

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.

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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.

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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.

 

JK Rowling and the Order of the British Empire

In this capitalist world where celebrity is everything, endorsements from the rich and famous can win or lose an election. Part of the reason Brexit was such a shambles was the utterly confusing mix of ‘idealist’ lefties and unapologetic bigots all on the same side. This is not to say I believe Galloway is an idealist or even a leftie for that matter but he says he is (even though I had some trouble reconciling this idea with the images of him sharing a platform with Nigel Farage). Whatever the leftie Brexiters thought they were doing, they weren’t prepared for the violent backlash against anyone deemed not English enough and in the weeks that followed there were some heartfelt retractions and apologies. Turns out if you ally with right wing fascists you only lend credence to their cause.

Perhaps this is why people like JK Rowling believe hard left and hard right are one in the same; they saw some of them mingling together for good ol’ Blighty and imagined the need for independence was unifying, they can work together so long as they kick back at the uber state. Personally I couldn’t understand how anyone could claim to be left yet relish the idea of having a national identity, separate from the rest of Europe because we are Englanders and we should be proud of such greatness. Nothing leftie about that if you ask me. Nationalism is not socialism but I can see why it could be so confusing for so many, this theory that the far left and the far right come together like a horse shoe. I can see why people would think in this way but I have to add, it is a bit of a reach and sounds like the opinion of people who repeat truisms parrot fashion. It sounds like the brain fart of someone who has never attended a counter demo against a far right rally for if they had they would know that the far right are always the first to attack and it is on the far left to defend. The far left resort to violence because it has been proven through history fascists only respond to this kind of protest; you can ask them nicely to leave and see where that gets you.

Far right knuckle-heads repeatedly threaten communities where the population is majority non white. Far left comrades; black, white, brown, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Atheists, LGBTQ, disabled and many others defend these communities because we know an attack on one group is an attack on us all. Do not tar these very distinct groups with the same brush, JK and friends, it only magnifies your political ignorance and detachment from reality.

Neoliberals, Blairites, Red Tories etc would like for us to accept this idea they know what’s best for us, even though they haven’t the slightest interest in what makes us who we are. I want to talk about JK Rowling specifically because she was presented as their ace card – surely no one would dare question the almighty creator of Hogwarts, they assumed. With such a huge following I guess they thought we’d listen to her. Well, actually, a bunch of us were going to notice JK making false equivalencies between antifascists and fascists especially when she has a track record of ignoring minority voices pleading with her to honour their cultural practices and not misappropriate native ideas. This white lady with immense privilege routinely blocks brown people for saying she is stealing their culture and not compensating them for it. Heck, she isn’t even acknowledging it. It does feel suspicious doesn’t it, when we say it out loud and join the dots? A white lady picking and choosing how she would like to represent ethnic minorities, ignoring their protests at being misrepresented, hinting at the fact they and their supporters are just as bad as the white supremacists who would have us all wiped out.. It’s not just me, is it?

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Couple this with the fact that Blairites seem to glaze over whenever you bring up the Iraq war and the devastatingly harrowing legacy we left behind, choosing instead to vote for more bombs then gushing sycophantically about how much richer they got under Blair.. We cannot lay claim to greatness as an island until the war criminal has been held to account. We cannot claim to be a democracy when up to 2 million people were silenced when they marched to Stop the War. We cannot turn our backs when generations of Iraqi children are condemned.

When racists mock non whites for having a chip on their shoulder, for rinsing their oppression dry with the excuse “it was all a very long time ago and I wasn’t there, don’t blame me” they are choosing to ignore the ways in which non white cultures are still being carved up for mass consumption, rewarding the Columbusing white purveyor whilst various ethnic majorities struggle to ensure our basic survival. All she had to do was listen and come to an agreement with the people she is using to propel her successes; to give back what she took from them, in a manner befitting the native tradition. She actively chooses to ignore them. It’s why I had to interject when I saw JK conversing with an old time hero of mine, Sanjeev Bhaskar, in response to a Twitter user asking how he felt about JK supporting racist Blairites. His response was in earnest but coupled with the subsequent tweet from JK it presented Sanjeev in the light of a token brown person, his testament erasing the many voices who feel JK has profited from our ideas and stifled debate from the very people it concerns. Kudos to Sanjeev, I appreciated his frank replies to me, and the exchange prompted me to write this post, something I have been avoiding this past week, partly due to the inevitable white knighting from scary dudebros if they chance upon it but also because it would be ignorant of me to leave out the bit where I admonish the usual suspects for their erasure of the important points being made here. Of course Helen Lewis and Laurie Penny were going to circle jerk their support for this beloved children’s author of whom we’re all just jealous, for being so smart and original. The same faces who’ve systematically erased and silenced poc protesting erasure and silencing have propped each other up to the exclusion of everyone who is not rich, white and not famous.

They can’t have Sanjeev Bhaskar, not when already they have Panju.

sanjeev

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Further reading:

National Geographic – Native Americans to JK “We’re not magical”

Magic in North America Part 1 – Ugh

Natives in America – Dear JK Rowling: We’re still here