patriarchy

Brexit was an opinion poll, nothing more

Brexit has caused ‘economic PTSD’!

Brexit has forced the Tories to retreat from austerity!

Brexit has broken everything.

Whilst these headlines are presented as facts they actually mean very little. What is economic PTSD? Do you suffer flashbacks to the EURef whenever your eye accidentally catches the Euro symbol on your keyboard perhaps? Maybe the Tories will start throwing cash at everything now, they couldn’t have foreseen the collapse of our economy, not even with all the world class economists on speed dial. Also, when they say Britain has broken *EVERYTHING*, define ‘everything’. Do they really mean ‘every’ ‘thing’ as in every little thing that ever existed? Or do they mean everything that exists to their knowledge, so anything outside their sphere of experience isn’t actually a ‘thing’?

I’ll tell you something else Brexit hasn’t caused; racism. In the days that followed the referendum racism became impossible to ignore, only because the racists widened the net to include Poles, other European ‘migrants’ and people who don’t ‘look Muslim’. Brexit did make one thing absolutely clear; Britain is racist, of this there can be no question now but did it actually cause the racist violence prevalent today on Britain’s streets? Of course not. The majority of people targeted by the far right have been Muslim and many thousands of these incidents occurred before Brexit, before Zac Goldsmith’s racist mayoral campaign, before the racist van even.

I was personally racially abused on a London bus in 2013. The passengers on the packed night bus sided with the racists on that occasion, it was a frightening experience for me and my white friend. When I shared the incident through social media right wingers and liberals alike decided I had no right to defend myself against racism and listed all the things they imagined had happened instead of my eyewitness account. In fact every time I spoke about racism on the internet I was either ignored or targeted in malicious campaigns to silence me. I reported racism to the police and they responded with an informal caution for saying ‘kill all men’. Where were the defenders of freeze peach when I was deemed ineligible for support because I exercised my right to say whatever I feel? What possible justification did West Midlands Police have for blocking me on social media? The authorities turned their back on me when I needed the law, racism is in fact illegal and a punishable offence. It went by unchallenged though and emboldened racists to escalate their attacks against me.

With every inaction, every no holds barred ‘debate’ on immigration and attacks on people the mainstream can’t stomach; disabled people, trans people, refugees fleeing catastrophes we caused, the proud British racist was given the nod to abuse anyone he doesn’t personally like. He thought the referendum would decide whether or not immigrants would be made to LEAVE, in fact he knew nothing about the EU and our part in it.  The violent racism we have all witnessed the past few days has been picked up because the people with the power to spread information (or misinformation if we’re being honest) decided to publish it on their platforms. They keep the spotlight on it. If they had done the same for Muhsin Ahmed, Mohammed Saleem, Nahid Almanea perhaps we wouldn’t be in this nightmare scenario today.

If Richard Dawkins et al hadn’t been so focused on bashing Muslims at every opportunity, maybe we wouldn’t have been quick to ‘other’ European migrants. If Helen Lewis and her ilk had listened instead of ‘literally not giving a shit’ and monstering, othering and silencing marginalised groups they might have heard how we were suffering for many years before the rise of fascism went mainstream. Heck they might even have tried including us in their ‘debates’ so we could provide a suitable counter argument instead of the circle jerk that is the neoliberal mainstream media. Had David Cameron refrained from making Muslim mums the target for his racist crusades, others may not have seen fit to abuse them too. If Katie Hopkins never existed in the first place brown people wouldn’t have been dehumanised and reduced to vermin in a national newspaper.

Despite the many comparisons on the internet between the ‘journalism’ we are subjected to today and the hate speech which was the norm prior to the Holocaust there were still liberals and lefties calling Godwin and accusing us of attention seeking cos we’re all after a book deal (says a lot about the accusers in my opinion). Various national treasures feigned ignorance, going as far as to defend their use of racial slurs with the argument it is not in fact racist to say the p and n words (John Terry, Prince Harry, Anton du Beke, Jeremy Clarkson, India Knight etc made it commonplace where once it was censored). Theresa May justified her creepy racist van asking foreigners how we could make it easy for them to go home, because the British people insisted it wasn’t racist to talk about immigration controls. She can make even a British person stateless, if they are suspected of ‘terrorism’. Britain First, even after their proven links with Jo Cox’s killer, is not yet referred to as the terrorist militia it clearly is so I can only imagine it will be non whites who live with the threat of statelessness. When you make a person stateless it becomes easier to dehumanise them.

These aren’t projected fears, these behaviours have been identified as dangerous because human behaviour is formulaic. If x happens then y is sure to follow. Human beings have proved again and again, through various historical genocides that ‘othering’, that is to say polarisation of groups, ‘us’ and ‘them’ inevitably leads to dehumanisation then mass killings. On the flipside this means we can prevent atrocities if we are honest about the horrors around us. Try and get an honest answer out of a journalist or politican though and you’ll see why we are condemned to this Tory enabled Brexit wasteland. They’re all in it together, to the detriment of us plebs.

At every twist and turn we have raised flags and pleaded with powerful people to recognise “we have far more in common with each other than that which divides us” (as the late Jo Cox once said) and they responded with control; denying our experiences, denying our very existence and charging on without us, full steam ahead. We’ve been discarded and abandoned for demanding equality. The same people carry on today as though they are innocent of any wrongdoing and as shocked as the rest of us at all the worrying reports.

It is never too late to admit you have white privilege and make amends with those you have wronged. If you cannot humble yourself and put others first, you carry us further down this beaten path of iniquity, still against our will. There are those who’d rather we all perished than relinquish even a little of their power and control, and this thought should frighten us all.

‘Confronting’ random women is called street harassment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traditionally submissive.. bollocks

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

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

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

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

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

hundalterror

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anarchy in the UK

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What is anarchism and why was I so afraid initially to vocally identify as one? Perhaps it had something to do with the image I’d had constructed for me, angry Sex Pistols spitting into their microphones as they rasped menacingly about the queen (fair enough, actually), the same sex pistols I’d associated with racism cos punks were as scaring looking as the skinheads when you’re a brown girl trying to make sense of white subculture but are too afraid to ask just in case they do turn out to be a paki bashing neo Nazi.  There was Vyvyan from The Young Ones who frightened the life out of me as a small child (this was largely due to the metal in his face) and the response “there’d be anarchy” in every discussion regarding the breaking of rules painted a nightmare scenario where we’d all regress to a primitive state, raping and looting and bashing each other to death for larfs. Of course I would be afraid to say the words “I am an anarchist” when I did not want to be associated with such carnage and destruction (plus it also sounds a bit like antichrist).

Then I met some anarchists and they were thoroughly awesome people. I wondered where they’d been all my life as I reflected on all the people I’d made do with, accepted, despite their shades of bigotry because I’d felt there was no other choice and I was alone in my thoughts. Here was a bunch of people who just got it and didn’t need it spelling out. Anarchism is the antithesis of every social structure maintained by authority, disproportionately represented by white men. To call oneself an anarchist means to reject the ways of white men, and to challenge those perpetuating oppression whenever we personally witness it, affecting these changes wherever we have the power and influence to do so. I didn’t go to a posh university to learn all these fancy words and expressions; I was just born this way (in my rundown brown Muslim ghetto). Meeting others like me just helped bring everything in focus, and I was pleased to find they came in all colours, genders and beliefs.

To question the reason for everything is at the core of every true anarchist. Why do we do things in this way? Who benefits from it? Is it to any other person’s detriment, on purpose or inadvertently? How can we ensure justice? If these questions do not matter to you then how can you say you are an anarchist?

Anarchism isn’t about behaving like a dick or actively promoting self-interest cos you’re a libertarian who don’t-listen-to-no-one; it shouldn’t be done for the kudos or kicking back at the state cos you’re angry with your dad (although there is nothing wrong with that). Anarchism is taking a radical approach concerning all things and doing them differently. In this sense, most religions can be compared to anarchy (at the point of inception). A new way of being becomes possible, tired of the old (and often violent and oppressive) way of doing things, seeking to change things radically for the betterment of all, because you need to be inclusive if you’re going to spread that gospel far and wide. I believe Jesus was an anarchist, and Mohammed too. Feed the poor and stop raping/murdering your children are worthy (and radical) causes whichever millennium you’re from, and then, just like now, the people in power persecuted those seeking to end power and control by making a violent example of them.

We’ve all heard the ‘let’s fix class then we can entertain feminism’ orders. They come from primarily white men. There are some women socialists using the same tactic with regards to class and race but that’s another blog post. For anarchy to work, I’m sorry not sorry white men, you have to stfu. It’s not like you don’t already have your say right? White supremacy is a social construct as is patriarchy and when you refuse to shut up and listen you are doing both of these things. You’re simply maintaining the status quo and that as you’ve probably already guessed, is not anarchy. Me telling you to do this right now is not exerting power and control or authority over you but punching up at historical oppressors in a bid to be heard so you can stop being so abusive. I do not have any control over your opportunities but you certainly do mine.

The other huge difference between our arguments is the intention behind them. When I say “stop doing that” it’s because you’re hurting somebody. You bash back because you don’t like being told what to do, because you are entitled and used to getting your own way. When the context is so wildly different you cannot apply the same reasoning/survivor language we use to label us as hypocrites. The truly anarchist response to being called out, if you have the self-awareness to regulate your thoughts despite being bombarded by messages on how we must behave in a white cis heteronormative patriarchy is to reflect and think about why you’re being called out not hit back with abuse or dig a deeper hole with your defence. That is the sign of an anarchist, someone who appreciates their privileges and place in the world and seeks to redress the imbalance, however uncomfortable that might be.

Being an anarchist means having the humility to recognise the impact one’s own existence has on others. In a world where we ask people what job they do in order to ascertain their social standing and bank balance before we know anything else about them, we are an anomaly. It makes perfect sense to an anarchist to be preoccupied with the often murderous actions of governments and their followers, and usually for monetary reasons. It is more shocking that most individuals are not bothered. People are more inclined to follow a world sporting event religiously than protest the hundreds of children murdered to make way for it. I am an anarchist because I object to this way of thinking and being. In the pursuit for self-gratification we have allowed for atrocity. We’re convinced it’s not our problem.

If you are not an anarchist (or a true anarchist), you are complicit. To be an anarchist is to be without rulers, not rules (the rulers have created this cruel uncaring world for personal gain). When the rules include treating all living creatures with respect and always questioning your prejudices, you have to question the sort of anarchist who would object to that.

Being a dick is the norm; a true anarchist would know this.

Polyamory in a Patriarchy (CN)

polyamory8Everyone’s childhood has a lasting effect. The decisions we make in the scenarios we face leave an imprint and they form the basis of our choices. I suppose this is why I can pinpoint when I decided I would be different from the rest, if only at that stage because I was sick of being told how to behave. I’d seen the effects of being worn down by your circumstances, every day in fact, from the minute I awoke, staring at my still snoring mum (we shared a bed, along with my baby brother), her face twisted painfully as she slept. She didn’t own the rights to her own body, she wasn’t a free person.

Her life meant nothing, she was a breeding, cleaning robot and she lost her mind, I’m sure of it, though nobody really cared. I wasn’t going to be like her. I fantasised about being a high flying exec with a stay at home husband who’d offer to act as surrogate because he was just so damn amazing like that. Kinda why I was madly in love with seahorses (and still am). I wouldn’t let a man treat me the way my father had abused my mother. I sort of stood by this as a teenager, never quite committing because I guess I still had some semblance of self-worth, if only because I was labelled ‘bright’. I suppose the trouble really started when we ran away. We were vulnerable but how many teenagers would admit to that?

Going from someone who’d vowed to take four husbands in protest at the belief some men are entitled to multiple wives I was suddenly monogamous and desperate for security and that, along with the toxic hardwiring courtesy of my parents (my dad mainly) I was pretty much doomed to the same fate. I went from one disaster to the next, the details slightly different each time but the script remained the same. Severe anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing of my sex and gender, if only I wasn’t so nice, or hadn’t worn those clothes or got that drunk or let him touch me when I really did not want to be touched. Maybe everyone was right, maybe I was just asking for it. When you think of yourself as subhuman you let others treat you like that. You give in to the internalised toxicity and believe you’re a loser. Who’d believe you anyway?

Some women can accept second place. I don’t think I’ve ever been one of them and yet that’s what I got. There was the guy in the forces with whom I ranked a clear 4th, after queen, country and his dad. There was the one who chose God. The one with the ex and 2 kids didn’t even present himself as such, not at least until he’d introduced me to hard drugs. He also ‘slept at the office’ a lot. A friend I hold dear was once also my intended. Then his family forced him into a marriage and he went on to have kids and seems happy enough though who ever really knows these things? There was the arsehole who groomed me before any of this was a thing. He had a beautiful girlfriend and of course I just wasn’t up to scratch.

A lot of people are judgemental of girls who fall for bastards but they could just admit they understand that internalised object relations borne of violence and abuse (even torture) are the root cause of these toxic relationships. This is why pick up artists are deeply insidious. They tap into vulnerability that is hardwired in childhood and exploit disordered thinking. They are abusers themselves, carrying on the work of the fathers who wore down the innocence of their daughters, priming them for life in a patriarchy because that’s just nature. Except it isn’t, it’s just power and control and ownership.

I guess I was always going to end up poly, once I broke away and fell out with the whole system and everything. I don’t want an intense, do or die kind of relationship where I am dependent on another person having the time for me. I don’t want to feel all of those feelings ever again. I do however need companionship and intimacy from time to time and it helps if you spread that about a bit.

How can I expect all the things I need from just one partner? It’s impossible and also unfair to expect one person to understand all of those things in the way that you see them. I don’t think I feel more for one than the others, it’s just different. They also have other partners too and no, we don’t all sleep together. Poly means having private relationships, it does not equate to orgies and swingers (whatever floats your boat though). We all know about each other and that’s important, it means we can respect each other.

(As you all know) I’m quite fond of this concept of equality and what is good for the goose etc. So some people carry babies and *shock horror* how would we know who’d put the little one in there if there was more than one partner? This is assuming the people involved subscribe to the belief that lives amount to property and a child can only belong to one man, the patriarch, the sperm provider. It’s a good thing I don’t think of human life in this way, that any potential future offspring need not show me their gratitude for bringing them into this world, especially when they had no say in the matter. Also, not everyone wants babies. Relationships, especially monogamous ones seem to centre on the expectation that settling down means starting a family. Why must we ‘settle down’ even? Why aren’t relationships allowed to shift and grow in the same way people do? Is it preferable we maintain toxic relationships for the sake of the state and being normal, compromising the wellbeing of all those involved whilst conducting secret affairs where yet more lives are destroyed? It seems convenient that in these scenarios it is the women who suffer the fallout, whether she is the ex-wife or the temptress stealing all the husbands away.

It should be easy enough to understand; consenting adults reaching out to each other where there is a connection, being honest about those feelings, feeling free to explore them without the usual constraints of monogamy; obligation, jealousy, ownership, dependency. For the most part my relationships work well, especially within queer circles however, despite the best intentions of the people involved, patriarchal values and judgements are inescapable, especially when you’re a femme presenting woman.

I was 8 years old the first time I was accused of luring someone’s husband away with my tempting childlike qualities. I was accused of this because I’d been seen embracing a member of my extended family in his bedroom. Well what the fuck of it, I was a child, a small one and starved of affection in the home, I took cuddles wherever I could. In justifying this to you now I feel disgusted it even needs to be said but you have to understand where collages of shame begin if you have any hope of destroying them. Aged 10 I stayed silent about the sexual abuse I experienced at the madrassa because I was ashamed of the fact that I’d begun menstruating and perhaps this is why I’d been targeted, my horrid developing body betraying my innocent mind. Perhaps I was just that temptress getting what I deserved. I felt like this is in all of the relationships I mentioned above, looked down upon by the exes of my partners, their families, the church.  I felt like this again, very recently. Taking polyamory out of queer circles and expecting normals will be accommodating is pie in the sky thinking.

To the WAGs I say this; I am not about to steal your husbands and partners, I do still have standards y’know? Sure a couple of my partners are married and I’ve explained to them how the dynamic is oppressive for me, when we live in a system that rewards men for their maleness, so it doesn’t matter how many partners they have, out in the open or otherwise. I understand why people might feel this way; marriage indicates a primary partner, one who shares your name and grants you the respect of being a whole person doing life the way you’re told to do it with someone you will be spending the rest of your life with. That’s what marriage is and I still feel like the bit on the side. It’s not equal. The law says so. But I am poly not a ‘home wrecker’. I suppose these problems arise when your partners are (or at least immediately identifiable as) heteronormative white males. They are the patriarchy whether they choose to be or not. I’ve also admitted my own thoughts on marriage (to myself) and this has an obvious effect on the way I feel currently.

I choose not to be married because I haven’t really found the one I want to be married to (despite being engaged twice) and may never do this. That’s ok; I gave up ‘looking’ a long time ago, when I decided that marriage was for weirdos who couldn’t accept human nature. It’s taken a lot of strength to be honest with myself and admit I actually think quite highly of marriage, more than I’ve been willing to admit. It comes from disappointment at my parents for making these huge life changing decisions (giving up their desires, producing a load of kids for the sake of it) without enough thought for the consequences. Monogamy does work for some people but even they have the potential to stray. To make vows forsaking all others is a serious declaration and one that marrying sorts have hardwired in their brains. Any perceived threat to this dynamic, say a flirty unattached 32 year old performing femme ‘exotic’ woman of colour will be treated as such and made to feel all of the things I have always felt from all the women controlled by the patriarchy (that’s all of us). It’s not just me feeling this because I choose to; everyone contributes to this picture, intentional or not.

It’s impossible to feel like an equal in a poly set up when you are just a girl in a patriarchal world. It doesn’t matter if you change the things that led you to feeling insignificant the last time, and apply different labels, for someone with a toxic pattern it is those very feelings of inaccessibility that attracts you towards situations. The kind that’ll fulfil your script and leave you feeling like the needy unhinged person you’ve always allowed yourself to be, because they are absent. This is something that haunts me regardless of my intimate practices. I had hoped for better though.

Maybe polyamory is just a phase for me. I don’t want to label it as such cos I have no idea what the future holds. I’m happy with this indecisiveness for now but not so down with the judgement of the kind of woman involved in multiple relationships. I’m no more a slag than the men I’m involved with. I am not in possession of magical powers that endears all of the men to me like some testosterone magnet they cannot resist. It does not make me easy, just because I fancy some men does not mean I fancy them all. I am not going to pursue a polyamorous relationship with men in monogamous relationships. The mere suggestion of this recently provoked me into writing this 2000 word blog. I don’t really want to have to do this again so if you have any questions or concerns maybe you could google them instead?

CN: 50 Shades of Wrong

The first time I saw Mr Grey I knew it was the beginning of a queer little crush I knew most people would probably not understand. He was unnecessarily rude to his new secretary, but only to the untrained eye. Following a stay in a psychiatric hospital the female lead character Lee Holloway takes steps to reconnect with society and goes through the motions; finding herself a job and a man to settle down with. She’s invited to an interview for a secretarial post where she meets her new boss Mr E Edward Grey. Despite her limited proficiency for the job he employs her and over the course of the film their flirtations centre on her submissiveness and willingness to do practically anything he asks of her. He is initially perplexed and tests the boundaries of how far she is willing to go but quite quickly they are interacting with each other in what could be described as a consensual BDSM relationship.

Lee is also in a relationship with a childhood friend who bores her sexually. Her attempts to make him understand that she’s not strictly ‘vanilla’ end with frustration and a resignation to the role she must play within that dynamic. As he humps away for posterity, with his eyes closed and his hand outstretched from the sheer intensity of sexual congress with a seemingly consenting individual, she responds in a dull, monotonous fashion, oohs and aahs coordinated with each thrust. I found this scene uncomfortable because she is consenting to sex for his sake and not really considering her own feelings on what she needs from him. He doesn’t even notice she’s not into it and it is this detachment from the activity and from each other, the absence of mutual satisfaction that is worrying, that she allows her body to be used sexually because that is just what we do. Kind of like the dynamic between E L James’ Mr Grey and his victim.

It is no coincidence these two dominant male characters are both called Mr Grey when E L James’ inspiration comes from Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behaviours on which the popular cult film The Secretary is based. However, the similarities end with their name. James Spader’s Mr Grey isn’t a self-assured perpetrator of violence against women; he controls her day to day movements with her consent because she enjoys the sense of belonging (having been lost and alone up until that point) and the strict parameters within which she can satisfy her impulsions (preventing another trip to a psych unit). Lee has a troubled past with eating disorders and self-harm that they explore in detail. Mr Grey controls her but in a positive way; for example making a pact that she won’t cut herself because she can find that release elsewhere, spanking with a paddle brush for example. She wants him to tell her what she can eat, making the focus of this behaviour sexual instead of dysphoric, not so much calorie counting but the notion that the two of them are in it together to the bewilderment of everyone else “one scoop of creamed potatoes, a slice of butter, 4 peas and as much ice cream as you’d like to eat”. He indulges her, it’s not about him. In fact he withdraws from the relationship when he fears he might have taken it too far and stresses that his perversions are not sustainable long term. He punishes himself, taking out his frustrations through physical exercise. It is then up to Lee to assure him that she is a consenting adult in it for the right reasons, because she enjoys their dynamic as much as him. A lot of the communication between them is unspoken. He recognises that she intends to prove her intentions when she storms in on him in her wedding dress (she is engaged to the boring childhood friend) and plays along, telling her to sit with her hands palm down until he returns. So she does.

E Edward Grey isn’t the type to beat a woman up and rape her without her enthusiastic consent. Christian Grey on the other hand revels in humiliating his victim. Whilst humiliation is a turn on for some people, again this is with their full consent; between two people who can legally consent (minors/vulnerable adults – drunk – cannot, in any circumstance). There are safe words and there have to be rules both parties are aware of before anything happens. Everyone, from victims of male perpetrated violence to practitioners of BDSM have reacted with outrage to this framing of abusive behaviour as acceptable sexuality because of how it has been wrongly presented as some kind of celebration of female sexuality when actually it is about the power and control of women by men through dominance and violence. If this book was as progressive as people like to make out then there’d be a whole dialogue around BDSM and other sexual preferences/fetishes but there is not because usually we condemn women for expressing their sexuality. Patriarchy can hyper sexualise whomever it chooses to but it will not allow a woman to present her own sexual identity as she sees herself because then she’s just a slag.

The key issue that raises concern throughout the 50 Shades series is this matter of consent. Why does he have to get her drunk in order to have his way? He even admits to it. Sex with someone who is too drunk to consent is rape, clear cut. Try and explain this to E L James though and you’ll get the stock response that you’re a troll and have no idea what you’re talking about. Yes, even if you have suffered those same patterns of abuse in your own relationships or happen to be a lifelong enthusiast of consensual BDSM, your feedback does not matter. James believes she is the authority on a subculture she has tarnished with her twisted misogynistic views. At the beginning of this month she even chose to brandish actress Mara Wilson a ‘sad fuck’ for objecting to her badly written trash. What kind of person calls another, a stranger and perhaps a victim of male perpetrated violence (it being a patriarchy) a ‘sad fuck’? This abuse is indicative of the kind of mind that believes women are to blame for the violence they experience, that they should just put up and take it like a woman.

I know a lot of people who practice BDSM and they are possibly the safest and most considerate people to be around. I have myself been curious and experimented and even considered things such as consensual cutting, a practice that many might consider to be abusive even with informed consent but might make a difference to my self-image if I do not self-harm when I am in a negative mood. I am also a repeat survivor of domestic abuse. I know there is a pretty fucking wide line between the two but that’s only because I’ve spent a while learning about consent and owning my rights to my own body as an autonomous individual.

In a world where many women do not even know when they are being raped (having sex with someone who does not want to/cannot consent is rape not ‘non-consensual sex’) is it really any wonder this book has been so successful? For something so badly written it’s sure been pushed as some kind of revelation and I guess it would appear that way in a society that is otherwise shamed and ostracised for having sexual desires that do not conform to the hetero missionary lights off acceptable form of making babies. Of course misinformation around a book which explores those taboo acts We Never Speak Of will be gobbled up by the sex starved masses who are just grateful someone went there in the first place.

Except it’s dangerous when it encourages coercion and manipulation of vulnerable people and you can’t criticise the fact that it does.

guerillafem