On living with a part-time broken brain: possibly a love letter to all of us.

It’s always unexpected.

How funny is that? I don’t mean ha-ha funny. How ridiculous, then, is it that a thing as predictable as this can take a person by surprise over and over and over again?

Yes, I know I get Seasonal Affective Disorder- a clean, clinical name if ever I heard one for an experience as ugly and as messy as this. I have known this for years. This marks my fourth winter since I first sat down in a doctor’s office and told him all the ways that I couldn’t cope. I left clutching a prescription, a phone number, and a sense of exhausted relief.

You don’t deal with it though. You think you will, but you don’t. Especially because it’s not always the same. That’s the thing about mental illness, you see. For many of us it is intricately wired into our lives. If everything is fine or better than fine, it’s genuinely not so bad. As long as we don’t have undue stress to deal with? Things are just a little more low and a little more frayed than normal.

Pull on a string at the end of that fray, though, and it all falls apart. [Read more…]

What hope is there for them? Teaching homophobia to kids: apparently “important” in Belfast.

What. The. Hell. So, a school in Belfast- one that claims to be a “cross-community grammar school” without a shred of irony- is now after getting into trouble for actively teaching queer kids to equate themselves with criminals and drunkards and that they are, in fact, going to hell.

The three questions appeared in a Religious Studies worksheet.

The school said they have an ethos of inclusivity and the worksheet was part of a wider discussion on sexuality on both sides of the debate including extreme opinions.

The questions were in relation to 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and were set by teaching staff.

They included:

  • What do these verses tell us about homosexuals?

  • Who else is included with homosexuals?

  • What hope is there for all these people?

What. Hope. Is. There. For. All. These. People. Like the hopeless depravity here is who we are and who we love, and not the inhumanity of telling some of our most vulnerable children that they are intrinsically wrong.

Fortunately, a parent complained and the worksheet has been withdrawn- too late, of course, since it’s already been given to the kids. But here’s what the Evangelical Alliance’s Peter Lynas had to say:

[Read more…]

A Short, Incomplete Guide To Cis Privilege

This was originally posted by Danielle (YES, the Danielle whose comics I keep on posting. THAT Danielle) in the comments to Why Trans Exclusion Has No Place In Feminism, when another commenter questioned whether cis privilege is actually a thing. Just in case you were wondering:

When you come out as cis to your doctor, does he have to go away and think about if he can continue to treat you?

[Read more…]

Why Trans Exclusion Has No Place In Feminism. Or Anywhere Else.

Trans women are women. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. You can tell by the cunningly placed “women” in the label.

I figure that most of my readers are more or less on board with this one. Aside from a few of you (who in all honesty rarely get past moderation-seriously, you lot, read the comment policy!) I seem to be fortunate to have a rather sensible, reasonable bunch of people showing up here for a bit of a read. Much appreciated, by the way.

I’ll bet, though, that some of you simply haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about trans issues, or the inclusion of trans women in women’s and feminist spaces. There’s s lot of issues in the world and a lot of groups getting marginalised, and only so much time for each of us to spend thinking about this stuff. But given that it’s trans visibility week and just a few days after the annual Trans Day of Remembrance, I’d like to take a few minutes to sit down with you cis folks who might not be massively aware of your trans 101.

Because, you see, even within our supposedly progressive, feminist communities, some cis people do object to trans people- particularly trans women, because misogyny and transmisogyny are things- there are people who do think, for all sorts of (spoiler: bullshit) reasons, that trans women aren’t as entitled to a space in feminist and queer-lady communities as cis women are. People who are really, really invested in making sure that trans women are seen as, at best, guests whose welcome can be revoked at any time. At worst.. let’s not even go there.

The thing about the arguments they use, though? Not only do they not stand up to even the smallest amount of scrutiny, but they are also generally based on a horribly invasive sense of entitlement to other people’s lives and bodies. To the extent, by the way, that it feels vaguely icky and invasive just to counter them- I feel like this is stuff that is nobody’s business and we shouldn’t have to discuss it, never mind argue about it.

On the other hand? Like it or not, people are bringing this shit up. Let’s take a look at some of the arguments they put forward, shall we? And I’ll explain why they’re not as valid as they appear at first glance, and see why actively including trans people- especially trans women- is very, very important. [Read more…]

Dear White People: Please Don’t Do This.

I’m just saying. Just in case you thought an appropriate response to a Liberian person talking about how to respond to ebola was to shout her down, dismiss everything she’s saying and then accuse her of not caring about her own country and family? Yeah, not actually a good idea. Ever.

Also not a good idea would be repeatedly using language that a person more affected by a thing has asked you not to use- referring to a massive continent as a single place, or to an epidemic as a plague. Or to take one person’s thoughtful, comprehensive analysis of a thing and shut down everything she has to say with an over-emotional story of two people, without actually giving any reason for why that justifies your point.

But, y’know, the main thing here would be not making a Liberian, Guinean and Sierra Leonian crisis all about making white British people feel better. FFS.

What an asshat.

A Woman Gave Him The Shirt: T-Shirt Guy and the Monoliths of the Marginalised

T-Shirt Guy is, depending on who you ask, either someone unfairly bullied by hordes of humourless feminazis, or a guy whose questionable, unprofessional clothing choices are a symptom of a far bigger problem of exclusion and sexualisation of women. I’m with Greta on this one, with just one thing to add: while I’m firmly in the latter camp, there definitely is one thing that I am in agreement with people in the former on. I wish that we didn’t have to spend so much time talking about this crap. We (that is, humanity) just landed a robot on a goddamn comet, and we’re stuck talking about t-shirts and misogyny. What a colossal pain in the ass. And what a crushing indictment of our collective sexism, when we can fuck up robots on comets. Actual robots. On actual comets. Right now.

Right now there is a robot on a comet and okay it is asleep but we put it there and instead of getting to be gobsmacked about that we are stuck talking about fucking sexism. There are two ways that we can make that not happen again. Either we can stick our fingers in our ears and pretend sexism isn’t happening (although, of course, our society will then continue to be hopelessly stunted and we will never achieve the happiness and well-being that we could), or we can start rooting out sexism wherever we find it, so that the next time we do something gobsmacking with science all we have to do is say “woooooah” and “holy shit did you see what humans did” and high-five each other.

Enough of that, though. This isn’t about T-Shirt Guy- who has apologised, so we’re cool- so much as the people defending him. Because I’ve seen a lot of people justifying TSG’s choice of shirts by saying that it must be okay, because a woman gave him the shirt.

Feminists can’t complain if a woman did a thing, right?

…Are you kidding me?

There’s a lot wrong with that statement, but let’s just break it down into the major element of Wrong, shall we? [Read more…]

From Danielle: End Direct Provision in Ireland

Danielle has been writing about direct provision:

A woman stands in the background of the picture, facing you. Between you are the backs of three heads. Above this is text which reads:

A comic about the system of direct provision in Ireland, wherein those seeking refugee status are given less than €20 per week as an adult, and less than €10 for their children.

Due to the Citizenship Referendum of 2004, those born in Ireland no longer receive automatic citizenship unless at least one parent already has citizenship.

Kids who’ve grown up here, made friends, and known no other country are deported after long processes to find out their legal status.

Racist and xenophobic members of this country, including the ruling government, want to keep this system. Those seeking asylum are fighting back, and I hope those of us with the privilege not to be directly affected by these abuses will have their backs.

The Irish Refugee Council are holding a national demonstration on the 20th of November 2014 to end DP. It’s not everything, but DP is a system nobody should have to live under.

Yep. What she said.

The Case Of Pansexuality 101 And The Sea Of Biphobia And Gender Erasure.

I am in the middle of writing a cheerful, if somewhat personal, post about several different labels (specifically bisexual, queer and pansexual) that people who fancy people of more than one gender use and why.

This is not that post. This is the post that I tried to shoehorn into that other post when I came across an article, but that couldn’t fit into it because holy fucking ignorance, Batman, and there is no space for all the swearing I would really like to do in an article like that.

That post will happen, but not today.

Today, you see, I’m somewhere between outraged and actively hopping mad at the biphobic, cissexist drivel dressed up as inclusivity that is this article from Kaylee Jakubowski at Everyday Feminism that claims to define pansexuality. Before we start on everything that’s wrong with the article, though- starting with the title- let’s take a look at what is perfectly reasonable. Like this definition of pansexuality:

Pan-“ is a Greek prefix referring to “all” or “every” coming together as one.

…Putting this together with “-sexual”, which I’m sure we recognise as referring to one’s own sexual desires and habits, creates a word that roughly means “someone who is attracted to all sexes and genders of people.”


Perfect. If Jakubowski had stopped here, I would have had zero issues with this article.

[Read more…]

We Need To Be Better Than This: Roller Derby, Inclusiveness and Audism

Roller derby prides itself on its inclusiveness. We’re open to all body types, all orientations, and increasingly to all genders. We even have places for people who can’t stand the idea of putting on a pair of skates (NSOs rock my world).

When I joined derby I was struck by two things (three, if you count being literally struck on my target zones). One was the way that derby changed how I looked at my own body. My body was no longer something that was supposed to look a certain way that would always be found wanting. It became something that I could train to do more stuff, and instead of being always failing to reach a mark it was always learning and able to do more. That change was a revelation.

The other revelation- one I didn’t expect- was about my queerness. As a bi person, in public spaces my acceptance has always felt conditional. In gay spaces, I’d better be relatively quiet about my different-gendered attractions. In the rest of the world, the usual negotiations every queer person makes between outness and safety. That sense of always having to be careful of what I say, of feeling like the only spaces where I’m not an outsider are the ones I create myself, was something so ordinary as to be entirely unremarkable. [Read more…]

Derby: Violence and Aggression

CN: brief mention of relationship violence, and also for the entire post being about (consenting) physical aggression.

In roller derby, we talk a lot about hitting each other. I’ll be honest- we’re generally pretty gleeful about it. It’s not the only thing we do (god, not even a tenth) but there’s something deeply satisfying about landing a good hit. Some of my favourite memories are of taking down people twice my size, getting them in just the right spot to send ‘em flying. And then there’s all the times I’ve been knocked over just to somersault back up again without missing a beat.. or the time someone sent me flying into some unsuspecting audience member’s full cup of coffee in a game. Good times, you guys. Damn good times.

Also, it turns out that hot coffee really does mask the stench of elbow pads pretty well, so there’s that.

We talk about hitting each other a lot, and we call it violence. But there’s a conversation I’ve had with a(n impressively insightful) friend of mine a few times about this, and I’m not sure that violence is the right word to use. This is gonna be a paraphrased version of their point and mine and the whole conversation. [Read more…]