Civil Partnerships

In case you’re wondering, I’m referring to this “news” story. (I’m pleased to note that after only a day I had to go digging to find that).

So what’s wrong, you might ask, with straight people wanting civil partnerships? We’re all about equal rights for everyone, right?

Absolutely. And on any other day I wouldn’t give a flying fuck about what straight people get up to. The problem with this story, as is so often the case, is that this is privilege run rampant.

Privilege, as a recap, is the force those in the positions of power use to ensure they stay there. In this case, we’re talking about straight privilege.

A quick example: two people are applying for a job, one is straight, one is a lesbian. The application form asks for their sexuality. Now, a lot of companies claim they don’t discriminate based on sexuality, but do we really know they don’t? So the straight person happily puts in their sexuality, and sends off the application. Their biggest anxiety is wondering if they’ll get called for an interview.

The lesbian, however, now faces a choice: does she put her true sexuality, and risk being overlooked because of it, or does she lie? If she lies, are there going to be situations where she will be found out, and will there be consequences because of this? Now she has a whole host of anxieties before she even sends off the application.

This is straight privilege.

How does this tie into the story about civil partnerships? Well, you just have to look at the history of them. Civil Partnerships were used as the appeasement when the churches wouldn’t allow the government to pass same-sex marriage. It was the infuriating result of years of campaigning, and wasn’t even what we were after.

Straight people already have full marriage, why the hell do they want the not as good, appeasement queer people were offered?

Honestly, because it seems like straight people just have to have everything the queer people have. And of course they do; the world has been engineered to favour them for so long that they feel it is their right.

This story annoys me in particular because, when it first appeared 3 years ago, it sucked up so much media time and attention. Time and attention that could have been used on the continuing campaigning of queer people for their equal rights. But they weren’t nice straight people, so of course the media went to them.

The other part that really annoys me is this pair bleating on about how they’re being “discriminated” against.

YOU CANNOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST THE PEOPLE WITH THE POWER. THAT IS LITERALLY WHAT PRIVILEGE IS.

So yeah, most days I don’t give a fuck what straight people are up to. But you don’t get to swan in and claim that queer people are denying you rights when you’ve literally been doing that to us for millennia.

Straight folks, come pick up your people.

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Spoon Theory

An interesting way of explaining this crossed my Facebook timeline today:

spoon-theory

Spoon Theory is very useful for a lot of people, as it is a quick way to explain illness.

It is a simple concept:

You have a cup full of spoons. There are different types, from one-use plastic spoons, specialised ice cream spoons, to reusable, reliable metal spoons. These spoons can be used for different tasks, depending on how much effort they require, and need to be recharged after being used.

For example, as stated above, taking a shower can be a lot easier than making a phone call, but there are days when the simple tasks need a lot of effort too. It’s all about knowing your limits, and not pushing yourself beyond them.

So who does this help? People with mental illnesses, such as depression, social disorders like anxiety, physical disabilities such as fibromyalgia, to name a few examples I know of.

What spoons are not for: people feeling a bit tired and deciding they can’t be bothered, having a headache and not wanting to take part, or really anything that doesn’t interfere in the everyday running of a life.

Not trying to be mean, but if people use spoon theory when it doesn’t apply to them, it dilutes the effectiveness for those who really need it, and muddies the water as to what it means.

Here’s a piece by Christina Miserandino that explains further: The Spoon Theory.

How Not to Talk to Mentally Ill Friends

[TW emotional abuse, slurs, mental illness]

“If you just get up and do something, and you’ll feel better.”

“You’ve always got an excuse, eh?”

“You’re overreacting, grow up.”

All of these examples are from things my mother has said to me. With her training and work, my mother was in psychiatric care for 20 years. This is how widespread this thinking is.

Things we need to stop doing as a society: armchair diagnosing people, thinking our ill friends need our help, and instead think about how we can actually support our friends.

I’m going to run through a couple of things people say with what they probably hope are best intentions, and why they’re actually pretty damaging. Obviously these are generalisations, actual wordings will vary.

  1. “Don’t you think you should just try to get out of the house for a bit?” I can guarantee you that when I’m at my worst, the idea of being able to make it out of the house and into the world is top of my list. Sadly, there are a lot of factors that stop that. Any time I make plans with friends I have to consider a whole bunch of things: how many people am I going to be around, is it going to be super busy, how am I going to be the next day?  I have to factor in how much lasting effect a day of enjoyment is going to have on the rest of my week, and if it is going to affect my work, or my writing output. It’s like trying to juggle cats.
  2. If you don’t want to see us, just say.” This is one that is often said after I’ve cancelled the same plans a few times, and the people I’ve been making the plans with feel they’re imposing on me. And they do with this, because it layers on yet more guilt. It’s not that I don’t want to see my friends, it’s that in that particular moment, I can’t.
  3. Oh, we’re going to do X, but you probably won’t want to come.” This leads on from the point before, and kinda hurts. I get that I don’t always make it to things, and you’re tired of asking me only for me to cancel, but talking about plans in front of me makes me feel like I’m wasting your time. When I’m having a bad time with my illnesses anyway, this doesn’t help.
  4. Oh, but Y does this for that illness, why don’t you try it?” I get that you want to help, but chances are if your friend has been diagnosed with something, their doctor has pointed them to all manner of resources in order to find a way for your friend to cope. That’s not to say you can’t help, but sometimes the feeling that friends are hovering nearby ready to jump in puts me on edge, and makes me a little more unlikely to say anything about how I’m feeling.
  5. Oh, I’m a bit depressed/OCD/dyslexic etc. too.” No, no you’re not. Because these are real diagnoses of real illnesses, not the odd day being sad, the odd habit that you can’t move past. I get it, it can be comforting to feel like you belong, but this trivialises illness and might upset your friends. Be careful.

There are loads more I could go into, but you get the general idea. Your friend might be mentally ill, and they may struggle with it, but they don’t want to be treated like anything other than a person. Be kind.

Punching Nazis

[TW fascism, racism, homophobia, violence]

I’m writing this about an hour after it was announced that the vote to give Theresa May the mandate to trigger Article 50 succeeded in its second reading was announced, so I am very angry.

Though props to Stephen Gethins, who is my MP and has spent the last week telling the Tories that their lack of white paper is shite. Well done for doing what you were elected for.

So, the title of this post might seem hyperbole, but it really really isn’t. This post is 100% about punching nazis.

Literally punching nazis too. Because nazis are violent fuckers, and deserve to have their faces meet fists.

And I understand that it’s not possible for everyone, and that’s cool too. But here’s the thing: for too long we as a world have sat back and downplayed nazi statements and doctrine, and suddenly they’re in power and everyone’s terrified.

Everyone is also complicit.

And no, I won’t call them the “alt-right”, because that is bullshit. These people are full on queer bashing, racist, violent nazis. Call an apple an apple and all that.

This is disjointed because my head is all over the place, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

We absolutely need to fight back against nazis, because shutting them down before they get a chance to exert their power is the only way to beat them. All this “well, free speech and all that” bullshit gets people killed. People like Spencer don’t deserve a platform when they use that platform to advocate for Black genocide.

The biggest disappointment with him is that he’s only been punched twice.

We can see in LIVING HISTORY what happens when these people get into power and start to exert their will on the world. There are people still alive who bear the tattoos from the concentration camps they survived. And we let the GOP and Farage’s gang get into power all over again.

We are complicit in this.

So it’s time to stop sitting on our hands, and “let’s just see what happens, it can’t be that bad” rhetoric. That inaction is all they need to grab power, because you can bet your buttons their supporters won’t sit back and relax.

So we march. We make our voice heard. We inundate our representatives and let them know that this WILL. NOT. STAND. And if you can, you punch nazis.

Some general guidance for protesting:

  1. Make sure someone knows where you are going, and what time you should be coming back. If possible, leave your phone behind, but write important numbers somewhere on your body if you can’t memorise them.
  2. Stay warm; it is pretty chilly in Scotland, and I know it’s colder other places (THANK YOU CANADA). This can also double up as a way to protect your identity, which leads on to:
  3. Don’t take and share pictures without permission. You don’t know who you’re putting in danger when you do this. Don’t check in at protest locations during the march itself, as you’re likely letting unsavoury types know exactly where you are. It might sound paranoid, but there are people who trawl social media looking for people to harass and assault.
  4. You don’t have to give police any information unless they arrest you, and then it depends on where you’re from. Look up the procedures and your rights before you march.
  5. If you are going to punch nazis, well done you. Be clever about it. Make sure you have a safe exit route away from their nazi buddies (they always travel in packs), preferably disappearing into a crowd to make you harder to trace. Make sure your hands and face are covered, to protect you from injury. Here’s a handy guide on the best way to punch nazi faces:

nazi-punch

Women’s March

[TW abuse, transphobia, homophobia, racism]

Y’all knew this was coming, didn’t you?

This post is going to be pointing out issues with the Women’s March, and the majority of these issues are to do with White Women.

I wasn’t going to write this post, because there are many voices better placed than mine to do so (and I will link to a bunch of them at the end), but someone at work yesterday was laughing about how political I am, and how I should just calm down. She’s a cishet white woman, and it really pissed me off. So here we are.

I’m basing this on a Facebook post I wrote the other day, and dividing it into 6 parts:

  1. White Women sharing photos of themselves with cops at the March. Polis are not friends if you’re not white. It’s as simple as that. When police show up to Black Lives Matter marches, they do so in riot gear, and shoot to kill. When they showed up to the Women’s March, where there was a majority white women, they wore pussy hats and posed for photos. Just let that difference sit with you for a moment. White women could just mosey up to the police and take pics to post on instagram, whilst there were lawyers sending out arrest advice for Black Women and WOC and Trans Women. The only people I’ve seen posting about how “safe” the march was are white women.
  2. White Women taking and sharing photos without permission. There have been many people complaining about this. Indigenous women telling stories of how white women just walked up and grabbed their ceremonial clothing, taking pictures without permission and rambling on about how they have Indigenous blood. White women touching Black Women’s hair. White Women taking pictures of cute signs and outfits to post online, when doing so might compromise the safety of the Black Women, or WOC or Trans Women (who might not be out in their home life) or Indigenous Women in the photo. Again, White Women were the only ones who were safe at this march, and this disregard for others is going to have lasting damage.
  3. White Women glamourising Suffragettes. There are folks far more eloquent than me who can describe all the problems with the Suffragettes. A quick edition here: Suffragettes were white women of a certain class standing who were working to gain rights for white women of their particular class standing. They used poorer women as pawns in their games, much as cis gay folks used trans folks as their pawns at Stonewall; they needed someone to blame for the trouble, and someone to make them look more reasonable to the people in power. It was a shitty thing, it should not be glamourised at a march that needs to be intersectional.
  4. Many marches had no consideration for disabled folks. Again, these marches absolutely needed to be intersectional, and that includes access for disabled folks. Not just physically disabled folks, many of whom were unable to attend due to transport issues, or unsuitable terrains along the routes, but also folks who’s issues may be invisible at first glance. Where were the quiet spaces for those who suffer social anxiety, or autistic people suffering sensory overload? Where were the sign language interpreters for the deaf women in the march? It all seems fairly obvious when laid out like this, but so many of the marches overlooked these facts.
  5. All the signs based around genitalia. I get it, White Women were marching because they finally realised what Trump is doing is going to affect them. And I get it, reproductive rights are incredibly important. However, cisgender White Women weren’t the only ones marching. Signs screaming “this pussy bites back”, with the intent of letting the patriarchy know women won’t stand for sexual harassment any more are all well and good, but they absolutely exclude Trans Women. Who are more likely to be harassed and murdered, which is a heartbreaking fact. These signs also excluded the fact that many trans men have uteruses, so these reproductive issues affect them too, and that’s before we get to non-binary people. I get it, signs have to be impactful and simple to be seen on a march, but a little more thought could have been put into them.
  6. All the White Women patting themselves on the back for a job well done. Good job, you showed up to one march. Indigenous people have been marching for centuries. Black People have been marching for centuries. Queer people have been marching for centuries. Yet these communities are called out for being “violent” or “causing unrest” when they march. And that is not a good look for White People. If you truly care, you’ll show up. So put your money where your mouth is, and be a body at the next march for Black Lives Matter, or a queer cause. And be a body, not a voice: cishet white people are not who we need to hear from in these causes.

 

Yes, this whole post just makes it sound like I am very angry at white people, and yes, I absolutely am. We yet again highjacked a march and made it all about us. We need to do so much better.

Some suggested reading:

Women of colour are being blamed for dividing the march

Why I’m scared of White Women

women’s march and the selective memory of mainstream feminism

 

Marching with Becky

Despite the Pussy hats, intersectionality shone through

 

Kink-shaming

[TW sex, kink, abuse, Trump]

New Year, same old Angry Teddy.

And you lot have really annoyed me this time.

A quick definition:

Kink-shaming: the act of mocking or criticising someone’s specific sexual predilections.

I will point out now that I am no fan of Trump, and will be the first to criticise and lambast his policy and political actions. However, just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote this post about how making fun of his tiny hands or those naked statues is not on.

And now we have the kink-shaming.

This post isn’t about shaming Trump in particular: this post from Bustle does a better job than I would, and I encourage you to read it.

Also this amazing piece from Teen Vogue. I am going to be raving about them for a long time to come, I encourage you to check them out.

I’m talking about kink-shaming in general, and the impact it can have on people.

Because it’s 2017, and the fact we still have the collective mindset that anything other than vanilla sex is “ew, freaky”, and something to be mocked really pisses me off.

It’s also incredibly dangerous.

Kink is any sexual practice that steps out of the norm. The norm being straight people engaging in PiV sex acts. You all should know by now why that is problematic. The kink most people will be aware of is BDSM, as it is slowly becoming a more accepted and mainstream practice. There are lots of others too, obviously, but I won’t go into them here: this list (you have to click an agreement to actually see it) contains more for anyone interested.

What I want to talk about here is the damage kink-shaming can do.

  1. It others people. For the longest time, folks who engaged in kink were usually already marginalised in some way, as as noted above, the norm is straight people sex. This further othering by degrading their sexual practices and likes only served to justify the abuse and neglect they faced in every day lives.
  2. It hides some important information. The simple fact is, everyone experiments during sex at some point. It’s human nature, we’re all inquisitive, and wonder what would happen if I just did… Kink-shaming, and making kink play seem like some sordid, disgusting thing, stops people looking for information, and can result in a lot of very dangerous situations. And I’m not just talking about someone getting trapped in ropes here: aftercare is an important part of BDSM play, as it can cause lasting mental damage if not performed properly. If we can normalise kink, folks are more likely to look for information, and everyone will be safer.
  3. It’s abuse. Plain and simple. You don’t have any right to tell someone else how to live their life, and treating them like shit because of their sexual predilections is abuse.
  4. It makes people scared to speak up against abuse. If someone is made to feel lesser because they indulge in submission sex, how are they supposed to reach out when the dominant partner takes things too far?
  5. It’s none of your business. This is the one that really gets me: what someone gets up to behind closed doors is none of your business unless they choose to share it with you. The gutter press still spends too much of its time reporting on celebrity “sex scandals”, pretending to be moral arbiters and “oh god think of the children” reactions are the norm. And it’s all bullshit. If your friend wants to talk to you about some sexual predilection, they are putting an immense amount of trust in you, and shaming them for it is a pretty shitty thing to do.

 

So the message to take away from this is simple: DON’T DO IT.

If it is something you are uncomfortable talking about, that’s all you have to say when someone brings it up. Don’t make anyone feel like they are “wrong” or unworthy of respect because they enjoy their body or their private time. Be decent to each other.

Domestic Violence

[CW domestic violence, intimate partner violence, sexual assault]

This is a heavy one, but it is important information to get out there.

In the UK, the cross-governmental definition (not a legal definition, to be clear) of domestic violence is as follows:

Domestic violence and abuse: new definition

The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

This is not a legal definition.

That’s a lot to take in.

It is also important to note that it states this can happen to and be enacted by anyone, regardless of their gender or sexuality.

This is important, because whilst domestic violence and IPV are absolutely feminist and women’s issues, we also let down a great number of masculine identifying folx when we focus solely on feminine identifying folx.

It’s tricky to talk about, because some people will absolutely read it as a “not all men” mansplaining situation, but that’s also false.

The whole situation is a result of this continuing misogynistic conception that men must be strong, in control and authoritative whilst women are supposed to be weak, submissive and know their place.

THIS HURTS EVERYONE.

It leads to men venting their feelings through violence against those closest to them as they haven’t been taught any other way to express these deep and painful emotions, and it leads male victims of DV or IPV to hide it from the world because they’re supposed to be ashamed of being emasculated.

Domestic violence and Intimate Partner Violence are crimes, and it is high time we started treating the perpetrators as the criminals they are instead of putting all blame on the victims.

I’ve talked before about mental health, and how there are campaigns now encouraging men to be open and get the help they need. It ties in very closely with this topic, because better mental health makes for better people which makes for a better world.

Some useful links:

For women:

National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid and Refuge

Victim Support, which opens with a working definition of Domestic Violence

Galop, for LGBTQIA+ identifying folx

For men:

Men’s Advice Line

Refuge also help men

Mankind Initiative

It is also important to note that you do not need to be the one suffering from DV or IPV to contact any of these services: they welcome contact from friends and families of victims.

It is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT to note that you should never call on a family member or friend’s behalf without their consent, as you don’t know the effect this may have on the situation, and it is entirely possible you will make the situation worse.

 

 

Burnout 

Burnout is when you stretch yourself so far that you are exhausted, hate everything, and suffer from the dreaded fuzzy brain.

It can happen incredibly quickly, and is your mind asking for a time out. If you know what is good for you, listen to that warning.

Burnout isn’t good for you, for anyone you’re trying to help, and no one will thank you for it. Chances are, if you let yourself get burnout and don’t pause for thought, people will keep asking more of you, and will take up all your energy and headspace before you know what’s happened. 

Things it is important to remember regarding burnout:

  1. There is no shame in taking a step back. We seem to live in a world where taking time out for the sake of our mental health is seen as a sign of shame,  but this is bullshit. Stepping back is one of the best things you can do.
  2. Take some time for self care. As the Audre Lorde quote in that article states, self care in itself is a revolutionary act.
  3. When you’ve recovered a little, and are able, reassess your priorities. Something caused you to burn out, and you should see if you can pinpoint what, then decide if it really is so important that you wear yourself out on it.
  4. Make a plan. It might be to have one day a week off social media, to no longer engage with a certain subject, or to stay away with certain people. Again, there is no shame in looking after yourself.

Be good to yourself, because in this world, not a lot of people will do it for you. 

Anxiety 

Anxiety sucks so hard.

A definition:

1: a : painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill

b : fearful concern or interest

c : a cause of anxiety

2: an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it

Anxiety affects a lot of different people in a lot of different ways, so as always, I can only speak to my own experiences here.

My anxiety is a mixture of social anxiety, which means it is brought on by social aspects of my life, and anxiety related to my depressive disorder. Which I will talk about another time.

Social anxiety is a complain drain. Going to see close friends for a hour can use up my energy for the day, so much so that all I can manage when I get home is to change into my joggies and lie in bed. It means I cancel plans more often than I go out, especially if I’ve had to work that day, as my job takes up so much headspace.

My anxiety means I am so strung out constantly that my neck and shoulders permanently ache, and I need to take sleeping pills to make me sleep.

My anxiety means if I miss a blog post because I have had a bad week with my depression, or I’ve been slammed at work, I chew myself up for the next week because I’ve let people down, and then there’s even more pressure to put out a post the next week.

My anxiety means I imagine situations that will never happen, and talk myself out of doing anything because I’m so scared of the consequences.

Anxiety sucks.

The Mighty, a great website where people share stories and articles about all manner of health issues, has a whole section on anxiety, if you want to learn more, or find out how people coped with anxiety situations more like your own. I highly recommend checking it out.
A big thing I need to point out here though: if you friend has anxiety, they’re not looking for you to cure it for them.

At most, they’ll just want a little bit of support. Don’t badger them to follow through with plans. Don’t make them feel bad for cancelling again. Don’t stop inviting them to things, even if you think it’s stressing them out. I guarantee they’ll feel worse for being left out.

There are little things you can do to help. If you’ve arranged to go out for a coffee, and your friend finds that too difficult, how about inviting them to yours instead? It’s likely to feel like a much safer space, and you still get to see them.

Give your friend plenty of notice for plans, and if they share an anxiety with you, work with them to find a solution. Maybe you meet them 10 minutes earlier than everyone else, so you can get settle before the group arrives. Maybe you introduce them to other people before hand, even online, just so they know what they’re facing.

I don’t think any of the above is too taxing, and I know your anxious friend will appreciate it.

At the same time, don’t coddle. There’s nothing worse for an anxious brain than feeling like we’re being an inconvenience, it’s stressful as fuck.

Oh Joy Sex Toy!

Warning: the website I am talking about is entirely NSFW, so if you’re worried about that sort of thing, don’t open the links on a work computer. You’ve been warned, it’s not my fault if you get caught.

This is absolutely a love letter to the site of the above name, the work of Erika Moen and Matt Nolan.
I mean, how can you not love a sex positive web comic with a name like that? 

And really, I love this site so much.

You will find it here: Oh Joy Sex Toy!

So what is it? Oh Joy Sex Toy is a webcomic that reviews sex toys, gives information about various issues related to sexual health, explains fetishes, and has the odd smutty strip just to shake things up.

It’s also very sex positive: the language used is very inclusive, and the strips include the Masturbateers: they are folx of all genders, shapes, sexualities, races and abilities, and it is through them that we are told the information relevant to that strip’s topic.

Also they are super damn cute.

It’s a great resource, because nothing about it is patronising, and I’ve learned loads from it. It’s very clear Erika and Matt do their research, and where they don’t have the experience, they get guest experts and artists to talk about the topic, which means all the info is genuine. It’s nice to read other voices too, there’s a great blend of folx with work on the site.

Can you tell I love it? 

There are also books! Volume 3 just finished its kickstarter (I have my copy, and it’s gorgeous) and all 3 will be available to buy as a set from next week. There are a few exclusives just for the books, but it’s really nice to have a collection you can just take down from the shelf.

Though my mum did open my post, and we got to have a fun conversation. I think she thinks I’m a pervert, and that is entirely fine by me.

But yes, if you have even a passing interest in sex, I recommend having a wee look at the site. It’s all sorted into categories, so you can find strips specific to your tastes, or you can just scroll through and get a selection.

Some of my favourites are: 

Pelvic Exam
Pierre Packer
Consent