Friday, 26 September 2014

The last acceptable prejudice in the media.

Now, I love me some Captain Jean Luc Picard, and I can't help but feel happy when I see Patrick Stewart speaking about Domestic violence and abuse. But as much as I love him as an actor and think he does do some great things, there's no denying he can be incredibly problematic in another way.

What way is that? Well there's no real term for it, and we really need one, but his performances as professor X is a symptom of a fairly large issue in Hollywood that goes unremarked upon. If Patrick Stewart agreed to paint himself brown and play a person of color in a film, people would understandably point out that it was blackface and so not cool. But him being another abled actor portraying a disabled person almost always passes without comment including within social justice spaces.

Obviously, he isn't solely responsible for this issue, he's just a very good example of the issue, where even progressive individuals don't see an issue with Hollywood and indeed all media continually casting abled actors to play disabled characters. No-one would ever consider rewriting an abled character so a disabled actor could be cast, but we're routinely treated to the notion that abled actors playing disabled characters is perfectly acceptable.

Hollywood and the media in general has mostly left behind it's habit of having male actors play women and white people don blackface to play people of color even if it still does have an issue with the scope of roles it will let both groups play, but it is still routinely sending the message that disabled people do not get to be represented by actual disabled people in the media.

Worse, often playing disabled characters leads to a near automatic award for the abled actor doing so. Could you imagine some white guy putting on blackface and getting an Oscar for it without outcry? I can't, yet that's what routinely happens within the media.

Of course disabled actors are limited to only disabled roles, but then those disabled roles are largely awarded to abled actors, so where do disabled actors get to tread the boards? The answer is nowhere.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Why #NotYourShield is incredibly intensely problematic:

This is the latest Salvo in #Gamergate, and it's just incredibly problematic.

1. The actual minorities involved? Seem to be mostly those with the LEAST oppression and the MOST privilege. The average person shouting that they aren't a shield that I have encountered is a well off, cis-het white dude who has a disability, a well off cis-het man of color, or a well off, cis-het white woman. Very privileged people leading a movement to defend privileged ideas is problematic.

2. The assumption by those supporting #notyourshield is that those who aren't with them are all cis-het able bodied white men intent on using them to attack folks who have a legitimate issue with gaming journalism (I will cover why it isn't a legit issue later on). Except it isn't the case, most of the folks criticising the fuck out of Gamergate are multiple minorities and our allies.

3. The assumption by those supporting #notyourshield is that not supporting it is defending white male journalists, rather than objecting to the misogynistic and privileged roots of gamergate. No, the industry needs more diverse voices, but gamergate was still vomited up out of misogyny and privilege, rather than a genuine want to see diverse voices. That makes it intensely problematic.

4. The assumption by those supporting #notyourshield is that those of us articulating our own oppression and issues with gamergate are using them as a shield? No. Minority folks pointing out that Gamergate is a pile of piss pretending to be about ethics are not using you as a shield, they're pointing out their own issues with a misogynistic pile of piss pretending to be about ethics.

5. To the minorities supporting #notyourshield? You're firstly consenting to be a shield to well off cis-het able bodied white dudes who are manufacturing a movement based largely on their terrified belief that everyone is out to oppress well off cis-het AB white dudes in games by no longer treating them as the only people to be catered to. Go you, proving you're not a shield by being a shield.

Secondly, no matter how much you support the well off cis-het AB white dudes pushing this? They are never going to like much less tolerate your existence. You can't win better by eating bootpolish. They're happy for you to shield them from us criticising them, but otherwise they couldn't give a shit about you.

Now, here's the thing, talking about ethics in gaming and reporting? Important. But it sure as shit is not a conversation we want to have on the back of massive misogyny, nor is it one that should be had on the basis that a bunch of well off cis-het AB white dudes who see any movement towards more inclusivity as being a conspiracy against them know what they're talking about.

Gamergate isn't about improving ethics, it's about well off cis-het AB white dudes being terrified about not being the only people the gaming industry cares about.

But Dawn? Someone said Gamers were dead and that Gamers are just well off cis-het white dudes? I'm a gamer and I'm not a well off cis het white dudes.

Firstly the dominant narrative that Gamers are well off cis-het white dues is starting to die. That is what is meant by Gamers being dead, namely that a dinosaurian insistence that games are just for one very privileged group is dead. Secondly even if a minority chooses to call themselves a Gamer, it does not change that for the last thirty or so years, well off, cis-het AB white dudes have been screaming that they are the only true gamers and have been gate keeping who gets to be considered a gamer. The word has a specific meaning as a result, it's a stereotype. You taking the label doesn't remove that.

The notion of a "gamer" should fucking die, it's based in gate keeping and some really ugly notions about who matters when it comes to games. You can't tackle that by taking on a term that is steeped in such notions. People talking about the death of "gamer" as a narrow gate keeping term aren't erasing you because they're talking about the death of a term that does actively erase you..

But, Dawn? The email list?

Wow, you found out that gaming journalists talk to each other, like folks do in most fucking industries, go you. You found out the dastardly secret that people talk about work to each other when they work together, I mean it's only something that's been universal for most of human existence and you've just realised it.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

You really need to stop doing these things:

The following actions are how I define toxic social justice as performed by minority people:

1. You spend two years telling members of one minority that a site and you as a poster constantly posting slurs/bigotry that impacts them isn't a problem, then have the cheek to complain loudly that "nobody ever listens to us" the one time the site features someone whose bigotry impacts your group.

2. You can tell everyone exactly how much more likely someone with privilege over you is less likely to be oppressed in a specific manner, but still don't know how much your privilege benefits you over others and get angry when asked if you do know.

3. You tell people not to report abuse if you think it will negatively impact your group, and hold them responsible for the authorities actions if they do. Sorry, but people should not be pressured to not report an attempted rape simply because the perpetrator has a minority identity and you think the police might oppress people who happen to share that identity.

4. You say "I believe her" but what you really mean is "So long as I like her and she's part of my group".

5. You constantly expect the abused to not suffer problems because of being abused by people who are minorities as well as privileged over the person they abused. Someone was raped by someone belonging to a specific minority group? How dare they be nervous around that group. You also think that shouting at someone that they're a bigot for PTSD related fears will magically fix their PTSD because apparently you think shaming people for irrational fears will totally help them not to have them.

6. You have multiple privileges but act like they don't exist, and act like any oppressions you don't have don't matter if the person who has them has a privilege you don't have.

7. You think being angry justifies saying bigoted shit that impacts a minority you don't belong to. When called on this, you cry "Tone policing" as if being asked to not use slurs and/or not say bigoted things is the same as "you're too angry about your oppression so I won't listen to you".

8. You not only do 7 but you also actively tone police people who ask you to knock off saying bigoted shit.

9. You can name folks with your level of privilege and oppression who suffer violence, but have never heard of high level cases surrounding who share your oppressions and have others on top of it, and certainly you don't know of any case relating to a minority you have privilege over.

10. You constantly say "oh people with privileges I don't have aren't interested in my oppression" but are never ever interested in the oppression of people in areas where you yourself have privilege.

11. You can list everything you expect an ally to do. But never find the time to do any of those actions yourself for other minorities. This is especially egregious if you have privilege in that area.

12. You can list what someone needs to do to be acting in solidarity with you, but you've never even considered what you need to do to act in solidarity with others.

13. You readily complain about other movements being lead primarily by the most privileged individuals, but ignore that your own movement is yup, headed by primarily the most privileged individuals.

14. You talk about atrocities that included a wide variety of oppressed groups, but only mention those groups you're part of and act like any group you're not part of wasn't really there. When told that hey X group was also impacted by that atrocity, you shout they're derailing.

15. You never listen to the experiences of others who share an oppression but not all your privileges with you and frequently talk bollocks about their oppression in areas where you have privilege.

16. You say people should only talk about their oppression, then demand to know why those who don't have your oppression aren't talking about your oppression. You never realise that you're expecting two mutually exclusive things from them.

17. You make it clear that other oppressed groups can go fuck themselves as far as you're concerned, especially ones you're privileged over. But should anyone with privilege over you have a similar attitude to your oppression, you're quick to decry them as horrible people.

18. You readily talk about how X movement excludes you, and in the same breath completely exclude a group you don't belong to, you never realise this at all.

19. You constantly legitimise that the only voices worth listening to in a movement are those with the most privilege by only paying attention to those people with the most privilege.

20. You attack the most privileged people in a movement for being privileged, unfortunately you do so by using slur terms that splash hate all over more oppressed people as well. ie you slut shame privileged women for saying bigoted things about groups they have privilege over, which is really amusing (not!) when you're slut shaming them for something like being disabilist, did you forget disabled women exist?

21. You hand privileged people cookies for attacking other minorities and policing them. So long as they claim they were doing it to support you, it's all good apparently.

I'm sure people can add more. In summary, this is toxic, stop this shit.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

At the intersection of privilege and oppression:

One of the big problems with social justice is that people adhere to simplistic thinking, you're either angel or devil, no grey areas.

For example, I often end up arguing with PoC advocates who  use oppressive language that affects me and others while talking about racism and their racial oppression. That's a grey area, because I am addressing something harmful but I also have white privilege at the same time.
Problem is folks continually act like my white privilege automatically means I can't have a point when I complain about oppressive language being used to discuss oppression. For the record being able to criticise us for the privilege we have, doesn't mean we don't have a point when we say you're being oppressive. The resulting conversation usually goes the same way each time and I'm a little bit tired of it.

The first hurdle is that if we talk about it in a separate conversation? Well we do it by ourselves. I write about it but truth be told, it isn't making any difference because those who use it aren't listening and those who do listen already don't use it. In short, people like me are put in the position where the only time we get an actual response at all from the people being problematic is if we call it out directly in use, which puts us in a position of literally having to interrupt the conversation to ask for it to stop or continuing to be subjected to harm via it's use.

I've written countless essays on how it's problematic to use slurs that don't affect you while talking about your own oppression. Yet the only time I get a response from a person of color using one? Is when I'm triggered enough to directly call out it out in use.

So from my point of view there isn't any way to try and persuade folks to stop saying shitty things that harm me without having to be "that racist asshole". Which to be honest, is not something I really want to be, which is why it only happens when I'm triggered past the point where I can tolerate it.

When we bring it up in the only chance we actually have to address it? It immediately heads to derail territory, not because of us but because the default response is "I'm talking about my oppression, how dare you say I'm being problematic" followed two hours of complaining about being asked to not use it.
 Because apparently one post asking you not to say problematic things is the derail, not the two hours you spent arguing with us about how we're awful people for asking you not to say things that oppress us while talking about your oppression.

Then we've got the assumption that by asking for people of color not to say problematic things while addressing oppressions, we're asking to be centered. In reality as I've said over and over, all that is required is that you acknowledge it's problematic and stop using it. Called a racist a "moron"? Told it's a disabilist slur and asked to stop using it? Only required response is "Okay, Racists are assholes then" and trying to remember not to use "moron" as an insult in future.
I don't want to have a discussion about it, or you to spend all your time on my oppression. I just want you to stop using oppressive language, or at least try. It's not difficult.

The other issue is that it's always assumed that you're mentally stable by default and can take any amount of pounding that you're deemed as "deserving" for interrupting and criticising a narrative specifically for negatively affecting groups you're part of if someone you have privilege over posted it. As I've said, I only address triggery oppressive comments from PoC when I'm triggered to the point of having to say something. That means I'm incredibly fucking wound up when it happens. Those of us with a point that whatever is being said IS problematic to our group are basically lumped in with privileged white shits who are super offended just because you're talking about racism. Our distress is often openly mocked, because hey throwing up with stress from oppressive triggers, is just like being a privileged person who is merely offended by you talking about their privilege.
It's just another part of the "you have a privilege I don't, so therefore you have all the privileges" narrative, it's harmful. Sometimes people are being assholes, but sometimes they're being assholes to ask you to stop being one.

I've yet to have anyone realise that I have a point when I address triggery oppressive content in anti-oppression conversations. It is possible for that racist asshole to have a point. It is possible for me to both be racist and to be right in saying that what you said contained triggery oppressive language. When I continue to insist that yes, the oppressive thing you said was a problem, I'm not denying that I'm being problematic or denying being racist, I'm asking for you to stop oppressing me so I don't have to be that racist asshole by asking you to stop.

I'm honestly sick of having the same argument over and over, so why don't we try a new one in which everyone tries not to say oppressive shit and if they fail simply goes "okay" to being told rather than doubling down on it? It would be a change at least.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Why "they would care about white girls" is fucked up:

It's problematic for multiple reasons:

1. It treats "rich/well off" as the default for white presumed girls since in fact it's only the well off white presumed girls that receive a fuck load of attention.

This erases the reality of lives of impoverished white presumed girls. It essentially says that oppression for being poor doesn't exist/really effect you if you also happen to be white, because it treated white as existing in a vacuum untouched by other oppressions.

It's erasive. Being white doesn't magically make the impact of class go away. Oppressions still matter even if you have a privilege. Many impoverished presumed white girls who go missing/are raped/are killed/abused never make the news or even receive a twitter campaign.

2. It's based on the assumption that the tiny amount of cases of white presumed girls who go missing/are raped/killed/abused which are reported in the media are the only white presumed girls who suffer those fates.

While it is definite that children of color are more likely to suffer such fates and less likely to receive attention, I know that the rate of it happening to white presumed girls is much much much higher than the -minority- of cases reported in the media would have you believe.

3. For those many many MANY poor white presumed girls who know full well that the world didn't fucking give a shit at all about us?

It tells us that we must be bad people

If the default is the world caring about us, then clearly we must have done something to be undeserving of that care. It tells us that we must have deserved being raped, attacked, groomed, facing attempted murder or killed. We must have deserved what happened to us because there must be a reason why they didn't care and clearly the only possible reason is to assume that we did something to be unworthy of that care. Something to make us unworthy of the care and attention that is supposedly guaranteed to white children for being white.

It's victim blaming of the most insidious sort. Victim blaming dressed up as addressing one inequality via ignoring another.

So yes, stop saying "They'd have cared about X if it was a white girl" because objectively and reasonably, it's reductive and clearly fallacious. Madeleine McCann isn't in the newspapers just because she's white, she's in them because she's from a nice educated respectable white middle class family with two doctors for parents. Her race is only part of why they care. Had she been born on a council estate to a single mother with multiple children? It's unlikely her disappearance would have amounted to more than a minor blip in the media at the most and entirely possible that she could have disappeared without anyone really caring.

Those of us whose suffering went on under the permissive gazes of those in authority, whose abuse was allowed by those who should have stopped it? We exist. Those of us who don't get a four page spread in the newspapers asking why such awful things could happen to an innocent? We exist, and we also come in white, our crime was to be poor. Class matters, stop erasing and blaming us for what happened to us.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Beauty and Cis divided:

Or the difference between being body shamed as a cis female and being gender dysphoric. There is much to criticise in this rather unempathic post, it reads as one big long "but cis women suffer to" without bothering to tackle that trans woman face the same body shaming with the add burden of being dysphoric.

I'm going to dissect how deeply problematic this post is from both the position of being a presumed woman and being a non-binary individual.

First she declares that "most women hate their bodies". As if it's a fact. There is no evidence supplied for this. Being self conscious about one's body and about whether it meets the criteria for attractive that society puts on presumed women is not necessarily hating one's body.

The second part goes into her own ED issues and reveals that really Glosswitch thinks most women are simply reflections of herself, she feels this way so other women must feel that way. It doesn't work that way however. Women and presumed women are as individual as any man.

The next few parts are not bad, covering how gender beauty norms are normalised but then it goes downhill.

Quote: "Has anyone who has been assigned female at birth ever been enabled to “operate without conflict or correction”?"
Here Glosswitch profoundly misunderstands the difference between operating without conflict or correction in terms of what gender you're seen as, and operating without it in terms of how your perceived beauty is rated. A cis woman deemed 'ugly' or 'unattractive' by repressive female beauty norms is still consider a woman, they do not have that conflict.

Also let's face it, as restrictive as female beauty norms are? They're still miles easier to meet if born as a presumed female. The daintiness expected of women does not include broad shoulders for example which are so common in those presumed male.

Quote: "Don’t most cis women spend their whole lives trying to “become women”?"

No, Glosswitch, Cis women spend their lives trying to become a socially normative idea of the "ideal woman" in terms of looks, actions and thoughts. They're already seen as women, what they're chasing is the ideal in front of that. The ideal is not womanhood, it's a artificial idea of womanhood. The womanhood for Cis women lies in being born and seen as women. Not in whether they meet the social criteria for female beauty. A 'ugly' cis woman is still a woman, she's just not an 'ideal woman'.

Quote: "Cis women – primped, primed cis women – are not believed to have a problematic relationship with gender, or if they do, it is seen to be of their own making."

Again, the problematic relationship is not with gender, it is with social idealised idea of gender. The problem is not being a woman, it is being a woman who does not meet the criteria for perfect womanhood in the eyes of society.

Quote: "which leads to the assumption that cis women do not even experience gender sufficiently to be able to critique it."

No, it leads to the realisation that Cis women have no business talking about the gender issues trans people face since they are not trans and frequently say ignorant things as a result.

Quote: "Transitioning from male to female is no more a dramatic or meaningful expression of discomfort with one’s own gender identity than having one’s labia reshaped. Yet one is considered so extreme it must betray a deeper engagement with gender as a fundamental truth, while the other is seen as just some stupid thing cis women do."

Oh boy, this is just completely ignorant. A single operation is simply not comparable to two years of compulsory affirmation and obeying a far more stringent set of rules prior to starting far more years of operations. The expectations placed on Cis women to be the ideally attractive cis woman are not more stringent that the expectations placed on Trans women to proved they're really women by performing a narrow idealised womanhood, ie god forbid a Trans woman wear jeans, it always has to be a skirt or her womanhood will be questioned. I also have not met a single trans person who thought of labia reshaping as a "stupid thing cis women do". However the difference between being cis and trans does add gender disphoria which makes a difference to the experience of gender.

Quote: "All women are gender non-conformists, every single one of us."

No, all women do not conform entirely with the social expectations of gender. Cis women still conform to the reality of gender as biology. Were I cis, I would still be seen as a woman, I conform in terms of my body. Even though it doesn't meet the idea of attractiveness, it is still seen as a female body and therefore I am seen as a woman. It takes a lot of effort to non-conform to that.

Quote: "Anyone who positions themselves above this — who believes themselves to be queering gender in a way that other women don’t need to – simply can’t be bothered to consider the specificities of other women’s lives. It’s privileged nonsense"

Yes, she did seriously just argue that being trans and queering gender by being trans means you're privileged. As for her claim that other people can't be bothered to consider specificities of other women's lives? Glosswitch is the one who cannot be bothered in my view. There is nothing in the theory of queering gender that leaves out Cis women. But cis women still do not face the issue of having truly gender non-conforming body because even those cis woman who least conform with the social ideas of behaviour and attractiveness expected from cis women is still treated as a woman.

I do not think Glosswitch understands what queering gender is.

Quote: "we need the space to critique what gender is doing to each and every one of us right now."

Unless you're trans of course because I suspect Glosswitch doesn't think trans people need the space to critique gender.

Friday, 4 April 2014

There is no 'we'

TW: Discussion of abuse, rape and rape culture.

Or why this survivor of childhood abuse and rape has never felt welcome in social justice circles.

There is no we when you insist that someone's value in fighting other oppressions is more important than tackling their habit of calling people liars if they don't think that person has the right opinions or they simply dislike that person.

There is no magic "is an asshole" shield that protects someone from abuse or rape simply because someone doesn't like them or their opinions. If someone's criteria for "I believe them" is "So long as they're part of my group/agree with me/aren't a bigot". Then they are expressing rape culture, because rape and abuse happens to people who are assholes and bigots just as readily as it happens to those who are angels. If you do not address this because you think the "good" they do excuses this? You are perpetuating rape culture.

There is no we when you insist on treating the atypical issues caused by abuse as not worth acknowledging and supporting us for simply because those issues hurt another person.

Sometimes our pain and scars results in us hurting others, this does not mean we should not be supported. Please note, there's a difference between excusing and supporting. You can support us without excusing us. Blanket condemnation of our hurt due to the harm it does to others just heaps a new layer of scars on top of the old ones. How can we heal and stop hurting other if you deem our scars as making us "bad" and "unworthy of support to address it"? You can support both us and those we hurt by accident. It is not an either or proposition.

There is no we when you insist that unless we show what you expect then we're not really hurting.

We are not all alike, sometimes it seems you see still waters but beneath the calm, those waters roil with pain. Don't always insist on the storm, be ready to listen to us about how being a survivor has impacted us. I myself because I had precisely zero support, well those who do not listen would think I was unaffected, but those who do listen would realise how the damage spreads throughout my whole worldview. I need support for that just as much as those who show you what you expect to see.

There is no we when you would rather shame me for how my wound manifests then understand why it manifests that way.

Listen. It is not a hard thing.

There is no we when you are happy to have the person who demanded details of my abuse from me in your community and act like I am being unreasonable for feeling unsafe with such a person around.

There is no we when you think all the rules of not perpetuating rape culture somehow have exceptions.

Again, there is no way to be anti-rape culture and make exceptions for people you don't like/don't agree with. You either believe survivors or don't. You can't believe some and not others. You either think victims should not have the details demanded or do think details should be demanded. You can't demand details from me five minutes after being outraged at others doing the same to another, at least not without being a massive hypocrite who perpetuates rape culture.

There is no we when you consistently expect us to either be all strong or all weak.

There are days when the scar just feels like a black hole sucking my life into the void, there are days when I barely remember that I am a survivor. Please stop insisting that since I handled the asshole last week, I can't be in a state this week. I am not always strong, just as I am not always weak.

There is no we when you continually mistake anger for strength.

Just because I tell a rape culture perpetuator to fuck the hell off doesn't mean I'm strong. Anger and strength are not the same, I can be hurting. Please don't assume that I don't need support and especially don't assume and then get mad at me because I say that I needed support.

There is no we when during an argument about an issue, you have no issue with rape threats or support for rape threats directed at me by someone else in the guise of fighting for you.

If someone proceeds to "fight" for you by basically saying I deserved rape threats I got before and you fucking thank them for fighting for you and say nothing about the rape culture argument they just used? You're supporting rape culture.

There is no we when you refuse to accept my right to be flawed, human, hurting, different, and even not what you expected.

Yes, those are all based on incidents done by social justice advocates or done in SJ spaces. That is why there is no We.