itisiwhowillit

unadulterated ranting, it's cathartic.

breaking it down- Plan C and the Vampire Castle.

Let me get this straight from the outset: I am a proud inhabitant of the vampire castle. I suck the lifeforce of the left to feed my ego and nourish the irrelevant intelligentsia I call my fellow vampires. I am middle class, I have always been middle class, and I will always be middle class, I regularly use words like ‘globalised postmodern simulacrative constellation of capital’ because I’m so damned middle class, and I like to use the words I learned in private school.

Except, I’m not. I’m a poor, disabled women from a mining family in South Yorkshire. I went to a state school that no longer exists and was in the lowest achieving group in the country. People went there with weapons. I have no money, and currently, I have no home, and am relying on the generosity of friends to help me get by (who said the left wasn’t generous, huh?).

Oh, and I’m disabling the comments on this blog because my blog isn’t a fucking democracy and I don’t actually have to listen to your inevitable misogynistic abuse.

So, Plan C, you wanted to call your magazine Trigger. That’s cool. Or not.

Should we call it ‘Trigger’?

Counterproposal:

Those opposing the name Trigger were concerned that it would be read as critique, satire or even mockery, of the ‘trigger warning’ practice. They were right. They were concerned that this would be needlessly inflammatory and uncomradely. Plan C has not previously entered into the debate around trigger warnings and the wider politics associated with it, and has had no internal discussions about it. we don’t care about it. There are differences of opinion on it within the group. We’re not a boring homogenous group of white men, honest. They were therefore concerned that the name Trigger could cause tension both within the group and with people outside it. Particular discomfort was felt by some about the name Trigger’s potential to be seen as mocking.

Discussion

Some people did not agree that Trigger was likely to be read as satirical or mocking. They were wrong. How the hell do these people magically know what others think? Time travel? Telepathy? Someone call Mulder. Others disagreed, and were sure that it would. Several people recounted friends taking the magazine name to be a satire on trigger warnings, and suggested this would unfortunately be a widespread interpretation, regardless of our intentions. It was noted that the movement we currently find ourselves in is not generous Do we have to be generous? Are you generous with the rich? Why are we allowed to kill the rich and eat the rich, but not be pissy with ableists? Is it because, in the eyes of Plan C, disability is secondary to class? Is it because you either fail to understand or willingly ignore the ways in which capital and disability intersect? How those affected most by austerity are disabled? How those both physically and mentally disabled struggle to enter political spaces for fear of mockery, ignorance, or maybe not even being able to physically get into your building? How about the ways in which oppression related trauma and disability intersect? The PTSD survivors are left with? The fear of leaving his home a young man of colour experiences? Those who do not allow us space to organise around our trauma in a way that makes us safe and able to be counted are our enemies, just as the rich are our enemies. You deserve nothing short of our contempt until you change this, does not always take things in the spirit in which they were intended sadly, intention doesn’t matter bro. Your good intentions won’t stop my panic attacks, take me off medication, or gain my trust, and has tendencies to moralistic policing by invoking policing, you make us the powerful. We are not the powerful, and this is precisely the point. We are not policing  you, we are defending ourselves. And, whilst it’s in your own interests as individuals to make martyrs of yourself, to tell the left that you’re fighting the parasites, we all know this isn’t true.. Though there was a great deal of discomfort in the feeling that we were being cowardly and pandering to these tendencies Again, invoking power dynamics that simply do not exist. Implying that survivors and those with trauma are on top is total nonsense- total nonsense that removes the impact of the experiences that so often debilitate us which we are strongly opposed to, there was also concern that, regardless of the politics involved, it would not go well for us if we called the magazine Trigger. The point was made that we should look to confront these problems at some point, as it is crippling the left What left? Feminists haven’t recently come along and changed everything- the left has always been fractured, and this is a good thing, as it allows for fluidity and learning. If we were a homogenous bunch, we’d achieve jack shit. and creating a poisonous For the love of God, drop this fucking rhetoric. We are humans, we are not poisonous parasites atmosphere for organising. This met with wide and heartfelt agreement. It felt to some like we were making a retrogressive, pragmatic decision rather than engaging with a substantial political problem. Now, I don’t mean to be rude, but I think you might be overstating how important the name of your magazine is. If you want to engage in this issue- engage with it. Talk to us rather than at and past us. Consider our histories, our current situtations, and our oppressions. Empathise with us. We are angry because you are oppressing us.

It was noted there has not been enough respect to the time and energy that went into choosing the name, and that this problem arose several months later than it should have. lol.

Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair, or, why anarchism needs to sort itsfuckingself out.

Trigger warning: discusses misogyny, transmisogyny, rape apologism, Julian Assange, physical harassment.

Yesterday (Saturday 12th July), I attended Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair. It’s a notably smaller affair that its big sibling London Bookfair, but still appeared to have plenty to offer: films, stalls, and workshops on everything from arrest avoidance to WW1. Notable absences from the day were events on feminism, trans* rights, POC struggles, disability activism, queer identities, and the struggles of parents and carers. It seems, yet again, that anarchists seem to have forgotten who really feels the brunt of ‘class war’.

I avoided the morning’s sessions after the presence of a member of a trotskyist group known for its abuse apologism was present, instead I left, smoked a tonne of cigarettes and had a pint of cider in the sunshine. I cannot vouch for anything that happened before about 2pm, and I’m not going to pretend to.

However, at 2pm I attended a Plan C meeting ‘What would a popular left look like?’ – as I’m known for my ‘divisive’ ‘intersectional’ politics (a label I actually don’t give myself after a number of black feminist writers pointed our how frequently white, racist feminists appropriate the label), I thought I’d go along to see if anywhere at all the constant sidelining of survivors, women (especially trans and of colour) and sex workers might be in any way blamed for the failure of ‘the left’; the mythical monolithic revolutionary entity. Naturally, that wasn’t discussed.

I raised that perhaps a reason why ‘the left’ fails to be popular (both in terms of public opinion and size) is because left organisations are rife with abuse- from SWP, to SP, to AWL (yep, I named you. So sue me). When these abuses are raised, those raising them are dismissed as divisive ‘creeping feminists’ time after time after time. Huge numbers of people are not safe to organise within our mythical monolithic revolutionary left. This was dismissed, with one person telling me we *should* work with SWP, because they helped chip in for someone’s bail. Apparently, in this person’s mind, SWP could literally buy away rape.

I rebutted that perhaps that’s alright for some, especially men, as they’re not the ones likely to be raped, abused and assaulted at the hands of ‘comrades’. If we need a ‘popular’ left- our first step should be to make it safe for the oppressed people already at the point of ‘revolutionary’ politics. This suggestion, apparently, is ‘violent no platforming’.

One man, a friend of Ciaron O’reilly called me and my ‘type’ ‘violent intersectional feminists’ – claiming that we ‘violently attacked’ Ciaron, who is just a valiant defender of Wikileaks (read: Julian Assange) at last year’s London Anarchist Bookfair in October. There was no violent attack on Ciaron, however, Ciaron and his friends were responsible for a number of horrific, oppressive acts. At one point, transmisogynistic abuse was shouted at a trans woman, calling her ‘a man in a dress’, ‘free hugs’ were given out to people read as trans women so that they could be felt and figured out whether they were ‘actual’ women (read: cis). At one feminist workshop, they arrived drunk with cans of lager and when asked to leave because their actions could clearly be intimidating and triggering, childish cries of THIS ISN’T ANARCHISM, WE HAVE NO MASTER, YOU CAN’T TELL US WHAT TO DO and banging on walls spewed from their fucking shitty mouths. I might add, just so you’re certain of the type, V masks and whitelocks were involved.

When I questioned Ciaron’s friend on these actions, there was no response: just eye-rolling, sniggering and sighing from the older man contingent of the room. At that point I said if we’re serious about anti-hierarchical organising, we must challenge hierarchies within our own communities, *especially* when those actions endanger and abuse trans women. Then, another older man piped up ‘WE’RE NOT ALL ANARCHISTS YOU KNOW’ – no, but you’re at an *anarchist bookfair*, the clue is kind of in the name, and perhaps you should have sympathies with anarchist organising, or just not be there. At this point the chair interrupted, told me that if this was the conversation he’d wanted to have, he’d read it on the internet. Apparently, one can’t read about ‘left’ figures like Owen Jones or Russell Brand on the internet.

Further to this event, some of the literature placed on the stalls was astonishingly bigoted. Stickers reading ‘Religion is stupid’, ‘Religion is silly’ and ‘Fairy tales are for children, it’s time to grow up!’ scattered the stalls, with one white man attending a stall even wearing the latter as a t-shirt. This is racism. This is white ‘enlightenment’. This is white men knowing better. These are, apparently, the same white men who believe in an international revolutionary movement. I’m not sure how they’re going to work with, well, the majority of the world who are non-atheist/agnostic if their response to religion is simply ‘you’re stupid, grow up’. How are we making anarchist spaces accessible for Muslim activists who are targeted by communities, the police and the media as violent terrorists, paedophiles, and misogynists, if we’re just perpetuating these ideas?

The women’s library was also a delight, with a Julie Bindel book right next to ‘Queering Anarchism’. Apparently, literature that advocates harassment of trans women, that denies their identities, their bodies, and their autonomy is allowed in an ‘anarchist’ space. Apparently the work of a woman who hates those who do not ‘choose’ their lesbianity, who are queer, or bisexual, or sex-worker is allowed in an ‘anarchist’ space. 

If the anarchist community of Britain is ever seriously going to have a strong, anarchist community that stands with and for the rights of the most oppressed, we’ve got a lot of work to do. Events without a comprehensive safer spaces are a joke- permitting racism, trans misogyny, abuse apologism and sexism in ‘anarchist’ spaces is not anarchist. It is a crass reproduction of all that we are supposed to fight against. We need a space where not ‘everyone’ is ‘equally’ welcome to participate, but spaces where oppressed groups can safely self-organise. Where women can organise without abusers hailed as heroes. Where non-binary, genderqueer and agender people can self-organise without being mis-pronouned and pushed into binaries. Where black communities can organise without whitewashing. Where communities of faith can organise without being labelled stupid and childish. Where disabled communities can organise without the steamrollering ahead of able bodied and or minded people. Where queer communities can organise without straight people crying that they *are* allies, and you’re too mean to Macklemore. Where sex workers can organise without being called sluts and whores and patronised by the middle class.

We need a space that prioritises the voices of the oppressed and isn’t afraid to tell the privileged to shut up and fuck off.  We need a zero-tolerance attitude towards oppressive behaviour, without being decried as an authoritarian circle jerk. We need, in short, actual anarchist spaces.

Until then, I’m out.

Delta Kappa Epsilon- not on our campus!

Content note: this post discusses fraternities and sororities, discussing rape, abuse, harassment and hazing.

If you’ve walked around central campus this week, you’ll have noticed some rather bizarre, fascist looking A3 posters. These posters are the work of Delta Kappa Epsilon- one of the oldest, largest fraternities in North America.

Every person who’s ever spent more than 5 minutes watching crappy tv shows will have an image of what a frat boy, a frat house, and a frat party looks like. But they’re just real life guys, and they’re not actually a bunch of rapist, apologist, non-consensual abusive misogynists, are they? They’re not actually nepotistic are they? And they’re not *actually* just for men, are they?

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The organisation One In Four published a report on sexual abuse, harassment and rape on campuses in the USA. They found that 55% of all gang rapes were committed by fraternities.The fraternity advertising at Edinburgh have been embroiled in numerous scandals; most notably, there is a youtube clip of fraternity members chanting ‘No means yes! Yes means anal!’- which got the Yale chapter suspended for five years. All DKE activities were banned from Colgate University as fraternity members were found to be hazing (the practices of abuse, harassment and humiliation that one undertakes to be initiated into a group). At the University of Alberta, DKE have been suspended for three years after they too were found to be hazing.

There’s also one other blindingly obvious problem with fraternities: nepotism. The Fraternity and Sorority Affairs: National Statistics research proudly boasts that of America’s biggest 50 corporations, 43 are headed by fraternity/sorority members, 76% of Senators are fraternity/sorority members, and 85% of the Fortune 500 key executives are fraternity/sorority members. Past members of DKE include President George Bush (yes, that one. The one who launched an illegitimate war in the Middle East resulting in the murders of millions of innocent people, yeah, that guy) and J.P Morgan (of J.P Morgan the bank largely responsible for the 2008 financial crisis, paving the way for global neo-liberalisation, mass unemployment, homelessness, and death fame).

This behaviour is endemic in fraternities. They are a danger on our campuses- they perpetuate rape, harassment and abuse.The nepotism they exemplify has no place on our campus. Our campuses should be places of safety, education, expression and exploration. Elite universities are already hugely overrepresented in media, politics, art and business. We do not need to further entrench this divide through secretive, nepotistic cliques. Our campuses are already dangerous for women, NUS’s Hidden Marks report shows that 12% of women students had been stalked, 68% had been harassed in and around their institutions, 10% report having been spiked before an attack, and one in 7 report experiencing serious sexual assault or harassment. Campuses are dangerous places for women, and we will not tolerate any organisations that threaten to make our lives worse.

In an information meeting with a DKE member today, I (and others) were told that all of the main fraternities and sororities in the USA are looking to spread to the UK as soon as possible, that DKE were setting themselves up at St Andrew’s and Warwick universities, and that ‘secret societies’ existed all over the UK. We have to stop this culture before it spreads around British universities. We have to make it clear that we will not accept nepotistic misogynists in our institutions, and that must start with opposing DKE at The University of Edinburgh.

YORK FEMINIST NETWORK ROUND TWO.

I’m writing this note in a personal capacity. The views I express here are not representative of Edinburgh University’s Feminist Society, and the committee have nothing to do with this note.

 

If you want to read YFN’s response to Edinburgh Uni Feminist Society, you can do so here:  https://www.facebook.com/notes/rachel-hewson-thornton/response-to-edinburgh-university-feminist-society-york-feminist-network-we-rejec/10151700333121813

 

At the heart of YFN’s response is the power and gender imbalances in sex work. I’m not going to challenge that here. What I do wish to challenge, however, is that this makes sex work different from any other field of work. Most bosses are men, most millionaires are men, most highly-paid workers are men. Most public sector workers who are *hugely* taken advantage of despite their necessary contribution to society, are women. Bosses (read: men) buy our bodies every day- as students and workers we spend our short and valuable lives slaving away for the benefit of men. Precarious, under-valued, low-paid work is women’s work. Yet I don’t see York Feminist Network campaigning for the closure of any other workplace. Why? Whorephobia.

 

You say sex-work defines women in terms of men’s desires. I say you would do well to not define the sexuality expressions of other women.

 

Even if you believe that sex-work is inherently bad (which I think is bullshit, I feel I should clarify), it’s still anti-feminist to endanger those workers and their dependents. Like any other work dispute, we should take the lead from the workers, and fight with them on the terms that they wish to organise on. WE DO NOT CONTROL THEIR STRUGGLE.

 

The closure of a sauna or lap-dancing bar or strip club won’t *stop* these places from existing, you will just drive them underground. You will put the workers in an even riskier position. Feminists acknowledge the validity of this argument  when we’re talking about abortion, so why not sex work?

 

Even an abolitionist should want the safest, healthiest workplace for other women.

 

Feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. Sex workers are disproportionately LGBTQ (particularly Trans*) because cisheteronormative standards keep them out of conventional workplaces. Sex workers are working class. We fight with them, not against them. Sex workers’ rights are workers’ rights. Workers’ rights are human rights.

 

If you care about women you will ask the workers of Upstairs what they want to happen. You will ask them what could make their job more fulfilling, what would make them happier, and what would make them safer. You would then offer them any support that they needed in agitating toward those goals. You would not make them jobless. You would not put them in danger.

 

Enough fucking said.

York Feminist Network, we reject your whorephobia.

Last week, the Edinburgh University Feminist Society received the following email from York Feminist Collective:

‘Hello, I hope you don’t mind me sending you this quick message.

I’m a member of the York Feminist Network, and a number of our group are calling on City of York Council to reject the application for renewal of SEV (Sexual Entertainment Venue) licence from lap dancing club ‘Upstairs’ (part of The Mansion), on Micklegate in York. The current licence expires on 30 November 2013.

As Council policy states that we are not able to object on moral grounds, our campaign takes a more community-focused argument, concerned with the impact on local residents, creating ‘no-go’ areas for women and damaging both the character and reputation of York as a welcoming, family-friendly city. This is the link to our petition: [petition redacted]

If you are able and willing to share it amongst your group, that would be much appreciated

Thank you ever so much,

[name redacted] York Feminist Network.’

We would like to say that not only will we refuse to support your campaign- but that we call upon people to actively oppose it.

Sex workers nationwide are facing vicious attacks on their working conditions, and as an intersectional society we must think about the implications of working class women in this assault. This is especially evident in Edinburgh where the merging of Scottish Police forces is leading to a crack down on saunas. Here police asked saunas to ban condoms, and raids are becoming more common. Any safety that saunas offer sex workers is being eroded as police forces exercise their power in violent, dangerous and intrusive ways. Feminists should not encourage or participate in any behaviours that condone or perpetuate this.

We ask you to think about the livelihoods of women whose jobs you will take away. What about the children they have to feed? The roofs they must keep over their heads? The intentional endangering of women is not feminist.

As a feminist society we educate, agitate and organise around the emancipation of women and others directly oppressed by patriarchal standards. We will not have the liberation of women whilst we remain divided; whorephobic standards perpetuate slut-shaming, victim-blaming and rape culture. Sex workers are part of our fight, and we will not turn our backs on them.

We catagorically reject your claim that Adult venues are ‘damaging’ to communities, and in your appeal to families you place sex workers and families in opposition. We do not accept this.We say that sex workers are an integral part of our communities- not something opposition to them.

We will not participate in your whorephobic, anti-sex work, sex-negative feminism. We hope you will reconsider your campaign and we look forward to future dialogue with you.

We offer our solidarity to the dancers of ‘Upstairs’; know that we support your right to bodily autonomy, freedom of association and right to work in safe conditions.

Edinburgh University Feminist Society.

The word comrade and why I don’t want to be called it.

So I’ve wanted to write about why I find the word ‘comrade’ alienating for a while, but struggled to articulate exactly why it makes me feel uncomfortable.

Firstly, I find the word comrade impersonal. It’s often used to address collectives, often collectives of strangers, and I never assume that strangers are in any sense my comrades. Even at left-wing meetings/events I don’t trust people to have intersectional politics, and, as a woman and survivor, I don’t trust them to have non-patriarchal/victim-blaming/rape-apologist politics. It takes a long time to gain my trust, and until someone has my trust I am not happy to declare them allies.

Secondly, it is, in my mind at least, inextricably linked with pale, stale, males. I can’t help but think of Old Men holding Socialist Worker. I’m aware that this is a bit irrational, but I can’t help it. Years of being at meetings, on speaker panels, on pickets and at conferences have just entrenched these connotations. I remember very specifically the first time it turned me off, and I was speaking on a panel at Edinburgh Uni about cuts and poor people (I’m often token poor person wheeled out to talk about poor people). I think it was my second year at Uni, and so I’d only been calling myself a communist for a few months, probably. I’m a Millbank child. Three people spoke, they were all young people, and I think the panel had a 50/50 men/women split. We all spoke about our designated topic for a few minutes, and answered a few questions. The last person spoke, he was a white, middle aged man from (I think) a Trotskyist organisation, or possibly a trade union. He immediately stood up, clapped his hands, and addressed the room as ‘comrades’. I felt like he had imposed on my space (I was sat next to him). He was overbearing. Every time he said comrade I felt more and more like he was not my comrade.

Thirdly, I feel addressing someone as comrade creates a reciprocal relationship. You can’t be a comrade to someone, and them not a comrade to you. I feel that when someone calls me comrade, they’re saying ‘I am your comrade, you are mine’. As I said earlier I have trust issues and it takes a lot for someone to gain my trust, particularly politically speaking. It feels invasive.

I understand that the word has a lot of history, that it might be useful, and that some people do like it. I just have many problems with it, and I request that you don’t declare me your comrade.

 

NUS priority campaign: ‘Women in Leadership’ and why I’m not on board.

NUS have launched one of their priority campaigns for this year, called ‘Women in Leadership’.  I get the sentiment behind it; women are grossly under-represented in Parliament, in the media, in unions, and in our Universities (beyond undergraduate students).  What I don’t think is helpful, though, is getting women up there in the hope that it will contribute to the destruction of systematic sexism.

Women CEOs still use sweatshop labour (which is 90% women workers), they’ll still have companies where there is a huge wealth disparity (Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi took home $17 million dollars in 2011, whilst the average wage for a merchandiser at Pepsi is $32, 450), and they will still discriminate when hiring workers. The CEO of Kraft is a woman- and Kraft are moving to Switzerland in a move that will dodge £60 million  a year in taxes.

Women policy makers in our Parliament still enforce & create policies that oppress women. Margaret Thatcher was a woman. Nadine Dorries is a woman. Louise Mensch is a woman. Baroness Warsi is a woman. Blair’s Babes were women. I don’t really need to go into the horrors they’ve participated in- whether it’s the war on Iraq or the war on consent, these women have actively made life worse for women beneath them- black women, LBTQ women, poor women, disabled women, school girls, mothers. They are not part of the solution- they are part of the problem.

We’re living in an era of unprecedented attacks on the poor and vulnerable. ATOS is killing thousands of people a year. Women are being turned away from rape crisis centres because of funding cuts. Mothers are sending their children to school hungry, and they sure as hell aren’t getting a free meal there. Should our union’s priority campaign really be about getting women into positions of power, or should it be about fighting those with power, holding them accountable, and fighting for those being fucked over.

When you smash the glass ceiling, you just let the shards fall on those beneath you- you cut them up. We shouldn’t be advocating that women get into positions of power- we should advocate that women fight, as a community to destroy the power structures that oppress them. Feminists should be fighting capitalism, not fighting to get to the top of it. Feminists should be fighting for a democratic, participatory society- not to get into unaccountable, poorly elected positions themselves.

Ultimately, as a leader your interests shift. Being a parliamentarian is about striking the balance between suppressing dissent, and giving enough scraps to keep people from dissenting. Being a CEO is about giving your workers just enough to live on, but ensuring that ultimately, as much money as possible goes into your pocket. Being a General Secretary is about appeasing the government and appeasing your members. It’s all about compromise. As a feminist, I don’t accept compromise. I want to live in a genuinely intersectional society. Feminism and capitalism are irreconcilable (logically and morally). Leadership is necessary to capitalism- it creates the illusion of social mobility, it maintains aspirational fantasies in people and it keeps them fighting each other- not the system that holds them at gunpoint.

Toni Pearce, NUS President says it shouldn’t be another 144 years until we have another women general secretary of the TUC. To which I respond: I disagree. We shouldn’t see another general secretary, irrespective of gender. Workers should control the means of production, they should control their workplaces and lives democratically, not through a poorly elected mouthpiece.

I’m a stuck record and a cliche, but power corrupts. Fuck power and fuck leadership.

A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism

excellent and important statement on trans-inclusive feminism.

feministsfightingtransphobia

We are proud to present a collective statement that is, to our knowledge (and we would love to be wrong about this) the first of its kind.  In this post you’ll find a statement of feminist solidarity with trans* rights, signed by feminists/womanists from all over the world.  It is currently signed by 790 individuals and 60 organizations from 41 countries.

The statement can be found here in English. It is also available in French, Hungarian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian and Serbo-Croatian.

The complete list of individual signatories is available here, or alphabetically or by country. The signatory list of organisations and groups is available here. We would love it if you signed it too. You can either use this form, or email us, or post a comment on this post or on the statement.

Our continued thanks to everyone for your support.

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how not to treat mental illness.

Trigger warning: ableism, sexual assault.

I keep coming across two attitudes towards those with mental health issues, both of which cloak themselves as progressive, yet are incredibly ableist in their implications.

The first is that people with ill mental-health are out of control. They’re incapable of being reasoned with, incapable of being rational agents, and ergo incapable of being held accountable. This paints us all as crazed maniacs who are a danger to everyone at all times. Essentially, it lacks nuance.

The implications of this are severe. It means our contributions to discussions and in fact to the world are ignored (after all, they ARE completely illogical). It means where we do make bad decisions, say bad things, and even be cruel or abusive to the people we care about, we’re not held accountable. Nobody tries to help us. Instead, we’re just seen as beyond help. Nothing will change until we’re better (if ever we are) and that’s just a matter for the professionals. It’s not as if support networks, allies, and the faith people invest in us are ever helpful.

Once I was sexually assaulted by a man. It had a pretty terrible impact on my life (I offset thinking about how much it has fucked me up by thinking ‘but at least it made me an anarchist’). People defended him by saying that he ‘wasn’t well’ and that he’d ‘always been that way’. This kind of behaviour, this unwillingness to hold mentally ill people to account for their actions gives a green light to abusive, but ill, people. Mental illness can be a reason for many terrible things those with mental health problems do, but it must not become an excuse.

Don’t treat us like we’re incapable. We are not.

Conversely, you get the complete denial/ignoring of someone’s mental health. This leads to a lack of sensitivity, and judgement without context. This attitude ignores how profoundly a mental illness can affect someone’s life.

Essentially, a middle-ground needs to be recognised, because both of these extremes are not only dangerous but offensive to those with ill mental-health. The difference between differing mental health problems needs to be recognised. Someone suicidal will act differently from someone with an anxiety disorder. Their friends, family, and broader support networks need to recognise the specific issues said person has, the specific support they need, and the specific ways in which their mental illness manifests itself.

It requires people to be perceptive, it requires people to be forgiving but also for them sometimes to be harsh. It’s difficult, but until people with mental illnesses aren’t treated either like non-human crazed entities, or have their battle with their own brain ignored, we’ll never get anywhere in creating a safe environment for both those with mental health problems and those around them.

Manarchism, or, how to hurt a man’s feelings.

The past couple of days, I’ve witnessed a few guys feeling really quite upset and hurt by words like mansplain and manarchist. They’ve churned out the same few tired arguments, and undoubtedly cried themselves to sleep after all that victimisation.

But what is a manarchist? How do you mansplain? 

1) a manarchist is an anarchist man who seems to have missed the ‘destroy patriarchy’ memo. They dominate spaces, manipulate women, dismisses identity politics as ‘divisive’, and, if they’re a particularly bad breed, pray to the Holy Church of St Julian. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nucx1L1MkPo If any of that video feels familiar, you’ve met a manarchist.

2) mansplaining is the phenomena where men dismiss the years of  patriarchy women have dealt with, all in the name of That Great Book They Read. Has a man ever told you what feminists ‘should’ be doing? Has a man ever told you you’re doing *it* (whatever ‘it’ is) wrong? Then congratulations, you’ve been mansplained!

So, why are people opposed to these terms? 

Exhibit A) ‘these words tie sexism with men, this creates gender division!’ 
rebuttal: Ah, yes, gender division is women’s fault. We’re absolutely the ones reducing the value of our labour and making sure men rape us. Patriarchy is all women’s fault for using a couple of silly words. Or not.

And yes, sexism *is* tied with men. Just as racism is tied with white people, capitalism with the bourgeoisie, and so on. Men are the beneficiaries of patriarchy, and everyone needs to recognise that. Even ‘non-sexist’ men benefit from patriarchy, and that can’t be forgotten. This isn’t to say men are the only perpetrators of sexism, of course people of every gender can say misogynistic things, but they hold less power in society, and so the sexism that they reproduce is less powerful. Anarchists are supposed to have a thorough understanding of power-relations; if this is a point they care to ignore/dismiss then they’re not doing anarchism all that well.

Exhibit B) ‘it’s alienating! How do you expect people to listen if you’re just mean to them!’

rebuttal: This is another argument set out to make liberation politics palatable to the oppressor. Yesterday, I read a comment on a Libcom thread that said if a woman ‘interprets’ a man’s behaviour as dominating a space, and she says ‘hey shut up stop being a manarchist’ he wouldn’t, but, should she say that he’s spoken quite a lot and we should listen to other contributions, he’d agree, and thank her for raising the point. If the way an oppressed person communicates something to you is enough for you to discount it, you can’t have cared that much in the first place. Plus, this smacks of the ‘ask nicely and we, the gate-keepers of liberation, will allow you to have a concession’ liberalism that defends the brutalisation and criminalisation of those who dissent for their rights.

Exhibit C) ‘This just means that people who are oppressed in x way get the final say and they might be wrong!’

Rebuttal: usually, when women say ‘thanks for mansplaining me’ it’s in a context of women being lectured at by people who have never experienced x manifestation of patriarchy, yet think they know best. It’s the fetishisation of knowledge gained through books, and the complete dismissal of lived experience. Well done, you’ve completed a module in gender studies, and you learnt about the suffrage movement in school. If you don’t experience an oppression, reading is a good way to gain understanding of the system that creates oppression. That doesn’t mean you can empathise, or that you know how to magically eradicate it. Self-organisation is fundamental to liberation.

Perhaps you *were* told you mansplained unfairly, perhaps you were labelled a sexist unfairly. Perhaps. But, chances are you said or did something shitty to provoke such a reaction, and you feeling victimised and crying that you’re absolutely not a sexist at all isn’t the best move, is it? Perhaps just a ‘sorry, I’ll think about it’ will suffice. And do go think about it. Think about, even *if* you were labelled x, y or z unfairly, why that happened. Had the person had a shitty day? Had their oppression got them down, got them cranky and pissed off with people who are their oppressors? Being told you’re a mansplainer’s probably not a fraction of what that person has had to deal with in their day.

Exhibit D) ‘Mansplaining is just used to shut debate down!’
Rebuttal: This might come as a surprise to some of you, but the entire existence of women isn’t to debate patriarchy. Not everything in the world is a debate, and the debate is a pretty patriarchal form in itself. The end point of a debate should be to communicate x idea. Instead, male gate-keepers of ‘debate’ are demanding that the communication of ideas be done in their form. They want a nice calm tone, statistics, and LOGIC. Because humans systems, and human feeling are entirely rational and logical, and everyone is capable of being polite at all times. Except they’re not.

Also, is there really some huge problem of hoards of misandrists running around closing down debate and dominating ALL THE THINGS? If there is, I’d really love it if someone could point me in that direction because I’d love to join in. Or, is the problem still men requiring that women should ask nicely for their scraps?

Exhibit E) ‘you’re basically saying an oppressed person can never be wrong’
No, I’m not, you just lack nuance. Oppressed people can be wrong, and they can also be dicks. But, essentially, living with x oppression can make you a bit of an expert, and we listen to the opinions of experts, don’t we? Except when they’re women. It’s not that they ‘can’t’ be wrong, it’s just that they’re probably right, or at least that there’s an element of truth to what they’re saying that you’re closing down by demanding you’re totally right about everything because of that book you read or that woman who agrees with you.

What you’re also doing here is pretending that there’s only one ‘right’ way to do things (that you’re obviously aware of). Different approaches are pragmatic in different contexts, and with different people. But, again, our entire lives aren’t devoted to pragmatism and you should stop demanding that of us.

Exhibit F) ‘It’s ad hominem!’
yeah, I guess it is. But human interactions don’t work along lines of logical fallacies because human systems aren’t logical. Living with x or y privilege will shape the way you see the world, the way you think, and the way you act. Our body is fundamentally tied to our thoughts. Our lived experience is fundamentally tied to our thoughts. How the world views you will shape what you think. If you disagree with this I suggest we have a neuroscience/embodied cognition 101, which I’m happy to provide.

To conclude:

Essentially, men who have a problem with the term manarchist are little shits who feel victimised because women have created language to explain a kind of oppressor. Your feelings are hurt because you’re absolutely not a sexist and it’s offensive that women insinuate you are one. Because you know more about sexism than the women you’re hurting. Manarchist is a silly, fun term used to describe a particular kind of prick. It’s a shared reference anarchist women have, because of a shared experience anarchist women have. If this offends you all I can say is oh fucking diddums.

And, if you’re offended by the term mansplain, what you’re actually probably offended at is the fact that women don’t care as much about the opinion of a man as they do a sister when we’re talking about patriarchy. But actually, women devaluing the opinions of their oppressors is fine, because they’re the people who keep them in this mess and who benefit from their oppression. Your gender studies seminar is not comparable to years of sexual assault, street harrassment, low pay, objectification, tone-policing, and so on. And you should just accept that. Okay?

Please, feel free to leave lots of nice manarchisty and abusive comments. I don’t moderate them anyway.