Monday, 25 November 2013

On grieving.

Grief is deeply personal. It cannot be quantified and it cannot be compared. 

You cannot tell someone that they are grieving wrong. Everyone has a right to deal with their pain in the way that they feel is best for them. It is very different for each person but that does not mean there is a right and a wrong way to deal with it. 

You can be there for people. Offer your support in any which way you are able to. Some people are able to say the right things and others are better at making a cuppa. Some people give great hugs and a shoulder to cry on to those who need it. Others can come round and cook a meal. Some have the ability to make people smile. Some are great at just sitting next to others in silence. Do not force your help onto others, or force them into grieving the way which you yourself believe is healthy. Just show that you are there, if they need or want you.

Sometimes they might not even need you to be right there. Don't take this personally, don't get hurt. It isn't about you. Sometimes just knowing that there are people you can turn to is enough. One may not actually feel the need to turn to them.

Some people talk easily and others don't. Some people want to do as much as possible to take their mind off their grief. Others prefer to dwell in it.

Grief is not something that magically goes away one day. Perhaps the pain lessens for some but for some it's just learning to bare it on a day to day basis. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

On showing compassion

For a moment just forget everything else, forget about yourself, forget about your surroundings and just breathe. Think about what others go through on a daily basis. Put somebody else's shoes on for a moment. Walk as best as you can a few steps as them. Take in their air, their experiences, their joy, their pain, their laughter, their tears. Breathe. Step back into your own shoes. Think about your own effect on others, your experiences, your pain, your joy, your laughter, your tears.



Look at the person across from you. Imagine how they might be feeling. Soften your features.



Write someone a note, just saying I care. Or I love you. Don't appear to care but instead really properly care. It's a little more painful but in the end deeply important for both of you.



Think about how you talk to people. Do you make them feel as if you're listening to them? If not, imagine how it would feel if you always felt ignored or passed over.



Step back, appreciate someone else's space. Think how you would feel if yours was always invaded.



Look up, does someone need your attention? Give them it. Even just for a moment.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

On whether I want what you think I want.

I know the scenario well. You speak up and someone is always willing to be super helpful about how you could be more inclusive.....towards cis men. How do we make them feel welcome in a feminist space? How about how do they behave so that we feel safe when we invite them into a feminist space? I spend more arguments with men who are essentially just having a tantrum and throwing their stuff out of the pram because they just want to feel included. Women are rarely included in an equal measure in male dominated spaces.

Ah yes those cries of "well if you want equality you have to include men also". But the thing is, men in society always come first. Cries to WOC "if you want to be equal you must include white people". Cries to trans* people "if you want to be equal you must include cis people". Always skirting around the issue just so that those with most privilege can feel included in the discussion. Sometimes however you or I are not welcome. Because it just isn't about us.

"But if you want to be equal you must listen to men's opinions too" "We're just giving a counter argument". Never do they realise that I or you or them have heard your argument a million times over. Every time a negative is pointed out about a social group we feel the need to point out that we don't do said thing. It's not important if you don't do it although to be fair you might actually do said thing. That doesn't necessarily make you a bad person. We all do shitty things, all of us.  If you want to be included or taken seriously the first thing you must do is listen. So many of us fall down in this first hurdle. Then realise that if you do certain things now would be a good time to reflect and change your behaviour. Apologising won't do much good if your actions don't reflect it. We all fuck up, it's how we deal with it and what we do after that counts. If you don't do said thing that's great but don't make a huge song and dance about how you're not a bad person.

But I'm noticing that I'm beginning to have a problem with the word equality. Every time I talk about something I am told to pander to men so as to make the conversation equal. I must listen to their opinion on things that well they just don't have much experience of. Just like there are situations that I myself have no experience of. So I get awfully tired of the word equal being thrown around as we all walk through life differently. People are not currently equal and I'm beginning to doubt we ever will be seen as such by society. At least not in my life time. It feels as if there will always be a dominant social group because there will always be those desperate to dominate. So better than equality right now, I want liberation. I want to be free to make my own decisions and open my mouth to speak without threat of abuse. I want to be given a job based only on the merit of my work and who I am. I want to be free from daily sexual harassment in the street. I don't want equality if it's constantly on men as a societal groups terms. Or on white terms or on cis terms or on able bodied terms.

That is just patriarchy under a new name.

Monday, 4 November 2013

On dragging your feet (TW rape)

Disclaimer: I am NEVER EVER talking about all men. I am fully aware that many men are wonderful human beings who would never hurt anyone. Not all men rape! However I will not be doling out cookies because you're not a rapist, you're not fucking supposed to be. 

Women rape and commit domestic violence. They also rob and beat people up in the street. About 1% of rape is committed by women. However the legal system in the UK doesn't recognise non penetration as rape and it is therefore in legal terms Sexual Assault. I would like to make it clear that I don't agree with this law, I would like to see rape legally recognised as rape as soon as there is no consent. 

That leaves us with the other 99% of rape, which is committed by men. Around 93% of victims are women and we know that around 84% of rape is committed by someone who knows the victim. Young people from the ages of 10-14 are the age demographic most likely to be raped. Though the statistics on trans women is sparse they are significantly higher than cis women. Around 22% of cis women are raped in their life time this rises to an astounding 68% of trans women. In the US Native American women are the most likely to report rape at around 34% and African American women at around 19% versus around 18% of White Women. This is reporting mind so not very indicative of actual rates. There is growing anecdotal evidence that the rape of men by men carries further humiliation because the perpetrator wants to "feminise" the male victim. However statistics are largely useless when we talk of rape as in actuality so few rapes are ever reported. It is said that 1 in 3 women experience Sexual Assault throughout their life time however this could be much higher. I would again like to make it very clear that I find ALL rape absolutely abhorrent and that no one should ever have to experience that or any kind of sexual violence. 

The reason we need to talk about male violence is partly because it's predominantly women fighting it. I want us all to be fighting it. It sucks for men to often be suspected as rapists merely because women are protecting themselves. It's a nasty thing to have to experience, but do you know what is inexplicably worse? Being raped. It is not women who hate you, this is a clear instance of the failings of patriarchy. It is also part of the rape culture that we now often discuss. By creating rape culture we have created a society where men are seen as violent rapists and women are seen as sobbing victims. We are all hurt by this but women are hurt more, not least if you're a trans woman, a WOC or a disabled woman. 

We continue to feed into this when we give "helpful" advice to women on how not to get raped. As most rapes are committed by someone who knows the victim this advice is only "helpful" in around 16% of cases. However any advice on staying safe we already know. We know to stay in groups, we know to carry rape alarms, we know to be careful about drinking and we know that we will be blamed if we've worn a short skirt. You aren't telling us how we can stay safe from rape, you're telling rapists how they will get away with it from a legal standing point. You're giving helpful pointers on how to find the most vulnerable victims and how they can use this to their advantage if they are ever charged. Not to mention that a woman should be allowed to be naked and blind drunk all by herself and not be raped. The onus should not be on women to not get raped, it should be on the perpetrators not to rape. Rape is NOT sex. Sex is something between two or more consenting individuals who are having a great time together. Rape is an attempt to exert power and humiliate a victim. 

I fear men because I have been hurt by men. I fear them because society tells me I must always protect myself from them and when I fail to do so, it tells me it is my fault. I do not like this, I do not wish to view any man with suspicion because I do think and hope that the majority of you are wonderful human beings. You cannot call this fear irrational because it has arisen from lived experience. I wasn't born someone who feared men. 

So to the men who cry that they are hard done by this, don't fight me. Instead join me in fighting rape culture.