Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Fictional Marginalised Oppressors: the new fad

So, because a bad idea just doesn't die like it should, Victoria Foyt's racist Save the Pearls now has homophobic versions: for books: and television. I hate linking to them but they need to be seen. One is a book and the other movie with the same premise: an all gay world that persecutes the straight minority

So that’s more appropriating the issues we live with, our history, our suffering and then shitting on it all by making us the perpetrators of the violations committed against us. How can they not see how offensive this is? How can they not see how offensive taking the severe bigotry thrown at us every day and throughout history, bigotry that has cost us so much and then making our oppressors the victims and us the attackers, is? This is appropriative, this is offensive, it’s disrespectful and it’s outright bigoted.

Y’know, if you actually want to talk about prejudice and persecution and how they can affect people’s lives, why not use actual marginalised people? You want to show how a person navigates a society that has extreme prejudice against their skin colour? Why not make your protagonist a POC? You want to show a society that persecutes people based on who they’re attracted to and who they love? Why not make your protagonist gay?

Oh, but then that becomes a specialist subject, right? A “niche”, dealing with marginalised issues. A POC book. A Gay/Lesbian book. Totally inappropriate for mainstream audience – when we can take the same story and flip it to bizarre bigot world and make the poor straight, white person the persecuted victim and we’re back in mainstream land. Funny, that.

Is that what this is? This whole offensive, bullshit trend (I mean, apart from prejudiced arsehattery, which kind of goes without saying)? A desire to use prejudice as a plot point but not sully your main character by making them an actual minority?

And don’t tell me it will help straight/white people understand oppression. Because if a privileged person will only hear about prejudiced issues when it comes from a privileged mouth then what is the point? I’ve said this before when we’ve had similar bullshit, how are you going to encourage people to address prejudice and marginalisation while at the same time training them that it’s only worth listening to privileged people?

Because that’s what I hear when this excuse is trawled out. Straight, white people can’t possibly empathise with a POC or GBLT protagonist so we have to present these prejudiced issues through a privileged lens, from a privileged mouth. Or even from an elf or vampire – because that’s easier to swallow than actually facing real life prejudice that hits real prejudiced people.

And don’t tell me it’s for marginalised people. Would I like to read a book where marginalised people are the majority and in charge? Sure – but not through the eyes of a poor, oppressed straight/white person who is suffering so awfully at the hands of the big, mean, prejudiced gay/black people. Because maginalised people being cast as evil villains? Been done and it’s not fun.

Just stop. You want to include marginalised people, then do it. But don’t make free with the severe issues that have shaped and attacked us for generations and appropriate them for your own ends. And certainly don’t do it while making our oppressor’s the victims and the persecuted the attackers in these lazy, shallow, ridiculous worlds.

The Excuses of Homophobes again ring hollow

Hate Group is hateful – are we surprised?

Well, here’s the thing, NOM often goes out of its way to deny its homophobia and obsess about how it’s only against marriage equality (which is homophobic anyway), until relatively recently when they’ve decided to climb into bed with the FRC (well, they’ve already been on the same team but they’re often careful about distancing themselves).

And it’s a lie too many people buy.  There is too much willingness to ignore homophobia, homophobic positions and homophobic hate speech. And NOM is one of the biggest pushers of the whole “we’re not homophobes, but…” crowd.

This just shows who they really are.

But it should also be a call to action. Any time someone says “I’m not a homophobe, BUT…” then you know they’re lying. You know what they really are, you know their bigotry – and they should be called on it.

No more “I’m not a homophobe, but I oppose equal rights/marriage equality/hate crime protection/anti-bullying laws”. They are homophobes. ANY treatment of gay people as less than straight folks is homophobic. End of. No more weasel words. You’re a homophobe, stop sugar coating.

No more “I’m not a homophobe, but my holy book/culture/history/pet cat says…” it doesn’t matter where your bigotry comes from, it’s still bigotry. And so’s your source as well. You’re not going to convince me you have a legitimate reason for regarding me as less. You’re a homophobe, stop sugar coating/

No more “I’m not a homophobe, but gay people make me uncomfortable/are icky/whatever” then you’re a homophobe. Seriously why, in the name of all that is holy, would you consider this ok? You’re a homophobe and there’s no way in hell you can sugar coat that.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Net Free Weekend

I’ve been away from the net for a few days, Friday was a pain in the arse and I decided to mellow rather than stew.

First, our not-so-friendly-neighbourhood note leaver had paid a visit (shoved the damn thing ion the hedge – great, now we’ve got to play hide and seek with the nasty little notes littering the property) to let us know what terribad sinners we were and didn’t we know there were children and families in the area.

Lovely way to start the day.

Work begins as normal on a Friday – I.e. we all get out our paperwork, shuffle it convincingly and count the hours until we can go home (it’s a Friday, after all)  until we all gather for a coffee (much encouraged, we can discuss each others cases, pick each other’s brains and get new and better insights into what we’re doing from fresh angles) and one of my colleagues asked the smokers in the room if anyone of them had a fag.

You know what’s coming next, don’t you? I certainly did – I was just ion doubt as to which of 2 habitual migraine-causers would be the one to say it.

It was option B this time and she was kick to say, oh-so-hilariously “he’s over there.” “He” would be me, of course. To which there was a room wide cringing. Not, I might add, a “oh gods how could you say that?” cringe, but more a “oh gods, you’ll set Sparky off on one” cringe.

So I got up, moved away from her and picked a seat I deemed more convivial. Something she did not appreciate and proceeded to try to talk to me (to the echoing silence of the room – because there’s no one like lawyers for rubber-necking a fight). Which I slapped down. I did not want to talk to her. I still don’t. It’s not the first time I’ve asked her not to make gay jokes and not to use slurs. It’s not even the third. I’m not telling her again, I don’t want to hear her random explanations why her offensive bullshit isn’t offensive bullshit, I don’t want to hear why acceding to a very simple request and plea for humanity is so damn hard. I don’t want more empty, meaningless apologies. I am just done with her and, as far as I’m concerned , there’s absolutely no further need for either of us to speak except as required for work. Which is, basically what I told her and refused to listen to anything else. Done, end of, over.

The Senior partners had beat a hasty retreat for fear of them hearing something which may mean they’d have to DO something. Honestly, conflict averse solicitors – I’d complain if I weren’t one of them.

Then to finish off the trifecta, we have the Pointless Nepotism guy. He who has been hired because his aunt is a partner in the firm and got him a job even though we have nothing for him to do. At the time she warned me that he had been raised with “traditional values” (whatever that means) and I had to be patient with him – to which I made it clear that I didn’t think I did, not if he’d also been raised with manners and basic respect.

So despite him being a member of this firm for several months, I don’t think I’ve said more than “hello” in all that time. This suits me (even if he does tend to watch me like some kind of wildlife reporter documenting an exotic species of venomous reptile). But it seems part of the silence was worry that the people telling him (as many people apparently have) that I am gay were lying in some kind of malicious back biting office gossip bullshit.

He was very curious – and by curious I mean asked a load of questions that were none of his damn business, from the sexual to the moral, to the religious all with lots and lots of judging and nasty little digs “isn’t it just wrong?” “what about AIDS?” with a side order of religious verses and crap that the homophobes have put on the internet. Etc etc etc. Hints that these questions weren’t really his business and had nothing to do with him or how little I appreciated someone’s religious judgements being applied to my life were roundly ignored. In the end I went back to my office and actually started working (on a Friday!) just to get some peace.

And then a colleague dropped in on me all smiles about how impressed they were by Useless Nepotism Guy for asking questions and being curious rather than just, I dunno, burning me at the stake or something.

In the face of this, I went home, got drunk and decided a weekend away from the net will ensure I don’t see anything else that will give me grey hairs. Of course, now comes the reading of my RSS and finding what I missed.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Being the Only One in the Room

One of the most nerve wracking experiences any marginalised person can face is being the only “X” person in the room.

You know what I mean, being the only GBLT person in a room, or being the only POC in a room. That moment when you look around, especially if it’s a large crowd, and realise that you are the only one of that marginalisation in the room.

Especially if it’s a large crowd. If it’s a huge gathering, maybe a public event, or a party or something similar, then the feelings ratchet up to the max.

There’s that chill, that sudden realisation that there’s no-one here like you. You are the only one.

There’s that sense of not belonging. That sense of being the Other. That sense of being the stranger, in alien territory. That realisation that there’s no-one like me in the room. That sense that this is “not my space, not my place, not for me.”

You are the only one who has this lived experience. You are the only one who understands being X. You are the only one in the room without the blinkers of privilege – blinkers that make it impossible for people to understand, blinkers that will always leave ignorances.

And, let’s face it, there’s the instinctive fear. After all, marginalised people in a crowd full of privileged people have had plenty of reason to be afraid. And that’s an instinct you can’t just turn off.

And there’s the fear of what people will say – especially if you are recognisable as the person of X group in the room. Will they talk about it? Will they speak in clumsy, privileged terms? Will I be able to speak up? Can I do so, in this room, where I will be the only voice? Is it worth the risk? Is it worth the discomfort? What if I overhear something I can’t ignore?

It’s intimidating. It’s isolating. It’s deeply uncomfortable. It’s alienating. It’s nervous making. It’s tense and you can’t relax. It doesn’t feel safe. And it’s even frightening.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The quislings are already blaming GBLT groups for violence

The quislings are out wringing their hands and whimpering over the dreadful evil of GBLT groups terrible terrible extreme language. I’ve even seen one quisling accuse the HRC and GLAAD as being partly responsible for the FRC shooting because of their rhetoric with regards to anti-gay groups. The HRC? Seriously? Has there ever been a more mealy-mouthed, appeasement group than them?

Do I think extreme language could have been a major factor in the attack at the FRC? Yes

But not from GBLT groups.

The FRC calls us paedophiles. The FRC says GBLT people will destroy America, if not the world. The FRC has called for gay people to be deported. The FRC has called for being GBLT to be criminalised. The FRC has lobbied against criticism of the Uganda gay genocide bill. The FRC has praised that proposed law.

“Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.”
— Robert Knight, FRC director of cultural studies, and Frank York, 1999

“[Homosexuality] … embodies a deep-seated hatred against true religion.”
— Steven Schwalm, FRC senior writer and analyst, in “Desecrating Corpus Christi,” 1999

“One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets' of a new sexual order.”
-1999 FRC pamphlet, Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex with Boys.

“[T]he evidence indicates that disproportionate numbers of gay men seek adolescent males or boys as sexual partners.”
— Timothy Dailey, senior research fellow, “Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse,” 2002

“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.”
— FRC President Tony Perkins, FRC website, 2010

Or you can look at GLAAD’s excellent accountability project for Tony Perkins, head of the FRC

We don’t even have to mention their partners and affiliates.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

On the FRC shooting

So, someone has asked me to speak about the FRC shooting.

To which I would like to invite them to kindly fuck off.

I don’t think I’ve ever made a point of reporting crime in this space that isn’t related to homophobia and transphobia. That is the only violence I regularly talk about (mainly because the mainstream decidedly doesn’t talk about it).

So why do you expect me to talk about this? Oh, right, we’re doing the whole “minority collective responsibility” thing, I see. Guess how not impressed I am by that. I have no duty here, I am not responsible for what anyone has done to the FRC and the idea that all GBLT groups somehow have an obligation to speak is nasty and homophobic (they have, anyway, because they’re classier than the hate groups that oppose us – but we have no duty to do so and no responsibility here). Hey, why don’t you get back to me when the FRC and similar hate groups make a point of speaking every time a GBLT person is murdered? I do not condone, accept or agree with what the gun man did – I think it’s bloody foolish as well as immoral – but I passionately reject the ridiculous idea that I – or any other GBLT person, site or org – has a duty to respond and speak on this.

And isn’t it FUNNY (and by funny, I mean nauseating) that in the recent mass shootings in the US people have been bending over backwards to avoid assigning any kind of motive or group to the (straight, white) killers, but suddenly everyone is oh-so-sure that it’s the fault of “the gays” here.

And to everyone wanting the FRC to be delisted as a hate group – I’m sorry, did their policies change? No? Then they’re still a hate group. One of your employees being injured doesn’t change that. You want to talk incitement for exposing their bigotry? You want to blame people objecting to the hatred for this attack? Then you’re homophobe and a supporter of bigotry.

Oh hey, did you know that a gay man was shot to death and another is in hospital in Baltimore, Tuesday?


Huh, funny that. Didn’t hit the news as much did it? Shall we guess why?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Why Author Identity Matters

There is an ongoing conversation in various venues about the identity of writers - specifically, marginalised writers and whether or not it truly matters whether a writer is a POC, GBLT, disabled or holds another marginalisation. We know a whole lot of people are quick to ask who cares whether an author is POC, GBLT et al? Why is this relevant?

Well, we do, and it is relevant. It’s usually one of the first things we try to find out when coming across a new author.

We’ve spoken before about the gatekeepers that marginalised authors face. We’ve seen the drama in YA trying to exclude gay characters, we’ve seen the white washing that covers face if they presume to show a POC. This is one of the reasons we’re supportive of webisodes and self-publishing, because there are a lot of gatekeepers out there that make it hard for maginalised people to be traditionally published. With these gatekeepers, it is reasonable for marginalised people and their allies to try and turn the tide by deliberately going out of their way to support marginalised authors.

Even when marginalised authors do write about their own marginalisation and are published, it greatly increases the chance the book will be shelved as niche and considered undesirable for mainstream consumption. It becomes all the more important to buy the book, support the author and to say this book belongs on the shelves.

There’s also a matter of authenticity. And this doesn’t mean that privileged people can’t write marginalised characters. In fact, we don’t even think it’s hard for privileged people to write marginalised characters - but it’s a very common excuse not to do so. Which is a reason why we seek marginalised authors because so many privileged authors keep writing trope laden stereotypes that it has frequently reached a point where we wish these authors would erase us; erasure would be preferably to the offensive portrayals they create.

Read More

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Persecution - that word doesn't mean what you think it means

One of the eternal frustrations with trying to talk marginalisation with privileged people is the ignorance of what persecution actually means, what being marginalised actually means. Yes, I know, blink and step back “surely it’s obvious!?” right? I mean, groups that are marginalised are treated horrendously in a myriad of ways for centuries – how can we not know what that means?

And yet – how many times have we seen a marginalised person described some event in their lives where prejudice has screwed them over and you have some privileged person saying “oh, yeah, that’s just like what happens to me!” And then we to resort to the marginalised serenity prayer – give me the serenity not to kill this person with axes. Increasingly it seems I am lacking in serenity, on the plus side, I have no shortage of axes.

However, axe murdering does rather stain the carpet, and putting out plastic sheeting every time is a nuisance so can we actually address what marginalisation is and why privileged people don’t face it, even if they think they do?

So, let us begin with the “that happened to me too.” Ok, but does it feed into a societal pressure and habitual victimisation? Do things like that commonly happen to people like you, for that reason? Does it reflect or build on a major societal pressure?

Because this all matters. Say tomorrow I am walking down the street, leaving my firm and someone decides that he really really hates lawyers and decides to violently attack me with my own axe. Woe, I have been attacked, due to my profession. I have been victimised. Yet, if we take exactly the same attack and change one thing – that my attacker tried to kill me for being gay instead – and we’ve got an entirely different situation.

Being attacked as a lawyer wouldn’t make me worry about it happening again. It wouldn’t make me check the news for other attacks on lawyers and feel that fear every time I see it appear. I probably wouldn’t actually see any other incidents, or very few. I wouldn’t change my behaviour or worry about how I’m acting and what I’m saying. It wouldn’t send a message to all other lawyers that they’re under threat and their lives aren’t valued.  I wouldn’t walk into a room full of non-lawyers and worry about being safe. I’d be pretty sure that it wasn’t part of societal attitudes to destroy me, drive me out or render me invisible (well, except for people who’ve seen one to many of those “I’ve had an accident” Underdog adverts, but even I want to punch them. After I’ve tracked down the Go Compare opera singer anyway). There won’t be powerful forces in authority encouraging people to discriminate against me for being a lawyer, to condemn me for it and to add to a culture of violence against lawyers. I can expect the press to report on my attack, rather than ignore it, I can rely on them not demonising me for being a lawyer. I am confident that, being attacked as a lawyer, my attacker will be treated like a criminal, I will be treated as a victim, I won’t be blamed for my attack, my attacker will be sentenced appropriately, the crime against will be treated as a grave one.

And this is just a surface scratch of the differences. Even though it’s the same offence – there’s a vast difference once a marginalisation comes into play. Or, to put it another way, no, it didn’t happen to you, too. The context matters, the societal history and pressure matters. Because no crime (or other prejudiced incident) against a marginalised person happens in isolation.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

I may have cooked just a little too much

Since Beloved has been doing his gardening thing still, I found myself rather over-run with salady-type things.

And since I have been to the fish market, I have lots of tasty swimmy things. Decisions, decisions

Stuffed squid with salad! Hey let’s make it a crab salad, a crab nicoise salad. Oh and we’ll use those prawns and steam some razorclams I want to tryu this wine. And bread of course, that’ll go well with creamy muscles and…

….some hours later..

Sparky: Finished!

Beloved: *gape* what did you do?

Sparky: Cook dinner.

Beloved: Which regiment is actually visiting?

Sparky: So we may have some left overs…

Beloved:  We need a whole new kitchen to store these left overs.

Sparky: The cat will eat some

Cat: *is daunted*

Beloved: I’m going to call some emergency dinner guests.

Sparky: That MAY be a good idea.

I’m beginning to think there are some people who sit by their phones every night hoping I’ve gone on a cooking frenzy, by how quickly they responded. You’d think I made a habit of it…

F: *bursts into the room* Fear not good citizens, the appetite is here to save the day!
Beloved: You have a costume…
Sparky: With a cape.
F: And elasticated trousers *stretches them* see? Saves me having to undo the top button for extra gluttony
Beloved: Ingenious
F: And it has a satchel for doggy bags.

Ok… maybe I might, just might, have done this once or twice in the past. But that doesn’t make it a habit.

Monday, 6 August 2012

On Fangs for the Fantasy

We’ve had several discussions and musings over the weeks:

We’re continuing to review several television series.

And, of course, we’ve read a massive number of books

All of our reviews and discussions can be found in our Archives: Books, TV, Discussions, Interviews & Podcasts.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

On Hate Chicken and its Defenders: the Chick-fil-a defenders

I’ve been trying to avoid the internet lately to try and avoid both the Olympics and the whole Chick-fil-A bullshit. But, alas, the Chick-fil-A bullshit is even more all-encompassing than the Olympics with an inordinate number of clueless straight people rallying round the poor poor oppressed Dan Cathy and his hate chicken. And you’ve got to love how many of them are so desperate to say how much they’re not homophobes, no, really, honest.

Yeah, I don’t believe them either.

In the face of the sheer mass of the bullshit straight folks are flinging here, I feel obliged to say something, to vent if nothing else.

First of all, the most common crap people are slinging is: “He only spoke out against same-sex marriage”.

It’s not actually true – but even if it were, and? Marriage is a human right – one that has been upheld repeatedly on both sides of the Atlantic. Denying human rights to marginalised people, deciding we don’t deserve human rights, is not a defensible position and is more than grounds to avoid this vile bigot and his nasty hate chicken. Of all the pro bono legal services I have provided GBLT people, the most common is my “partner pack” a big sheaf of legal documents that try try try to give same-sex couples the same protections  as straight couples – knowing that a) no amount of documents would give them the protection straight couples take for granted (including unmarried ones for that matter) and b) there’s no way the vast majority of them could have afforded this without pro-bono and you know there’s no legal aid for this. They faced no small amount of legal fees for something straight folks can get at registry office – OR not have to do a thing because the straight world gives them status automatically. (Oh and lookie here, Civil Partnerships can cost 12 times more than weddings. I’m shocked, shocked I say)

And don’t tell me denying the human right of marriage doesn’t have cost. Tell this poor sod whose much loved partner died and his would-be-in-laws put him through hell that it doesn’t cost. Tell these women who are going to be separated against their will after being together for 10 years that denying the human right of marriage doesn’t have a cost. Tell their 2 children who will lose a mother. Or this man who had to leave the US to be with his husband. Or the gay man who was kicked out of the hospital and barred from visiting his partner for kissing him goodbye. It matters.