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Friday, 30 November 2012

The AP doesn't want you to use "homophobia"


I agree on the ethnic cleansing removal.

But the prejudiced phobias? No-one calling someone a homophobia is accusing them of having a mental illness. Merely having the word “phobia” in there does not mean mentally ill or even fear – as I’ve explained before. Have these people never heard of "xenophobia"? because we've been using that one for a whole long time. 

But aside from that, I hate and reject this because there is no adequate replacement word

And this is why I suspect the AP’s motives. This is less about cleaning up reporting and far more about excusing and downplaying the impact and severity of homophobia.

There is no word in the English language that means the same thing as homophobia. What would we use in its stead?

“Anti-gay”. Please “anti-gay” is so mild that most of the hate groups are quite happy to wear that label themselves.

“Heterosexism” is too academic and doesn’t mean the same thing – heterosexism is how the systems of society are set up to favour heterosexuals and assume heterosexuality – heterosexism is the damage that heteronormativity brings and the prejudice that comes with it, not the bigotry of homophobia (though there’s some overlap).

“Bigot” Oh I’d love to. But you know that’s not going to happen. Just look at the extreme squawking over Stonewall’s “Bigot of the year”.


One of the whole points of words like “homophobe” and “racist” and “misogynist” is that they have impact. They are words people don’t want to be associated with. Being these is shameful, is wrong and even the most vehement bigot tries to reject them. We have fought tooth and nail to try and turn homophobia from an accepted norm to something straight people should try to avoid – and ye gods we’ve got a long way to go on that – but part of doing that is the creation and popular usage of the word “homophobia.” Part of this success is the use of a word that means the “hatred and contempt towards gay people” which is a BAD THING.

So, no AP, we need this word. And I doubt very much this is an attempt to “clean up” or “clarify” reporting. It looks like yet another move by straight folks to downplay the importance and severity of homophobia and trying to rob us of another of our weapons against it.


And the AP joins the list of arrogant, homophobic institutions fighting against us. And yes, I will still be using the word "homophobia"

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

So I got a phone call



 Beloved:  *unbelievably cheerful* Sparky!   Hurry home, I miss you!

Sparky: *suspicious look at phone* what did you do?

Beloved: What? Can’t I just…

Sparky: No. What did you do?

Beloved: Look, before you get mad…

Sparky: I’m saving time, I’m already mad.

Beloved: But listen, listen, listen, because this is actually good I promise, listen…

Sparky: I’m listening. Do elaborate on this “actually good” thing.

Beloved: Well, there was a huge screw up at my friend X’s work (who works in the meat industry doing… meat industry type things) and he’s got all these chickens going really cheap. So I got some off him.

Sparky: That’s not bad…

Beloved: See! I mean, you said we could always use chickens so I said yes and loaded up.

Sparky: Wait wait, I said we could always use chicken. Did you just say chickenS?

Beloved: yes, same difference.

Sparky: Whole chickens? As entire full chickens? You’ve just bought a load of full frozen chickens?

Beloved: They’re not frozen.

Sparky: …ok… how many fresh chickens did you buy?

Beloved: Errr… not fresh exactly. More… defrosted. They were frozen and now they’re not. Shall I put them in the freezer?

Sparky: NO! You can’t refreeze defrosted raw meat! How many are there?

Beloved: I though you couldn’t, that’s why they’re on the kitchen units. You won’t believe how cheap…

Sparky: How many are there?

Beloved: You always said chicken’s so versatile. You can eat it every day for a month and…

Sparky: How. Many. Are. There?

Beloved: It’s not that bad.

Sparky: More than 2? More than 5? More than 10? More than 50? More than 100?

Beloved: Don’t be silly, of course there’s not more than 50.

Sparky: …you wouldn’t consider more than 10 to be silly?

Beloved: 10 is not that silly…

Sparky: Am I looking at a number between 10 and 50 chickens? Defrosted chickens? Are you telling me this? Really?

Beloved: Noooooo… don’t be silly! Of course not! Of course there’s less than 10!

Sparky: ok… so, how many.

Beloved: Only 8. *sigh of relief*

Sparky:…Eight whole chickens I can’t freeze?

Beloved: Yes. Fifty! You don’t have a lot of faith in me!

Sparky: Eight?!

Beloved: yes, only eight. See you soon! *hangs up*

Sparky: Wait! *dial tone*

Well at least it isn’t 50.

Looks like I need to cook a few dozen chicken recipes and freeze them. Why why why does he buy food? Why?!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Get me my Axes... better make that a flamethrower

So commentary on the Elmo scandal seems to give me 2 choices:


1) Gay men are wicked sex predators with a "tradition" and "culture" of preying on boys and older gay men abusing and exploiting young men and boys is the norm.

Or

2) Evil gay boys who post pictures of themselves and ZOMG look at them! They are just after his money, they weren't abused they so wanted it etc etc victim blame victim blame. Bonus points if the same person playing this game

Y'know what? There is a thing about gay men being falsely accused of sexual abuse. It happens when hate groups are playing the "won't someone think of the children" game. It happens when fools and bigots decide that one abuser means we're all abusers (see point one). And it happens when violent straight arseholes raise the "gay panic" defence to try and justify how they attacked, beat and murdered us. Those are the contexts where the oh-so-common false accusations happen.

Young men - who are gay themselves -  coming forward saying they were abused and exploited while under age or borderline? That is not the context.

I'm really done with both of these. I'm sick of the presentation of all gay men as sex predators. Sick of the idea that we're dangerous and that one arsehole's evil actions are somehow representative of all of us

And I'm sick of the idea that gay men and gay boys are unrapeable and always want sex, always consent, cannot be abused or exploited and are generally "asking for it." I'm sick of these sentiments coming from people who would scream bloody murder - and rightly so - if anyone engaged in such vile victim blaming in another context.

No, we're not all sex predators. Yes, we can be abused and we can be raped. How damn hard is this to understand? And then people wonder why I only talk about abuse and rape among groups that consist of only gay men.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Church of England, Parliamentary disapproval and Gay Marriage

So, the Anglican church had a little meeting to decide whether they liked the 21st century or not. they decided not. In a move that, frankly, shocked a lot of people, the Church of England decided not to accept female Bishops. It's blatantly misogynist, utterly inexcusable and is an ugly display of the sexism still rampant in our established church.

And even the most ardent of Anglican defenders seem to be at a loss to defend this one. I've never seen so many people throw up their hands and say "yeah, I got nothing". Even the sections of the press you can rely on to show their scabby arses have been unable to do more than express... lamentable regret at the bad decision. That's as gentle as it gets.

Buoyed by this, a huge line of MPs and Cameron himself, are lining up to say "what the ever loving fuck, guys?" to the Anglican church. And we're given a big reminder that the Anglican church IS established by the threats of Parliament to intervene - yes, unfortunately we don't have separation of church and state here so the church can be meddlesome. This is the flip side, an established church can be dragged onto the carpet by the government and can be told to sort its shit out or have it sorted out for them.

And it's quite quite fun to watch.

I find myself in an odd place over Parliament raking the church over the coals for their misogyny. On the main hand the church's bigotry needs challenging. I think if the church wants the privileges of being the "established" church then it needs to meet parliamentary standards of equality. Or, better yet, be de-established entirely. To do otherwise is to give state consent to misogyny. I find such a bigoted organisation having bishops in the House of Lords to be far more distasteful than the hereditary peers (and I don't like them either- or the life peers for that matter). I'm inclined to think if you can't join 21st century Britain and be a civilised organisation in society then, yes, they should move in, give them a time out and handle their affairs for them. I think arguments of religious freedom are repellent to say the least - in fact, I think if you say "I'm a bigot because god says so" then you're just saying your god is a terrible being, unworthy of worship or respect.

 The flip side is, of course, that these MPs lining up to call the church out for their inexcusable misogyny give me heart, but go back 2 weeks and these same MPs were lining up to assure the church they would provide protections in law to allow them to be homophobic and the state would never ever ever in a million years impose on church "morality" - when it comes to bigotry against GBLT people. I can't help but hear "how can you treat women as lesser people?! This is the 21st century! They are deserving as much respect and regard as men, your bigotry is inexcusable, insupportable, undermines you as a moral authority and... oh, she's a lesbian? Sorry, my bad - carry on then." It shows the root of their REAL opinion when they excuse homophobia as a "religious freedom"

Still, I think the church being called out and challenged so vigorously for this ridiculous and repellent decision is only going to help society. Either by lowering the power and the influence of the church in the UK (preferably disestablishing it) or by forcing the church, and it's considerable power, to dramatically change or move forwards. if nothing else, it has created the idea, even in the more extreme elements of the press, that the church is utterly wrong on this and Parliament SHOULD intervene. The Church of England's infallibility has been beaten hard and the idea that it should be allowed to pursue bigotry to its heart's content has been shaken.


And possibly related, rumour has it that a vote on gay marriage may be happening before Christmas...

We can hope. I wonder if this, in part, is taking the opportunity presented by the most powerful homophobic force in this country, the Anglican church, revealing itself to be such an utter shambles and undermining itself so thoroughly.

Let's keep everything crossed - for a lessening of the power of the church in the UK and that this law is finally drafted after so long waiting.We've had speeches, we've had insulting consultations, we've had every bigot in the country spouting their hatred all over the place. Let's get this done.

When it is, it will be a matter of seeing exactly how it's drafted (and what exceptions and provisos they include for the bigots) and, most of all, whether it passes.

It'll also be worth noting who votes yes, who votes no, and who stays away from Parliament. I think we can already guess where most of the "nos" will come from.



C'mon, I want a spring wedding (hah, if it passes soon, I'll have a winter wedding).

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

It's going to be a fun December


In my job you see a lot of tragedy, you see a lot of pain. You see people at their lowest ebb, at the very worst time in their lives. It can be quite heart rending.
 And sometimes you see people who are out of their ever-loving minds and make you wish that drinking something stronger than coffee was considered professional.
 I seem to be having a pack of the latter sort, recently. Especially today which seems to have them all lined up (at least that means I don’t have to leave the office).

 Client #1
What do you want? No, really, because this has been our second meeting now and I still don’t have a clue. I think that, maybe, you may be heading for a divorce? Maybe? Or was that just rambling about an unhappy marriage? Wait, your son is in trouble – is that with the police? Does he need representation? C’mon throw me a bone here! Honestly, I know every tiny, minute, dreadfully boring detail of your life now, but still not why you are in my office. It’s getting creepy.

 Client #2
Yes, the weather today is atrocious. Yes, you’re soaked to the skin, I can see that, you’re currently dripping everywhere. And you shook out your umbrella in my office – thanks for that. And how come you’re soaked to the skin AND have an umbrella AND a waterproof coat? Did you go swimming fully clothed or something?
 I sympathise, but I’m not sure why you’re trying to make me feel guilty. I didn’t, as you so nicely put it, “drag” you here. It’s your case, if you want to leave then, by all means, the door’s over there and when you get to court and your soon-to-be-ex-wife is ripping the skin off your back to make sofa cushions you can tell the court that you didn’t get legal representation because it was raining. I'm sure everyone will be sympathetic

Client #3
Let us all acknowledge what a terribly scary bad boy you are. Yes yes, you’re tough and dangerous and mean and *yawn*. Whatever. With this acknowledged, can we get on with things? Because you’re hard-man act not only fails to impress me but will impress a judge considerably less. Your threatening violence against everyone, apparently at random, including the person you assure me most convincingly that you did not violently attack is not going to help your case. However, you may help me on one of my missions – it’s always been my ambition to see if I can make a judge or magistrate laugh due to some of the ridiculous things my clients make me say. I think your “not guilty” plea may do it.
  
Client #4
Normally I hate venomous divorces. There’s something very sad about two people who, we assume, at one time found each others company rather agreeable and now loathe each other beyond measure. And often there are children involved which is beyond tragic. Sometimes there is abuse and exploitation that is cringeworthy.
 And sometimes there’s no abuse, no kids, nothing to cringe over and the parties are so excessive in their loathing that you just have to reach for the popcorn and listen to all the over-top threats, dramatic declarations of war and the glorious, frothing fury that rolls over every pretence of good sense. It’s one of those cases where you will be politely reminded you need to try and get the parties to mediate even while the lawyers are physically restraining their clients from going for the eyes.

And lo, when you came into my office and began the interview by loudly explaining why your husband was Hitler, I knew we’re in for a bumpy ride. Let me get my armour, this is gonna be good

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Wales!



A few years ago now, my brother moved to Anglesey, in Wales. He has visited multiple times since then (clearing out the cupboards every time – it’s like being visited by Huns)  but I’ve never had occasion to schlep over to Wales to visit him. He insisted I take a weekend to come see him and take him to their wonderful local lobster restaurant. And to bring my wallet (of course – little brother and all that).

Beloved was most excited, he’s never been to Wales before. Which was amusing to watch because he seems to have this odd idea that absolutely anything will be different. You’d think we were going  to distant climes but he was insistent it would be Different. He also expected it to rain all the time. I said he was silly and that was just a ridiculous stereotype.

And Loki heard me.

Road trip was uneventful (“it’s getting hilly isn’t it?” “yes, they’re called the Pennines.”  “oooh Lancashire, aren’t we supposed to hate them?” “No, I am, you’re a southerner and don’t get to take part in our ridiculous, centuries old petty grudge.” “I’ve lived here for over decades now!” “And you’re more than 2 decades old – southerner.”) there was lunch, there were views, there was a bloody WIND because it was November in the Penines.

Then we crossed the River Dee and DARKNESS DESCENDED.

Literally, we had to turn on the headlights. It was like 2:30 in the afternoon and we had the headlights on. And it RAINED. I don’t just mean rained, I mean RAINED. It was the kind of rain where, if your cracked the car window you risked drowning in the deluge. This was maintained for the entire duration of our stay.

Beloved decided that Welsh was a great language for casting spells, at least from the little he gleaned from the road signs, and is still spending an inordinate amount of time chanting “Arath! Ysgol! Canol y dref! Ildiwch! Cerddwyr” rather dramatically (which sounds impressive by means “slow, school, town centre, give way, pedestrian” and probably not the chanting of some mysterious Merlin. Unless Merlin doubled as a lollypop man)

My brother dragged me round the sites – and by sites I mean “shopping” (and guess what that meant?) which included Llanfair PG (no, I’m not typing the full name, google it) which seemed to be a) a tourist hub and b) a tourist hub based entirely on its name.

What I did like was the terrain. It reminded me a lot of the North Yorkshire moors in a way – not that it’s similar per se, but that it has an incredible, stark beauty. Pretty to look at (and rainy, did I mention it rained? Because it rained. A Lot) but probably a hard place to farm. The terrain and the restaurants convinced me why this area is a holiday hot spot (or wet spot. Did I mention the rain?)

The lobster place was fabulous, my brother was right. But I’ll never be the biggest fan of lobster. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m always left with a feeling of “I like it more than crab, but I don’t like it twice as much as I like crab – so why am I paying twice as much?” They also had nice oysters – but same applies. I like oysters but why are they a squillion times more expensive than mussels? Especially in Britain where we harvest metric fucktons of shellfish – then sell it all abroad.

It was nice to get away from it all for a couple of days, and it was probably my reluctance to relinquish the peace that led to my purging of annoyances (which I don’t regret and am glad something spurred me on at last). Even if we did get stuck in a traffic jam due to an accident and the Sat Nav redirected us to the UNMOVING ROAD above the road we should have been on flowed, slowly, but still flowed. I can only assume everyone had a Sat Nav like ours and they all said “ZOMG AN ACCIDENT! SLOW TRAFFIC! Let us now filter 8,000 cars on a country track designed for goats! SLOW GOATS!” resulting in it taking us 6 hours to get home.

I brought lava bread home with me, not sure what to do with it. And Welsh cakes. Which are like rationed fruit scones – where fruit and sugar severely rationed and no-one’s heard of baking powder or eggs.

Or, as I remarked, they’re like scones if Beloved baked scones. This may result in him defiling my kitchen.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The New Police Commissioner



I voted and the guy I voted for didn’t get in.
   
Actually, that’s not strictly accurate. One of the guys I voted against got in. Since I didn’t vote for anyone, not liking any of them but felt I had to vote to try and keep out some of the vileness on the ticket.  The fun part is that I was supposed

My choices were:

The three main parties

1 – a Labour Bloke (Prescott himself)
2 – A Tory (I will slowly feed my arm into a blender and serve the puree that forms as a ridiculous smear on a plate and serve it in Michel Roux’s restaurant before voting Tory).
3 – A Lib Dem (after the last election, I’m more likely to vote Tory than vote Lib Dem).

Then there was a UKIPer – yeaaah not going to happen. UKIP is the BNP and EDL with better press, I don’t vote far right fascist.

And the independents:
An ex-police big-wig whose website had “read more” and a damn PDF download EVERY SINGLE PAGE! Seriously, you clicked on a link and got a page that said “what I will do as Police Commissioner” then a link to a PDF download. Some of them were only a paragraph long! Anyway, style aside it was a lot of waffle and amounted to “I was big boss policeman so I’m ideal to run big boss policeman now let me convince you I’m going to make changes despite having the power to do so in the past and not doing so”.

A candidate whose site informed me time and again how much he hated party politics (give me money) and party politics is wrong (give me money) and we need less party politics (give me money). Shame it didn’t tell me why his politics are better. Or, indeed, what those politics were. Also, really awful website

And an ex-Tory MP who is an executive member of the Freedom Association. Who are basically rather nasty libertarians. Among their record of nastiness is opposing boycotts of Apartheid era South Africa. They want to starts a British branch of the American Tea Party Movement.

Awwww Hell no.


Behold, democracy in action folks! Then they wonder why turnout was so low?

Well not just because of the candidates but, without google, who can tell me what the Police Commissioner actually does? What are they supposed to change? What are they supposed to achieve?

Right, now, other than cost money, what changes do you think this role will actually make?

And it's not like they made an effort to broadcast the election - there are people around me who had no idea what a police commissioner was and the first they heard of it was their polling cards arriving


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Domestic Abuse and Homophobia



There are things I think we need to change to make it easier for GBLTQ people to feel they can seek help in the first place which is as important as broadcasting the help that is out there.

 I'm putting the rest of this under a cut (damn you html, why do you hate meeeee?!) but I have avoided detailed or graphic description simply because I'm not comfortable with doing so myself.


Domestic Abuse and resources for GBLTQ people in the UK



This was a post I meant to write a while ago. Firstly there was a day (or week or month, I rarely keep track of days dedicated to various things because I have a mixed feelings about). Then there was a study saying that domestic violence rates among bisexual women and gay men were higher than average and I meant to write it then. Then we worked on putting together helpful information for GBLTQ people who need help dealing with domestic violence and rape – but had nothing left to turn what we did into a post.

Ultimately, like a lot of the more difficult or personal posts (and the Bad News lists, yes, I know it’s been a long time since I wrote one. I have the links and keep updating the post but the longer I delay the more there is to write and the harder it comes to actually write it – yay circle of nastiness) it became a post that would be written in odd paragraphs here and there in between many little moments until it was slowly cobbled together. In the end, it was a lot shorter than I imagined and it’s still heavily redacted. Maybe some day.

Everyone’s path through domestic abuse is different and after many attempts at writing this, erasing it and writing again, I’m left with saying only my experience without extrapolating on anyone else because that way is fraught and has angry venomous koalas lurking within.


I'm putting the rest of this under a cut (damn you html, why do you hate meeeee?!) but I have avoided detailed or graphic description simply because I'm not comfortable with doing so myself.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Recharging!



 Friends of mine had dramas that needed support. Beloved had to mine through some annoyances – he didn’t need support (I admire his strength that he rarely needs support, or perhaps his low concentration span that he is easily distracted from whatever’s troubling him) but since he’s always been my foundation and anchor I insist on being there to provide the support he doesn’t actually need.

Work has been – yeah, the usual – and sleep has rounded up the insomnia in a row. And I went to Wales to see my brother which was a necessary break, but was also tiring (and wet. Very very wet – more on this later) and infected me with the dreaded lurgy.

And I’ve been working on a post that has been dragging for a while but is damn hard to write so saps my energy and leaves me all BLARGLE without getting it finished.

So I’ve been away for a little bit, or on shallow posting.

I meant to come back today and start blitzing things but ran full tilt into a “gay men have a tradition and culture of preying on underage boys” and decided to step back again and instead chase out some of the alligators before leaping back into the pool.

I’ve pruned my flist, my RSS and blocked a few people on twitter (not so much of people I was following but of people who were being retweeted by people I was following and I wanted to go without seeing them in my feeds) and blocked a few IPS on sparkindarkness and a few other places. If I drop off the map somewhere I was previously present, it’s because I’ve left.

It feels rather refreshing. I try to do a good clean out at least once every three months, I’m overdue.

I will be getting to my now much shorter backlog shortly.