Thursday, 9 December 2010

Political crying rape?

Ok, something that's bugging me (and my friend Captain Bitchface) today is the whole Julian Assange case.
Now, many other bloggers have already covered this issue, and I'm reading through them, but one thing strikes me that hasn't come up yet.

Most of the stuff I'd read before today was suggesting, hinting, if not downright accusing the USA government of trumping up these charges in order to slam the prominent whistle-blower. Now that's disturbing.

Let me just say, for the record, that I have no idea if this guy is a rapist or not. I do not know if these charges are true or not, and for the purposes of this article, I don't care: either way, we lose.

If he's guilty, then the amount of liberal support that he's been getting is... frankly concerning. It's as if we're happy to sweep the whole sex-crimes issue under the carpet for people we like... Look at how different, and yet how similar, this is to the Polanski case.
How fucked up are we as a society that we immediately jump to the defence of sexual offenders (sorry, those accused of sexual offences) based on whether we admire their politics or art? That we believe "oh, he's a nice person, he can't possibly be a rapist"... NEWS FLASH: Criminals do not always look like criminals. They are not required to carry neon signs stating as much. Rape does not become irrelevant just because you are otherwise a good person. You don't get a free pass.

If he's innocent, on the other hand, that still is not a win. Because that means that the US government has just equated rape with the non payment of income tax. It means that sex crimes in the US are treated with such blase disdain, that they are happy to throw around false accusations of it - adding to the growing pile of "evidence" that keeps getting trotted out to suggest that women always lie about rape, especially for revenge, or when they have something to gain by it. Thank you US government! For doing exactly what women all over the world keep getting disproportionately accused of! This blogger has it right on two points (though the rest of the article... hmm... no.); when he says:

The tabloid press creates an impression, by sensationalising the trials of those few women who make proveably-false fake rape claims, that lying about rape is a common thing. It isn’t, and the impression that lying about rape is common hurts rape victims and poisons the discourse about the whole subject.


It utterly demeans the ordeal of women who are actually the victims of sex crime. And it’s a cold and cynical way of exploiting the horror that sex crime understandably provokes in the eyes of bystanders to silence someone...

Even if it's just, as a friend of mine put it, "suspicious timing", it's still enough to muddy the waters over questions of consent, ideas surrounding rape, and it's horrendously insulting and disingenuous to women everywhere that consideration of their rights to bodily autonomy have been dismissed and ignored as not-as-important as consideration of the sacred right to Freedom of Speech. Let's not fool ourselves that this would have played out exactly the same were this not so high-profile a defendant. The case would not be pursued with the vigour it has been - which suggests that rape is not enough to bother with in and of itself, but when it's someone that the US government wants silenced it provides a convenient excuse. The experience of these women has been co-opted in order to serve someone else's political ends.

The US government is behaving despicably. They've been caught with their pants around their ankles and now they're crying rape, and pushing women everywhere under a bus because of it. Charming.

I hope that this wont cause problems for the two women specifically involved. I hope that the trial doesn't get polluted by all the politics, and these women, and Assange, actually get the justice that they all deserve. God knows the USG won't.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

With Apologies to Percy Shelley

An old, mad, blind, despised, new government,--
Leaders, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn,--mud from a muddy spring,--
Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,--
A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field,--
An army, which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield,--
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
Religion Christless, Godless--a book sealed;
A Senate,--Time's worst statute unrepealed,--
Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst, to illumine our tempestous day.

It is said that those who do not know their history are condemned to repeat it.
I wonder, just how many of the current cabinet are History graduates? Because history is most certainly repeating itself.
Labour campaigns warned us that Cameron would be taking us back to the 1980's... and that backfired horribly, thanks to the success of Gene Hunt and the BBC's Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes series.* But on the surface of it, labour do seem to have been uncharacteristically prescient. A conservative government, police brutality, awful fashion, worse music, recession, unemployment, "greed is good" fat-cat city-types... Where oh where have I seen that before?

Actually, do you know where I've seen this before? Way back at the beginning of the 19th Century, when the above poem was written**. It's called England in 1819. And in a lot of ways, things aren't that different now from what they were then.
England had just been engaged in an expensive war. Unemployment was massively high, and poverty among vulnerable sections of society was being exacerbated by governmental policy, which at the same time benefited the already rich. Parliament was rotten to the core and in desperate need of electoral reform. The poor stayed poor and the rich just got richer, and the system was in place to keep it that way.

Today we see the predominantly peaceful student protests, where the police have been "kettling" protesters (God, we have a word for it now? We're dressing up torture - because that's what it would be called if these people were in custody, not out on the streets - in fancy words again, so people don't realise what it is...) Well that just makes me think of Peterloo.

But let's not forget what came next back in the 1800s
Reform acts.
Reform of parliament, of working conditions in factories and mines, social reform.
And how did that all happen?
Because some people worked bloody hard to change things, and didn't give up. Politicians like William Wilberforce, and Earl Grey, social reformers like Josephine Butler, writers like Dickens, and just good old public pressure, finally forced change through. It wasn't easy - far from it*** - but there were enough people pushing bills through parliament, campaigning for a cause, pushing back the boundaries in their own specialised areas (such as Florence Nightingale's contributions in the medical field) or just raising awareness and writing about it all, that change happened.

It's easy to look at the 19th century as a whole and see just how much was accomplished in that period... it's less easy to stand at the beginning of a century, looking at the state of things and how much there is still left to do, and stay optimistic. In an age where we've got used to instant gratification, it's hard to remember that change on this scale can take years to manifest, and you've got to be determined and keep at it.

The cynical part of me which enjoys conspiracy theories might wonder if this is why Arts and Humanities funding is being so drastically slashed right about now. So no-one will wonder, or point out, that this has all happened before, that we don't have to roll over and take it, and that if we work hard enough at it there is still hope of a change.
Because there is another lesson to be learned from history on this point - totalitarian governments always attack the intelligentsia first, so there is no-one to speak out against further injustices when they come.

Cheer on those students, support them however you can, because if history is right, and if we're persistent, we may see some change come of it. Or if not... you could well be next.

*In itself a bloody good example of how BBC TV is quite patently not going down hill, and should continue to be funded. Imagine spoiling that with adverts. Or the American version.... (shudders)...
** I've changed 3 words, and missed out one. That's how little I've altered it.
*** I'd recommend reading some of the links if you want to see just how hard people campaigned for things back then. Puts our current politicians to shame, it really does.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Friends and Perfect Strangers

I never thought I’d end up ever feeling like a character played by Michael Gambon, but sometimes life surprises us.

The character in question was from the Steven Poliakoff drama Perfect Strangers; Raymond Symon, a grumpy and eccentric old git, dragged along (against his inclination) to a family reunion, where the family in question has not seen him for quite some time. Not, in fact, since before his company went bust and he suffered a nervous breakdown. It’s a fascinating piece – much more interesting than I make it sound – and well worth a look in its own right. But for some reason, this weekend I have felt a strange affinity with this one particular character, and this one plot thread in an exquisitely woven tapestry.

Last weekend, I had a depressive episode. The first one in quite a while, and it rather knocked me for six. But worse than that, it happened when I was visiting friends in Oxford; friends who, until then, had never actually seen the worst excesses (or indeed any excesses) of my depression. There may even have been one or two there who didn’t actually know I suffer from it. And I had rather intended to keep it that way.

Because there’s still a stigma attached to mental health problems. And while I’m happy to try and break that stigma and the surrounding taboos by talking about it, both here and in person, I’m still too English to want people to see me at my worst. It makes me feel like a burden to have to ask people to cope with me. It feels like a failing to admit that I need help, or let people see me cry. (And yes, I know it’s messed up that I, or anyone else already suffering, has to feel guilty and weak because of, and in addition to that suffering. That’s depression. It’s a bitch. And it’s one of the reasons a lot of people don’t seek help as often as they should. And I know all that. Doesn’t make me feel any different.)

This weekend, I went out again – this time to a friend’s birthday party. And the thing is... I think I noticed a difference in the way I was treated by the people who were in Oxford the previous weekend, and those who weren’t. One guy in particular, who, he confessed to me, I had rather worried at the time. There was a concern in his voice that wasn’t there before, and I felt like I was being handled delicately; like glass or porcelain.

I don’t want to single this guy out so much though, because it’s not an uncommon reaction when people learn I have depression. Heck, I’ve had it from my own family. That sense of them not knowing what they’re supposed to do, how they’re supposed to treat me now. Like I’ve suddenly grown an extra head, and they don’t want to appear rude by staring. It’s like in Perfect Strangers; everyone so delicately asking Raymond if he’s alright, but not wanting to mention the gory details of exactly what happened. So concerned, but so English about it.

It’s not so bad when you can talk to people about it, or when they only know about the depression in an abstract sense, and I’m still normal old me around them. They don’t have to adjust, and it becomes something like a hip replacement: something to be asked after, sympathised with, but not something that impacts them at all, that they have to do anything about. But sometimes something unavoidable happens, and I can’t keep my friends and the illness separated any more. Normal old me suddenly becomes miserable, crying, walking-out-into-traffic me, and yeah, I can see how that’s scary, no matter if you know me a lot, or only a little. If they’ve never seen that from me before, I’m not surprised people react like they do.

But I wish they didn’t.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Fetch me my Stamp of Satire!

Seriously, people in this world are becoming so moronic that I honestly wonder if some people of our parent's generation started mating with vegetables as part of the 70's Free Love movement...

Either that or the internet really does give stupid people a licence to air their misfortune to a wider audience.

Earlier in the year I expressed my annoyance at Depression Facebook Statuses that did nothing, and were fucking disengenuous to boot.

Then later I got pointed in the direction of this article, by a friend of mine, and recognised the similairites. Full disclosure here - I particpated in the handbag one; mostly because I can't resist a good double entendre, and though I'd like to pretend to be the epitome of what it means to be a feminist in this day and age, even I mess it up on occasion and engage keyboard before brain. *headdesk* mea culpa.

Then, we get onto Movember. And actually... well, this one seems quite well thought out. The concept of Sponsorship has reared it's head, and the idea of actually doing something fun that also benefits others.

And then finally we get this.
Dear sweet Jesus... please tell me this is Satire. Please tell me that this is the same vein as the F-word article... please tell me that this is taking the piss out of the notion that the only valid contribution women can make to charity is via their breasts or vaginas, and not espousing that notion in the first place...

I mean, obviously it is satire. Obviously. But I still want to get a big rubber stamp out and slam it down over the video just so there's no doubt whatsoever. Because the world is full of morons, and people like me who occasionally engage keyboard before brain, and Dear God do I *not* want people to take this seriously...

Oh, and those ones about people being eaten by dragons, or killed on the Death Star? Funny the first time dudes. Getting very old now.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Of Poppies

Today is Remembrance Day.

I have qualms with calling it “Poppy Day” or even sometimes “Armistice Day”, because I’ve always felt that was missing the point.

This is the day we Remember, and as fewer and fewer of us are left who actually do remember from personal experience, it is becoming more and more important that the torch is passed on to those generations born after 1945.

This isn’t a day of tribute. We, in this country, do owe a debt of gratitude to those soldiers who fought and died to keep us British and free of foreign rule, but we also owe the same debt to almost everyone of that generation. The contribution of non-combatants; those ambulance drivers, medics, code-breakers, munitions factory workers, Land Girls, and everyone who kept the country running while the soldiers were away; cannot be discounted. Yet we have a day to remember those who died... and a lot of people have forgotten why we do that. Not because they deserve more thanks than those who survived, but because it is important to remember the toll that warfare takes. It is important to remember how high is the price that can be valued in human lives.

The best way we can pay tribute to those men and women who have lost their lives to conflict is to make sure that no-one ever has to pay that price again. And for us to be able to do that, we need to remember the horror, not the glory of warfare. Because it’s all too easy to see the ritual, and the Last Post in the same light as all the other ceremonies and rituals we have in this country – something in the nature of a school assembly that must be endured before we get a half-day holiday.

This year, back in September, I went to Europe, and while I was in Poland, I spent a day at Osweรงim – the little town that we know by its German name: Auschwitz. The experience was a harrowing one, but one I am glad that I had. You hear about it in history lessons, but hearing about it, and actually seeing the gas-chambers, the rows upon rows of huts and places where huts once were at Birkenhau, the tiny cramped cells in the prison block where people were made to stand five at a time without light and barely any air, the scaffold and the firing wall, the piles of personal effects still kept in the museum, the piles of clothing and human hair, it is a very different experience. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like before liberation, and even attempting is painful.

Poland is a beautiful place. The countryside in September is almost like Britain. You can walk around the little gravel streets between the red-brick huts, down the rows of trees and grass, and for a moment think that this is just another Autumn day. And then you remember. You are standing in the place where, literally, millions of people were murdered. Not one by one, but en mass. This was a cold, clinical, destruction line; a factory for death. It is chilling to think that such atrocities happened in a place that so looks like my home country. The thought that struck me most was; if it could happen here, it could happen anywhere. And that is why we cannot become complacent. We cannot think that it can’t happen, wouldn’t happen here, not here, because it did. It happened in a place just like home – which was home to some – and we cannot forget that, or else it will happen again.

I have heard that the experience of seeing the battlefields in Belgium is a similar experience, and I hope one day to see those as well. Because it is important that we understand, and more importantly, that we Remember.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Quick Fix

Ok, so I've just been reading This little article about relative harms of drugs, legal and illegal.

A few points to think about:

1. Because Alcohol is much more "harmful" than other drugs, does this mean that we should tighten up control over alcohol, or relax restrictions on other drugs?

2. Is the amount of harm caused by alcohol partly to be explained because it's more available than other drugs?

3. Could the amount of harm caused by "soft" drugs be reduced even further were they subject to the same amount of control and licensing as alcohol and tobacco are now?

Answers on a post card please...

Not Dead Yet

Ok, so it's been a while... and sadly, I don't think this post is going to signal a return to regular updates either, though there's a few bits and pieces that might be turning up here soon.

In my time-off, I've been to Europe, which was fantastic, finally got some counselling, which has also helped things, made more friends, been more busy, and generally got one of these Life things that people have been going on about.

I've started doing a bit of writing for an online magazine called Sabotage, which is well worth a read, though I've only got one article up there so far. If I can get myself together, there will be more.

In terms of shouty feminism - I'm trying to lay off; pick my battles, and not get too involved in stuff I can't change right now, or I will bash my brains out on that brick wall. My opinions haven't changed, but I'm trying not to court opportunities for me to express them quite so much.

Though, having said that... There was this article in the Guardian...

I don't think I even need to explain why that is so badly wrong, and utterly, utterly counterproductive to any idea of increasing the rate and accuracy of rape convictions.

In terms of shouty politics... well, let's just say that the Con-Dem Nation has been giving me plenty to go on. Not least this latest suggestion that the long-term jobless should be forced into "work" (at what works out as less than minimum wage) or see their benefits cut.
You see, that could have been a great idea - give the unemployed a chance to boost their CV with some voluntary work, whilst still on JSA* so they can support themselves whilst still working towards their career.
But no. This is the usual Tory bullshit which assumes that all people on welfare are scroungers and Chavs, and we shouldn't have to pay for them to be layabouts, so we'll make them pick up litter until they get a proper job.
Oddly enough, even the people on the BBC's Have Your Say section (not usually noted for being a bastion of common sense) have actually some sensible things to say about what a pathetic idea this is. And when even they're starting to sound more sensible than a government proposal, you know something's wrong somewhere...
Even the Archbishop of Cantebury's chipping in on this one (though the link isn't working for me to link to), and as usual is being eminently sensible.

I think there's plenty of comment out there without my needing to chip in my $0.02, so I'll leave it for now. Suffice to say that when asked to list my 4 biggest Turn-Offs in a man, one of the first things I thought of was "Tory".

Anyway, life goes on, tum te tum...

*I keep thinking of this as Justice Society of America, and getting visions of Clark Kent in the dole queue... You can tell I spent too long working on a PhD in Comics...

Monday, 2 August 2010

Sea Change

Ok, so, this last week has been a hell of a ride, as weeks go. There's been a whole load of shifts, and some pretty big decisions made.

Among them has been the decision to drop the English PhD that I've been working on, and instead, make a go of it writing full-time.

I realise I'm in a really privileged position to be able to do that, and, without sounding like an aknowledgements page, I'd like to say that I couldn't do this without the love and support of my friends and family, to whom I'm immensely grateful.

As far as this blog goes, this will probably mean a slight shift in focus away from quite so much loud and shouty feminism - simply because I'm not going to be exposed to as much.
There will, however be more arts-and-writing related stuff; (which is what this blog was originally set up for) and there may even be reviews and possibly even some original fiction.

Inasmuch as I have readers here, I hope you guys stick with me. Who knows? You may even enjoy it...

Thursday, 24 June 2010

I should have had these toys as a kid...

The New Bromantics

I've discovered a new word that I hate!

It's "Bromance" defined in Urban Dictionary as: "Describ[ing] the complicated love and affection shared by two straight males."

The word itself might not be in the OED, but the concept it embodies is not as neologous (sp?) as the term. Male/male friendships, with that degree of intimacy, have only recently (I'd guess around the late 1890s...) fallen out of fashion. I'd need to consult someone who actually knows more about Queer theory than me to be sure. But just to take one example, there are quite a few M/M friendships depicted in Shakespeare which later productions have chosen to depict as homosexual (Sebastian/Antonio, Romeo/Mercutio, Antonio/Bassanio) despite one of the two men later going off and getting married. Not that I'm saying such an interpretation is wrong - I think it's just as valid as any other - but I see such pairings as being more akin to today's "Bromances". At any rate, the concept has been around forever.

This is not, I wish to point out, that I deplore the concept - quite the opposite - I think it's great, and if we can start expanding the definition of masculinity to include the ability to be intimate, to show emotion rather than bottle it up, and to consider and rely on other people, rather than having to stand as an island on your own all the time, then so much the better.

But do we have to call it a "bromance"?

Do we have to call it anything, in fact? Because giving such friendships a special name - one that specifically conjures up romance, only to shut it down - betrays such latent homophobia it's unbelievable. It's suggesting that men can only ever be close to someone if they are sexually attracted to them (the male/female version of which is also popular - When Harry Met Sally, anyone?) which is firstly rubbish, and secondly it's saying that such a sexual relationship between two men is so wrong that people have to distance themselves from even the possibility that their own close M/M relationship could be percieved as such, by using this inelegant little neologism.


In other news!

Australia has a new PM :)

And despite the title, the media actually seem to want to talk about her politics rather than her gender. Which makes me a very happy person.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Wet Wet... What?

Ok, just spotted this on the news this morning.

I think I've gone over the shameful way that celebs seem to be given a free pass when it comes to rape, DV and even borderline child abuse (Roman Polanski, anyone?) so I'm not going to dwell on that aspect too much.
Suffice to say, why is it that DV offenders seem to always get reffered to counseling or other psychiatric programs, rather than prison/something that's actually punishment, when the same injuries sustained in an assault/GBH/ABH case would result in a jail term? What's so special about DV that it should be treated so leniently? Oh wait, it's because they hit a woman, and women aren't really people.
Not that I'm saying that advocating rehabilitation rather than retribution is a bad thing necessarily, but the way it seems to be being applied here is problematic to say the least. Apart from anything else, it sends a really screwed up message about the relative severity of DV as a crime. And the threat of being made to attend a few seminars is hardly much of a detterent.

Actually though, the bit I wanted to look at was the closing remarks of the article:

Sentencing, Judge Shani Barnes ... said: "It is shameful that you should come before the courts at all - let alone for using such violence against your partner.

"I have no doubt that you are a mild-mannered gentle man by nature.

"Domestic violence is never acceptable, even if the young woman gave as good as she got, the injuries she sustained were far more impactful than anything she could have done to you."

I'm sorry... what??

"I have no doubt you are a mild-mannered gentle man by nature"?? To someone who punched his wife in the face??
Aside from the obvious disconnect there, that statement has a lot of worrying implications. The obvious one being, if he was so mild-mannered, what (or should we say, who) provoked such a violent response? And that's one step away from outright victim-blaming in my book.
The other thing is; criminals don't obviously look like criminals. Often don't behave like criminals outside of their crime. And that goes double for crimes commited within the household, like DV and a lot of sexual abuse. So to say that Mitchell is a gentle man (apart from when he decides to hit his wife) is really not helpful, because it perpetuates the myth that otherwise "nice" people don't commit attrocities. Which is what makes it so hard for victims of abuse to come forward. Because everyone thinks that that lovely bloke you know who lives round the corner couldn't possibly be beating his wife because he's such a nice guy. I'm sure he didn't mean it, maybe the silly bitch was asking for it... etc etc etc.

Also, the rest of that comment; "Domestic violence is never acceptable, even if the young woman gave as good as she got, the injuries she sustained were far more impactful than anything she could have done to you" shows an utter ignorance of the circumstances under which DV is usually perpetrated - where the woman has usually been isolated and had her self-confidence broken down to the point where she doesn't feel able (or sometimes justified) to fight back. And wtf? Is that chivalry I see coming out of that last part? Don't hit women because they're weaker and can't hit back? As opposed to don't hit women because they're people too and violence against other people is never the answer?

Really, seriously, I think we should expect more from the judiciary. And if there was ever a case for judges to specialise in the kind of crimes they are equipped to deal with, then how much more evidence do you need, your honour?

Saturday, 12 June 2010

New Things!

Ok, so this post is a special Multi-Purpose post!

Mostly, it's to let everyone who reads this know (who didn't already know) that I am still alive, and will be angry and articulate enough to write something here soon.

Secondly, it's to point out - just in case you missed it, y'know - that this blog is being updated and given new shiny things, like a background that isn't just blue. So if it suddenly starts changing around a bit, don't worry. Or do worry if you're the kind of person who hates change. In which case, what are you doing reading my blog?
For the minute I've decided to go with a stars at night kind of theme, to more acurately reflect the whole "galactic" element to the teabag. I was toying with a couple of other designs though, so I may try each one out for a bit, see if I like it better.

The third reason for writing this post, and will probably explain why I've tried to take as long as possible to tell you that the blog is changing around a bit, is that because of the new layout, the previous post - the one with the YouTube links to the awesome Twingo ads? - Those Twingo ads are now flopping over the sidebar, and you can't read it. And since I am a technological muppet, with no clue how to remedy this, I'm trying to write a nice long post that will push the Twingo down, so you can actually see the stuff in the sidebar, like links and archives.


Hope that's done it.


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Dear Mr Troll

As some of you may be aware, I've been having a little problem recently with some rather offensive posts on my facebook status, on the subject of "domestic violence and how some women get off on it". Said posts have now been deleted, and said person de-friended. After that, I wrote a letter - not necessarily to send to the person involved, (though I still might do that) but as a sort of form-letter to send to all future trolls, annoyances, MRAs, and other people whom I have just had to give up on for one reason or another; usually because I lack the time or the sanity.

Please, if you are having a similar problem with trolls and the like, and do not want to waste the energy on them, then please feel free to copy and edit this letter as best fits. Then you can get back to whatever else you were doing, which was almost certainly far more important.


Dear Mr Troll,

We all hate losing arguments. Especially when we are so sure that we are right, and the other person is wrong, but when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, either something has got to give, or people are going to just get hurt and upset.

As it is, I think our argument is getting nowhere, and I do not have the time or sanity to spare to continue it, nor to put up with the personal attacks leveled at me, which have nothing to do with the argument in hand.

It is obvious that I am never going to change your mind over this, since you have demonstrated repeatedly that you either do not understand, or do not care about my opinions. From what I can see, you have made no effort to see things from my point of view, or even contemplate the possibility that other people's opinions might be as valid, or even more so than your own.

I have tried to explain why your argument is unsound, insulting, and quite possibly dangerous, but still you keep insiting upon it, as if repetition would make it true. I have provided you with sources which will explain again, in a more comprehensive and eloquent fashion than I can. And I now feel that I must leave it up to them to continue where I find I am forced to leave off - not because I conceed defeat, but because it is increasingly obvious to me that you will not, and I do not wish to spend the time fighting a lost cause. If you truly want to learn and debate this topic, then please return to those sources, read until you fully understand the position, then come back and talk to me about it.

While I would love to think that the force of my (and their) argument is enough to make you challenge some of your preconceptions, go away and reassess your position on this issue, I do not hold out much hope.

I don't particularly care about "winning" or proving a point. I merely want to help people to understand. You either don't or won't. And I have better things to be doing than trying to help someone who is more focused on the winning. I am now going to go off and do them.

Yours, unapologetically,

Ms Teabag.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Con-Dem Nation*

Ok, so I'm resigned to the fact that we will have a mostly Tory government for the next few years. Amd my dearest hope at the moment is that the Lib-dems will be able to curb the worst of any social conservatism. In fact, if we do get what some people are predicting - a socially liberal, economically conservative government - I think we might well be onto a good thing.

Even if we do have to put up with gitface Cameron as PM.

There is only one problem. One Major problem that I'm looking at. Take a look at the new cabinet. Do you see any women? Do you see any ethnic "minorities"? I can't really say about sexuality, because that's not something you can necessarily tell just by looking at people, but I'd be willing to bet they're all straight as well.

Come on people! This is the 21st century! Why is it that the only people who can represent us at the highest levels of government have to be older, straight white guys? I can sort of understand, (though not condone, I'd like to add) in a predominantly caucasian country why there might not be much in the way of racial diversity, but I'm sure we could manage better than this. And there should be absolutely no excuse whatsoever for there being no women in cabinet. We make up 52% of the country, there should be no shortage of us. We've been supposedly equal for about half a century, why the hell is this not reflected in our governing body??? Sorry, but if you want proof of inequality, the fact that under the previous government less than 14% of MPs were women, and that number is set to go down with this new lot should be conclusive enough.

The other news that's getting me down today? Harriet, despite having been made acting leader of the Labour party (and consequently winning my vote) she has apparently ruled herself out of the running to replace Gordon (thus my vote is lost again).


* Thanks must go to Sam for providing me with the title of this post. :)

Thursday, 6 May 2010


If you're British, not in jail, not sectioned under the mental health act and not the Queen, then there should be no excuse.

Go out and vote.

I'm not lobbying on behalf of any particular party, just on behalf of the democratic process. Even if you spoil your ballot - do something with it. Make it count.

People died for this y'know. And I'm not being funny - people, less than a century ago, actually died fighting for your right to vote. People are often complacent about it, seeing their right to participate in democracy as a given, but it's not. It's surprisingly recently aquired - for some more recent than others. Please don't take it for granted. Please don't think there's no point, or that your vote doesn't matter - if everyone thought like that then nothing would ever change or get done ever. It does matter, it does count, and it is important.

Also - it is my considered opinion that if you don't vote, you don't have a say in how the country is run. And if you have opted out of having a say in something, then your opinion of it obviously doesn't matter much. Thus I will be ignoring all coments and complaints about politics, and all political opinions from anyone who doesn't vote. If you don't want to make your voice heard, well, I for one will stop listening :) And if you want to complain about the electoral system itself, and how it's no longer fit for purpose, then there's still no excuse to sit on your hands - vote Lib Dem because they're planning on reforming it.

Friday, 30 April 2010

"Galactic Teabag says enough is enough..."

I nearly wrote this piece late last night, but settled for a facebook status instead. I am, however, still mad about it in the cold light of day, so I'm going to do the post anyway.

Today I am mad about this:

"Depression is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you have been trying to be strong for too long. (Put this as your status if you have had or know someone who has had depression. Most people won't, but it's mental health week and 1 in 3 of us will suffer at some point in our lives.)"

It's a facebook status update that was doing the rounds last night - and it's by no means the first one I've seen. And, it may be a controversial oppinion, but they piss me off.

I'm fine with the ones that are actually trying to do something positive, like promoting an event like this one from back in January:

"Put this as your status if you or somebody you know has suffered or is suffering from a mental illness. Mental health is a BIG TABOO, so break the silence to support all those that are or have suffered. Most try to cope alone. Come along to the Mental Health Network meeting on Mon at 6.30pm in the [student's union]."

or even ones that have the courtesy to link to a website such as this one.*

But last night's? Just a big fat no. thank you.

It's problematic in so many different ways. Firstly, it's difficult posting anything like that to start with. Because of the taboo, there are many, many people out there who don't *want* to admit that they've suffered/ are suffering from depression, or who just aren't ready to talk about it yet. Encouraging people to get help and trying to break the silence is one thing, but pressuring people into owning up is another.

Secondly - "depression isn't a sign of weakness", fine, yes, great. It's an illness that is more common than you think, and which isn't your fault if you get it. "
it is a sign that you have been trying to be strong for too long"... Um.... what now? So all depression stems from life events? Way to simplify a complex issue which can have many different causes, symptoms and presentations, and way to tackle the stereotype that you can only be depressed if you've had a hard life. It's that kind of attitude that actually stops people like me from seeking help because they think that no-one will believe them, because from the outside their life looks fine, and there are plenty of people far worse off. That's not a deep insight into mental illness - that's a trite halmark gift card. A motivational poster slogan. An idiotic pronouncement on an electronic post-it.

Thirdly - something like this is a great way for someone to look socially aware and sympathetic** without actually doing something about the problem. Its me-too-ism. The equivalent of jumping on the band waggon of "Yes! I too have been affected by all these issues! Why? Because I have a depressed friend!" and it's insulting. It's fetishising mental illness, not seriously trying to solve the problems of its stigma. One of the facets of which is the idea that a lot of people "only do it to get attention"***. Again - not helping.

I'm not asking people to stop with all of these posts because it's annoying and I wish they would go away, so I can live my life pretending the issues don't exist - I live with the issues anyway, so that would be impossible - I just think that, well intentioned or not, sometimes they actually do more harm than good. I would therefore ask people to please, think before you post.

*I'd even be happy if it was linking to a personal blog post on the subject (not that I'm plugging or anything...)
** Not that everyone who puts this up isn't socially aware and sympathetic, just that posting this as your status doesn't actually count as being saas in itself.
*** As if attention was a bad thing? As someone who's been ignored and excluded more times than I can count, it gets old very quickly.