Thursday, 22 October 2015

Living with Wolves

The other day I stumbled across this article by Caitlin Moran*, and it got me thinking.

Her second point - that women are tired all the time - could fill an entire book (has filled several) so I'm going to leave that for another day, but it was the first point - that women are scared of men - that struck a chord.

"Try imagining that you could only date a half-bear half-lion. 'Oh - I hope this one's nice!' That's being a woman." 

See, I don't think she's** quite on the nail about that. I think there's a better way of putting it.

Men are dogs.

I don't mean that in the disgusted, only-after-one-thing, American street slang kind of way, or even in the barely toilet-trained, always wants feeding/walking, please-stop-humping-my-leg kind of way. I mean it in the way that is summed up by this quote from Good Omens,***:

"There are some dogs which, when you meet them, remind you that, despite thousands of years of man-made evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf..."

I love dogs. They are wonderful creatures: loyal, intelligent, affectionate. You can have life-long, very fulfilling relationships with dogs. They make excellent companions. Some people's lives are empty without dogs. We invite them into our homes and love them and care for them, and they love and care for us. We trust them to look after us. I have nothing against dogs.

But every woman is aware that some dogs can't be trusted. Some dogs you can't let your children play with - some dogs you wouldn't play with yourself. And in every dog, even the nicest, sweetest, most fluffy looking Toy Poodle in the world, somewhere in there is a wolf. And they could snap at any point.

It could be something you said, or something you did that just rubbed that dog up the wrong way. Sometimes it's just a really mean dog that was never loved enough as a puppy. Sometimes that dog has just had a really bad day. Perhaps no-one ever taught it "No" or "Sit" or "Stay". Whatever the reason, that dog is now a wolf. And we are fucked. We are Little Red Riding Hood, and no-one's coming to save us.

And that could be any dog. A German Shepherd might sit there and take all the abuse you throw at it, might never even snap at you, might be the most loving creature in all of existence. And a little Chihuahua might go for your throat as soon as look at you. You can't tell just by looking at them which dogs are really wolves. In fact, they're all wolves - just some of them it'll never come to the surface.

It's the not knowing that's the hardest part. Because most of us love dogs, and we want to trust them completely, we want to feel safe around them all the time. Breed or background are no indicators; any dog - any dog - could become a wolf in an instant, we just don't know. So we shy away every time a pack of strays comes whooping and howling down the street after dark, having fun. Some of us take courses on dog-handling and self defense. Some of us don't go out without a friend, or a dog that we trust, to protect us. Unless we are super-confident, or in a space where we feel safe, we moderate what we say or do around dogs so we seem less threatening, less likely (in our minds) to provoke a wolf response. It's exhausting sometimes.

That's what it's like as a woman living with men.

We're not scared of all of you all the time. If we thought like that we would go crazy very, very, quickly. And we don't talk about it much to you either, because you tend to get defensive - "but look at me! I'm a Labradoodle! I'd never hurt you! How can you say that?" - and we know it's a bad idea to provoke a dog in case it becomes a wolf.

We live with you every day, we work alongside you, we love you... But we are still aware that you are potentially dangerous, We are often reminded of the fact that you, just like a dog, could snap, and if you did that, it would be like being alone in a room with a wild beast ready to rip out our jugular. And there, Moran is on the money.


I'm not saying that we should blame dogs for having a bit of wolf in their DNA - we understand it's not something you can control. It's just something to be aware of. And maybe next time, when we argue for better muzzle control or obedience training, don't jump down our throats.

*originally published in the Times Magazine
** or rather, Louis CK, who she's quoting at the time.
*** By Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It's a good book. Go read it :)

Friday, 15 May 2015

How Labour Screwed it up

Just one link today. This one. I couldn't have said it better myself, so I won't even try.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Just Conned

Ok guys, I'm back.

Sad thing to say, is so is David Bloody CaMoron and his cronies, and this time there's no Lib Dem buffer to cushion the blow.

The last week has been traumatic, painful and argumentative - and I find myself yet again in need of somewhere to bleed out the frustrations, because like fuck am I taking this and swallowing all this bile.

I've got quite a few rants in me at the minute, so this may be the first of several in the days and weeks (and God help us, probably years) to come.

But there is one thing that's really getting on my tits at the moment, and that is this. The idea that we on the political left are "bad losers" because we're getting angry about being condemned to another 5 years of slashed welfare, corporate excess, child poverty, food banks, the housing crisis, economic illiteracy, rising debt and the slippery slope to privatised healthcare*.

Some things, such as the death of human beings, governmentally instituted corporate slavery (which is what the workfare scheme seems to have become), the attempt to rip up the Human Rights Act, and policies that have forced many into abject poverty are things I will always oppose, no matter who proposes them. When we have reached this state of affairs, I feel it goes beyond petty party divisions.

Perhaps it depends on if you believe in objective truth and moral absolutes. And there has been a stunning tendency of late to fall into the fallacy that just because everyone has the right to an opinion that all opinions are therefore equally valid.** Spoiler: they aren't. (If you're interested, Ben Goldacre has a lot to say on that topic and how it relates to science reporting, but that's a topic for another blog post.)

People are talking about "shy" Tories - I'm not surprised. Wouldn't you rather stay silent about supporting a party who condones policies that have caused this country - especially the poor and needy - so much suffering, while lining the pockets of the corporate and rich? Oddly enough they're arguing on tone and blaming the Left for being too vocal and threatening, rather than having the courage of their convictions to defend their point of view with evidence...
And yet they whine when it's the Left that chooses not to engage with them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm with Voltaire in that I may vehemently disagree with everything you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it***. But please recognise the irony, and in some cases downright hypocrisy of what's being said. "You're not allowed to tell me that my opinion is wrong-headed! And you're not allowed to not let me tell you why you're wrong!" Oh please...

My views on the matter are fairly neatly encapsulated in this comic from xkcd. Freedom of speech is not, and should never mean freedom from criticism. Yes, there is no law to say you can't be an asshole (or vote for them), you can be an asshole if you want. But by the same token, I have the freedom to tell you when you're being an asshole, (at length and in depth, should I wish,) and to speak up about assholes in general, and the terrible things being done in the name of assholery. You still have the right to be an asshole. What you don't have is the right to be an asshole and not be criticised and judged for it. You can walk away. You don't have to listen. You don't even have to change your attitude (though I'd prefer it if you did). But freedom of expression goes both ways. Don't be surprised if there are consequences to your actions, and if you don't want people to think you support some of the more abhorrent policies that the Tories have implemented and will be implementing, don't fucking vote for them.

Having said that... as many people have pointed out to me, stating this view openly and loudly on Facebook does end up being rather divisive. And that most Tory voters aren't mustachioed villains, twirling their canes and giggling about all the poor people they're going to stomp on. Most Tories aren't assholes****.Well, yes that might be the case. But what is the alternative? Keeping silent about my own politics? Bowing to peer pressure, instead of speaking out for what I believe is right? All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. And I refuse to do nothing.

Yet still, while I still struggle to understand why so many voted conservative*****, unless it be from ignorance, fear or prejudice, I want to believe that people are basically good at heart. I wont close down avenues of discussion, unless they become abusive.

And that, ladies and gents, is why Galactic Teabag is back up and running.

*Yes, I know Labour started that one. Yes, I know they fucked up, especially with PFIs. Let's not pretend that it's not going to be exponentially worse with the current lot.
** There's a post in that with my old friend Barthes...
*** Oddly enough, in protesting against certain policies, that is exactly what I'm doing.
**** Some of them are though.
***** and will probably be posting more on that subject as well, soon enough