sthetic

Assorted short(ish) scribbles by Sthetic.

Chalk Circles and Intersectionality

Ok, so I am going to put words into the mouths of other people right now and I’m not going to feel bad about it. This is after reading this and then being made to feel slightly better by this.

Warning: dodgy metaphors and Random Capitalisation. It’s 1am. Deal.

I want to talk about people who call themselves feminists but who do not like the concept of intersectionality.

The thing about pre-intersectional feminism is that it’s really easy to work out who the enemy is. The enemy is the patriarchy, and the people who are perpetuating the patriarchy are generally easily identified in that they are mostly men, and – importantly from the perspective of these women – they are someone else. That means that it’s really easy to draw a nice tidy chalk circle around pre-intersectional feminists and label them Not the Problem.

The issue with intersectionality, for these Women With Whom the Problem Resideth Not, is that intersectionality acknowledges that we all do things which are problematic for other people who have less power than us on one axis or another. If the enemy were just oppression of women by men, then that chalk circle would be clear and easy, and all feminists could stand in happily without ever having to question the things they say and do. But the enemy of intersectionality is a whole crisscross of cultural webs of gender and race and money and ableism and education and health and access to nutrition and sexuality and neurotypicality and and and and fucking and…

Intersectionality acknowledges that there are no tidy lines to be drawn around Good People who are Definitely Not the Problem. The problem is so large and all-encompassing that we are all caught in it, even the Good People, and all we can do is start working to untangle the bits of it we can see.

So now the Women With Whom the Problem Has Never Previously Resided are being confronted with the fact that some of the things they do and say make life harder for other women, and for other people in general who are deserving of their support. We’re rubbing away their tidy chalk circle and we’re asking them to join us in working just as fucking hard as we are to stop being a part of the problem to the best of their abilities.

But that would mean first stepping out of their nice circle of We Are Not the Problem.

Is it any wonder that they don’t want to?

Under the Bed

I wrote an audio play. The wonderful Jeremy Kahn recorded it with me. It’s ten minutes long and you can listen to it here.

I am so happy with how this came out that it’s not even funny.

Things I Wish Were Obvious To Everyone.

Hello. Here are some disordered rants – things I have said so many times over the last couple of weeks that I am sick of the sound of them. It would be nice, universe, if I could stop having to say them.

1) Just as the Westboro Baptist Church is no representation of Christianity in general, so two men with machetes in Woolwich are no representation of Islam in general. How accurately would you say the nutters waving ‘God Hates Fags’ banners at children’s funerals represent your ‘community’?

2) It is true that a vagina is not like a laptop. But it is also beside the point.  This idea that only women who are deliberately making themselves sexually attractive are ever raped is a bullshit cultural narrative spun by idiots who are afraid because sometimes bad things happen to good people. The majority of rape victims are not snatched off the street because they are being ‘sexually provocative’ – they are raped while they’re wearing tracksuits and hoodies, while they have curlers in their hair, while they’re wearing work clothes and sensible shoes. Children are raped. Grandparents are raped. Ugly people are raped. Hear that? A person doesn’t have to be conventionally pretty to be raped – they just have to have a friend or an acquaintance or a colleague or a teacher or a doctor or a grandparent or an uncle or a father or an aunt or a mother who does not value their sexual consent.

That’s all a person has to do in order to be raped. In the vast majority of cases it doesn’t have jack shit to do with what they’re wearing, and anybody who makes it about what people wear when they walk down the street is feeding you a red herring to distract you from the fact that an attack is more likely to happen in a house.

3) People who do not believe in god are not all such massive wankers as Richard Dawkins is. Some of us are just…people who don’t believe in god but have no particular interest in lecturing everyone else about it. Just as the Westboro Baptist Church… (see point 1.)

4) It’s perfectly possible for Muslims and Jews to get along. It’s perfectly possible for Muslims and atheist Jews to get along. It’s perfectly possible for Muslims and GAY ATHEIST JEWS to get along. (Don’t believe me? Be a fly on the wall in my excellently and amazingly tolerant place of work, motherfuckers.)

5) Sex education is difficult to get right. This is not helped by the fact that it’s mostly delivered by teachers, who are not good at it. (Hello, my year 9 form tutor, who was not even sure whether or not bisexuality was a thing that people could be, let alone that there was a word for it or what that word might be! Did you know that a girl in the class you were supposed to be helping tackle this stuff safely cut herself for quite a while in part because of the way you made her feel during that lesson? No? You didn’t know that? COLOUR ME UNSURPRISED.)

But a thing that it sorely, sorely lacks is a way of teaching young men to hear the word ‘no’ without taking it as a personal insult. And another thing that it sorely, sorely lacks is a way of teaching everyone to value enthusiastic consent as the bare minimum standard it absolutely should be. Enthusiastic consent: it’s a thing. I am consistently dismayed by people who look at me blankly when it comes up in conversation. It would be nice if the next generation of young adults had some fucking access to the concept. (I’m not holding my breath or anything. But, you know. It would be nice.)

6) You, reader. You know rapists. You know child abusers. You know rape survivors, and you know child abuse survivors. I know rapists and child abusers and rape survivors and child abuse survivors. Some of them I know about, and some of them I don’t, but I have the basic fucking statistical awareness to know that I KNOW THEM AND SO DO YOU. And the rape survivors that you know are not just pretty women wearing short skirts and too much mascara, and the child abusers that you know are not just men in raincoats hiding behind bushes waiting to grab. They’re all just people – if you could identify them via the stereotypes then you’d already know who they were, no?

The dominant cultural narrative about short skirts and raincoats is bullshit, and if you keep believing it then your belief will hurt the people around you. Stop it.

So this was pretty dark. Um. Sorry. I might delete it. Unsure.

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