Roller Derby and the Case of the Shameless Request For Money


This post does exactly what it says on the tin. I’m gonna be talking about roller derby. And I’m gonna ask you for some of that sweet sweet cash.

What we’re doing

My derby team, the East Coast Cyclones, are doing something seriously awesome this month. We’re hosting our very first national derby tournament- which also just so happens to be the first of its kind in the country. The Queen Bee Tournament is Ireland’s first competition for establishing teams and B-teams.

I know. Kind of a big deal.

Why would you do that?

Why would we put ourselves through organising a tournament? Why an establishing/B-teams tournament?

You see, derby has kind-of exploded in Ireland in the last couple of years. While there are a few teams that have been around since as far back as 2008 (I’m lookin’ at you, Cork Firebirds and Dublin Roller Derby), most of us popped up in the past two years or so. Loads of us have just started playing actual games in the past year. And while we love watching the established A teams kick ass on the track (and oh gawd do they kick ass), we want in on the action too. The derby action.

So we’re hosting a tournament for the rest of us.

But, like, aren’t you guys like.. less good? Why would I support less-good?

It’s true. There are skaters in this country (especially on those A teams) who could destroy the likes of myself in a matter of nanoseconds. At least, there are right now. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t put on a good show and fight some hardass derby. We’ve all been training our butts off and, let me tell you, the standard of derby in the newer teams in Ireland has gone through the roof in the last few months. It’s going to be a hell of a show.

Also? There’s nothing like watching a tournament with teams that are pretty darn well matched to each other. The Queen Bee is up for grabs and I have no idea where it’s gonna go.

How awesome is that, like?

You mentioned a small matter of cash? Money, dollars, euros, pounds? That kind of thing?

Doing this kind of thing is expensive. Pricey. Not cheap. And a small-town derby team like the Cyclones? We’re not exactly rolling in cash. We’ve got halls to rent, tape to buy, mile-high stacks of sandwiches to make, and a million other tiny things that add up to a hefty chuck of currency to make this happen.

So we’re gonna do what we always do. We’re gonna skate.

Tomorrow evening, we’re taking to the Bray Promenade for a 10-mile sponsored skate to help fund the tournament. We’re gonna skate our bums off! And in return, all we’d like are your sweet, delicious donations.

Do us a favour? Click on the picture below and throw a coupla quid our way, won’t ya? And if you haven’t the cash (I know the feeling!), give us a share and get your loaded friends to support us. G’wan. Do it for the derby.

queenbee

Sometimes I Think I’m Ugly: Body image and making better feminisms.


I do feminism.

I do feminism. I really do believe that the personal and political are inextricably linked, and I try to live in a way that takes that into account.

I believe in body positivity. I believe- I know- that all different kinds of bodies can be beautiful. I mean, there’s people of many shapes and sizes who I’ve found hot as hell in my time, and I’m just one person with one reasonably-narrow set of preferences. Bung in the rest of the world, and you’ve got a hell of a lot of people appreciating just about any kind of physique you can imagine.

I believe in appreciating our bodies for what they can do, not just what they look like. I know that this can be problematic in its own way- especially given our ableist views on what that means- but one of the things I’ve grown to love in the last year and a half is seeing my body as a tool for learning, developing and doing. Bodies aren’t just for looking at. They’re how we interact with the world around us, and that is incredible.

I believe in the understanding that even though health, abilities, competition and joy are far more positive reasons to exercise than looks, they still don’t apply to everyone. Nobody owes anyone else prettiness or fitness. We get to set our own priorities based on our own circumstances, abilities and desires, and they’re nobody’s business but our own.

I think that the very idea of “everyone’s beautiful” has its own problems, because so fucking what if you’re not beautiful? So what if you’re not symmetrical and skinny and young and whatever the hell beautiful is supposed to be these days. It doesn’t make you less important. Or less interesting. I want to get the hell away from the idea that there’s one thing- one anything- that everyone needs to be. Unless that one thing is just plain respectful and kind.

I believe that the ways society tears us down are toxic. We live in a constant state of negative marking- not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not fit enough, not rich enough. We can never be enough, and that destroys our enjoyment of all the things that we are. I want to be part of a different discourse to that.

And yet..

And yet I looked at some photos of myself recently and although I’m obviously having an epically good time in them (I do that a lot these days. It’s the derby) all I can see is those things I’m supposed to call imperfections. My tummy: sticks out. My face: red, sweaty, puffy. My whole body: too short, too wide, too squat. My photo face: seriously I have no idea what is up with the expressions I make in photos.

In those moments I feel so ashamed.

And in those moments I feel ashamed of feeling ashamed. I feel like I’m a Bad Feminist because I let all of these horrible expectations get to me. And right then I just don’t know what to do with all of it. Because I don’t believe in denying what you feel- shoving down insecurities and emotions rarely serves a person well. But I don’t want to indulge those feelings either, or let them get more of a foothold in me than they already have.

And then there’s this:

I think there’s something impossibly messed-up about the idea that to be strong means being invulnerable. I despise the idea that because we’re feminists (or anti-racists, or LGBTQ+ activists, or..) that we must somehow not have internalised any of the crap we’re working against. Of course we internalise it. We live in a society that has made a science out of feeding it to us every damn day of our lives. It takes more than reading a few books and bonding with your femmo friends to dig through that. We still have to put the book down, put the phone down, and live our lives in the same spaces that screwed everything up in the first place.

I also think there’s something impossibly messed-up about the idea that to talk about a problem, you have to have a solution. I don’t have any, you see.

But I do have some ideas of where that solution might lie. I think it lies somewhere where we can learn to feel our feelings without believing them, to sit with them without shoving them down or indulging them as truth. Somewhere where we really, really understand both that the personal is political, and that our politics must be one of kindness in the places where we are most vulnerable. Somewhere where our answer to “I feel ugly” isn’t “don’t be silly, you’re beautiful”, but finding something more to tie our sense of self to, and working to know that beautiful isn’t the same as loveable or worthwhile. That beautiful isn’t even the same as beautiful, for feck’s sake.

I think it lies somewhere there.

About Bravery


“I didn’t feel brave”

I’m not sure you ever do.

How often do you hear something like that? You’ll tell someone that they’ve done something brave- conquered something that scared them- and the first thing they do is deny that it felt the slightest bit brave to them. They were terrified the entire time.

I wasn’t brave. It took me two tries to even go into that room- the first time I panicked.

I wasn’t brave. I had to hold my hands together, they were shaking so hard. And- oh god- when it was done I went home and locked the door behind me and curled up and cried.

I was awkward. I was scared. I was weak.

I wasn’t brave.

Feck that. I don’t think that brave feels brave. We imagine that bravery feels powerful- feels like facing your demons, overcoming them and triumphing.

I don’t think it’s supposed to feel strong. Not all the time, anyway. I think the bravest things we do are when we feel weak. Those times when you feel tiny and scared, when you don’t know how you’ll get through that thing you have to do, when you can’t look more than one step or moment ahead and in that tininess and shaking and nausea or whatever it is you somehow take that step and do a thing? When you’re a goddamn mess and the smallest thing is everything you can do?

That’s a hell of a lot braver than squared jaws, narrowed eyes and confident stares.

To The Guy On OKC Who Messaged Me About The Friend Zone


It’s one of the worst-kept not-a-secrets in the world that I keep an account on OK Cupid. Sometimes I even reply to messages on the thing.

As a Woman On The Internet, of course, I’ve had to come up with a few guidelines for people who want to contact me. Not that I think that any of the internet’s asshats are going to take the tiniest bit of notice, natch. The guidelines do two things: weed out the people who actually bothered to read my profile before sending me a message, and provide me with ammunition in case someone decides to get asshatty all over my inbox. (Fortunately, as someone over 30 who has had an account for a while, this only happens a couple of times a week at the moment. Win!)

One of the things on the list? If you think the ‘friendzone’ is a legit concept, then we shouldn’t be talking. Which is relevant, because I just had this (thankfully brief) interaction over there:

 

OKC FriendZone

 

Since when am I capable of not replying to something like that? Never, is when. I even drew a comic about it once, and since when do I draw comics? Hardly ever, is when.

First, for the snark: This is a white dude who would strongly prefer to date within his race and who thinks burning flags should be illegal. There’s not much risk of him ending up in my friend zone, if ya know what I’m sayin’.

But I’m feeling pretty generous today. It’s a gorgeous, sunny day. I’m sitting out on my balcony with my plants. I’m feeling happy with myself. It’s the kind of day where I can summon up a bit- just a bit- of empathy even for the overtly racist misogynists among us.

Just in case they’re reading*? Here’s what I’m saying to that guy on OKC, and the thousands-upon-fucking-thousands like him:

I sincerely hope that some day you look back on your current perspective with a wry sense of mortification. I hope that you learn to treat the people you are attracted to with no less consideration for their own agency than your own. I hope that you grow to have full, rich and varied friendships with people of all genders, regardless of whether you’re capable of being attracted to them. And I hope that you learn that no matter how heartbreaking unrequited love is, it’s nothing in comparison to a culture that treats you as worth nothing outside of your appeal to others.

Because what the ‘friendzone’ teaches us is that you don’t see the people you’re attracted to as fully human. You can’t see that they have motivations that have absolutely nothing to do with yours. That your attraction to them- that stomach-churning, gut-wrenching feeling you can’t but have around them- doesn’t oblige others to feel a particular way, or to act in the way that you’d like them. And someday I hope you understand that, right in your guts. I really, really do.

In the meantime, though? Get the hell out of my inbox, thanks.

 

 

*If they are, I’m here all week, and don’t forget the tip jar on the sidebar!

Bandaids and Bulletholes: on privileging theory over practicality


I just got into a leeeeeeetle disagreement over on the Facebooks over this:

My views on this are that Clare Cullen is a massive ledgeface* who you should all go subscribe to immediately because she is saying words that basically mirror rants I have inside my head every single time anyone runs for election, ever. We don’t elect people to be Official Fixers Of The World and Havers Of Opinions. We elect people to particular jobs with specific responsibilities and powers. It’s insulting to the electorate (you know, the people who you’re asking to employ you) if the material you’re using to persuade people to vote for you is either vague to the point of meaninglessness or refers to things that are drastically outside the remit of the job you’re actually applying for.

Anyway, one of the people she targets is the Socialist Party** candidate, Paul Murphy, who’s looking to get reelected to the European Parliament. Grand so. She’s got criticisms that I see as legit- overly negative campaigning with a lack of actual alternatives put forward. Anyway, since I’m a leftie myself and since Ireland is a tiny country where everyone knows everyone, it was inevitable that a bit of a palaver would ensue. Which is fine. It’s  just that.. there’s something that happened there that I disagree with hard enough to write a blog post about it, and that was this comment by CH- someone who, by the way, I respect a shedload and who gave me the okay to :

Paul is running on a platform of party ideals/alternatives (anti-capitalist) to domestic policy and EU. It is merely to have a voice to raise issues that are railroaded in the EU and their wider agenda of Austerity… maybe you missed the part about wanting a socialist alternative not band aids for bullets wounds of capitalism. It not about legislative change which is a narrow outlook of oppositions role anyway.

Okay. You see, this? This is something I have a huge issue with. Not necessarily when it comes to policy or perspective- I agree with a bunch of Murphy’s views. But with CH’s defence of his actions. Let me explain why.

The Role of a Legislator Is To Legislate

The first thing that I want to take issue with is this:

It not about legislative change which is a narrow outlook of oppositions role anyway.

There are many ways to do opposition. Shedloads of ‘em. Despite what you hear, working through parliaments (as well as stuff like voting etc) is just one way of many to create change. In fact, I’d go further than that. The vast majority of the time here in Ireland, any legislative change that is enacted on social issues happens after shifts in public opinion. If you want to create change without engaging directly with the legislate process? Do that! Do grassroots work. Educate and communicate your views. Work at the local level to create models of how you’d like things to be done, and put in the everyday work of keeping those things going. Protest and demonstrate. Campaign, or provide support to campaigns. Write a book or a blog, submit articles for people to read, start a vlog if you like.

There’s many, many ways- most of which I’m sure I haven’t mentioned- that you can help to bring about the change you’d like to see which don’t involve legislation. Legislation is one tiny piece of a huge jigsaw.

But if you’re going to apply for a job as a legislator? I expect you to be interested in legislating. Period. End of sentence.

I expect you to take that job with the intent of working your butt off for your entire term at legislating.  And I expect you to show me that you can get legislation passed. I expect you to be willing to grit your teeth, hold your nose and work on the compromise legislation that isn’t exactly what any of us want because the alternative is so much worse. If you’re not wiling to do that, then you have no business looking for that job. There are many other spaces where your voice would be better used.

Hell to the Yes, I Want That Bandaid.

Let’s go to the next part.

maybe you missed the part about wanting a socialist alternative not band aids for bullet wounds of capitalism

To describe short-term legislative change as “band aids for bullet wounds of capitalism” is to use some pretty strong words and make some extremely strong assumptions. I’m going to take three premises out of this, and address them in order:

  1. That the harm caused by capitalism can be likened to a bullet wound- that is, is not just extremely serious but requires urgent action.
  2. That the small changes possible through immediate legislative change can be likened to a band-aid: something that will cover the wound, staunch the bleeding, but won’t do anything about the bullet lodged within you.
  3. That tackling immediate needs and creating long-term substantial change are mutually exclusive.

My answer to the first? Yep, there sure are some extremely harmful things going on which need to be addressed urgently. I wouldn’t personally use the single term ‘capitalism’ to describe the forces causing these- I think it’s a whole lot more complicated than that and there’s a lot of forces involved, and I also prefer to think of capitalisms as opposed to one unitary thing. But I have a feeling that that kind of pedantry isn’t terribly useful right here. Let’s agree that there’s some seriously harmful stuff happening and we need to do something about it, sharpish.

It’s when we get to the second part that we’re going to start to disagree. You describe the kind of legislative change possible from the EP as bandaids. I’d use a different metaphor: they’re more like first aid. Sure, they’re not the well-equipped intensive care unit of culture-wide change creating a society where each of us is able to live without fear of destitution and has real opportunity to thrive. But first aid will keep you alive. First aid is the thing that’ll keep you breathing until the ambulance gets here.

Theory can never, ever trump practicality

That third premise is one I have even more difficulty accepting than the other two. If that’s the case, then you need to take a long, hard look at where your theory is coming from, because I have no interest in theory that puts itself before people’s real and immediate needs.

A real alternative to the way we’re doing things now is all well and good, but some of us- a lot of us- don’t have the luxury of theory. Because of piss-poor, inadequate legislation here in Ireland, people now have a higher chance of surviving pregnancies that threaten their lives than they did a couple of years ago. Piss-poor, inadequate legislation means that as long as I don’t work in a school or a hospital I probably won’t get fired for not following Catholic dogma, the way I could back in the ’90s. It’s ludicrous that pregnant people have to travel overseas for abortion services if their lives aren’t in danger, and it’s a disgrace that the RCC can hide behind ‘ethos’ to force people into closets. But it’s better than nothing, and I’m glad we don’t have to live without it. 

In short? If you’re not going to actually attain that socialist alternative next week then fuck yes I would like some bandaids please. And if you can’t hold your nose and enact piss-poor legislation that is all you can get but better than nothing? Then there are far better places to take your activism than Parliament.

 

*Translation for non-Irish people: most excellent person who does things I approve of greatly.

** Surprise for you USian people- ‘Socialist’ isn’t actually a dirty word ’round this neck of the woods. Woop!

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You have your opinion, I have mine


“It’s my opinion” “I’m entitled to my opinion”

Have you any idea how much those words set my teeth on edge? Let me give you a hint. Imagine nails on a blackboard. Someone else using up the last of the milk and putting the carton back in the fridge. The whine of a mosquito right by your ear as you’re trying to get to sleep. That guy on the bus who insists on playing his music loud enough that you can sing along. Put all of those together, add a pounding headache and let’s throw in having just stepped in a freezing puddle that is seeping its way through your shoes. And you still haven’t had your damn breakfast. And someone just drank the last of the coffee.

That comes close to the level of headdesking, facepalming, oh-god-not-this-again frustration bubbling up in me whenever I hear that phrase.

We all have opinions. Isn’t that great? We all have opinions, and we all have the right to say whatever words we like in the vast majority of situations without getting carted off to jail for it. This is an excellent fact. It’s a thing that many people fought and sacrificed a hell of a lot for.

And do you really, really think that the people who fought for freedom of speech did it so that some nitwit could justify their ridiculous beliefs with “you have your opinion, and this is mine”?

Let me back up a second here. Before I go any further, I’d like to state for the record that no matter how irritating I find this, it is still marginally better than, say, the Inquisition. Okay, significantly better. I’m not saying we should go back to the old days of rampant censorship or anything. Not, of course, that that was particularly long ago, or that you’d have to go particularly far away to find it today.

But I digress. From a point that I haven’t even made yet.

It would be entertaining if I got to the end of this post without making an actual point, wouldn’t it?

Saying “it’s my opinion” is meaningless. It adds nothing to a conversation. It isn’t an argument, it isn’t a justification. It isn’t even a grunt of acknowledgement that the other person has said something. It’s less than all of those.

What “it’s my opinion” says is this: I can’t be bothered coming up with a reason why I think the way that I do. In addition, I can’t be bothered listening to a word you’re saying to me. If you’ve put effort into communicating with me, you really needn’t have bothered. I have this thing called an ‘opinion’. I’m too lazy to have it challenged or contemplate the possibility that it isn’t correct.

In fact, whether my opinion is correct or not is absolutely irrelevant to me. I don’t care if my opinion is as real as the moon being made out of a lovely sweet Emmental*.

What “I have my opinion, I’m entitled to my opinion” means is that I don’t care about truth.

And, well, as a person who cares a great deal about truth, this matters a hell of a lot to me. It doesn’t just matter to me because that’s my opinion- although, of course, it is. I’m willing to back up that opinion. I’ll justify it. Because truth matters to me for reasons. Having an accurate picture of the world around us is what allows us to base our decisions on reality. It allows us to make ethical judgements based on real-life factors. It ensures we’re not accidentally trampling over others in our ignorance. It also, incidentally, is what led to my being able to communicate to you in a great big string of ones and zeroes. Truth about how the world works. It’s awesome.

*Everyone knows it’s Gouda. And it’s kind-of old and a bit dry by now. At least, that’s my opinion. You have yours. I have mine.

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Unsolicited Advice: It Came From The Search Terms


In a small, secret part of my mind I’ve always wanted to be an advice columnist. I mean, don’t we all? In the absence of any actual people asking me actual advice, I’m going to take the next best thing. That’s right! It’s time to respond to the search terms.

 

1. How to not be a douchecanoe

I find that it helps to take a mental step aside from my own perspective to try to see a situation from someone else’s point of view. Don’t assume everything’s about you. Be considerate and kind and understand that people don’t owe you more than consideration and kindness in return. Be clear about your own boundaries and gracious about the boundaries of others.

If you’re having a specifically pronoun-related attack of asshattery, try my detailed advice. For simply being more excellent all-round, spend a few days reading through Captain Awkward. Pay close attention to the comments.

2. blackface.com

Please refer to question one. Repeat frequently until you understand the reasons why it is truly terrible. Then promise to do better next time.

3. ah women unicorn bisexual

You wouldn’t want to hurt the unicorn, would you? Would you?

But seriously: if by ‘unicorn’ you mean ‘a hot bi babe who will sex up me and my girlfriend/boyfriend’, then I’d recommend starting with a couple of understandings:

  1. The amount of ‘unicorns’ in the world is far outweighed by the amount of m/f couples who are looking for them. You gotta impress, y’know?
  2. Despite the name, they are people. Not mythical creatures. People with feelings and desires and boundaries all of their own, which are going to be every bit as important as yours are.
  3. The world doesn’t owe you a unicorn.

With these 3 facts, you’re now better informed than 99% of people out there looking for unicorns! Go forth and be lovely and have fun!

was jesus a vampire

Yes. Duh.

did vampire drink jesus blood

Probably.

was marie fleming afraid of death

Oh, I hope not. As far as I know, though, she was far more afraid of a long and painful end then death itself. According to her partner, her dearest wish was to die peacefully in her own home. She got that wish, at least, and I hope that she was loved and not afraid. What more can any of us hope for?

feminists shame men by calling them homosexual

Who are these ‘feminists’? Because they’re asshats of the highest degree and homophobes to boot, and I would like to have a word with them. Several words.

i am a lesbian dating a man

I hope you are very happy! A present for you: check out Erika Moen’s DAR. I just read it this week on the recommendation of my housemate. It’s a lovely comic about a woman who is, among other things, someone who identified as a lesbian until she met her husband. It’s super cute and full of <3

what sauce is chicken wings cooked in in ireland

Potato. Just potato.

need people to talk to about being closet

Oh, honey. The closet is a scary place to be, isn’t it? I don’t know where you are or what you’re in the closet as, so I can’t offer specific advice- although do try googling your location and LGBT, if you feel brave enough. There might be an LGBTQ switchboard or community centre who you can talk to in person?

If not.. well, there’s the internet, and there are plenty of supports and advice online.

If I could only give you one piece of advice? It would be to care for yourself. Being in the closet is scary. So is coming out and being out. Both of these are things you can do from a place of harming yourself or a place of caring for yourself. Ask yourself- is being in the closet stifling who I am as a human? Is it keeping me from flourishing and feeling connected to others? But also ask yourself- Would coming out be safe for me? How can I protect myself through that process?

If you do decide to come out, think carefully about who to talk to first. That first coming out? It’s going to be the most vulnerable moment of all. If things go well, then for every moment after that you’ll have at least one person who’s on your side and who’s got your back. Do you know someone who you think is supportive of LGBTQ people? Better still, is there anyone you know who is already out? Are any of these people who you think could be trusted, both to keep your confidence as long as you need it, and to be kind to you through the process?

It’s okay if you find people online first. It’s okay to take your time. It’s okay to come out to only some people, to one or two, or to everyone. Remember: care for yourself.

do you put cumin on vegetables

I sure do! One of my favourite comfort foods is potato wedges made by chopping up some spuds (skin ‘n’ all, natch) and then roasting them with loads of cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. Then I nom them up with BBQ sauce mixed with mayo. Yum!

lesbians in my soup

Oh dear. Are they burnt? You probably want to take them out and cool them down. Maybe a nice cold shower? Unless they’re in gazpacho, in which case a nice hot bath would be in order.

Also, how did they get there?

Credit: thewrongbathroom.wordpress.com

why dont gay men date lesbians

Why don’t gay men date lesbians. Why don’t gay men date lesbians? Why don’t gay men date lesbians?

 

p.s. Yes some gay men are dating lesbians I am sure because sexuality isn’t always black and white and people find love in all sorts of unexpected places and I hope that they are all very happy indeed.

But still.

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