Boundaries, thresholds and love: why it’s time to take back ‘bi’


Queer, while wonderful, is an umbrella term and a way of creating cultures in opposition to heteronormativity. It’s not a specific orientation or set of imposed experiences. Queer is a word we choose, and that’s gorgeous. But we need something more. And pan, while wonderful, both makes the assumption of attraction to all genders (as opposed to the myriad ways in which non-monosexual people experience attractions), and focuses solely on our individual internal experiences. It’s about attraction- and that is marvellous- but it has nothing to say about how those attractions play out in a heterocentric, monocentric society.

Bi is important because we need a word (or set of words- biromantic is as important as bisexual) that both locates us as nonmonosexual and acknowledges the implications that has for our lives. A word that is specific to who we are within the umbrella groups where we locate ourselves, that acknowledges our nonmonosexuality, and that doesn’t gloss over the fact that this means that we will spend our lives straddling and navigating multiple binaries that refuse to have spaces created between or outside of them.

A word that acknowledges that we constantly, in a myriad of ways both personal and relational, are forced to occupy positions at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold. I don’t know any other word that does that.

And it is only if we can name our experiences, call them out and show them for what they are, that we have a hope in hell of doing anything about them.

For the rest- well, you know the drill. You’ll just have to move on over to CTTC’s new home over at FreethoughtBlogs, won’t ya?

(G’wan, it’s really nice over there. I promise!)

Direct Provision: Sex Work Is Not The Problem


Let’s start at the beginning: nothing shocking has happened here.

 

I’m going to say that again. Even gonna throw in some italics for emphasis. Nothing shocking has happened here. Survival sex work is a thing that economically marginalised people do all the time. It is not exceptional. It is ordinary. It would be shocking if asylum seekers hadn’t been engaging in sex work to get by.

 

Think that doesn’t make sense? Let’s look at it from a practical perspective, shall we? People will almost always do what they can to create liveable circumstances for themselves. They’ll do what they can to get by. For most of us, that means doing things like getting an education, getting a job. If we can, we get a job that satisfies more than just our need for money to survive- but most of us have taken on crappy work to keep a roof over our head when we had to. Again, for most people most of the time, the work we do is above-board. If you can’t get a full-time job, though, you’ll get by as best you can. You’ll take on nixers here and there and see if you can make it add up. Sometimes above-board, sometimes under the table.

 

Now, put yourself in a situation where above-board work is explicitly forbidden.

The rest is, of course, over at the Tea Cosy’s new Freethought Blogs home. If you haven’t updated your bookmarks/follows/RSS/however else you keep track yet, then please do! For one thing, I won’t always be crossposting from here. And for another, I don’t crosspost everything, you know…

Women Excel At Sport, Journalists Talk About Manicures


Ireland’s women’s rugby team are, as I type, having a phenomenal World Cup. A hard-fought win against New Zealand- who’ve won every World Cup since 1998- followed by a decisive 40-5 victory against Kazakhstan has us through to the semi-final this Wednesday evening. And- just like you USians with women’s soccer football this year- Ireland’s finally waking up to the fact that we have a world-class team that we should be paying attention to. In the middle of all of this, the Sunday Independent- one of Ireland’s major broadsheets- published an article today on the growing popularity of rugby among Irish women. The title? “Niamh Horan on women in rugby: ‘I never play a game without my tan‘”. Yep. It starts with this:

….aaand, if you want to find out the rest, you’ll have to follow me over to the Tea Cosy’s new home in FreethoughtBlogs.

But you already knew that, right? Right?

When My Nan Died: Religion, Closets and Love.


There were so many things my nan never knew about me. I couldn’t tell her. She wouldn’t have understood. She would have worried about me endlessly. My meaning and her understandings would have been too different. So I never told her that I was queer, or that I didn’t believe in the religion that she built her life around. My meanings- that here is how my heart is made, that here is where my love of understanding and truth took me- would not have been what she heard. That disconnect, and how much I know it would have hurt her to hear those things, kept me from ever sharing them with her. I couldn’t inflict that worry on someone I love so much. That tears me inside.

The rest is- of course- over at our new FreethoughtBlogs home.

EXCITING NEWS: In Which The Tea Cosy Moves House


We’re moving house!

After FOUR WHOLE YEARS here at wordpress.com, the Tea Cosy just got some shmancy new digs over at Freethought Blogs. I’ll be copying links over to here for a few weeks, but not for forever, so get those bookmarks updated!

See ya on the other side :D

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.