Gender Recognition, Feminism, Intolerance, and Food Poverty. Linkspam!


A few things I think everyone should be reading today:

Why society still needs feminism

Just in case you were wondering:

Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night.

..Because a girl was roofied last semester at a local campus bar, and I heard someone say they think she should have been more careful. Being drugged is her fault, not the fault of the person who put drugs in her drink?

..Because out of 7 billion people on the planet, more than 1 billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. Women and girls have their clitorises cut out, acid thrown on them and broken bottles shoved up them as an act of war. Every second of every day. Every corner of the Earth.

And also, yeah, nobody burns their bras. Not on purpose, anyhow.

Poor little rich girl… Without the rich bit.

If you’re not reading Jack Monroe, you should be. I came for the cheap&tasty recipes, and stayed for the social commentary. And the recipes.

There’s a queer sort of juxtaposition that comes with Being Ms Jack Monroe at the moment.

I spent this afternoon emailing Councillors and other people regarding the recent decision to suspend my Housing Benefit claim based on the (incorrect) assumption that I am sitting on a £25k cheque from my publisher (I’m not) and am sitting on a pile of cheques from newspaper interview and TV appearances (I’m not).

But I was doing that, on the 1414 train from Southend Central to Fenchurch Street, as I’d just been invited to a fundraising dinner by a friend with a spare ticket, via the Soho Food Feast in Soho Square.

But it’s a queer kind of juxtaposition, when you have a beautiful dress to wear to dinner tonight, but on quick inspection of the shoe collection, decide that the soft chiffon dipped hem just won’t go with the shoes you were issued in the Fire Service, your brogues, or your one pair of trainers, so you hang it back in the wardrobe and decide you can’t justify buying a pair of shoes. Not even in the sale at Primark.

Transgender people seek State recognition to escape gender ‘limbo’

Orla Tinsley (who is excellent, by the way, and you should go follow her on Twitter immediately) has managed to do the impossible: write an article about trans* issues in a major national publication that isn’t going to get you a line, never mind a full house, on a trans* discussion bingo card.

Nineteen-year-old student Tyron (he wants to be identified only by his first name) says it is easier to be young and transgender today but the lack of legislation does enable discrimination. “It’s easier than it was and it’s becoming a more known term,” says theNUI Maynooth student, who is currently looking for a job to pay his way through college.

“In interviews I only bring up my gender identity if they want to contact a previous employer,” he says. “Of the last three job interviews, only one was willing to hire a transgender person. The other two said it was not suitable for their working environment.”

It is also extremely important that you click that link in order to admire the extremely stylish tie which Ben borrowed off me for the photo. Yeah, I know, it’s a serious topic. But that’s my tie in the Irish Times!

Is intolerance prevalent in Ireland?

Aileen Donegan- another person with an excellent blog and twitter to follow- in TheJournal. Bet you guess the answer before you click. This, by the way, is a brilliant example of why we need to Shut Up And Listen when we’re privileged. Because otherwise we just don’t see whats going on.

As recently as April I asked a friend ‘Is racism big in Ireland?’ We were attending the same training course on hate speech. I guess my innocent question caught him off guard: ’Yes Aileen, racism is a hugeproblem in Ireland,’ he said with a tone of awe and surprise that offended me. Though Ireland, my home, has never seemed intolerant to me, the last week in news has given me some much-needed insight into Irish attitudes.

…The ECRI quote a disturbing statistic from the All-Ireland Traveller Health Study, which states that 7.6 per cent of Traveller families have no access to running water. Resistance from local residents, and the “lack of political will” of local authorities are cited as reasons why Traveller accommodation is difficult to attain in Irish society. This is hardly surprising. Remember when local residents set fire to a house that Travellers were set to live in?

(By the way? Don’t Read The Comments.)

Disabled man refused entry to nightclub after Scottish Charity Awards

Didja hear the one about the guy who had the police called on him for the crime of trying to get into a nightclub while disabled?

Actor Robert Softley Gale, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, attempted to enter the Polo Lounge in Glasgow with his husband Nathan Gale after attending the Scottish Charity Awards with the Equality Network.

They claim that the bouncers informed them that they could not enter because the nightclub didn’t have disabled facilities.

Despite the couple explaining that they wanted to enter the popular gay nightclub anyway, they say staff continued to refuse to allow them to enter.

“The manager came and said that they didn’t have disabled facilities so they weren’t letting us in,” Nathan told TFN. “We said, you can’t not let us in just because we’re disabled, that’s a violation of the Equality Act, but he still wouldn’t let us in.”

Charming. Oh, and Robert Softley Gale is yet another person to follow on Twitter. You guys, it’s all about the Twitter today. And speaking of disability and ableism, have something from Captain Awkward:

#487: I use a wheelchair, and people are condescending as fuck.

Dear Captain Awkward:

I’m woman in my late 30s who uses a power wheelchair due to a medical condition that causes severe physical fatigue.

Often, strangers – retail staff, waitstaff, members of the general public – assume that because I use a power wheelchair, I have an intellectual disability. I don’t. I have a university degree and I read widely.

How should I respond to people:

– talking loudly to me;
– talking to me in a sing-song voice;
– being condescending/patronizing;
– calling me love/sweetie;
– telling me that I remind them of their 12 year old daughter with Down syndrome;
– praising me for putting rubbish in a rubbish bin as though I’ve won a gold medal at the Olympics;
– telling me that you eat cupcakes?

Signed,

Smart Crip Girl

You know that you want to hear what the Captain has to say.

A Racist B&B?

Speaking of intolerance, Tara Flynn’s husband got an unpleasant reminder that Ireland isn’t above blatant racism lately. Here’s what happened then:

On a recent trip home, I got a reminder that Ireland Of The Welcomes can be conditional.  By now very familiar with Kinsale, my husband offered to take the dog out for his last walk of the night. I sat chatting with my mum. 20 minutes later, my husband returned. He looked angry. “Well,” he said, “I haven’t been called those names in a while.” A group of young people standing outside a bar in the centre of town had shouted racist epithets at him. Some of those epithets have made it into my clip but we’ve decided to cover them with sound effects. They’re just too vile. They are shocking in the abstract and absolutely horrifying when applied to someone I love. In my hometown. In 2013.

My husband is a tolerant person. He just stared the namecallers down and they – like most cowards – shut up when faced with this silent challenge. He tried to laugh it off in the re-telling, saying it wasn’t his first time and that he’d heard worse. But that’s not the point.  I was mortified. Stunned. Fuming.

So I wrote a sketch about it.

 

One more thing

That’s all the links I’ve got for ya, but one more little thinglet before I go. Nominations have just opened for 2013’s Irish Blog Awards! Now, I’m not saying that you should immediately go and nominate me- I’m far too Irish for that sort of carry-on. Although I’ll admit that I do like getting the chance to dress up fancy and eat free canapes and photobomb legit fancy people. But shure have a think about who your favourite Irish bloggers are- I’m lookin’ at you, Geoff’s Shorts– and give a nomination to the people who deserve a bit of recognition. Remember: attention is to bloggers what money is to everyone else.

Poverty. Happiness. Nice things. A side of transphobia (of course).


TW for transphobia, classism

A few days ago, a good friend of mine sent out an Amazon wishlist to her online friends and followers. She’s a little bit broke after moving house, and although she can afford the basics of food and rent there’s a few things she wanted that would help her to get through the winter. So she figured she’d ask if anyone could help her out. And was really, really clear that she wasn’t about to make a big deal of things or guilt anyone:

Let me level with you: I’m not in a situation of extreme need, hence why I’m not asking for donations. There’s people out there that need the money way more than I do, and I’m not going to freeze or starve this winter. But truth is, aside from food/bill/rent money, I’m kinda hella broke. My benefits haven’t come through, and I need some stuff for winter. If you feel generous enough to get me something from this Amazon wish list, I’ll be very grateful. And if you could reblog this, that’d be fantastic. Thanks!

The list had things on it like bedding, an electric blanket, a desk to work on. There might have been a thermos in there too. The kind of things that, although not absolutely essential, can make a major difference between just barely getting by and feeling at home. I gather, by the way, that people chipped in for her and she’s going to have a lovely cosy winter with the internet’s housewarming presents. Which is wonderful, ’cause she’s moved Way Up North and it’s chilly up there.

And then she got this anonymous response. By the way, I think that at this stage she’d gotten everything she needed, and this person was looking at some other, more whimsical wishlists she had lying about:

Anonymous asked: so you have money for everything you need except LUXURY items like books and you think its alright as a grown person to ask people on the net to buy you non-necessities? what a spoilt privileged person you must be to think that’s ok. probably because you spent the majority of your life as a man.

So my friend had her response to this. Which seems to me to be about right, and I’m impressed that she only told Anon to fuck off once. Admirable restraint, that. I have a few things that I’d like to unpack in more detail, though.

A portal icon for Portal:Transgender, based on...

The Gender Thing

what a spoilt privileged person you must be to think that’s ok. probably because you spent the majority of your life as a man.

It seems that this person is under the impression that there is no difference between trans women and cis men, or between privilege and passing privilege. I’m going to assume that my readers have at least a basic knowledge of Trans 101- if you don’t, then check out this and then read the hell out of this. The difference between privilege and passing privilege, though, I’ll take a shot at explaining myself with a slightly different analogy.

Let’s say that you have two people- let’s call them Alex and Sam. Alex is straight, and Sam is queer and closeted. Sam isn’t even out to themselves. They live in a pretty homophobic place. Both of them get assumed to be straight. Even though Sam isn’t out in the slightest, the privilege Sam gets is conditional. It’s based on something that is assumed that isn’t actually true. In addition, even if Sam isn’t even out to themselves, they’ll likely on some level be internalising their community’s homophobia in a different and more damaging way than Alex does. For Alex, homophobia is something that happens to other people. For Sam, there’s probably something just a bit discomforting about the whole thing. Something isn’t quite right.

It’s easy to accept this when we talk about queerness and straightness. Being a closeted queer is something that people understand- it’s something that’s gotten into the popular dialogue. We haven’t really caught on to the similar narratives about gender, though. Probably because transness is expected to be a thing that someone Always Knows. Trans people don’t get the same social pass that queers do to actually be uncertain and questioning, and yet affected by transphobia. So where you wouldn’t generally say that a queer person “lived as straight” until they came out, this charming person seems to think it’s okay to make a similar accusation to a trans person.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that going around referring to trans women as having been men for most of their lives is Seriously Fucked Up. Oh, and it’s also a silencing tactic that transphobes have been using against trans women for decades. If a trans woman actually speaks up for herself, takes up space or defends herself, you see, she gets accused of being aggressive and masculine. It’s the oldest- and one of the meaner- tricks in the book.

Sunday morning pleasures

Sunday morning pleasures (Photo credit: The hills are alive)

The Poor People Can’t Have Nice Things Thing

Y’know what’s another mean one? Poor People Can’t Have Nice Things, Ever. People who aren’t financially well-off, you see, are expected to only spend our money on wholesome and socially-approved things. Cheap yet healthy food, for example. Preferably the kind that takes lots of time to prepare in rustic sorts of ways. Tons of misshapen veggies and a load of beans to make into vats of soup is fine. Spending the same money on a giant stack of cheapass pizzas that’ll take a tenth the work to cook and provide more calories? Not fine. Poor people don’t get to relax. When poor people relax, we call that laziness, even if they’ve been out working all day. And poor people are supposed to spend any leftover money on important, long-term goals. Saving what little money you have left is great. Buying something fun? That makes you a Scrounger, and probably someone who Doesn’t Deserve Better. You can’t be a Scrounger. You definitely don’t want to be both Lazy and a Scrounger. Then you’re nothing more than the scum of the earth.

If someone who’s poor- or even just broke- dares to ask for nice things? Well, they must be an Entitled Lazy Scrounger. The worst kind, really. Poor people, you see, don’t get to have hobbies or to relax or spend any of their time doing anything but working their asses off to become respectable middle-class people with nice big incomes. Once you become one of those, you’re allowed to eat pizza and play video games and read books all you like.

Of course! Respectably-off middle class people are expected to have fun. Not poor people. Not broke people.

Poor people are supposed to shut up and start spending their lives sacrificing so that they (or maybe their children) can be respectable middle-class people. Trans people are expected to just shut up, period. And if you dare to- politely, casually, without pressuring anyone- ask for things, you’d better believe that they’ll use who you are against you. After all, if they won’t dig in where it hurts, how else are they supposed to keep you (we/us) quiet?

A spectacularly middle-class kind of broke.


“Some people are money-poor and time-rich. Some people are time-poor and money-rich. Some are rich in both. Some are poor in both” – The Statistician, in the pub, the other day.

I am broke. Broooooke. Super-trendy-recessionista-broke. Paying the bills for the next couple of months is gonna be tight. I am forced to learn to budget with an iron fist, and I don’t like it one bit.

At the same time, my quality of life has gone through the roof.

I may be broke, you see, but I’m simultaneously privileged up the wazoo in so many little ways that make this possible.

Let’s start with time. I have a job four days a week. This, once I start getting paid for it, will give me just about enough money to pay the bills and have nice things every so often as long as I’m careful. I also have a bicycle. I can get to and from work for free and in a reasonable amount of time. I have three days off every week.

I live in a city where I have easy access on that bike to fresh, tasty produce. As long as I keep it seasonal, it’s also incredibly cheap. I have tupperware and a (small) freezer. I have access to the internet, and I’ve had access to this kind of fresh food all my life, so I know how to make it delicious. I can spend a tiny amount of money and eat very, very well.

I used to have more money than I do now, so I have things. I have my laptop. I have a couple of nice cameras. I have a giant pile of yarn, an e-reader, a ukulele. I have stuff. It may not be incredibly new stuff, but it’s the kind of stuff that I can have fun with.

My job may not be in my field, but I was able to get it. I was probably able to get it so easily because I was able to go to college, and because I look and act like the middle-class arts grad I am.

If push came to shove and I wasn’t able to pay my rent, I have a stack of family and friends who have enough resources that I know I could call on them to help me out if I needed. I know that I could get that help from somewhere, if I needed it. I have no need to fear being homeless or destitute. I sleep well.

Being broke sucks. However I’ve gotta say that this spectacularly middle-class, urban kind of broke-ness? This kind of broke-ness that means I’ve gotta be careful with money and I only have an old Xbox to play video games on? As broke-ness goes, it’s pretty fuckin’ sweet.