Poem: Celestial Navigation

When in moments, or in minutes, or in hours

When the safe shore of day, that you are home

Seems still so very far away;

When the waiting ache laps against my soul, and seeks

to trouble me with tears forever more

my poets soul reaches for thee;

That by some magic of poor words we might feel,

Closer to that day when we reach

That safe and happy shore.

 

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Against “Choice Feminism”: four new suggested topics

An excellent analysis of the critiques of choice feminism: is it the choices which are the problem, or the ideology judging those choices?

A Glasgow Sex Worker

Feminism is not about an individual’s choices, and not all choices are feminist just because a woman makes them. Furthermore, “choices” don’t happen in a vacuum: they are shaped by the world around us. Many widely-shared articles on feminism make these points, and yet they typically seem strangely limited in terms of which “choices” are up for discussion. The choices discussed are generally “what amount of makeup to wear, whether to go ‘natural’ or buy mascara that makes your eyelashes look like false eyelashes … whether or not to make a first move with a man”, or choices as regards to “the sex industry, … marriage and makeup” – or (yes, this again) the ‘choice to participate in the sex industry’, or to wear makeup. You get the idea! It seems that some issues – makeup, sex work – come up repeatedly in these…

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To Hear is to Acknowledge, To Listen is to Love

I remember very clearly the day my sister – my Pineapple Head  – admit to me that she knew she was an addict. It had been at least 10 years since I had known and realised that the morphine she had been prescribed had gone beyond it’s remit to relieve pain and had become an all consuming obsession; 10 years of walking that razor sharp line between hopefully-not-enabling and wanting-to-take-all-the-pain-away. I remember that I hugged her, and told that it was brave of her to recognise it and say it aloud.

And then she looked at me, her eyes filling up with anger, and a kind of shocking, gaping grief. She told me that she had tried to tell our Mum, and it had gone badly. “How can I tell anything else now?”

I really didn’t know what to say, because I knew what she meant by ‘anything else.’ Her secret identity , which she would never admit to anyone else. Pineapple Head longed to be listened to. She ached for it, she desired it almost as much as she desired the drugs – and she could talk the hind legs off a donkey. But though she could talk endlessly, she would avoid saying what she longed to say, because she was terrified that ‘it’ would happen again.

For Pineapple Head, the experience of others hearing her and then shutting down and turning against her, or re-writing what she had said, or ignoring what had been said was a far too common experience. Mostly she wasn’t heard. And if she was heard, she rarely experienced anyone truly listening. People spoke about her – or at least, the person they needed to construct in their minds in order to ‘cope’ with her. Each time it happened, I watched a little bit more of my sister become erased, a little bit more of who she was subsumed into other peoples expectations, another piece of her exchanged for someone else’s idea of who they thought she ought to be. And fear became a more constant, clingy and needful companion.

All through that, and in the years that followed I learnt this – it is not enough to be heard; and I began to understand something else – it is damaging to speak about that of which you know nothing and choose to know less.

A little while ago I was at a 3 day assessment thing (kind of an extended interview for vocational training with the Church Army) with several other people, and one of them particularly made an impression on me, because of the way he listened.  It was active listening in a way that was physical as much as it was spiritual and emotional – he seemed to listen with his whole body. It was remarkable. It wasn’t creepy at all, in fact he was incredibly respectful – it was just that when you spoke to him, he beheld you with his ears as much as with his mind.

It did not surprise me to learn that he was a highly respected pastoral worker in his community and a very effective evangelist: he did not just acknowledge people, acknowledge where they were in their lives – he genuinely respected people enough to listen to them, to their stories. It was a powerful demonstration of beholding through listening, and of his Christian faith.

The importance, the power, the respect and the love carried in the act of listening was evidenced on my twitter time line again today. Mid way through the afternoon Dianna Anderson – who blogs over at Faith and Feminism – tweeted out a ‘donotlink’ to an article in Christianity Today (CT):

 

@dianneanderson: So did CT/Ms. Becker here actually speak to any trans* people in researching this article or…?

Twitter Death Threats are Tasteful and Decent

Okay, so this is shit. I mean seriously – what the hell? How come some women like Caroline Criado-Perez actually have the people who threaten them taken to court but Sam Ambreen gets nothing? Of course this is about race. Solidarity x

Left at the Lights

Kill all men. 3 words that erased all the times I was raped, sexually assaulted and beaten by men. These 3 words justify the death threats against me. In saying these words, I have confirmed that I am just as bad as the entitled men and any report I make of abusive behaviour against me is invalid.

I have just finished speaking to the police who called to update me with regards numerous threats to kill and the reams of racist abuse I have been subjected to on Twitter. They advised that Twitter, being based in California refuse to provide British law enforcement officers with any information even in cases where there are threats to kill because their laws around taste and decency differ from ours. Apparently they only concede for serious crimes like murder (not threats to murder).

I want to know how the Metropolitan police were able to investigate…

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Writing the Body: Stories of sex and gender

Really, very good stuff..

Spider Circus (and other stories)

Content warning: Cissexism and bioessentialism

 

Former Reading:

Once again, there are plenty of people who’ve written about this before me, from their own lived experience or from another position of greater knowledge. Please check their work out and don’t just take my word for things!

The Biggest Gamete as Troll-Bait

Bilaterally Gyandromorphic Chickens, and Why I’m Not “Scientifically” Male

13 Myths and Misconceptions about Trans Women: Part One

13 Myths and Misconceptions about Trans Women: Part Two

Un-gendering Sex: A feminist project?

Biological Essentialism: Can We Not?

Biology is not destiny. When I was first becoming interested in feminism, this was one of the truths that seemed to be self-evident. No-one – man, woman, or any other gender – should be socially limited, or classified, by what their body could or couldn’t do, by how their physical form was constructed.

I still hold to this. I thought all feminists…

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