Valerie Solanas had a point

Arrghh where to start?

The #everydaysexism and #metoo hashtags have stirred up a lot of activity – mostly good that women are able to tell the world about their experiences, but some of the defensive, even aggressive, replies are hard to see/read.

My recent experiences in taxis have made me think and try to order my thoughts.

  1. T’other night I was cold and tired and there wasn’t a bus due for ages so I thought I’d take a black and white regulated minicab (not been in a taxi since last Xmas Day- see 2 below). The driver asked me what I did for a living, and I told him I’m a homeopath, partly because homeopathy is used widely in southern Asia so I thought we might have an interesting conversation, as my guess from his speech is that’s where he was from. He started looking at me in the mirror and asked ‘as I’m a professional’ could he talk about his ‘friend’s sexual problem’. I said no but he told me that his single middle aged ‘friend’ had seen a doctor etc. I didn’t say anything further and he eventually shut up. I was relieved but uneasy and didn’t go to my own front door until he’d driven away. The more I think about this the more pissed off I am. I felt unable to tell him he was out of order, as I was trapped in his car. I do not believe he was talking about a friend, he was trying to use me for some sort of sexual gratification and/or power play, but nothing was explicit.
  2. The last taxi I took before that was last xmas night when I was put into a taxi by a friend (admittedly I was drunk) then found on the street several hours later covered in blood, with broken ribs and head injuries. I have no idea what happened but it made me feel that taxis aren’t a safe space. Amber taxis wouldn’t speak to me about it ‘due to data protection’.
  3. The one before that was very friendly but kept trying to get a date with me because my pink hair made him think I’m ‘wild’.

So for me taxis are NOT safe, I’d rather take my chances on the streets. I used to chat to drivers, but these days am anxious that that will be misconstrued. What is to be done? Some people I have told about this (mainly men) can’t seem to understand that it’s not easy just to say I’m not interested. Us women have had years of feeling harassed, intimidated and standing up to someone when you’re trapped in their car is just not always possible.

This is only a tiny tiny part of the daily abuses of power in our patriarchal system. In my view it’s making most people ill, even those ‘privileged’ to be at the top of the heap. They’re obsessed with amassing money and power at the detriment of any feelings of humanity or fulfilling relationships, as far as I can see. Imagine being married to one! I can only guess at they’re approach to sex, and it’s not pretty.

I am sick of it, but have no idea what to do about it all. Day to day I try to speak up for myself, I don’t give way to men, physically or mentally, who assume I will. I take up reasonable space on buses and trains, even if I have to touch the adjacent manspreader. All this takes energy and courage.

220px-SCUM_Manifesto_cover

If anyone wants to read Valerie’s SCUM manifesto I’ll happily send you a pdf. It may seem extreme but there’s some excellent points in there. Try to put aside your defensiveness and give the ideas a chance to permeate your consciousness. Obviously I don’t agree with the solutions offered (quite) but we need to look at our society with new eyes.

For example, we’re supposed to feel complimented by a stranger wanting to wank in our bodies just because we look attractive or available to them. Fine if two humans want to have sex for the physical enjoyment, but if you want it as part of a loving relationship then you need to know and like each other first. I can’t decide if sex dolls and their upgrades to sexbots will fulfill a need and thus take the pressure off (mostly) women, or if it will just encourage the objectification of women as things to put penises in. Ugh.

Anyway, enough moaning for now. We need kindness, love and generosity I reckon. I shall try to practise what I preach.

 

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Abortion

Well, one mention of the word and reasoned argument seems to go straight out of the window, with taboos and buttons being pressed right, left and centre.

I have a few thoughts about it floating around:

  •  Reasons you might want an abortion: mother’s health, baby’s health, rape, unexpected pregnancy, money worries, you just don’t want a child.
  • Reasons not to- it’s a major operation with associated risks, including potential to affect future fertility; depression and guilt afterwards; ethical issues; religion- rules always open to interpretation.
  • Ultimately it’s a woman’s right what she does to her own body. As it is any human’s, with a few grey areas involving ‘of sound mind’.
  • There’s a lot of unwanted and neglected children around already- why bring more into the world? I often wonder why the militant anti-abortionists aren’t spending their time and money looking after these kids, instead of leaving them in childrens’ homes, on the streets or being passed between foster homes. It seems their ‘caring’ stops as soon as the baby is born. This seems weird to me. Surely a long life full of misery is worse than one stopped short before it’s even happened.
  • Why is it predominantly men who get so angry about this? Is it because they’re not really involved in pregnancy and childbirth, and so want to get in on the act? Or that women are their possessions? Or what?
  • The time limits seem to be arbitrary- about trying to take control more than anything. Until the baby is born, it’s a part of it’s mother’s body. That seems simple to me.
  • Killing people for ‘the right to life’. Come on, get a grip.
  • ‘Look at me I’m more ethical than you. I’m going to heaven and you’re not’. I can’t see Jesus behaving like that.
  • What about rapes, dangerous pregnancies etc? Do they really want to force women to have babies they actively don’t want, may actually hate, or could kill them? (unfortunately yes).
  • ‘Defective’ foetuses- I’m not even going there. But I’d rather leave decisions to the mother than anyone else.

There’s loads of articles about, I just wanted to get my thoughts in some sort of order. Basically I have no right to tell another woman what to do with her body. And neither have you.

Intersting article here about anti-choice women supporting Akin.

FATshion

Seeing as I’ve just attended a fat blogger fashion event I shall attempt once in my life to write about fashion.

Erm….

Apparently my eyebrows are fashionable at the moment, as they are thick and dark, which was a surprise to me. I’ve never been good at personal grooming, especially if it hurts. I had an online spat with someone recently cos I was speculating where the line is between men who insist that women shave off every hair, and paedophiles. Spose I’m just showing my age.

ImageIt really is true that if you wait long enough you’ll be ‘on trend’ every now and then- socks n sandals were even in briefly a while ago- though only for men, and only brave ones at that. I regularly wear them for several sensible reasons and I couldn’t give a shit what anyone else thinks:

1. Sandals get sweaty and smelly, but not if you wear socks with them (and change them).

2. Leeds weather is often a bit warm, a bit cold: socks and sandals = perfect.

3. If you’ve got nice stripey socks you can show more of them off in sandals than shoes.

4. I’m contrary- the more you scoff the more I’ll wear ‘em.

I sat in City Square t’other day and literally couldn’t believe what women wear on their feet these days. Instruments of torture which will probably cause longterm back problems, shorten their leg tendons and make their feet look like blistered talons. Not to mention risking sprained ankles while they’re tottering around. Why do they do it? Really, WHY?

I do like clothes, especially if they’re bright and comfy. ImageBut I missed out on fashion as I spent my formative years being a hippy/crusty going to free festivals and having a great time. This was probably my best haircut ever.

Note the homemade stripey jumper. Wonder where that went.

Anyway, the Plus North event was lovely, lots of young gorgeous big birds strutting their stuff- if you are interested in fatshion, take a look at the fb page. There’s lots of links to proper fashion blogs, I don’t think I have the knack.

I shall return to writing about topics I vaguely know sommat about. Quantum physics anyone?

It’s never too late to learn…

I can’t remember if I read ‘the Dice Man’ or ‘Prometheus Rising’ first, but I know it was in my early 20s and they changed my life (cliché alert). The Dice Man feels very dated now, but I’ve been rereading Prometheus and other Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) books throughout the last 20 years. Basically, they’re about changing ourselves; we’re not stuck with our ‘personalities’. It takes work and an open mind, but surely we’re worth it?

I’ve got so taken with ‘Quantum Psychology’ this time that I’ve found a couple of people to do the exercises with, so I thought I’d try and explain what is so important to me about RAW’s ideas.

You can find loads of biographies about him in cyberspace. Briefly, he was an amazingly wellread, multi-disciplinary thinker. Being brought up catholic, and being treated for childhood polio by a method not recognised by the American Medical Association may have made him question religion, authority and dogma. Amongst other things he studied maths and engineering, co-edited Playboy and wrote 35 books which are very hard to classify: philosophy, heresy, self-help, conspiracy theory etc. etc. The most famous is the ‘Illuminatus Trilogy’, which I didn’t really like- seemed to be written for spotty teenagers to me.

But I’ve loved all the other books. Each to their own.

Another basic idea is that nothing is definitely true– however likely it may seem, remember it’s only a theory. He lost me when he got on to living forever, but that might be because I was brainwashed by ‘Dancers at the End of Time’ (Michael Moorcock) into thinking that it would all get pretty boring. It would certainly change society and politics if we knew that if we fuck up the planet we’ll have to live with the consequences. Forever. Mind you, humans are pretty stupid.

RAW loves to use different methods to get his point across, hence slightly different books aimed at teenagers, geeks, spods, conspiracy theorists etc. And he loves to have a laugh. But he’s also deadly serious- THINK! Don’t accept anything as ‘the truth’. And don’t just read his books, do the exercises. Experimentation is the best way to learn.

An example of an exercise:

Read a rightwing newspaper every day for a week. Try to believe everything you read. Then try it with a leftwing one, and then a (so-called) middling one. Think about how they all made you feel.

If you don’t actually do it, you’ll never really know will you? We all have beliefs, but it’s good to challenge them.

I suppose I should read Illuminatus again and make every effort to love it.

I can’t do him any justice, just read the books. I’d start with Prometheus Rising, or if you’re a bit more open minded: The Cosmic Trigger.

Go on, you might learn something.

Anarchy in the UK?

ImageYeh, obvious photo I know. But I’m very fond of him.

Since a recent police briefing asked the general public to report anarchists to their local police I have been musing on anarchy, I didn’t even know what it meant. (Scotland Yard released an apology saying the intent was to gather information on “criminal acts”. So they define anarchists as criminals. Hmm.)

I asked on fb for people’s thoughts and realised there’s many different definitions, not to mention rules people apply to ‘anarchy’! Humans seem to love laws and categories- I can’t imagine life without them. But they should be to make our lives better, not to keep us as good little consumer cogs in the big marketing wheel.

Wikipedia says most individuals that self-identify as anarchists think it implies a system of governance that tries to avoid the use of coercion, violence, force and authority, while still producing a productive and desirable society. Sounds sensible, but power does seem to corrupt, so we have to find ways around that. I’ve always liked the idea (stolen from Kurt Vonnegut) that government should be by lottery – maybe for a couple of years each. Hopefully not long enough for any group to bond then make rules which favour themselves. I think schools would need to teach citizenship and co-operation to prepare everyone to possibly be in government.

Other people think anarchy means absolutely no authority or rules whatsoever. Nice idea, but I don’t want to be around if that suddenly happens. The trouble is we’re basically bald chimps and if the whole system of authority disappeared tomorrow I worry that it would descend into fullscale looting, killing and general mayhem pretty damn quickly. Not least because water supplies in cities could dry up within hours. A burst water main last year really made me think….

Spacehijackers call themselves ‘anarchitects’- opposing the hierarchy put upon us by architects, planners and owners of space. They’re ‘dedicated to battling the constant oppressive encroachment onto public spaces of institutions, corporations and urban planners. We oppose the way that public space is being eroded and replaced by corporate profit making space. We oppose the way that users of space are being put under increasing scrutiny and control by those who own or run it. Be this via CCTV installed to monitor us, or architectural elements designed to control our moods.’ Big Brother is alive and well and watching us.

I don’t think humans are inherently unable to live together without authority, but many people are programmed these days to be selfish, aggressive and fearful- not a great combination. And it seems to me that most people in power are interested in keeping power and amassing resources for themselves whatever the cost to everyone else. Blimey, think I might be an anarchist (or the antichrist, who can say?), as long as there’s several years of education and conditioning first.

Here’s a handy quiz from spacehijackers to help you decide if you’re an anarchist and what kind.

3 strikes and you’re out

I like to think I’m a relatively caring human being, ready to listen to and support my friends when they need it, but there are times when I’ve decided to draw the line.

Once, I’ll give you all the help I can, twice I’ll wonder why it’s happened again. Thrice and that’s it, find some other mug.

1. Burton/Taylor syndrome.

I can’t imagine why you’d keep going back to the partner who supposedly made your life a misery: maybe you like the drama, or you really believe that ‘this time it’s gonna be different’. Well it isn’t. Unless you’ve had serious therapy, or one of you has had a personality transplant, it’s going to be just the same. By all means keep going back, but don’t expect any more sympathy, the rest of the world is bored of you.

Have a look at baggagereclaim.com and see if you can sort yourself out.

2. ‘Giving up’ smoking/drinking/drugs or going on about losing weight.

Yes good on you for trying, but after a while the excuses wear thin. Just stop doing it or carry on and shut up. We’re BORED of hearing about it.

3. Standing me up.

I don’t know how many hours of my life I’ve spent waiting for friends who are late. Or being cancelled at the last minute. It’s bloody annoying and makes me feel like I’m not important to you. Of course unavoidable things happen sometimes, but if I make an arrangement I try to stick to it. If you’re hedging your bets then say ‘maybe’ and I can look for something better too.

To add insult to injury, I was once 5 minutes late to meet my habitual offender of a friend, who didn’t bother to wait for me. That’s when I realised I should stop putting up with it. I have better things to do.

4. Borrowing things.

I have been kind enough to lend you something. You found the time to pick it up and now strangely you’re too busy to bring it back. Please don’t make me ask you several times- it’s very rude and I’ll probably say no next time. Or worse still make me come and get it. I wouldn’t treat you like that, so why should I let you do it to me?

5. I could do one about suicide threats, but would probably get lynched. Seriously, go and get some help.

It’s so easy these days for people to say on facebook etc. how much they love each other, but I think actions speak louder than words. And treating people as you would like to be treated is a very good start.

Or mebbe how they would like to be treated.

Malthus in Action?

Our young people seem to be losing their road sense. It’s not just schoolkids walking in front of moving cars to look ‘sick’ or whatever they say now, but students are at it too. They step out in the road without looking or deliberately look away from your car as if not seeing you will stop them being run over. I think this might be Gaia in action- trying to remove a large section of idiots to give the rest of us a bit more room. Tis like what we think happened to the lemmings, though apparently they were chased over the edge by evil tv producers.

 If the red man is lit, put your foot down I say, you’re doing the planet a favour.

Or bring back Alvin Stardust and his green cross code.

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