Krikkit

Jun. 28th, 2017 09:10 pm
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The other day Ali, one of my WI chums, messaged me and another one, Tas, to remind us of something we'd forgotten about: at one of our first committee meetings this year we got chatting about cricket and I mentioned the tickets to the Women's World Cup final that I have (only a few weeks now! can't wait!). Ali looked into other matches from that, to see if we could go see something at Old Trafford or whatever, and Tas asked if we could see Sri Lanka because she's from Sri Lanka.

"They are playing...in Taunton," Ali said, and Tas clapped her hands in anticipatory delight before asking where Taunton is.

"Somerset, I think?"

"Far away, anyway!"

And then, probably not entirely coincidentally, it dropped off the radar for all of us.

Until now! Ali not only reminded us of this but had looked up ticket prices (only £10; it's criminal that tickets sell for so much less if it's women playing sports than if it's men, but it's handy for me because I'm poor, so I'm conflicted...) and best of all she's willing to drive there and back on the day.

In America a hundred years is a long time, and in England a hundred miles is a long way. While I would've grown up thinking nothing of a road trip like this -- it wouldn't happen all the time, but it wouldn't be hugely remarkable either -- here, people don't drive to somewhere 200 miles away and back in the same day. So I feel really lucky that Ali is willing to do this, especially as I of course can be no help with the driving and I don't think Tas drives either. So for the price of admission and chipping in for petrol, we're suddenly having this amazing day out.

I was so excited as we were planning this that I was chair-dancing. Tas is so excited because she's planning to bring her Sri Lankan flag to wave, which my Anyone But England self couldn't be happier with (though I think that applies more to men's cricket; I've never felt such animosity to the women's team...). I think Ali has an English flag to bring, anyway. Also she's bringing a friend she used to play cricket with (she plays cricket!) and when Tas said the one time she's seen cricket she got on TV because she and her Sri Lanka flag were with a British friend of hers with a British flag, Ali said "If any of my friends who are current/former women's team players are going, they can get a bit raucous too! We've been mentioned on the Sky Sports a number of times..."

So yeah, I guess, look out for me on TV on Sunday?

Yesterday

Jun. 24th, 2017 09:26 am
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Had one of those "feel like I didn't do anything" days yesterday but I did loads of stuff.

I think I felt like that because I did spend the morning in my pajamas wasting time on Twitter. But also, I was fielding comments on a Lib Dem Voice article introducing our new group, Lib Dem Immigrants (which I am super excited about). Unfortunately, anything about immigration attracts some trolls, even if it's as innocuous as "here's a new internal party body" (I did like that we also got a comment saying "we waste too much time on internal party shit!"). I found this set of comments dismaying for an interesting new kind of separating the wheat-from-the-chaff approach to immigration: even the people telling me they want to end freedom of movement and other such things tell me that they support me having rights, and right away, because I married a British citizen. Hm.

Anyway, I eventually made myself do a bit of tidying, sort out the room booking for Plus's AGM at Autumn Conference (which I don't know if I'll be able to go to because I can't afford accommodation, which is making me very sad), call up our soon-to-be-ex-home-insurance-company which gosh that phone call made me glad of because it was agonizing, get a Plus parcel ready to post and send it off, go to the shops to buy boring things like a light bulb, stand precariously on a too-short ladder to replace the light bulb, go see my friend Katie for a couple of hours, come back via a different shop to buy dog poo bags which we were suddenly out of, and watch Lego Batman with Andrew which we'd been trying to find time and energy for all week.

That is an okay day. I didn't do all the things I wanted to do, but I did a lot of good things.

Today I'm going to see fictive-nephew (who's almost eight already, how is that even possible) in some local am-dram production, and then Games Night has restarted so I get to see my Brighouse people twice in three days! This should be a good day too.

Solstice

Jun. 21st, 2017 10:37 pm
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It's been so hot and my hair's so thick that I shaved most of it off this evening.
A selfie where I try to show off that the sides of my head are shaved. My dark hair is longer on the top and combed off to one side.
Feels much better now. But no doubt this means the heatwave is over. You're welcome.

It's the longest day of the year in this hemisphere, a bittersweet occasion for me because I'm sad to think the days are getting shorter now already. It feels like I haven't had a chance to get used to or appreciate them yet. It's been a real catastrophe curve of a year, so time passes without me noticing it.

Yoga

Jun. 18th, 2017 08:35 am
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Think I've actually managed to book for a yoga class this morning online?! That never used to work. Living right across from the gym, it wasn't a big deal: I just had to go over there with my card and scan it, but this is even better because I can do it before they open this morning.

When I went to the website I was asked to do a little survey, so I got to vent a bit there about how ableist they've been.

Went to yoga on Wednesday for the first time in a while and it was great as usual but, having started this at New Year, I'm not used to being sweaty while I'm doing it! It makes my hands slippery which is no good when the likes of Three-Legged Dog is hard enough for me anyway. I suppose I can be grateful that this isn't a problem I'm going to have most of the year.

(Man, this morning I've already washed all the dishes and tried to clean the coffee off the kitchen floor (I always miss some, because everything in our kitchen is black!), did laundry and hung it out in the sunshine, and went to yoga. And it's only 10:30. I feel far too virtuous a person and am glad I had crisps for breakfast so I have some evidence that I'm not.)
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What a day. Usually I say "when Lib Dems get annoyed about something we write policy motions" but tonight I'm setting up a whole SAO to represent a raft of policy.

The party leader stepped down quite suddenly yesterday. Among other things I like him because he really "gets" immigration and has always said it's an actually good thing and not just something we have to hold our nose and put up with for the good of the economy, which is the best you'll hear from most politicians, if you're lucky.

Since some friends and I had been talking about setting up a group within the party (that's what SAO means) to advocate for and support good policy for immigrants, we're doing it hopefully quickly now so ideally we can make sure whoever the new leader is, is at least as good on stuff that affects immigrants.

Dispirited

Jun. 13th, 2017 10:47 pm
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This month's WI committee meeting wasn't quite the standard I've become used to. Most of us did stay for a drink after, but the conversation got around to politics and one of my favorite WI people turns out to have exactly the opinions about immigrants that the tabloids want her to: conflating them with refugees and asylum seekers, and generally thinking they're handed a much easier life than she has had.

We tried to tell her (I'm not the only immigrant sitting around this table, and the other one had actually worked with refugees and asylum seekers), but you can't reason somebody out of a position they didn't get into rationally.

Eventually someone had to leave to catch a bus and a bunch of the rest of us left too. I got home and had a hug from Andrew and made myself something easy to eat. But I'm still feeling rubbish.

You work so hard, and people are still going to think the group you're part of is the cause of all society's ills. And that it's somehow okay to tell you this when you're supposed to be out having a nice time (and planning for all the nice things we're going to do).

Iftar

Jun. 11th, 2017 12:40 am
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It's Ramadan, when Muslims fast between dawn and sunset. The meal they have after sunset is called Iftar. Hundreds of people go to my local mosque (about a minute's walk away) every evening to share the meal, and this time the mosque invited the non-Muslim community to join them for Iftar. I went along with a couple of my WI chums.

This is part of Taste Ramadan, which had ten mosques across Manchester having an open Iftar this evening. Apparently at least this mosque had done this last year, and found it really successful. Tonight there were ten, and next year they're hoping to spread it out across the whole North West.

I'd never been to such a thing, knew embarrassingly little about Ramadan (I've read a book about Islam, Reza Aslan's No Got But God, and really enjoyed it but that's pretty much it as far as my understanding goes), and the mosque had gotten good reviews from other WI members who'd been along to Visit My Mosque in February, so I was excited to go along and learn something.

And I definitely did. We had a speaker, who seemed quite scholarly/academic which might not be to everyone's taste but it was mine! he talked about the etymology of words like "Ramadan" and "Sawm" (fasting), and generally offered context which I really appreciated.

Muslims' knowledge of both other religions, especially Judaism and Christianity, more than one language and a generally wider view of the geography and history than I'm used to, always make me feel a little sheepish. It must be exhausting, I thought tonight, to have to explain yourself in the only terms white people understand sometimes: to say "fasting already existed before Muslims were told to do it" and I'm like oh, yeah, so it did... I remembered how much I resented giving up candy during Lent and wondered how I'd have coped with giving up everything.

I did think that it must be exhausting having to explain yourself to people like me, on our own terms. So basic. So spoon-feedy and hand-holdy. Everybody was lovely and gracious about it, as always has been my experience with Muslim colleagues and shopkeepers and whatnot, but that makes me feel even worse that white people are so amazed that they're not all terrorists and they do normal things like eat crisps.

He answered a few questions, one of which was about women and the other...actually I think they both were about women? One about their role in Ramadan and one about "the veil." I think he handled them very well, at first saying women's role is the same as men's in Ramadan, except they do most of the cooking and men just sit down to eat and complain about the food, and he'd rather have it the other way around. About niqab he said in so many words that what a woman chooses to wear is her own business, and told us that what is worn is mandated more by culture than religion.

Sadly he also had to make a point of condemning terrorist attacks like the recent one in Manchester, in a way that I will never be held responsible for all the shootings that white Americans do. But again he did it very skillfully, making the point that during Ramadan Muslims are meant to restrain themselves not just from eating and drinking (and sex), but also to try not to tell lies, get in arguments, etc. Much less blow up an arena.

One of the friends I was with had fasted today -- except for a cup of coffee she had to save her from a caffeine-withdrawal headache that she knew would have left her too ill to come along tonight otherwise -- and the other didn't. I didn't, but I also understood that this was in keeping with what Muslims are asked to do during Ramadan, because it would have affected my mental health so severely to not eat. But I didn't eat much (I did let myself drink as much water as I needed, because dehydration induces awful headaches and I've already had those nearly every day this week) so I was really excited for Iftar by the time it arrived.

The food was really nice, all made on site in the apparently vast kitchens, by volunteers. A few hundred people were there, and apparently feeding this many is an everyday occurrence during Ramadan. People kept coming around to see if anyone was running out of food (it never ran out, but it did need to get moved from place to place!) and to answer questions: we asked one when they started cooking these meals and he said around two o'clock in the afternoon. Imagine putting all that work into preparing the meal, having to smell the delicious curry and everything cooking, and not being able to eat it for hours!

This afternoon I was starting to marvel at how anybody managed not to eat until it was dark out (at the height of summer, anyway; I probably do this during winter without even noticing it tbh) and by half an hour before the time I was leaving for the mosque I was beginning to wonder how anybody stayed awake that long. My insomnia has been terrible this week; I hope I get more than four or five hours of sleep a night, soon. Better go try to do that then.

(Here's a picture that has me and my friends in it, though you can't really tell. This is only a fraction of the number of people there, but you get the idea.)

One day

Jun. 9th, 2017 04:43 pm
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As well as the prospect of a Tory/DUP government, and being mad at the tactical voting plan going exactly as well as I expected it to (i.e. not very), yesterday was also the Comey hearing and the Senate is making ominous noises about trying to pass AHCA in exactly the way the House did: in secret, with no scrutiny.

One fucking day where the country I'm from and the country I'm in aren't racing each other to be the best at causing suffering and misery. Just one? Can I have that?
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[personal profile] kaberett did this after the USian election and is doing so again today.

It did me a lot of good then and I think today, and tomorrow, and whatever the next little while brings us, a lot of us could do with hearing some nice things about ourselves.

So leave a comment here if you're so inclined, to nominate yourself or someone else, or look for people you know to leave nice comments about them, or both!

Here's mine.
hollymath: (Default)
Image of me, dark hair, pale skin, glasses and a big smile, holding up my Certificate of Naturalisation
Style guide: I'd appreciate not being called "British." I have UK citizenship, but I don't feel British. I'm not really sure why this is -- it's not like being American has given me a lot to be proud of in...well, my lifetime -- but that's where I'm at now.

Along with your certificate you're given for some reason a fancy-looking pen that is actually pretty cheap...

...and a few pages of stuff like "now you can apply for a passport" and a letter from, in my case, the Lord Mayor of Manchester (or the guy who was until a few weeks ago) and also a letter from the Home Secretary. Or, actually, not.

For those lucky enough not to recognize her, that's Theresa May, who hasn't been Home Secretary in more than a year. Racist van Theresa May. "Hostile environment" Theresa May. Ruining the country just so she can leave the EU and get rid of immigrants and human rights Theresa May.

I started yelling on the bus when I saw this.

The letter genuinely contains the only positive thing I've ever seen attributed to Theresa May on the subject of immigrants -- "The talents, background and experiences you are bringing with you are very important to us" -- but it's still very "we will extract all the usefulness out of you!" and also is full of "respect each other's cultures and faiths" and "democracy, law and tolerance" when just this week she's been saying there's too much of those things and human rights threaten our safety. Hmm.

I know there's going to be a certain amount of rose-tintedness in anything like this (it reminds me so much of my civics textbooks), but the hypocrisy of this just makes me sad.

I was much more cheerful when [personal profile] po8crg called me on his lunch break, to congratulate me but of course being us we also ended up talking about the Glorious Revolution, Turkish workers in Germany, and what I want the Wonder Woman sequel to be.

I didn't know it was what I wanted the Wonder Woman sequel to be, until we were talking about it. It started with him saying "They had to set it all the way back in WWI, or otherwise she'd have been stateless and no country would have let her in" (border controls are so recent! I don't think a lot of people appreciate this) so of course we started wondering what would happen if she'd arrived any time in the last hundred years or so: fresh off the boat from Themyscira, she'd have no papers and no one would have even heard of the place she claims to be from. When the UK wants to deport people but can't, it sends them to places like Yarl's Wood [tw for sexual abuse at that link]. We can imagine Diana's reaction to that.

And her inevitably breaking out.

And making sure everyone else does too.

Yeah, I'd watch the hell out of that movie.

And it ticks all the boxes that a critique of Wonder Woman I read this morning wants for the sequel: you'd definitely have a cast mostly of women of color because that's who ends up in immigration detention centers. And humanizing their plight like this movie did with the villagers in No Man's Land could be so amazing. Women writers, and women behind the camera, could make that awesome.

Summer

Jun. 6th, 2017 07:54 pm
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People, in April: "OMG if it's like this now how hot will the summer be?"

Me, in June: *wears winter clothes* *considers putting heat on*
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Andrew and I are discussing whether Oasis's "Don't Look Back in Anger" or James's "Sit Down" make worse, more ill-applied, anthems.

I have nothing but love for the grieving, and defiance at the notion that we might lose yet more civil liberties and face more hate crimes directed at Muslims and brown people. But I can't share the experience of all my Facebook friends who say they're in tears (or even coveting Katy Perry's clothes) watching the concert tonight. So strong is the pressure to perform the proper kind of reaction that I still worry someone will hate me for being callus or fine with terrorism, or whatever.

But I just felt like most of the work of terrorists, who often kill themselves or end up being killed in swift order like in London last night, is done by others: by the 24-hour rolling news and the tabloids baying for blood and the politicians happy to rescind our civil liberties as if that'll make us any safer, the national and international reaction making a city into a symbol.

I'm grateful to that article for saying what I worried only I was feeling:
It’s not a particularly amazing city or a huge symbolic target; it’s just an ordinary city that was probably chosen for small, ordinary, horrible reasons.

Of course Mancunians opened their homes and brought out free sandwiches and hurried into emergency rooms to save lives, and God bless every one of them. But they did that because they’re people, not because they were Mancunians. The vast majority of the time, disaster brings out the best in people, wherever and whomever they are. They’d have done the same in Sheffield, and we’d all be talking about the stoic hospitality of Yorkshire folk.
Indeed, it seems like Manchester wasn't "chosen" at all, it's just where the guy who did it lived. It wasn't selected as being particularly able to withstand this. Indeed, I think it's much better to believe that any group of humans anywhere could be as resilient, as willing to offer free taxi rides home, blood donations, or millions in charity donations as Manchester has been. Humans are good anywhere.

After making good points about how unlikely terrorism is in the west, and how much bigger a deal is made of it here than cities that experience these things regularly despite undoubtedly also being full of kind and helpful people, the article finishes with stuff that still makes me nod vehemently even though I've read it many times now.
The rush for articles about the wonderful spirit of Manchester is in part a desperation to fill pages before we know facts, and it’ll only get worse. “I shall not murder / The mankind of her going with a grave truth,” wrote poet Dylan Thomas of a child incinerated in the Blitz. “Nor blaspheme down the stations of her breath / With any further / Elegy of innocence and youth.”

But that’s what will happen with the children killed in Manchester over the next few days and weeks. There’s something obscene about our lust for sentimental suffering, in which the awful, meaningless deaths of children will become the fodder of tear-jerking tabloid pages. The cheap emotion of it distracts us from the hard work of real compassion, the daily grind of kindness.

Manchester is a good, ordinary city where something awful has happened. It’s full of decent people who will cope with shock, horror, and loss in the same ways people do every day, everywhere. It doesn’t need to be anything more.
"Don't Look Back in Anger" is definitely the worse song for this, in case you were wondering. Sorry.
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Yesterday was nice too: Andrew had called me Thursday afternoon and said I could stay over if I wanted, so I was still in Brighouse Friday. Which was nice because it meant I could go along with Jennie and James and Holly to see Wonder Woman... Or attempt to, anyway.

When I asked for the headset there was a longer than usual time before someone got back to me and he started off with saying "We didn't advertise this ad having AD..." so I thought Oh man, here we go... But actually it was dealt with really well: what he meant was that since the film was brand new, they hadn't had a chance to test this stuff yet to make sure it was working. And since they'd had people complain about it being advertised as such when it didn't work, they had stopped taking the film companies' word about the audio description until they'd checked it themselves, which usually takes a few days.

They were still happy to give me the headset and let me try it, though, so I did. Sat through a bunch of bizarre ads (including a horrific one for Subway where a man contemplates getting a different sandwich to the one he always gets, the overdramatic voice-over encouraging him on, and just when I'm thinking "this is Subway saying 'we can give that mediocre white man the confidence he's so famous for!" the ad finishes with him getting the different sandwich and the congratulatory voice-over: "You did it. You're Columbus. Exploring new worlds!" I stared actually open-mouthed at the idea that the beginning of the genocide and subjugation of an entire hemisphere could be compared a) to a fast food order and b) favorably).

And a bunch of trailers for movies I didn't want to see (though worryingly the Transformers one actually looked kind of good?! I don't think it will be, but I've never had such a thought before).

And then the movie started and...yeah,thr audio description didn't work. It was clearly there, but not configured properly so it was too quiet to discern, and really staticky. So James, who'd no y volunteered to leave it I had to, and I went to tell the people this and they were pretty nice and apologetic about it. They offered me another headset but since the movie had already started and I didn't want to disrupt people (and because I'd had the same problem when we'd tried to see Rogue One and trying new headsets then hadn't worked, I was happy to just leave it. I know Andrew wanted to see this movie anyway so I'd get more chances to.

I don't usually bother about seeing things right when they come out, so I hadn't thought about this as an issue before. It's a shame they can't commit to testing the audio description sooner: for big "event" movies like this that people might want to go to with their friends when it's all exciting, it's a shame people who benefit from audio description don't get to do that. It's not like it's hard to test: you just have to be in the cinema with the headphones.

It's also kind of a shame that there's no way to test the audio description is working before the movie actually starts. This isn't the first time I've watched all the trailers and ads when I can't watch the movie, and I'm sure it wont be the last. But this seems like a pretty tricky logistical problem that I don't have any suggested fixes for: I'm not sure to what extent the film company, the cinema or both would be responsible for that and I can't see any of them bothering about it anyway.

Anyway, instead of watching a movie, James and I went for lunch (I had the best beer, Theakstons Barista Stout, it's lovely and chocolatey) and while we were there Katie called me and said she wanted to "book me in" for some point this weekend. Partly because we keep saying we should do something on the weekends and it keeps not happening, and partly because she's particularly excited that I'm a citizen, or at least will be on Wednesday, and wants to celebrate.

Which I think is terribly sweet. Last Friday I got some nice food and a lot of rum bought for me by friends who wanted to celebrate me getting my citizenship. I'm finding having all this attention paid to me a tiny bit awkward, because I'm not used to it ("we can go to [place we always go for tea and food] or whatever you want," Katie was saying on the phone; "it's your choice because it's you we're celebrating"), even though it seems on a par with a birthday party so not like a huge scale of celebration but... I never get birthday parties! (My birthday is right before Christmas so I'm always back with my family then, and they never even ask me what food/restaurant I want, since it's always "well your grandparents won't do X so..." or most memorably on my 21st birthday, supposed to be a rite of passage, when I had to go to my uncle's 50th birthday party and my family spent it huddled together amidst a sea of his wife's family, huge and entirely unknown.)

With the inconveniently placed birthday, my friends have long suggested I celebrate it at some other time of the year ("have two birthdays, like the Queen does!"), maybe in the summer rather than the winter. And it's worked out that the citizenship ceremony will be around the time that's halfway to my birthday, so this year it kind of feels like that works out. I'm not going to make it s yearly celebration though! This year, we're celebrating a big accomplishment of mine. Its anniversary won't mean anything to me. Maybe if citizenship felt like something better than just a crisis averted, I could do that. But it isn't so I can't.

On our way home, James and I went to the ticket office at the train station to get tickets sorted out for going to London next month. Last fall we got tickets to see the final of the cricket Women's World Cup, for ridiculously cheap because who's going to watch women play sports, right? It seemed like a very far away thing, I forgot about it and generally thought it was ages away, I'm that way that July seems when it's September or October. But now it's next month and he found us a hotel and I got the train tickets so now I'm getting really excited. It's at Lords and everything, so I'll get to see that too.

(There was actually an ad for this World Cup before the movie; I've never seen women's cricket advertised like that before (I don't have a TV so I only see ads before movies, and it's just occurred to me that this might have been because the movie also had the word "woman" in the title). So that got me excited too.)

Good things

Jun. 1st, 2017 09:47 pm
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I felt so rubbish this morning. I nearly couldn't get myself out of the house at all.

But once I got here, I saw extra doggies, had a sandwich I didn't have to make myself, dozed while listening to the cricket, had a nap, James told me a bunch of things I didn't know about cricke which was really fun, and I've just had tasty food with homemade cake and ice cream for dessert.

Then i was going to go to bed because I was falling asleep, but we started watching a movie called Bloodbath at the House of Death and it was so much fun I had to stay up and watch it, which is a rare experience for me!

I really needed a good day. I'm glad I got one.

Bi updates

May. 31st, 2017 06:30 pm
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As a bit of follow up to my last post...

Having changed their "Is bisexuality real" article substantially, without acknowledging the change or any reasons why they made it, Pink News have at least written something relatively decent about bisexuality today. And I'm glad that London Pride 'sexclusion of bisexual groups is getting a bit more attention too.

(I'm also glad that London Pride is being a bit less exclusionary now, and it sounds like they do want to get this right according to friends of mine more closely involved. But I still feel like you'd never have only one gay or lesbian group marching and they wouldn't have to fight as hard as bisexuals have had to and I don't think it's good enough for the organizers to have good intentions -- they're saying "none of us are biphobic" and I'm sure they mean that but the impact of structural bigotry still falls heaviest on bisexuals so it's not enough for them to not have personal feelings of biphobia as individuals, they need to do more in future to make sure bisexual groups really are included.)

To get entities as big as Pink News and London Pride to pay attention to what bisexuals want, imperfectly though it's implemented so far, feels like kind of a big deal and kind of an unusual thing. And that a friend has said the response so far hasn't been as biphobic as they'd feared...well, it says a lot about what we've come to expect in dealing with the "LGBT" "community," but it also would be really awesome if this trend continued.
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So Pink News, which seem to cause me some kind of headache every few weeks, put up an article today called "Is bisexuality real?"

As soon as I saw the headline, I angrily thought (and tweeted with a link to this terrible question):
Is EVERY damn "LGBT" thing biphobic? Are we sick of it to literal death because biphobia kills people? The answer to all of these is yes.
It turned out the headline was just clickbait; for once this was an article whose title was a Question To Which The Answer Is Yes (Betteridge's Law dictates that the answer is No, of course).

The reaction that I saw to that tweet was, at least a few hours ago...not what you'd call good. It ranged all the way from sarcastic to angry. My awesome friend [twitter.com profile] natalyadell said, "I nearly didn't read the damned article, saw the headline was biphobic, ran away. When trying to fix prejudice, committing it is No.1 fail."

And...unfortunately it gets worse than the headline. If you actually do read the thing (which I wouldn't recommend, but here's a tweet screenshotting the relevant bit), it says "Unlike pansexuality, bisexuals do often recognize the binary genders but are attracted to both males and females."

Which, at the very least, indicates to me that the writer is not bisexual. As Sali Owen who does all the bi stuff for the LGBT Foundation has pointed out, there are no bi activists or organizations that use this definition and it tends to drive bisexuals up the wall. We have to argue about this all the damn time.

I genuinely do not know anyone who thinks this. I can credit almost everything I do know about trans people and issues and history to the UK bi community I feel part of. It includes plenty of non-binary gendered people and I promise that they're as likely to be fancied by bisexuals as binary-gendered men and women are. (That this charming quote refers to "males and females" instead of men and women is just the icing on the shit cake.)

It's such a weird fight to have to keep fighting, but in this case I think it's enough that, as I said, it's an indication we're unlikely to be dealing with a bisexual writer. In a way, this is the same problem as I complained about earlier with regard to immigrants: we're being talked about, not talked with. Much less listened to.

"Nothing about us without us" is a valuable concept from disability activism that I really wish applied to bisexuality within LGBT activism. It applies in bisexual activism, because there's absolutely no reason to even do that if you don't have a horse in the race -- there's no money in it and no one else, straight or gay, seems to care about it. About us.

And this, if nothing else, means we know a lot about bisexuality that other people don't because they have few if any ways of finding it out. We're the only ones talking about our rates of mental illness, domestic abuse, homelessness, and other grim stuff, which are higher than the rates in straight or gay/lesbian people.

We talk about stuff nobody else will think of to say about us and that is why our voices are needed. It's not my ego saying this, it's all the suffering my friends and I are going through. We've seen these kinds of suffering decrease in gay and lesbian people because of resources that have been poured into their health, housing, education, employment protection, and other stuff. Bisexuals are like the control group: we show the world how bad it'd be without all those specialized resources. And...it's pretty bad.

The "LGBT" organizations are still stuck on "does bisexuality exist" when you cannot imagine a LGBT publication writing "is homosexuality real?" We're still fighting to clear that first hurdle when there's so much else to talk about. Biphobia kills. And no one but bisexuals is saying this, so most people don't know it because our voices aren't reaching them.

We're the bit of LGBT that's likeliest to go unrepresented in LGBT events and venues: this year bisexuals are going to be excluded from Pride In London for spurious reasons: 320 entries in the parade and none for us. You'd never have such a big Pride with no gay-specific groups. Or lesbian ones. Or even, now, trans ones. And if anybody tried it, there'd be outrage. But this? If you're not bi and following a few people on Twitter or reading The Queerness, you probably don't know about it (I'm grateful to The Queerness for covering the issue (and really well!), because I haven't seen any others of the so-called LGBT media do so).

It frustrates me so much, because there's no reason it has to be like this. There are tons of good writers just among people I know who write well about bisexuality. I've tried to do my bit, on everything from how "love is love" sounds good and supportive but isn't enough to encompass the experience of being bisexual, the perils of being a bi asylum seeker, and even what it's like when biphobia happens on the main stage at Pride. There are so many of us out there. And plenty of us are unemployed or underemployed or just poor, partly because of all this shit that's more likely to go wrong for you if you're bi!

So c'mon, Pink News, hire me and I'll make your bisexual stuff awesome, instead of this worse-than-useless stuff you're putting out now. Hire one of my friends, or all of them. You've probably got more than one gay writer; you should have more than one bisexual, too!
hollymath: (Default)
"It then seemed to me that the immigration system was designed to create failures," was the quote my friend [twitter.com profile] SMerlChest pulled out of this story when she tweeted it.

I read it with a panicked heartbeat (only eventually assuaged by remembering that I (very nearly) have citizenship now so this can't happen to me; after a decade of anxiety verging on panic attacks at reading stories like this, a few days apparently isn't sufficient for me to have trained myself out of that reflexive reaction). The tl;dr version is that a Canadian living in Scotland with a good job and a wife and little kids who's just been granted a huge sum of money for his academic work is set to be deported in a couple of weeks, and it seems to be only because he was told the wrong thing to do by the Home Office ages ago and had no idea until a couple of weeks ago.

My friend [twitter.com profile] elmyra quickly pointed out "Oh look, he's white, middle class, and Canadian, so media are paying attention." (They are a white Eastern European immigrant to the UK, one of the voices I'm so grateful to have in my book, so they know whereof they speak here.) [twitter.com profile] SMerlChest added that the class thing might be crucial (contrasting this with another Canadian family that got deported from Scotland recently). I said that I think having young British kids also makes this guy's case more likely to get media attention.

And as we were all talking about this, about what would actually help this man avoid deportation vs what has made this story get media attention that tons of similar stories won't get (which is an overlapping circle but not the same: the good job is in both circles, the British kids are in the latter (because British family didn't save the poor woman deported to Singapore...see, she's not white and she was a carer rather than having a proper job and don't tell me those things didn't count against her). I actually also think this story is getting media sympathy because he can claim the Home Office made this error; he himself is an innocent, falling afoul of red tape which is a particular hatred of the British for whatever reason.

As I was sort of dispassionately discussing the elements that make a good sympathetic immigration-horrors story, I didn't want to make it sound too much like I wasn't genuinely sympathetic for the man. My fledging panic attack was borne out of my awareness that the same thing would happen to me. And something that I never let myself think about too much consciously until now that it's over...I knew that if it had come to it, my story would not have gotten the sympathetic media attention that this has.
  • I don't have a proper job and for the last year neither has my husband, however British he is.
  • We're both disabled, which Britain is not sympathetic to generally.
  • We don't have any children.
The last especially: not having those babies (and yes they'd be white!) being all photogenic and British and everything to pull on strangers' heartstrings and to legitimize my presence here in a way that my childlessness cannot.

It's one thing to feel that your life might not measure up to the goals you have for it or the expectations your parents have for it, it's I think on another level to have to think about how your life compares to what the Home Office approves of, what the public will approve of if you have to take your immigration horror story to the media.

It seems like something not a million miles from the current concept in America of being "popular enough to live," getting enough people to back your GoFundMe that you can pay your medical bills. Thankfully immigrants having to appeal to the British public and/or Home Office as sympathetic less common than crowdfunding healthcare has to be in America.

Musing on this, and finally letting myself admit the lens through which I had to look at myself as an immigrant, and thinking about what I wrote here yesterday about not being happy or even relieved yet about my citizenship got me to tweet: "OKAY I THINK THE RELIEF AT BEING A CITIZEN HAS FINALLY KICKED IN."

This is why I paid thousands of pounds and put myself through this? Just so I don't have to panic, just so I don't have to think about how my life looks to the Home Office. Andrew and I don't seem enough like a family, my work is that "second shift" women do that doesn't look like work, it'll only be my nationality and my whiteness that made this as easy for me as it has been.
hollymath: (Default)
This morning I saw someone quote an idiotic tweet, "Do you want a world of women-only screenings, or a world where everyone can go see a movie with no gendered problems? You can't have both."

This is in reference to a movie theatre in America scheduling women-only showings of Wonder Woman, and is part of the inevitable backlash of men who can't cope. Poor little snowflakes, who don't realize they've made the whole world into their safe space and now don't see why anyone else wants one.

It got me thinking, though: while I don't need women-only screenings (it'd mean I can't go with either of my usual moviegoing partners/carers who I'm happy helping me get around in the dark, for starters!) I would love some only-"people who are okay with the existence of women-only screenings" screenings. (This would get me both of my boys back, of course, as well as anybody else I'm likely to feel happy being around!)

It also got me thinking about the saying that's cropped up recently: "When you're used to privilege, equality feels like oppression." I really loved it at first and have made a lot of use of it but...I'm starting to realize the situation is even worse than that. These women at the women-only screenings still face gender pay gaps, the "second shift" of housework and caring responsibilities, street harassment, and the million other instances of individual and systemic misogyny that women endure.

They're getting to hopefully escape all that for a couple of hours (except however much there is in the movie, I guess; I thought I remembered fatphobia but I guess that's only in the advertising campaign outside of the cinema, where all the men are).

This is not equality.

It's not equality that is making the privileged men feel oppressed. It doesn't take anything as profound as that. Maybe a more accurate version of this modern proverb could be "When you're used to privilege, even a momentary gesture towards equality for a few people feels like oppression." Yeah, it's less snappy, but sadly it's more true.
Anything that carries the merest whiff, the possibility, the potential to even slightly threaten the privilege is greeted like oppression.

Heaven knows how the privileged would react to actual equality. We have no way of knowing, since it's never happened yet.
hollymath: (Default)
Today I saw a politician (Philip Hammond this time, but it could've been any of several) quoted as saying Britain "need[s] to continue to attract the brightest and the best from around the world to these shores" and I think that was just one time too many for me with that terrible phrase, best and brightest.

I always and only ever hear in the context of a Labservative government reassuring the xenophobes (even when, like now, they have nothing to reassure us about; Britain is hemorrhaging citizens of countries that will remain in the EU for longer than the next year and a half and the Tories want to cut immigration to less than half of what business says the UK needs).

I finally realized exactly what it is I so dislike about the phrase "best and brightest" -- apart from its obvious politician-speak and doesn't really mean anything. Beyond that, I just managed to articulate this morning that I think I hate it because it's evidence of something I am always complaining about: that immigrants are always talked about, and never talked with (much less listened to). That British media and politicians mostly talk about us as if we can't hear or read what they are saying.

As an immigrant, I hear this and think: What on Earth makes the UK think it's so special it can only even tolerate those immigrants who are "brightest and best"? But it's not speech directed at me. It's directed at British people who are wary of accepting any immigrants, it's not challenging them on that xenophobia but just saying, however grudgingly, that we need a few immigrants, lads, but don't worry, we'll make sure they're only the good kind. The best.

What it sounds like from the outside is that Britain is telling all the other countries in the world: Don't even think about sending us anything less than your best and brightest! But it isn't, and it wasn't even before Brexit, doing anything to convince the rest of the world that it deserves the cream of their crops. Indeed, it's doing everything in its power to persuade other countries that it doesn't deserve or even really want their brightest or best: even before Brexit we outside the EU have suffered a lot, as any of my readers surely are sick of hearing about by now.

Still British politicians talk like the world is a labour force to be tapped if necessary. I am not the most informed person to be drawing comparisons between Brexit and the British Empire as often as I do, but I can't help think that mentality is at play here. There's this idea that the rest of the world is composed of resources that Britain can take advantage of as often as necessary and to whatever extent is necessary. This went for natural resources all over the world, but also human resources: people. Post-World War II, when Britain needed more workers, its colonies, especially the West Indies, were called on to provide them. Britain still hasn't learned the lessons about racism and exploitation that this and other such history could have taught it, and I swear this has contributed to the casual idea that Britain can get exactly as many immigrants as it needs and not one more, from exactly the places it wants them, at any given time.

As if the rest of the time, these black and brown people, these people who speak with derided accents, are patiently waiting in case they can be of service. Dutifully sending their brightest and best people out of their own countries, just as they had to send their food even when it left them with none, send their gold even when it left them poor, send everything bright and good to Britain.

Ceremony

May. 27th, 2017 01:11 pm
hollymath: (Default)
Got the details of my citizenship ceremony! It's on June 7, so... quicker than I was expecting!

I knew it'd be a weekday, I was told they usually are on Wednesdays, so figured I could arrange for whatever friends wanted to celebrate to go to the pub that evening, but it's Eve of Poll so I imagine even then a lot of you will be busy!

Me and the Brighouses are already talking about going to watch village cricket that weekend, to celebrate surviving the election/commiserate about whatever kind of Brexity government we've ended up with. With the picnic hamper and wine and I can make a cake. It would be nice to have something like that to look forward to.

I am finding the whole citizenship thing a bit anticlimactic, to be honest. Maybe just due to my brainweasels, maybe the job interview didn't help, or maybe it's just taken so long and been so expensive and draining that I can't summon the energy to care any more.

I hoped to be more happy about this, but I expected to at least be relieved.

Maybe I'll feel better after the ceremony, but at the moment I'm just trying not to dread it too much. I don't want to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy kind of thing where I think I'll hate it and so I hate it, but damn, I've never liked this idea. And now it's not an idea, it's this letter with all the information printed so tiny I got Andrew to read it. It suggests practicing the Oath or Affirmation before you get there but "this isn't a memory test!" so cards with the text on will be provided. So I'm gonna have to print it off at about 20-pt font because I won't be able to read their damn cards. I'm torn between really not wanting Andrew (or anybody) there and wanting him there for accessibility reasons, like so I don't get lost finding the place.

I'm glad it will be over soon, anyway.

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