God damn hippies all up in my god damn vag

(HT to the wonderful EK McAlpine who has been ranting about this on twitter with me forming angry ideas @whatkatie_did)

 

Hello. My name’s Kate, and I fucking hate my period.

This shouldn’t be controversial. My period fucking sucks. I’m being tested for endometriosis in the next few weeks, as my periods are heavier than seems possible, and I am in agonising pain that, on the first day, will make me pass out without codeine. That pain comes and goes throughout the next ten days. I spend all my time in those ten days dosed on varying levels of painkiller just to act like a normal human being. Throughout the rest of the month I get recurring pain once every few days, a determined ache in the base of my spine just trying to stop me being productive half the time.

It’s probably alright if I hate my period, because that fucker hates me right back.

NOW. This is a perfectly acceptable opinion, and one I have seen shared everywhere I go. Quite apart from everything else, I find my period a massive inconvenience. I have to carry sanitary items around everywhere, every bathroom break takes longer, and whilst I have no problem with period sex, it requires a great deal more clean-up. There is literally nothing I enjoy or am even neutral about in the process. I hate it.

Unfortunately, I have seen a massive rise in the wishy-washy, dancing around a classroom chanting kind of hippy beliefs that piss me right off, about how periods are beautiful and you should enjoy your flow as a woman and aaahhh you’re all part of the ocean and the moon and isn’t it glorious? Aren’t you grateful?! *waves arms around*

No, you irritatingly cheerful hippy wanker. Stop your fucking dancing and get a less whimsical voice. No, I’m not, and I shouldn’t have to be. Let’s start with grateful, shall we? What a word.

The point that one should be grateful for having something that others don’t is tinged with an attempt to police every woman’s reaction to herself, and it makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I should never be told to grit my teeth and enjoy what other people can’t. I get this a lot when specifically discussing anorexia nervosa sufferers, many of whose menstrual cycles are stopped indefinitely by the illness, and I managed to edge through without losing them. You know what? The fact that they can’t do something I can when they want to is shit. And the fact that I don’t like it is also shit. THERE ARE NOT SCALES OF SHIT.

(Quite apart from this, I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone who wished they had periods specifically, but rather the ability to bear children. If you feel differently to this I would be really, really interested to hear from you.)

Next on my list of pet hates from fucking hippies is the “try-some-homeopathy” as a way to allieviate the struggle of your period. NO. STOP PRANCING AROUND MOTHER EARTH AND LISTEN TO ME. I am in medical pain. I need medicine. And no, I’m not being gifted by Mother Nature or Gaia or any other shit. This is just what happens, and if I find it to be a load of sweaty bollocks, then a load of sweaty bollocks it is. The medical industry hasn’t made me feel like that. My uterus has.

On the flipside, by the way, there are an alarming number of people in this crowd who go the complete opposite way and say that periods are something to be grateful for, because they come with the gift of childbearing. The ability to bear children is also not a gift, for reference. It is something that some people can do and some can’t. No one gets to tell any women that their bodies are designed for a specific purpose. And the whole Sin of Eve thing is getting really fucking old.

Furthermore, this edges dangerously into the territory of new beauty politics, which is all a crock of shit. The whole basis behind the “every body is beautiful” claims is entrenched in patriarchy. You know what? Periods aren’t beautiful. They’re gross. Like other bodily processes. Does that mean I should be ashamed of them? No more than the fact that I sneeze sometimes, or that I generate piss. But also no prouder than I am of these. Something doesn’t have to be beautiful to be worthwhile. I saw a blog on this where they talked about keeping their mooncup equivalents and using them to paint with to dispel the “gross” air. NO. THAT’S STILL GROSS. LIKE PAINTING WITH SHIT. OR EARWAX.

It’s all about holding women up to an unnatural standard. “Periods are beautiful!” is the menstrual equivalent of “Childbirth is a miracle!”. Well, no. Childbirth is icky. It’s all shite and blood and pain. The reason we’re told childbirth is this magical affair is because women are this magical, no hair out of place, stylised wonder. There can’t be an element of femininity that isn’t glamorous and yet is still feminine. That would shake society to its core.

This isn’t self-loathing, or hating my own womanhood. I am viciously proud of my womanhood. But that doesn’t mean I have to take a bunch of stuff that isn’t awesome about being a woman and pretend it is. You don’t get to tell me how I feel about anything, PARTICULARLY my vag and what it does on its off days. That’s my business entirely.

SO, Hippies. You go and dance around a tree and paint love hearts on it with your vag blood. I’m going to stay here and complain loudly and unashamedly about how much this sucks and how gross you people are, and the next one of you to suggest to me that I’m not embracing my femininity is getting punched in the jaw.

Advertisements

A Real Response to #budget2013

starring me as Leader of the Opposition, The Smash Patriarchal Capitalism Party (ahh, dreams).

 

Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would like to thank the Chancellor for his budget. The opposition fully supports many of the measures listed today, the greatest of which, the raising of personal allowance, will lift 3 million hardworking people in this country out of tax and greatly allieviate the pressures on low-income families. The apparent shared philosophy between the government and the opposition on caring for those least well off in our society is very reassuring to me, and I’m sure, thousands of families around the country.

We are also very supportive of the Chancellor’s decision to support those British people who are struggling to get onto or move up the housing ladder. This policy is groundbreaking and we are very keen to see it rolled out across the country as soon as possible. Housing is a human right that for too long has been out of the reach of far too many people in this country and we hope the Chancellor’s new ideas for this will help many of those caught in the renting trap.

We would however like to stress that this measure, whilst positive, will not help those in Britain who are made by a shamefully low minimum wage to live month-to-month, unable to even begin saving for a deposit, 5% or not. These people are at the mercy of private landlords up and down the country who profit from the suffering of others and their inability to make a home their own. We feel that the Chancellor’s measures would be better supported by the instatement of a living wage which would see hundreds of thousands of people in this country lifted out of poverty and would do more for the housing market than this initiative ever could. This measure would go hand in hand with regulation of those renegade landlords who exploit the poorest in our communities.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, what the Chancellor fails to touch on in his statement is the travesty that our housing market is. Whilst this measure will solve part of the problem, it does not take into account the fact that we have nowhere near enough housing in this country to support the many families that live here and we feel his budget should reflect that. What the housing market needs are subsidies to building and the purchasing of land so that affordable housing can be built and made available for those families in Britain who are without a home.

Whilst I do not feel the house is the place for accusations or base rivalries, I cannot approach the one pence reduction in tax on beer as anything but utterly brazen pandering and a complete lack of awareness from the Chancellor. Mr Deputy Speaker, the men and women up and down this country do not care if they pay three pounds or three pounds and a penny for  a pint at the end of a hard day. What they care about are services conspicuously absent from the Chancellor’s announcement today: The NHS, education, and services that protect our children, elderly and vulnerable. This move will cost the treasury 215 million pounds every year, and yet will make no difference whatsoever to the people of this country. It is a pathetic and irresponsible attempt to win positive headlines at the expense of other vital services and the party opposite should be ashamed.

I will at this point state that this party approves of the cancellation of the increase to fuel duty. Many people in this country will have breathed a sigh of relief at that announcement, as the price of petrol in this country remains exceptionally high, with the cost of running a car cutting drastically into every family’s budget. However, what the Chancellor fails to appreciate is the need for a transition in the British people to a sustainable fuel source for our rapidly expanding number of motor owners. Does the Chancellor know that to convert a car to run on vegetable oil, a widely available and sustainable form of fuel, a converter costs a mere £20? What I would like to know is why the Government is not redirecting this fuel cut into an incentive based transition to a more economically and environmentally stable fuel source.

The cutting of the 50pc tax rate is the most ridiculous of the Chancellor’s proposals today, but it does not surprise me. Everyone around him stands to gain from this, and everyone in my constituency stands to lose out on the damage this will do to the treasury’s income. It’s a simple matter of looking out for himself, though I expect that the people of this country did not think they would be subject to the whims of millionaires when they didn’t elect this shambolic government.  Much like the Liberal Democrats sit there and play lapdog to the Conservatives, so do the Conservatives sit and play lapdog to the bankers and business owners who exploit the working and middle class of this country. This is why there is a reduction in corporation tax, despite how that turned out for Ireland, despite the leading business nation of the world having a corporation tax of 45%. Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Chancellor’s decision on corporation tax is not based in any way on economics but on who he knows and who he really serves. Hint: It isn’t the 99% of this country who hold it up.

What the opposition and the people of this country would like to see, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is a budget which reflects their concerns for this country and invests in our services and our young people. Whilst I would be happy to share my ideas with the Chancellor, it is the opposition’s view that he should be consulting members of the public – not just members of his constituency, and certainly not members of his old Eton group of associates – but the average people of this country who have nothing in common with the cabinet of millionaires sat opposite.

I think the Chancellor would find that a People’s Budget looks very different from a Millionaires’ one.

Trans* lobby: do not cut it out

Just to start your Sunday off with a nice dose of bile and vitriol, here’s the most controversial blog on Comment is Free in quite some time, Transexuals should cut it out: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/13/julie-burchill-suzanne-moore-transsexuals. I offer this with a trigger warning, as it is offensive to every sense.

Long story short, the ever-charming Julie Burchill has written a long article decrying the “bullying” of Suzanne Moore by what I suppose are some sort of rabid supernatural trans* villains, spewing every foul term she can think of in the process.

As some background context, Moore wrote an article in which she described the desired female physique as that of “a Brazilian transsexual”. Previously, I had a lot of respect for Suzanne Moore – she was one of the fighters, a feminist writer that communicated well and had a platform to make real change. So, at this very disappointing turn of phrase, many supporters of Moore took to Twitter to ask her to consider her probably ill-thought out, but not malicious, use of this phrase, considering the context in which it arises: in Brazil, a trans* woman is murdered every 10 days.

Instead of what this audience was seeking, an apology for an off-the-hand phrase which wasn’t intended to offend or belittle the struggle of the trans* community, Moore offered a fierce and unpleasant rebuttal, becoming more furious as people rightly called out her inappropriate phrase and – what became obvious – her views.

This was cemented in the last tweet she sent before shutting her Twitter account down – “People can just fuck off really. Cut their dicks off and be more feminist than me. Good for them.”. One more person off the internet with the vile views to expel them violently in private instead. Good.

Burchill’s rebuttal to this, however, is even more disgusting than Moore could have dreamed. In a piece littered with transphobic slurs – “trannie”, “shemale”, “shims” and countless others, Burchill rages against a paper god she assumes is destroying feminism from the inside (and no, it’s not Julie Bindel. I would’ve accepted that argument quite readily). She makes crass allegories that knock me sick – including “a gaggle of transsexuals telling Suzanne Moore how to write looks a lot like how I’d imagine the Black and White Minstrels telling Usain Bolt how to run would look”, the most disgusting attempt at painting the difference between trans* and cis women that I think I’ve ever seen. 

That, of course, is the heart of Burchill’s argument – that trans* women are less in every way than cis women, and should defer diligently to their superiors, those “born” women who are in every way more knowledgeable about the sufferings of womankind. Her umbrage is cemented in the belief that these women are lucky Moore even chooses to acknowledge them, and should act like this is a privilege, not a right. This becomes more and more vulgar throughout the article, culminating in simply describing trans women as “men telling women what to do” and a very thinly veiled threat at the end. 

She also speaks of the way the trans* community has “persecuted” Julie Bindel – something so laughable I may have choked when I read it and needed a time out from the article. I’m sure you all know of Julie Bindel. She is a vile, ugly soul whose one view appears to be that if you are not in every way the same as her, you are an enemy to feminism. This includes the large groups of trans* and bisexual women who she rallies against with untold fury. So no, Burchill’s sob story about the way Bindel is treated by the trans* community strikes no chord with me whatsoever. Bindel is one of the bigger name feminists and she has a platform that should be used with responsibility to spread the right messages, and she uses it to spread hate. She should get nothing from feminism except its united contempt.

Perhaps my favourite part of this article is the point at which Burchill refers to the trans* community as “trannies”, justifying this through her recent discovery that the trans* community use the term cis women, which she likens to several other ugly words. Clearly, she hasn’t actually done any research into the term cis, the scientific term for a being that remains in its assigned role, but rather assumed it as a derogatory and used it to justify her own hatred.

The end of Burchill’s article may as well simply be a audio clip of her screeching into the wind, but I will share this extract with you nonetheless: “To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women – above natural-born women”, she seems to splutter, as if this incredulous act of privilege (yes, remember. The trans* community are born into privilege.) should be greeted with repulsion – fancy that! Women who want to be involved in the women’s movement! Disgusting. I have never encountered a single trans* woman, ignoring for the moment Burchill’s completely repugnant and limited description of what makes up the trans* community, wants to be treated as any more than she is – a woman, oppressed by patriarchy in the same way Burchill, Moore and even Bindel are. She seeks acceptance from society that she is worth as much as a man. She should not have to seek acceptance from the feminist community that she is worth as much as a cis woman.

So, trans* women, trans* men, trans* allies, do not cut it out. Do not stop screaming, shouting, crying out at the top of your voice. If the second wave feminists want to kick down at the people they presume are beneath them, then we will kick back. We will fight them. We will show them that they may believe their own odious school of thought, but we do not. We will not allow trans* women to be erased from feminism by them. We will never cut it out.

#welfarecard and the Christmas Grinch Alec Shelbrooke

I’m sure you all follow me on Twitter and have seen my unfiltered rage first-hand, but here is an elongated and angry rebuttal that Alec Shelbrooke and anyone else suffering from Grinch Syndrome this Christmas needs to see.

Earlier today, Alec Shelbrooke, Tory MP for, apparently, somewhere in Hell, suggested to the commons the idea of a Welfare Card. His full transcript can be found here (http://www.alecshelbrooke.co.uk/index.php/home). If you don’t wish to read the long rant of a born toff about entitlement because the irony will make you choke to death, let me summarise it for you. Mr Shelbrooke has suggested that instead of the current bank transfer benefit system, all recipients on income-based benefits (that is, not counting disability or pension benefits) should recieve a state sponsored debit card onto which their benefit is added. This card will only be able to handle transactions for Government-approved goods, and will not have the option of cash withdrawal. 

Now, I’ll just let your mind fill with all the fuckery that this idea is before I continue.

Let’s start with Government-approved goods, and I’m going to make some basic assumptions based on Mr. Shelbrooke’s statement. Firstly, that no VAT-charging products – “luxuries”, if you will – will be accepted by the card.

So, let’s briefly consider the things this excludes. Alcohol and cigarettes, as he stated in his speech. Sweets. ‘Extra-special’ foodstuffs. Sweets. Fizzy drinks. Tampons and menstrual pads, of course. Okay. Let’s start with the most obvious.

Women’s sanitary items? REALLY? Okay, so there’s a whole debate to have here about how on earth they qualify as a “luxury” to begin with, but let’s come back to that at another time. Does the government not think female sanitation necessary? And what happens to women who can’t buy them? Shelbrooke makes no suggestion for how they should be accomodated in his plans.

Extra special foodstuffs are even more fun, as Shelbrooke assumes that every family is the same. Children that are allergic to certain “necessities” simply don’t exist. That’s why our lovely goverment charges VAT on soya milk, gluten-free bread, etc… Yes, these things can be given on prescription, but thanks to the Government’s NHS savings, there is now a severity scale for this (There’s a severity scale for a lot of things. Asthmatics will realise that this winter, with anyone who isn’t prescribed a steroid inhaler being denied their free flu jab.).

There is a slight divergence here but I’m going to go for it anyway. When I was a kid I was terrified of needles. After an injection, my mum would buy me sweets as a reward for being brave. Is that small gesture of kindness and positive reinforcement something that Mr. Shelbrooke seeks to see removed from modern families? Oh, wait, sorry. I mean modern impoverished families. Different.

To bring the time of year into the equation, are they saying that poor families shouldn’t have chocolates on the tree? A box of Quality Street under the coffee table? No Selection Boxes to open on Christmas morning? 

Now, to the more controversial issue of alcohol and cigarettes. I can appreciate why there are people who are annoyed their tax money pays for other people’s bad habits. It’s just as unreasonable a view, but it is more understandable. None the less, forbidding people to buy these things isn’t about to change the fact that they are addicted to them. People who are addicted don’t act rationally or reasonably with their money. Not only will they still continue to find ways to buy things like cigarettes, they will spend more money on the illegal cigarette market if there isn’t a legitimate source for them to purchase it from. And if they don’t, they’ll go into an intense and ugly withdrawal which will not help them care for their children. If you want people to give up alcohol or cigarettes, instead of cutting them off, perhaps increase funding to support services.

The logistics of this are flawed. Limiting people’s expenditure will not stop them buying “undesirable” products – they will trade their cards in an underground business that only serves to exploit them and give them less overall in order to have the freedom to purchase what they want or need.

One of the points Shelbrooke raised with a note of utter contempt in his voice was the idea of families on benefits using their finances to fund subscriptions to cable providers like Sky and Virgin Media. Leaving aside the obvious flaw of an internet connection being required to access the DWP for benefits in the first place, cable TV is an essential feature of many low-income households. The majority of income-based support goes to households with at least one full-time worker. If you have children and a full-time job, you need TV to occupy your children sometimes. No, it isn’t a perfect way to raise a family, but it will do when you’re pulling a double-shift and you have three kids to entertain in the evening. And that’s important. It’s about making ends meet whilst we still have a pitiful minimum wage that people can’t support themselves on.

The biggest issue this policy raises is the idea that people who are supporting themselves using the pitiful amount of benefits they gain is they have no access to cash whatsoever. This creates a distinct lack of emergency finance and “rainy day” saving possibilities that the Government is so keen to encourage. I started to think about what this would mean in real terms.

In real terms, that’s no back up cash. That’s no cash to pay for a taxi if you have to get somewhere fast in an emergency, like the hospital. That’s no cash to pay for school trips, or one off meals like Christmas Dinner specials at school. No money for emergency milk from across the road when it’s late at night and you know you have to make breakfast in the morning, but don’t want to get the kids up to go to the supermarket. No petrol, to pay for trips out. No money for museums. No money to buy your clothes at charity shops, to save some money. No school clubs, karate, music lessons, dance lessons, anything. 

Alec Shelbrooke is parading this policy around as a way of making taxpayers feel like their money is being spent wisely, but the guise is thin and ill-conceived. Anyone with half a brain can see what this really is: A punishment. A punishment for being poor. Mr. Shelbrooke wants to tell the poor exactly what he and the Government thinks; That they don’t deserve nice things. That they’re poor, and they should act as such. They should be ashamed. They should feel ashamed. Their children should feel ashamed.

Fuck you, Mr. Shelbrooke. I was raised on the shambolic welfare system. The ability to treat us as her children is something that I think my mother used to offset the guilt you told her to feel as a mother without a way to properly support her children. If you give the people of this country nothing else, you should give them the ability to do that.