Consent: Not actually that complicated

rockstar dinosaur pirate princess

A short one today as my life is currently very complicated and conspiring against my preference to spend all of my days working out what to blog. But do you know what isn’t complicated?


It’s been much discussed recently; what with college campuses bringing in Affirmative Consent rules, and with the film of the book that managed to make lack of consent look sexy raking it in at the box office. You may not know this, but in the UK we more or less have something similar to ‘affirmative consent’ already. It’s how Ched Evans was convicted while his co-defendant was not – and is along the lines of whether the defendant had a reasonable belief that the alleged victim consented. From the court documents it appears that while the jury felt that it was reasonable to believe that the victim had consented to intercourse with the co-defendant, it…

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No, trans women don’t have any of the privilege

A Feminist Challenging Transphobia

Recently I asked why, during their consultation meetings, Stonewall appeared to have elected to hold men only groups but not women only groups (I am now unclear whether this is actually the case, but the subsequent discussion still warrants some thought.)

As a feminist, I’m sure you can imagine I was outraged by the idea of men only groups. But I was assured the situation is different within the trans community, because trans women “dominate” the discussion and are over-represented, so man-only spaces are needed. It wasn’t long before the underlying belief was voiced – a trans man boldly stated that trans women have louder voices because they were raised in male privilege.

What scares me is that hardly anyone seemed to bat an eyelid at this statement.

If this is going to be the underlying assumption influencing Stonewall’s thinking about trans people, then we are moving into dangerous territory. The idea that trans women…

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How to Boycott Me, I Mean, REALLY Boycott Me


So a few days ago, it was suggested to a faction of the hot, pathetic misogynist mess known as GamerGate that launching a boycott of Tor Books was a possible “action op” for them. This was quickly shot down, no doubt in part because the person suggesting it was Theodore Beale, and no one at this point actually gives a crap what he thinks about anything. However, last night I went on another Twitter tear on the subject of GamerGate, and I woke up this morning to a few chuckleheads bleating to Tor about what a terrible person I am, in order to, I don’t know, get Tor to talk to me sternly about having opinions on the Internet…

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My comments to “Sometimes, I Just Don’t Have Time for Individual Fights”

My comments to “Sometimes, I Just Don’t Have Time for Individual Fights

This, so many times over. This is why I will sometimes just say something and then walk away from a “discussion”. And why I have lost “friendships” over defending my right not not have to be every’s continuous, on-call, FREE educator.

“My father has always told me that I have to pick and choose my battles, and while he meant that I should choose which hill to die on judiciously, I’ve also taken it, in recent years, to mean that it’s not only okay, but totally reasonable, to walk away from ‘discussions’ that are clearly not productive.”

Though (not surprisingly) only privileged individuals are typically permitted to choose their battles and have their choice respected. If you’re dealing with an issue related to oppression or non-dominant identity or experience, the privileged expect you to be on guard and willing defend that hill constantly. What is most hurtful is when even self proclaimed allies expect it and expect you to personally explain why something they said or did is bigoted, hurtful, and/or inappropriate.

“Understand that arguing may not be the best use of your time. However important this issue is to you, there are plenty of people who, for whatever reason, are never going to believe that such a thing as a gendered wage gap is real and deserves their attention. They want to argue with you not because they’re open to having their minds changed, but because they want to see you get all flustered and feel smug about how “emotional” you get. You are not required to spend your time trying to convince others of something they’re dead set against accepting. The entire culture of American politics is becoming one of people just shouting past each other, and nobody learning anything because it’s all so jerky and frustrating. So while sometimes it may feel fantastic to come to an argument fully prepared and then crush your opponent, it’s not your job to do so.”

Because nothing is more exhausting than dealing with someone who’s mind is already made up on a topic but still wants you to personally “explain” your position to them. Particularly when there have other writings on the very same topic you can (and have) referred them to.

“She nailed something that many people seem reluctant to accept or engage with: Sometimes, people approach a discussion in bad faith. They’re not interested in having a conversation with you about a topic. They’re interested in riling you up, breaking you down, winding you up, and crushing you. They want to see you flail and get flustered and get angry. They feel like they’re proving some kind of ‘point’ by doing so, as though browbeating someone into an unwanted discussion and then refusing to actually engage is some kind of accomplishment.”

And that’s because punching down is always fun and easy.

“And you, yes, you, you have the ability to tell when someone is entering a conversation in bad faith. You really do. I promise. You don’t owe anyone anything, as Zeisler pointed out, and it’s okay to just drop the mic and walk away.”

Which is what I have done and will do in the future. Because I actually have a very basic and litmus test: will they actually read and critically engage in any of the references I provide. Most of the time I am not saying anything truly new in my observations. I am just simply really good at gathering and consolidating exiting resources. And I often know how to relocate orginal sources quickly. There is simply no need for me to have to re-articulate on a topic when anywhere from three to a dozen other people have already said the same thing.

“You have the right to choose whom you engage with, and when, and you get to decide how that engagement takes place. People who are not treating you with respect and giving a conversation their full attention are not worth your time, and you know who those people are.”

And at first I was surprised at just how many people, particularly formerly “good friends” suddenly showed their true colors and fall away when I started learning to respect and honor my own time, space, knowledge, skill, and boundaries. When I started telling people no, I am not going to expend my energy in that way any more. It was hurtful and painful at first, but I appreciate myself even more for doing so.

“This is about more than civility and respect for the people you talk to, but about a deeper need to engage with people who are actually interested in what you have to say.”

And the way I know they do want to respect what I have to say is if they demonstrate they respect what I have to offer, when I offer it, and how I offer it first.

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Disabled not disordered: autism and the social model

Autism through the Medium of Cats

I’ve often come across Autistic people who say, ‘I don’t see it as a disability.’

And then there are people who say they suffer from autism because they can’t get a job or they’ve been bullied.

In both cases I think the same thing: haven’t they heard of the social model? I don’t think enough people have.

The social model of disability is a way of thinking about disability in which disability results not from an individual’s neurological, physical or mental characteristics but from barriers created by society. The social model distinguishes between impairment, which is when someone has an unusually low ability to do something, and disability, which is when someone is prevented from full participation in society on the basis of an impairment. Society is built to accommodate the needs of the majority and not the needs of people with minority brains, bodies and minds. This is the…

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I hate to be a wet blanket here…

While I really do appreciate Lana coming out, and I would never be one to tell anyone where or how or when to come out, I do continue to feel there is another, more subtle message for trans woman in how this has all played out over the past 13 years:

“Get your fame, fortune, and success in early, before you transition, because there is likely little hope for trans women to do so after.”

Sure, Lana will now go on to be some sort of Golden Child.  Because now Media and HRC and all these progressives types will be able to hold her up and say “see, we have trans women too” all the ignoring the struggles of real trans women in their structures trying to even make a foothold.

I feel that Lana’s statement of coming out to inspire other aspiring trans women and girls who wish to be writers and directors is short sighted and Pollyanna.  I feel in all this, the only lessen Lana can teach is for aspiring youth to lay low, keep in the closet, and suppress their transness until they’ve achieved some level of success in their field, and then come out.

Because for real, would any of the film producers have given The Wachowski Starship the time of day if one of them was out as trans at the start of their career?  Would anyone do so today?

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I can say I got lucky… Not necessarily because of the school I attended, but because I am white, mostly able-bodied, highly functional, often granted conditional cissexual privilege, knowledgeable in certain aspects of social engineering, and skilled in navigating bureaucratic and social systems. Oh, and I was already done with some major aspects of transition (namely name change and presenting as a woman full time) prior to entering college. Lacking any of these really does make navigating academia almost nightmarish, and it pains and frustrates me when I see the struggles of friends and loved ones who are trans women.

I wonder sometimes if I have done some of them a disservice in how easily I was able to (mostly) navigate the system. I wonder if I made it look too easy.

Many of the points in this post also reiterate some of the reasons why I do want to pursue a career in academia. I know I have a long, difficult road ahead of me.

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