In the interests of full disclosure I haven’t had a good year since 2008 but 2014 has been particularly fucking awful and I don’t think it’s just me.
I’m not going to go into the reasons why I’m glad to see the back of 2014. Some nice things happened in my personal life which, while they didn’t counter the many many horrible things, are the reason I’m still here to write this. I’d like to say thank you to any of my real life and online friends and family who read this. Without you guys I couldn’t have made it through.
In the wider world we’ve seen wars and rumours of war, business as usual throughout all of recorded history, but they’ve been particularly nasty and confusing. There’s no such thing as a good war when you’re in it but the level of atrocities this year seem to be particularly bad. Civilians being bombed and kidnaped and held hostage, beheaded, or forced into marriage. Entire populations being used as bargaining chips. A civilian passenger jet was shot down and the wreckage became just another political football.
And for those of us outside the war zone there seems to be nothing we can do to help. It’s like watching from an upstairs window as the family across the street fights each other to the death inside a burning house with their children trapped upstairs.
There’s been a global backlash against this pesky idea of women being actual people with rights and everything. Well that’s what it feels like. Some of it is really just a kind of tipping point. We’ve reached a place where women are feeling more and more comfortable about speaking out which makes the mistreatment, harassment and oppression a whole lot more visable.
Some of this apparent backlash is just the stuff that was always happening suddenly being dragged into the light of day. This stuff is not new but we’ve all been pretending that it either wasn’t there or was somehow ok. But when it you pin it to the dissection table and really look at it you see how vile it truly is.
This is where the real backlash comes in. A lot of people would prefer to go back to not thinking about this. I understand that, I really do. No one wants to think about Female Genital Mutilation, or child brides, or the grooming of children in care, or the endemic under-reporting of rape, or the epidemic of violence against trans-women, or the sexualsation of underage girls (particualraly girls of colour), or the million daily micro-agressions that come with being female. Of course no one wants to think about it. It’s fucking horrible.
When forced to confront this stuff some of us take a deep breath and we say “Well that shit is horrible we really ought to do something about it.” But some of us would rather pretend that it wasn’t there. Some of us just want everyone else to shut up about it.
And then there are those who just don’t believe it. There are people, and they are mostly male, who say that because this shit isn’t happening where they can see it that it must not be happening at all. Which is clearly bullshit. That’s like saying that electricity is magic because you personally have never seen an electron.
And then there are those, virtually all men, who are convinced that everything would be better if they could go back to pretending that women were just objects with no real autonomy or feelings or rights. These are the really dangerous arsholes.
2014 was also the year it became impossible for white people of conscience to continue to pretend that we live in a post racial society. In the UK we’ve seen the rise of UKIP. Right wing parties have been on the rise all over Europe. In America we’ve had a timely reminder that the cops can kill pretty much anyone and get away with it but they mainly seem to kill black people. We’ve also seen a lot of white people trying to justify this by blaming the victims. Shame on you.
As the right to same sex marriage moves round the globe we’ve seen a continued pushback from people who use religion as an excuse to object to the happiness of others. Be honest with yourselves – the real problem you have with same sex marriage is either “Ewww Gross!” or “I had to pretend to be straight and so should you.”
My big message to people as we move into a new, and hopefully better, year is:
If you don’t understand that other people’s experience of life may be different from yours then you need to find a responsible adult to take care of you. You have failed to absorb a lesson that most of us learn as toddlers or young children. Also stop fucking killing people.