Be careful what you wish for

I realised a strange thing this week. Through the power of the internet I saw a Natzi go from blustering about his power to weeping in fear that police might shoot him. The comment section was full of people holding him up as an example of the fundamental weakness of Natzis as a group. Something about it seemed familiar. A also saw a young man who marched with Natzi’s and thinks that multiculturalism is cancer but swears he isn’t a Natzi complaining about getting death threats over the internet. Something about that seemed familiar too.

I realised that they were experiencing what it’s like to belong to a minority. They’ve been saying for years that white men are the ones who are really oppressed and now they get to find out what that’s actually like. You see when a woman fails she fails on behalf of all women. When a person of colour breaks the law the reaction is disproportionately harsh. When any member of a minority sticks their head above the metaphorical parapet someone will try to shoot it off. One needs privilege to survive mediocrity and incompetence.

I have no illusions that it will last. Either things are going to get very dark or the Natzis will climb back into their holes for a while and people will forget that there are still Natzis in the world. Very soon it will again be possible for white people to espouse the beliefs that sent millions to the gas chambers and plunged the world into war and other white people will pretend that they don’t really mean it.

But for a while perhaps thost of us who really do face discrimination and oppression are allowed a little schadenfreude at the idea of Natzis finding out what it’s like. They really don’t seem to have the constitution for it.

Well suck it up, buttercup. This is what life is like for everyone who isn’t an able-bodied, cis-gendered, heterosexual white man. This is what the rest of us put up with while you’re whining on the internet about how women oppress you by refusing your advances or sleeping with men you don’t approve of. While you’re blaming immigrants for depressed wages and affirmative action for keeping you out of your ‘rightful’ job the rest of us have been working twice as hard for half as much and being told that we should be grateful for it.

The Zeppelins are due on main street

Once again I return to the subject of how messed up everything is right now. For those who’ve missed my previous posts on the subject the title of this one is a joke about how in fiction Zeppelins are often a signifier of alternative reality.

If you’ve studied much history you’ll know that sometimes stuff happened that makes us look back and wonder exactly what Clio (muse of history) was smoking. There was a time when tulips were so sought after that a single bulb could sell for more than a house. There was a time when Britain used opium to pick two fights with China because China wouldn’t sell Britian enough tea and somehow Britain won. There was a time when armed gangs roamed the wild west of the U.S. battling over the remains of ancient monsters . There’s a period of European history (1870 -1914) known as the Great Binge because everyone who could afford it was constantly off their faces with a combination of drugs and alcohol. In 1932 Australia went to war against Emus (actual birds) and lost.

I think that we’re living through one of those periods right now. In the future people are going to look back and wonder if the train of reality somehow jumped its tracks. That’s assuming that there is a future and that the people alive then will have anything to look back on other than a giant crater.

Lets take a look at some of the fun things that have happened in little over a year:

  • Widespread clown panics that suddenly stopped when a man many deride as a clown was elected to lead the United States of America.
  • The British Electorate voted to leave the EU and then the British Government tried to aggressively implement that vote without apparently having any sort of map or plan about how to do it.
  • The Northern Irish Assembly fell apart over a financial scandal, there still isn’t a new Assembly in place, but Northern Ireland voted against leaving the EU so Ireland could be about to reunify? Maybe?
  • Scotland votes to remain in the EU. The UK Government refuses to let Scotland remain without the rest of the UK. The SNP led Scottish Government votes to hold a referendum on Independence (again). The UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, calls this decision divisive and says that it’s the wrong time and continues to say that right up until she calls a snap General Election that she had repeatedly said the could not and would not call.
  • In the wake of the election of a reality TV star with zero relevant experience or expertise the US begins a slide into a dystopian failed state. This slide is repeatedly halted by lawyers working for free and judges who’ve somehow become the enemy of the establishment. Scientists steal back their own climate science data before the White House deletes it. The US parks service goes rogue and leads the resistance.
  • The French presidential election is going to be a runoff between a fascist and the representative of a new political movement who is most famous for having married his former school teacher.
  • The apparent terrorist attack on a German Soccer team bus turned out to be an attempted financial scam by stock price manipulation.
  • The government of Chechnya has decided that now is the perfect time for a gay genocide. Presumably they think that Trump will distract everyone.
  • Marco Rubio, previously not a friend of LGBTQA rights, stands up and denounces the gay genocide. Has he discovered that he actually has both a spine and a conscience or this this just because Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya, is Vladimir Putin’s other boyfriend?
  • Russia has built a replica of the German parliament, the Reichstag, so the army could re-enact storming it. There is nothing at all threatening about the fact that the replica is based on the contemporary Reichstag rather than the way it looked in 1945 when the Red Army actually stormed it.
  • Kim Jong Un, the world’s favourite cosplay dictator, is so upset by now being the third or fourth craziest world leader that he has tried to pick a fight with the US. Presumably he’s banking on Donald Trump not knowing where North Korea is and launching missiles at North Virginia instead.
  • In the US the Republican Party narrowly avoids another Government shutdown in the face of opposition from the Republican president and the Republican held Senate and House of Representatives. The Democrats are confused by the Republicans taking the positions as both the party of government and the party of opposition. Democrats may have to start disguising themselves as Republicans in order to more effectively oppose the policies of the President. Or maybe judges. Or Scientists. Or park rangers.

Am I in a coma or something? Is this all a hallucination? The rest of you are seeing this stuff too, right?

Please don’t kill me.

The UK is facing an unexpected election in June.  I have a message for everyone eligible to vote in it – I’m a human being, my disability doesn’t make me any less human, people like me don’t deserve to die just so that our elected leaders can pursue a dream of austerity that most reputable economists regard as purest bunkum.

You might be wondering what on earth I’m going on about. It’s not like anyone is talking about loading disabled people on to cattle trucks. Yet. So here’s some further reading for you:

If you vote Conservative you’re voting for people who don’t care about child poverty, the working poor, or disabled people. You’re voting for people who can’t even lie consistently. You’re voting for people who claim that they are subsidising an entire nation (Scotland) while refusing to subsidise a spare room to store the equipment needed by a disabled child.

A vote for the Conservatives says that you’re just fine with selling off the NHS. It says that you think filling in an 8 page form about sexual assault is a reasonable burden to place on a woman just trying to get tax credits for a third child. It’s saying that you think the 50,000 disabled people who have already lost their motability vehicles are better off indoors.

Whatever else you think you’re doing when you put your X in the box marked Conservative And Unionist Party you’re also telling me and people like me to just fuck off and die quietly.

Do the thing now

If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently (and I really should have learned it a long time ago but sometimes I am hard of thinking) it’s that you should always do the thing now. Don’t put things off. If you can afford it, if you’re physically able, if you have the time or you can make the time. Do it now.

Clean up the mess as soon as you notice the mess. Wear the nice outfit while it still fits. Go see the film before someone spoils it for you. Tell the people that you care about that you care about them while they’re still around to hear it. Don’t wait for some far off perfect future to write your novel. Do the thing now.

I wanted to go and see Logan on Monday. I was really tempted to book the tickets on Sunday but I didn’t and when Monday came around my other half wasn’t really feeling it and we didn’t want to cook and see a film and we couldn’t afford take out and tickets and so we didn’t. We put it off.

Then we got some bad news. News so bad that it colours everything. I could still go and see the film but I’ll never enjoy it as much now as if I’d gone on Monday. And with every passing day the temptation to spend the ticket money on something more sensible grows. It becomes more and more likely that I’ll never see the film.

It will become the latest in a long line of lost joys. These are the things that would have given me a tiny spark of joy but didn’t because I didn’t do them. I put them off. Or decided they weren’t sensible choices. I waited and the moment was gone.

This does not change my positions on technology and computer games though. Leave the early adopting to people who get a kick out of being first. Let them deal with all the bugs and the glitches and the exploding batteries. Buy the fancy new kit when the price drops in anticipation of the next model coming out. If you can stand to wait for the computer game at all then wait for the game of the year edition or the Steam sale.

Not that I expect I’ll be able to follow my own advice. I give it 6 months before I make exactly the same mistake again and I’m back here saying this all over again.

Just another Genre Rant

So today I joined QueryTracker. It’s a website that’s supposed to make querying easier. For me it fell at the first hurdle. The very first question it asked me was what genre my book was and it offered a pull down menu. Only the menu didn’t feature Urban Fantasy, or Contemporary Urban Fantasy, or Supernatural.

That meant I had to pick one from Crime/Police, Horror, Fantasy, Suspense/Thriller, Action and Quirky/Offbeat. For fucks sake will you people all agree on what the fucking boxes are.

I hate putting my novel (any of my novels) in just one genre box. My stories never fit in a single box without hacking bits off. That’s just the way my brain works. I understand why the boxes have to exist. I have to be able to tell a prospective agent what sort of thing it is so that they know if they can represent it. They have to tell a prospective publisher what sort of thing it is so that they know if they can market it. The marketing has to tell a prospective reader what sort of thing it is so that they know if they’re likely to enjoy it.

But how can I tell you what it is if there’s no agreement on what the boxes even are? I’m starting to think I should just make up a genre for all the meaning attached to them. I can’t pitch a story that’s mostly set in the real world as Fantasy. I can’t pitch a story that features witches and demons as Crime/Police even if there’s a crime and one of the POV characters is a cop. What does Quirky/Offbeat even mean? Is that the one you’re supposed to tick when what you want to tick is all/none of the above?

And before someone tells me that I should just self publish (the I’ll make my own publishing house with black jack and hookers option) I’ll still have to pick a genre for Amazon etc. I’ll still be putting my story in a box. And it will still be the wrong fucking box to find at least some of the readers.

When I rule the world writers will be able to beam their stories directly into the minds of the unsuspecting public. That’s how you cut out the middle man.

2016: why do you hate us so?

I’ve just come back inside from doing a quick Zeppelin check. Sadly the lack of airships in the sky means that we probably haven’t accidentally side-slipped into an alternative universe.

I can’t say the result of the US Presidential Election was a surprise. It’s exactly the same thing as happened with the Brexit vote. A largely ignored section of the electorate, angry with the establishment, voting for the people who are telling them what they want to hear. It’s been so long since politicians payed them any attention that they’ve had a generation or more to forget the old lesson that when a politician is telling you everything you want to hear then they are lying to you.

And the man does lie. He lies like the rest of us breathe.

But at least we all know where we stand now. America is the most sexist First World country. The global economy is going to be fucked for a while. If you’re not white, not Christian, not male, not heterosexual, non gender-conforming, not able-bodied and not rich then your life is going to be considerably harder. Everyone in the English-speaking world is going to suddenly be an expert on American constitutional law just so we can work out how fucked we all are.

And just like Britain post Brexit the fascists are out of their box. It’s going to take a lot of work to put them back in. While they’re out America is going to see an uptick in racist/homophobic/anti-immigrant attacks. The tacit acceptance of sexual assault is going to probably lead to an increase in rape and harassment. We might even see a rise in fat-shaming leading to an increase in eating disorders.

I don’t know what to say except that now might be a good time to start building a bunker. And if you are building a bunker maybe you should make it a community project. And try to make it a diverse community of equals. Because if we do have to re-build from scratch the least we can do is to make a better job of it.

Today I will attempt an opinion, but mainly an apology.

You might have noticed that yesterday (8th of March) was International Women’s Day.  You can usually tell it’s International Women’s Day by the apparently never-ending tide of arseholes saying “When’s International Men’s Day?”

You’ll notice I said “arseholes” rather than “men”.  That’s because, while all of them were arseholes, not all of them were men and because many of the people joining the online chorus of “It’s every other day of the fucking year you hopeless cockwomble” were men.

As a woman and a feminist I must confess that in the past I have been somewhat dismissive of Men’s Rights and Meninists.  I still think Meninist is a horrible, ungraceful word but that’s hardly the point. This International Women’s Day I’ve taken stock and I’ve realized that men have a lot to be angry about and it’s all the same things that most feminists are angry about just for different reasons.

For example.  Men’s Rights Activists often complain about the way men are portrayed in adverts and I’ve been assuming they were complaining about those adverts aimed at women where men are useless, bumbling idiots or incompetent bores.  Those adverts certainly bug the hell out of me.  How dare an advertiser think that the way to sell me something is by denigrating 50% of humanity.  How dare they adopt this “We’re all girls together here and aren’t men horrible,” attitude?  I am not going to buy your shitty cleaning product because it’s simple enough for a man to use.  I am not joining your bingo web site because you promise to kidnap my husband.

Then I realized that maybe those aren’t the adverts they’re angry about.  Maybe they’re angry about the unnecessarily gendered snack adverts or the deodorant adds that treat women as objects.  Maybe they’re angry at being sold yogurt for men because advertisers think their masculinity is too fragile for regular yogurt.  Maybe they’re angry at adverts that assume that they’re shallow or childish or  secretly hate women?  Maybe they’re as angry at being told how to man as I am at being told how to woman?

I’ve also been thinking about dress codes.  Dress codes make me angry because they often contribute to the victim blaming attitudes of rape culture.  Dress codes usually place the onus on women and girls dressing “appropriately”.  They reinforce a false gender binary.  They make women the gatekeepers of human sexuality.  They contribute to the patriarchal assumption that sex is something all men want all the time, and woman have, and men have to somehow get it from us by hook or by crook.

No.  Sex is something that some people like doing with some other people.  No-one is owed it.  It’s not a prize.  It shouldn’t be your only goal in life.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting it.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying it.  There’s also nothing wrong with not wanting it, or not wanting it right now, or not wanting it with you.

But there’s another reason to be angry about dress codes.  Dress codes basically say that men and boys are little better than animals.  That you cannot control your base desires.  That you find a collar bone or a thigh so distracting that you loose the power of rational thought.  Dress codes contribute to the infantilsation of men.  Dress codes are the equivalent of hiding the jar of sweets so that the children don’t pester for them.

No wonder men are angry when the patriarchy treats them like children with all the impulse control of a grizzly bear smelling a picnic hamper.  “Oh noes,” says the patriarchy, “womens must hide the boobies.  If the mens sees the boobies they will loose control.”