frith_in_thorns: An open black umbrella with small red hearts falling out of it (.Love)
I know I just made another post with youtube embeds, but. It's the 29th March in the UK now.

Been ten years waiting
But it's better late than the never
We've been told before
We can't wait one minute more

Ohh, me and my baby driving down
To a hilly seaside town in the rainfall
Ohh, me and my baby stand in line
You never seen a sight so fine
As the love that's gonna shine at City Hall

Me and my baby been through a lot of good and bad
Learned to kiss the sky
Made our mamas cry
Seen a lot of friends, after giving it all they had
Lay down and die
Lay down and die


Ten years waiting for this moment of fate
When we say the words and sign our names
If they take it away again someday
This beautiful thing won't change

Ohh, me and my baby driving down
To a hilly seaside town in the rainfall
Ohh, me and my baby stand in line
You never seen a sight so fine
As the love that's gonna shine at City Hall.
frith_in_thorns: Mako Mori with an umbrella above her head in the rain (PR Mako Mori)
I will write a thing for National Coming Out Day this year too.

I'm gay and ace. It took me several painful years and painful experiences before I knew that I was, and that I was allowed to be either of those things. But you probably already knew that about me. It's not the point of this post, really.

Here is the thing: coming out, for me, is a choice. And not an irrevocable, one-time thing, but a thing I have to do pretty much for each new person/situation I meet. I'm femme-presenting, and my body is in the range of shapes judged acceptable to be presented in that way. It's pretty easy for me not to "look" queer. And that can be incredibly frustrating: it's an endless social dance around oblique questions to new acquaintances to try and get a handle on their views, and bosses who ask casual questions about my assumed-male partner, and the moment of baffled confusion from every single estate agent when my girlfriend and I, who walked in holding hands, assure them that we're looking for a one-bed not a two-bed place.

(For weeks last year I was being harassed on my way into work by a group of young teenage boys. Their insult of choice as I biked past was "lesbian!". When I eventually mentioned this to the office boss he was horrified to learn about the harassment -- and also that I was being insulted specifically like that. But he was very very Christian, so I didn't feel I could say anything.)

But usually it's in my control. And that is a privilege, one that I can depend on and that keeps me safe.

For many, many others in my QUILTBAG community, it isn't a choice. She's too butch, he's too femme, she's too obviously trans*, ze's read differently by different people in the group ze's talking to.

Those of us who pass can hide behind those who can't. We use them, intentionally and accidentally, as shields between us and those who would harm us. (He looks queer, not her.) We talk about generalised statistics of violence against our community as if the burden doesn't fall with obscene disproportion on trans* women, and trans* women of colour at that. And it's not fucking good enough. It isn't.

This is one of the reasons I support the philosophy that those of us who can stay hidden should try to be out, assuming it's safe for us to do so (and what comprises "safe" is exclusively for an individual to decide). It can feel frightening and uncomfortable. But. We can help everyone by widening the umbrella of who's seen as queer, and by widening acceptance. We can help by boosting voices too much ignored, and by sharing resources, and by showing that ze's not alone in this group of people, in this room, in this company.

If we're going to claim community we need to be a community. This means no one gets thrown under buses because their needs are different, or more complicated, or less photogenic. This includes things like education and support -- those of us who get passing privilege need to take our share of this.

We talk about wanting better allies. We need to be better allies.
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Diana 2)
There is a growing prevalence at the moment for Neal/Diana fic. This upsets me a lot, and I'm going to talk about why.

Disclaimer: I am not censoring anyone (since I am not a government entity, it would be literally impossible for me to do so). It is everyone's personal choice to write what they write. I am just trying to explain why this particular choice is very loaded, and problematic, and capable of hurting people. Not everyone feels like this, obviously. I don't speak on behalf of any group.

(If you're going to comment with YKINMK, or some variety of "don't read, then", please don't bother. I don't need to read the fic to have it glare in my face as I scroll down my flist.)

Diana, you see, identifies as a lesbian, at multiple points in canon. Very clearly and unambiguously. She has expressed her lack of attraction to men in general and to Neal specifically.

Writing her otherwise is erasure.

The obvious (and very tired) retort is "but what about writing straight characters as gay/bi? That happens all the time!"

Firstly, I can only think of two characters I have ever seen who have actually stated themselves to be straight (Pete from Warehouse 13 and John from BBC Sherlock, if you're curious). Because we live in a heterocentric society, characters (and people) are assumed to be straight unless and until they state otherwise. Coming out is hard, and it isn't a one-time event -- if you're lucky enough to have passing privilege you have to come out again, and again, and again, to each new group of people. It's SCARY. Even then, it can be really hard to get people to respect your identity -- think of all the "you just haven't met the right man/woman yet" bullshit.

And secondly: writing a straight or assumed-straight character as queer is an act of subversion. In our heterosexist society, our media suffers deeply from an overabundance of assumed-straight characters, and a lack of meaningful representation for queer people. Taking assumed-straight chars and writing them as queer can be powerful: it's forcing ourselves into spaces which actively try to keep us out. It's saying, We can be main characters. We can be heroes. We belong here.

Taking a gay character, one of the very few textually gay characters, and writing them into a straight relationship is a fucking kick in the teeth. No way to sugar-coat it, I'm afraid, and I don't want to.

I was talking a moment ago about the lack of respect for queer people, and queer identities, and this is a part of that. Writing a gay character in a het relationship does not happen in a vacuum -- it happens in a context where gay characters are already crumbs compared to the spread of assumed-straight characters. Where we all know that creators can and do take them away from us at any moment (Moffat's Irene Adler, I'm looking at you). Where (usually) straight people feel completely justified in continually questioning self-professed queerness, and so many media narratives glorify the gay-identified person finding that they "just happen" to fall in love with someone of the opposite gender. Where "she'd like it if she just tried it" is a meme, one that makes people feel justified into coercing or forcing gay people into sex they don't want. Where we all know that you might not really be gay -- maybe you're just confused, or immature, or waiting for the right man.

There are reasons to write a pairing like Neal/Diana. Because you find the thought of them together hot. Because you enjoy their interactions, and want to write more of them, and a relationship is an easy way of doing that. Because you just feel like it.

There are reasons not to. Because it hurts people to see that one of the few characters they can identify with, that they can count as one of them, other people feel justified in claiming for the over-represented majority instead. Because you respect representations of queer identities. Because, whether you agree with them or not, you realise that writing het ships for gay characters makes people upset and hurt.

You can choose which of those reasons you care the most about. But you ARE making a choice. And you're displaying it in public every time you write this pairing. Please, consider choosing not to.
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Writing - Universe)
Today at lunchtime, the conversation topic comes round to the elections. I proceed to have Feelings everywhere.

Matt: Oh, I didn't realise you liked talking about politics!
Me: Most people are surprised when I stop :P

On that note, if you haven't yet, please please vote. And please don't vote for Romney. Unless you enjoy fucking over women and queers and poor people, of course! :D
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Diana 2)
I have some thoughts for (Inter)National Coming Out Day.

If I'd posted this when I opened this tab, a few hours ago, it would be a happier post. About 70% of my facebook feed today has been taken up friends posting statuses about it, and it's fun, you know, to actually see a load of us all being vocal at once. To talk about issues in public, and have people who normally refuse to listen read the threads because we're talking about something positive. (That said, the thread on my status has devolved into a discussion on tea and on whether it's unforgivably antisocial to read a book during sex.)

But. Something about getting quick, supportive "Likes" or comments from people who feel happy tossing around identities as pejoratives, or from the guy in my gaming group who I've had long, long arguments with about his "right" to call people f*ggots or to be a racist douche -- well. It's that easy, is it, to do your bit and assert you support us. Today. Just today.

There is an LGBTQsoc stand at Freshers' Fair. And every year, lots and lots of straight people come up and say something along the lines of, "I'm not queer, but am I allowed to sign up anyway?"

"Oh yes," the people on the stand say. "In fact, you can also sign onto the mailing list for the activism branch of the society! We're working towards things like improving the uni environment for queer people, writing political letters, and all that sort of stuff. We always need more allies."

"Oh. Actually, I only want to join in on the social side of things. You know, the drinks nights?"

Lots and lots and lots of people. Every time. We'll be your allies while it's fun for us. Not when it's work. When you have to sit back sometimes, and give up things you like, and speak up when no one else does.

I am remarkably privileged. I am white and my parents are comfortably middle-class and I can usually hide my crazy and I can talk about being gay and poly and ace because it's safe for me to do so. I get angry about microaggressions and slurs and I am so incredibly lucky because I am safe.

Acceptance is good. Acceptance is important. Action is more important, because this world is so far from good enough. I can come out, but we have gay kids and trans* kids living on the streets and we have people being murdered in all these countries we live in and we are not doing enough. I am not doing enough. We all need to work so much harder.

Days of Things are all very well, but it's the rest of the year that's important. What you're doing then. Who you're remembering. What actions you're taking to make the world better on all those other days.
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Zundry - bobtail squid)
One exam down. I am very wiped out, but I answered questions, which is a good thing. Send pictures of baby animals and Neal Caffrey.

Because I wouldn't be me if I wasn't geeking out about random bits of biological experiments, this was my favourite question:

"In older experiments aimed at testing the hypothesis that bees estimate distance from energy consumption, worker bees were made to carry small weights. The bees struggled even to gain height when loaded, and overestimated the distance that they had travelled. It was concluded that the bees were using their energy consumption to estimate distance. Provide an alternative explanation of these results."

They put little weights on bees and made them fly around, you guys!! :D Sadly the paper doesn't reference it, so I don't know what the weights were made of...

I don't have an exam tomorrow, and I'm really tired, so I shall now drink wine and pretend that there isn't at least one person I badly want to murder.

frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Zundry - rainbow jelly)
Hello! This is mainly of use to people currently in Oxford. But I shall spam everyone with it anyway. Since I spend most of my LJ time spamming Ox-friends with fandom, it seems only fair :P

To copy the blurb I wrote for the Facebook event:

"On the week beginning 25th March, Exeter College is hosting the group Christian Concern to hold a conference. Christian Concern ( is anti-lgbtq rights, anti-Islam, and anti-choice.

We believe that these values have no place in Oxford and should not be implicitly supported by allowing the group to hold a conference here. Therefore we will be protesting on Turl Street, outside the conference, to make it clear that Oxford, and the student body, is absolutely opposed."

An article written for the Guardian about the situation is here.

So! I'm pretty sure I invited nearly all of you via FB, but this is another plug in case you'd forgotten. Come and join us, from 11 by the Missing Bean. We've not been allowed to know exactly when the people are arriving, so we'll potentially be there all afternoon, come and join us any time. Bring banners and stuff! (Don't bring glitterbombs, it's bad for the environment and we promised Exeter we wouldn't. Also we really don't want to be in trouble with the police.)

Also, in case it's unclear: This is in no way an anti-Christianity protest, many of the protesters identify as Christians. This is a protest against the hosting (and therefore implicit/implied support or at least lack-of-problem-with) a group with political pull which in the UK is one of the main campaigners against gay marriage, against abortion, against people who are non-Christian.

The LGBTQ campaign had a banner-painting picnic this afternoon in the parks, some photos are below the cut for your entertainment. I'm the one with the dinosaur t-shirt and the extremely frizzy hair, if you wanted to know. Also the one who's signs look like they were made by a 10-yr-old XD (I like rainbows, okay :P)

Permission was given to use these photos as publicity. )

Expect a photo-heavy post tomorrow evening of how it goes! :D
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Merlin - Gwen+Morgana - chibi kissing)
The UK government is currently running a public consultation on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

Go and reply to it. It's very quick - you can just check the boxes, even. (I'm assuming you're all in favour - if you aren't I have to wonder if I'm on your flist by accident :P)

I don't see anything that says you have to be a UK citizen to reply.
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Firefly - Misc - can't take sky)
Today, disabled campaigner Sue Marsh has released her Report for Responsible Reform -- the 'Spartacus report' -- into the proposed changes to DLA: a report entirely funded by a group of sick and disabled people who I'm proud to count myself as part of.

To quote from the press release to demonstrate why this report is so important:

Among the report’s conclusions:

* Only 7% of organisations that took part in the consultation were fully in support of plans to replace DLA with PIP

* There was overwhelming opposition in the consultation responses to nearly all of the government’s proposals for DLA reform

* The government has consistently used inaccurate figures to exaggerate the rise in DLA claimants

* 98% of those who responded opposed plans to change the qualifying period for PIP from three months (as it is with DLA) to six months

* 90% opposed plans for a new assessment, which disabled people fear will be far too similar to the much-criticised work capability assessment used to test eligibility for employment and support allowance (ESA)

* Respondents to the consultation repeatedly warned that the government’s plans could breach the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The report can be found HERE. Please, especially if you're in the UK, read it. Today, we need to make a lot of noise about it. #spartacusreport is currently trending on Twitter, which is amazing. This has the potential to save lives. People are already dying because of these reforms.

This is important. This is the most important thing you will read today. Please, support us.

frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (AtLA - Mai - blade glint)
Suddenly there seems to be mass OH NOES THE EVIL IMMIGRANTS ARE TRYING TO CANCEL CHRISTMAS panic all over my facebook feed, with a sidenote of THIS IS OUR COUNTRY. Delightful.

Well, I've been considering a friend cull for a while...

ETA: At least one of these people is American. DO YOU KNOW WHAT DAY YOU'RE CELEBRATING RIGHT NOW.
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Default)
On Monday I'm planning to go to a protest in London. If you're free then you might be interested in coming along too.

(I hate to beg, but: relevant friends in Oxford/London, please may I crash on someone's floor afterwards for the night, if it's not too much bother? The train connections I need to get all the way home in the evening are mostly absent, and it would be a massive help. I can compensate you!)

The protest is against the, quite frankly, evil cuts this government is making to Welfare for people with disabilities - among other things, stating that they have a target of reducing the people who are paid Disability Living Allowance (which is paid regardless of working status, and designed to reflect the additional costs to living associated with having a disability) by 20%. To stop paying Employment Maintainance Allowance after a year (because disabilities totally vanish when there's no money!). To remove mobility payments to people in care homes, meaning that many will become virtual prisioners - these payments are often used by care homes to, eg, fund an accesable minibus, and to provide wheelchairs. Cutting the respite care hours for families, including those where a child takes care of a parent.

None of these measures are going to solve the deficit. They are penny-pinching, and they are going completly against promises made by Cameron during his election campaining, and they are downright evil. They are going to kill people. (I'm not joking.)

You can read an article at The Guardian, here, which sums up the key points pretty neatly, and if you want more details on what specifically is affected, and how, you might like to read some of the posts on Where's The Benefit?, a blog set up in response. Or personal stories on how these cuts are going to have huge and horrible impacts on people on another related blog, One Month Before Heartbreak.

Here is the page with the information about Monday,. I'm nervous about going on my own (outside! in a big city! with strangers!), but to me, after having been following these blogs and reading about the planned cuts for months, I think I have to. This is important.

on sexism

Jun. 16th, 2010 11:51 pm
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Amy - brighter)
Today, while revising, I realised that one of the majorly influential scientific papers I've studied (and wrote an essay on last term) was written by a woman.  I'm ashamed to say that my first feeling was one of surprise, because I've come to take it for granted that all the important papers and books in the field tend to be written by men.  My lecturers and tutors are mostly men (they're also all white, fwiw).  I'm rather uncomfortable that I've just been accepting this as the natural order of things.

Also, I was reading some articles in Science this afternoon (it's one of the really influencial journals, in case you didn't know that), and this issue contains several stories about how clinical trials and the like are biased towards using men as the standard test subject -- with ratios in the terms of five or six to one.  It isn't even confined to humans -- the same bias holds true in research on lab animals.  Males are much more likely to be used unless females are specifically required.  This leads to treatment for women being far less evidence-based than treatment for men. 

Pertinant quotes (full text here, but it's subscription-only): "Differences in the physiology of males and females, and in their response to disease, have been recognized for decades in many species — not least Homo sapiens. The literature on these differences now encompasses everything from variations in gene expression between male and female mice, to a higher susceptibility to adverse drug reactions in women compared with men. Moreover, hormones made by the ovaries are known to influence symptoms in human diseases ranging from multiple sclerosis to epilepsy.

Funding agencies and researchers alike should also start thinking seriously about how to deal with the most fundamental sex difference: pregnancy. Pregnant women get ill, and sick women get pregnant. They need therapies, too, even though they are carrying a highly vulnerable fetus and their bodies are undergoing massive changes in hormonal balance, immune function and much else besides. Entering pregnant women in clinical trials is problematic in the extreme, for a host of ethical reasons. But ignoring the problem is not an answer either — the result is that physicians will prescribe drugs whose effects during pregnancy are poorly known."

Several of us at college had a picnic on the lawn this evening, at which I brought up this topic, since it was fresh in my mind.  We were mostly girls.  One of my friends (female) immediately tried to shoot me down, saying that she hated feminists, because "they're just a load of women whinging about imaginary problems".  According to her, we're ~allowed~ to complain in private (mostly in the silence of our heads), but she doesn't see why it's in any way important to actually voice concerns in public, where those we're complaining about can hear us.  All we're doing, as women, is making ourselves look easily offended and whingy.  And everyone knows that women complain too much already!

This girl?  She's a PPEist (politcal).  Actually pretty damn likely to end up in parliment, but doesn't think that the underrepresentation of women is any sort of problem.  To be fair, two of the other girls who backed me up were also PPEists, but still.  The guys all stayed quiet, apart from the guy who's FTM who also agreed with me.

Along similar lines, who else has heard about the fail going on at CBS?  They have a show, Criminal Minds, which has excellent plotlines and an excellent cast, including some of the strongest female characters on television.  The male:female ratio is 4:3.  Now it's just been announced that, to "save costs", one of the women is being outright dumped from the show and another is having her screentime dramatically reduced, so that she will only appear in a fraction of episodes.  Non of the male cast members are being affected by the "cost issues".  Coincidentally, or not, the single surviving woman is the one who is by far the most girly of the three.  The fail here is what I'd call pretty dramatic.
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Star jar)
Note: the general 'you' is in use throughout this post.

I want to link to this post by [ profile] phaetonschariot today.  Go read it now, because the rest of this post is going to assume that you have.  It's meta, although it's headed like a fic, but the header is what's being discussed in the meta.

I lurk around quite a few meta places on LJ, and this topic's been flying around lately, particularly on [ profile] fanficrants , and side-by-side with numerous ship wars, where it usually takes the form of (as illustrated by this post) "X IS NOT GAY! YOU'RE BREAKING CANON! STOP MAKING THEM GAY" - and while that was written in that post as an over-the-top example, some people were actually agreeing with it.  (Because of course your personal opinions that everyone is straight until proven otherwise, and never ever bisexual, should dictate what everyone else is allowed to write and read.  ::eyeroll::)

From that you may be able to work out that I fully agree with [ profile] phaetonschariot 's post.  Because however much to try to colour it as a 'squick', it really is offensive to demand that non-straight relationships should be warned for by others, and especially if you're then surprised that people do get offended by your reaction.  Maybe I've been reading too much SGA fic, but it does seem that this fandom has pretty bitter feelings between those who write slash and those who write het.  I recently dipped into the Criminal Minds fandom and was very surprised by the sheer amount of multishipping there - I'm honestly not sure which pairing has the majority.  Possibly Aaron/Emily or Emily/Jennifer.  (Seriously, I was quite amazed by the amount of femslash - in most fandoms those pairings tend to be shoved up on a metaphorical dusty shelf and barely ever looked at.)

Yeah, that's about all I have to say.  I know that I mostly stick to gen myself because I'm not really a romance fan in general, but when I do read pairings, I'm pretty indiscriminante about them.  I've just been stumbling across this homo- and bi-phobic attitude a lot online lately, and it's really pissing me off.

In the interests of TMI disclosure, I write this as someone who's still not entirely sure whether I identify as bisexual or asexual.  Which doesn't make much sense, I know, but yeah :P

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