Gender Recognition, Feminism, Intolerance, and Food Poverty. Linkspam!

A few things I think everyone should be reading today:

Why society still needs feminism

Just in case you were wondering:

Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night.

..Because a girl was roofied last semester at a local campus bar, and I heard someone say they think she should have been more careful. Being drugged is her fault, not the fault of the person who put drugs in her drink?

..Because out of 7 billion people on the planet, more than 1 billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. Women and girls have their clitorises cut out, acid thrown on them and broken bottles shoved up them as an act of war. Every second of every day. Every corner of the Earth.

And also, yeah, nobody burns their bras. Not on purpose, anyhow.

Poor little rich girl… Without the rich bit.

If you’re not reading Jack Monroe, you should be. I came for the cheap&tasty recipes, and stayed for the social commentary. And the recipes.

There’s a queer sort of juxtaposition that comes with Being Ms Jack Monroe at the moment.

I spent this afternoon emailing Councillors and other people regarding the recent decision to suspend my Housing Benefit claim based on the (incorrect) assumption that I am sitting on a £25k cheque from my publisher (I’m not) and am sitting on a pile of cheques from newspaper interview and TV appearances (I’m not).

But I was doing that, on the 1414 train from Southend Central to Fenchurch Street, as I’d just been invited to a fundraising dinner by a friend with a spare ticket, via the Soho Food Feast in Soho Square.

But it’s a queer kind of juxtaposition, when you have a beautiful dress to wear to dinner tonight, but on quick inspection of the shoe collection, decide that the soft chiffon dipped hem just won’t go with the shoes you were issued in the Fire Service, your brogues, or your one pair of trainers, so you hang it back in the wardrobe and decide you can’t justify buying a pair of shoes. Not even in the sale at Primark.

Transgender people seek State recognition to escape gender ‘limbo’

Orla Tinsley (who is excellent, by the way, and you should go follow her on Twitter immediately) has managed to do the impossible: write an article about trans* issues in a major national publication that isn’t going to get you a line, never mind a full house, on a trans* discussion bingo card.

Nineteen-year-old student Tyron (he wants to be identified only by his first name) says it is easier to be young and transgender today but the lack of legislation does enable discrimination. “It’s easier than it was and it’s becoming a more known term,” says theNUI Maynooth student, who is currently looking for a job to pay his way through college.

“In interviews I only bring up my gender identity if they want to contact a previous employer,” he says. “Of the last three job interviews, only one was willing to hire a transgender person. The other two said it was not suitable for their working environment.”

It is also extremely important that you click that link in order to admire the extremely stylish tie which Ben borrowed off me for the photo. Yeah, I know, it’s a serious topic. But that’s my tie in the Irish Times!

Is intolerance prevalent in Ireland?

Aileen Donegan- another person with an excellent blog and twitter to follow- in TheJournal. Bet you guess the answer before you click. This, by the way, is a brilliant example of why we need to Shut Up And Listen when we’re privileged. Because otherwise we just don’t see whats going on.

As recently as April I asked a friend ‘Is racism big in Ireland?’ We were attending the same training course on hate speech. I guess my innocent question caught him off guard: ’Yes Aileen, racism is a hugeproblem in Ireland,’ he said with a tone of awe and surprise that offended me. Though Ireland, my home, has never seemed intolerant to me, the last week in news has given me some much-needed insight into Irish attitudes.

…The ECRI quote a disturbing statistic from the All-Ireland Traveller Health Study, which states that 7.6 per cent of Traveller families have no access to running water. Resistance from local residents, and the “lack of political will” of local authorities are cited as reasons why Traveller accommodation is difficult to attain in Irish society. This is hardly surprising. Remember when local residents set fire to a house that Travellers were set to live in?

(By the way? Don’t Read The Comments.)

Disabled man refused entry to nightclub after Scottish Charity Awards

Didja hear the one about the guy who had the police called on him for the crime of trying to get into a nightclub while disabled?

Actor Robert Softley Gale, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, attempted to enter the Polo Lounge in Glasgow with his husband Nathan Gale after attending the Scottish Charity Awards with the Equality Network.

They claim that the bouncers informed them that they could not enter because the nightclub didn’t have disabled facilities.

Despite the couple explaining that they wanted to enter the popular gay nightclub anyway, they say staff continued to refuse to allow them to enter.

“The manager came and said that they didn’t have disabled facilities so they weren’t letting us in,” Nathan told TFN. “We said, you can’t not let us in just because we’re disabled, that’s a violation of the Equality Act, but he still wouldn’t let us in.”

Charming. Oh, and Robert Softley Gale is yet another person to follow on Twitter. You guys, it’s all about the Twitter today. And speaking of disability and ableism, have something from Captain Awkward:

#487: I use a wheelchair, and people are condescending as fuck.

Dear Captain Awkward:

I’m woman in my late 30s who uses a power wheelchair due to a medical condition that causes severe physical fatigue.

Often, strangers – retail staff, waitstaff, members of the general public – assume that because I use a power wheelchair, I have an intellectual disability. I don’t. I have a university degree and I read widely.

How should I respond to people:

– talking loudly to me;
– talking to me in a sing-song voice;
– being condescending/patronizing;
– calling me love/sweetie;
– telling me that I remind them of their 12 year old daughter with Down syndrome;
– praising me for putting rubbish in a rubbish bin as though I’ve won a gold medal at the Olympics;
– telling me that you eat cupcakes?


Smart Crip Girl

You know that you want to hear what the Captain has to say.

A Racist B&B?

Speaking of intolerance, Tara Flynn’s husband got an unpleasant reminder that Ireland isn’t above blatant racism lately. Here’s what happened then:

On a recent trip home, I got a reminder that Ireland Of The Welcomes can be conditional.  By now very familiar with Kinsale, my husband offered to take the dog out for his last walk of the night. I sat chatting with my mum. 20 minutes later, my husband returned. He looked angry. “Well,” he said, “I haven’t been called those names in a while.” A group of young people standing outside a bar in the centre of town had shouted racist epithets at him. Some of those epithets have made it into my clip but we’ve decided to cover them with sound effects. They’re just too vile. They are shocking in the abstract and absolutely horrifying when applied to someone I love. In my hometown. In 2013.

My husband is a tolerant person. He just stared the namecallers down and they – like most cowards – shut up when faced with this silent challenge. He tried to laugh it off in the re-telling, saying it wasn’t his first time and that he’d heard worse. But that’s not the point.  I was mortified. Stunned. Fuming.

So I wrote a sketch about it.


One more thing

That’s all the links I’ve got for ya, but one more little thinglet before I go. Nominations have just opened for 2013’s Irish Blog Awards! Now, I’m not saying that you should immediately go and nominate me- I’m far too Irish for that sort of carry-on. Although I’ll admit that I do like getting the chance to dress up fancy and eat free canapes and photobomb legit fancy people. But shure have a think about who your favourite Irish bloggers are- I’m lookin’ at you, Geoff’s Shorts– and give a nomination to the people who deserve a bit of recognition. Remember: attention is to bloggers what money is to everyone else.

Gender Recognition, Feminism, Intolerance, and Food Poverty. Linkspam!

Hey, Ireland! Let’s talk about racism. Here. NOW.

TW for hella racism.

I’ve got a bone to pick with you, Ireland. You and me, we need to have a chat. And we need to do it now.

Listen, Ireland, I get that you think that we get a get-out-of-racism-free card. It’s true that anti-Irish racism has been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years and is still a thing in some places, and that a century and a bit ago we were starving in Famines while the other white people were off buying and selling human beings and we couldn’t even afford a decent potato. Yep. We had it pretty bad, back then.

That doesn’t mean we that our consciences were as lily-white as our delicate, sunburn-prone skins, though. For centuries, we’ve had a truly exceptional ability to hate people of a slightly different brand of Christianity to ourselves. The way that settled Irish people look on and act towards the Travelling community is horrible. And did you know we’ve historically done quite the line in anti-semitism as well? Shure didn’t we have our own pogrom down in Limerick in 1904.

So let’s not pretend, Ireland, that we either couldn’t be racist here or that racism is such a newfangled phenomenon ’round these parts that we simply don’t know how to recognise it when we see it. We’re not as innocent as we’d like to think.

So, since we have this long, varied history and culture of racism to draw on, precisely where did people get the idea that dressing up in blackface was okay?

I get it. It’s Halloween. Although you have a multitude of thousands of things to dress up as, you figure that there’s nothing quite like a white guy dragging it up and painting his face to be Whitney Houston for the night. You figure that being a fan makes up for a century or two of racist connotations and imagery. And, eh, your friends seem to agree:

Just in case you were unsure, a few guidelines for confused white people:

  • When POC tell you that a thing is racist, you take them at their word.
  • When POC tell you that a thing is racist, you do not tell them that they’re being oversensitive. It’s far, far more likely that you just don’t know what you’re talking about. Since they live with racism every day, they know more about it than you do.
  • If POC tell you a thing you did was racist, and if they are not sweet and polite about it, you don’t get to stomp off in a huff over your hurt fee-fees. You did a racist thing. People are well within their rights to be mad at you.
  • Intent is not magic. Not intending to be racist does not make a thing not racist. If I don’t mean to stand on your toe, but my foot is still on your toe, your toe is still going to hurt like hell. I don’t get to talk about how I didn’t mean to step on you without moving my foot.
  • Being gay/a woman/trans/disabled/working class and/or a member of any other marginalised group does not grant you a Get Out Of Racism Free card. This is the real world, not Monopoly. Oppression of one kind doesn’t magically make you incapable of being an asshat towards others.
  • By the way, doing a racist thing doesn’t magically turn you into a Nazi fascist KKK’er. It means you are a human person who did a thing you shouldn’t have done. If you’re not an ass about it, it doesn’t have to be the world’s biggest deal.
  • If you find out that a thing you did was racist, then the appropriate response is to apologise and stop doing that thing. Once you’ve stopped doing the thing, if you’re confused about why that thing was racist you can use this marvellous tool to find out why. You don’t get to go bothering the person who you’ve just been racist at about that racist thing you did. That’s just rude.

Wasn’t that easy?


After reading the comments, it’s become clear to me that a lot of people really don’t get why this is such a big deal. Over the next few days, I’ll be writing a couple of follow-up posts. The first is Why It Really Is That Bad: A brief history of blackface. The second will respond directly to some of the other concerns people have raised- I should get that up by tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest.

Hey, Ireland! Let’s talk about racism. Here. NOW.