sparkindarkness: (Default)


Really don't, because I'm beyond sick of it


I know, I know, you want to make it clear you're totally not a homophobe and it's not about the same-sex couple you just don't like PDAs - of any kind!


But the ONLY time this gets trotted out, certainly in any large numbers, is when LGBT folk have shown the same public love for each other that cishet folks get to do repeatedly every single day.


I do not believe you decide to express your distaste for PDAs every time straight people kiss. I do not. Considering the saturation of straight affecting in the media you couldn't even read your toddler a fairy tale without having to tut "oh look at this PDA, how inappropriate" under your breath. If you turned on a television you would lose your voice having to repeat your disapproval so many times.


There is absolutely no way you express your disapproval of PDAs every time you're confronted by straight people kissing. You would be on permanent repeat, like a record that's skipping. 

You don't comment on straight PDAs but you hone in on the MUCH MUCH rarer same-sex PDAs to speak about? Yeah, that's some not-very-subtle shenanigans right there


And if you are genuinely unhappy with any PDA and this totally isn't isolated - then consider whether you need to express this NOW (because you DO let straight PDAs pass, don't even try to claim you don't). Even if you are super duper sure that you are totally not a homophobe in any way, shape or form, be aware that you do sound like one. Be aware that you are speaking in a context where a gazillion of your fellow straight folks constantly use such weasel ways to be homophobic in the hope they can wave the hate flag without backlash. Be aware that there's a whole bunch of straight people with unchallenged privilege and unquestioned prejudice who register, without even realising. same-sex PDA as obscene and needing reaction but don't even notice straight PDAs because they're background noise and you sounds a whole lot like them. Be aware of that "without even realising" and ask yourself how sure you are you AREN'T one of them.

Be aware that, to me and many other LGBT folks, you're part of a vast sea of straight people who've decided to express their disapproval over our relationships. Again. 

If you quack and waddle, how sure are you that you aren't a duck? Even if you aren't, you can't be surprised when we reach for the orange sauce

And does it suck that you're totally-well-meaning-and-not-homophobic-honest criticism is being lumped in with that sea of bigotry? Well, not nearly as much as it suck to drown in it.



This also applies to the "I think all marriage/adoption/surrogacy/IVF is wrong" but only say so when we're talking about same-sex couples engaging in them crowd as well.

sparkindarkness: (Default)
One of the eternal frustrations with trying to talk marginalisation with privileged people is the ignorance of what persecution actually means, what being marginalised actually means. Yes, I know, blink and step back “surely it’s obvious!?” right? I mean, groups that are marginalised are treated horrendously in a myriad of ways for centuries – how can we not know what that means?

And yet – how many times have we seen a marginalised person described some event in their lives where prejudice has screwed them over and you have some privileged person saying “oh, yeah, that’s just like what happens to me!” And then we to resort to the marginalised serenity prayer – give me the serenity not to kill this person with axes. Increasingly it seems I am lacking in serenity, on the plus side, I have no shortage of axes.

However, axe murdering does rather stain the carpet, and putting out plastic sheeting every time is a nuisance so can we actually address what marginalisation is and why privileged people don’t face it, even if they think they do?

So, let us begin with the “that happened to me too.” Ok, but does it feed into a societal pressure and habitual victimisation? Do things like that commonly happen to people like you, for that reason? Does it reflect or build on a major societal pressure?

Because this all matters. Say tomorrow I am walking down the street, leaving my firm and someone decides that he really really hates lawyers and decides to violently attack me with my own axe. Woe, I have been attacked, due to my profession. I have been victimised. Yet, if we take exactly the same attack and change one thing – that my attacker tried to kill me for being gay instead – and we’ve got an entirely different situation.

Being attacked as a lawyer wouldn’t make me worry about it happening again. It wouldn’t make me check the news for other attacks on lawyers and feel that fear every time I see it appear. I probably wouldn’t actually see any other incidents, or very few. I wouldn’t change my behaviour or worry about how I’m acting and what I’m saying. It wouldn’t send a message to all other lawyers that they’re under threat and their lives aren’t valued. I wouldn’t walk into a room full of non-lawyers and worry about being safe. I’d be pretty sure that it wasn’t part of societal attitudes to destroy me, drive me out or render me invisible (well, except for people who’ve seen one to many of those “I’ve had an accident” Underdog adverts, but even I want to punch them. After I’ve tracked down the Go Compare opera singer anyway). There won’t be powerful forces in authority encouraging people to discriminate against me for being a lawyer, to condemn me for it and to add to a culture of violence against lawyers. I can expect the press to report on my attack, rather than ignore it, I can rely on them not demonising me for being a lawyer. I am confident that, being attacked as a lawyer, my attacker will be treated like a criminal, I will be treated as a victim, I won’t be blamed for my attack, my attacker will be sentenced appropriately, the crime against will be treated as a grave one.

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sparkindarkness: (Default)

It's that simple.

No, I don't care what the “context” is. The context of these words is that they're dehumanising, lessening, othering terms that serve to reduce people, express contempt and plug into a history of hatred, violence and oppression. That is the context of these words. They bring their own context.

When you use them you don't divorce them from that context. You just spread the context – and the more you use them the more you make that context ok and acceptable. The more you present the idea that it's ok to refer to us by demeaning and dehumanising terms – which means it's ok to demean and dehumanise us – ok to present us as lesser, as other, as beneath. Whatever your reason is for talking about the f@gs doesn't change that you have put that word out there, with its context and its meaning, doesn't change that you, by your repetition, have added to making that word and the sentiment behind it acceptable.

And it's not ok.

And your context and your excuses don't help those who have had these used against us, whose flight or fight instinct kicks in the minute we see them, who have memories with teeth that are always waiting to ambush us. Your excuses don't prevent the panic, the fear, the worry, the constant looking over our shoulders

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Ok some things hang around far too long. They're not only wearing out their welcome, but they're lurching around, rotting, smelling like an extra on The Walking Dead.

And most certainly one of them is that old, stinking excuse “I have X friends” (or cousins, or co-workers or employees or someone who once passed you in the street) and it's related zombies “My friend said X”.

Apart from anything else, it's useless. I'm always amazed when one marginalised person says “hell no” and then some privileged person turns round and says “but my friend says...”. Why? Why does your reported friend overrule the marginalised person in front of you saying it's not ok? Sometimes even multiple marginalised people are supposed to bow to this. Does your friend have the grand imperial veto or something? Supreme Godfather of the Gay Agenda? International President of all Black People? Supreme Dictator of Translandia?

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It's that time again. There's anotehr sad litany of how homophobia and transphobia is a blight on our world - complete with the haters and the victims.

I think it's important to spread these, not just so we can see that this stuff happens and how damaging it is but I think it makes a point to bring them together - that this crap happens everywhere, literally and the common themes and links between them

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I have a huge list of pet hates because it's truly amazing how much privileged arseholery there is out there, but at the moment, swimming its way to the front of the list is:

“It's better than....”

“At least I'm not....”

For I tire of these excuses, I really do. I tire of the bare minimum being considered praiseworthy. And I tire of any prejudice short of the utter extreme being considered acceptable.

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So, there have been a few cases now and I feel moved to rant... err, I mean comment.

During the eternal meandering of the proposition 8 trial it was revealed that judge Waker was gay. And the haters were up in arms, frothing and furious! We can't have a gay judge decide that case! He'd be biased! How can he possibly be fair!? The whole case must be scrapped and re-decided with a fair (straight) judge!

And then we have a case of a gay prison inmate on trial for attacking a prison guard – the prosecution is quick to remove a lesbian from the jury. Uh-huh

And of course, they're not isolated cases, nor for that matter, are they limited to one country. It's not limited to one marginalisation for that matter. There's a pervasive idea that to be unbiased you have to be privileged. Simply because we are GBLT, we are inherently biased. We cannot be trusted to be fair, to make reasoned decisions, to be anything other than self-serving and selfish.

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One of the eternal habits of the homophobes that annoys me is the habit of appropriating the language of oppression. I'm sure we've all seen the various hate groups claiming how oppressed they are and how persecuted they are because they don't get to persecute us. After all, the EHRC bought into the line of the poor oppressed bigots not being able to be bigots and how awful that was...

And I will probably talk about that another day, particularly religious bigotry and how you aren't oppressed if you are denied the ability to persecute us.

But now I'm going to look at the whiny whiny bigots who oh-so-hate how meaaaaan we are because we call them, well, bigots.

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Tropes. Those lovely repeated little clichés we see in books, television and media in general over and over again. I won't say all tropes are bad – but when it comes to marginalised people, tropes have a specially unpleasant taste.

It comes down to the single story.

Marginalised people are not portrayed as broadly as dominant people. We don't have the same breadth and depth of stories told about us. Rather than a million paths and possibilities being laid out, the few portrayals that include us (and sheer lack of portrayals is one of the main problems with marginalised tropes. You can't show a plethora of stories if you're not going to show our stories at all) tend to walk down the same paths, follow the same roads, and repeat the same tropes, the same stereotypes and the same tired portrayals. It only hurts more when these tropes are insulting, offensive or are built on real world isms.

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I read this article about how grossly unrepresentative the judiciary is and I'm having a think

I am torn. Which seems odd. After all, the judiciary is grossly unrepresentative. It is extremely white, extremely male and, (though not mentioned by the article since we often fall through the cracks when discussing discrimination and representation) extremely straight as well as being overwhelmingly cis and able bodied..

Until relatively recently, to be a judge you had to be married. Sound bemusing? It was a rule brought in in the 1970s to expressly prevent gay people becoming judges. It was openly admitted that that was the reason for the rule.

When I left law school, the judiciary wasn't on my mind. In fact when I went to law school I knew it would be impossible. I also chose my law school on the understanding that I wouldn't be a judge and I would have little chance becoming a barrister if I wanted to be an openly gay man. I cynically – and realistically – assumed these doors would be closed and didn't try waste my time dragging at a locked door that would be so unlikely to open for me.

There have only ever been 2 openly gay judges in the High Court. One of whom has now moved off to the various echelons of EU law.

And we know that because of the various blinkers of privilege, this nearly all super-privileged judiciary is going to have big freaking holes in their understanding. We've seen in decisions and in processes that marginalised people of all stripes tend to get a rawer deal in the courts than the privileged, ye gods we know that.

So, why am I torn?

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sparkindarkness: (Default)
Ok, so I go round to someone's house and steal their money. I go through their drawers and remove all jewelry I can find. I load up any expensive, easy to move electronics like MP3 players, smartphones, laptops. I grab any loose cash and on the way out I find their keys and steal their car so I can move all the loot.

Days later I am arrested. The police find all the stolen goods with serial numbers proving they're form the victim's home, they find my finger prints everywhere, they've caught me on CCTV and I am now at a fence trying to sell the whole load. In short, I am caught red handed.

Faced with my outraged and upset victims I say “I'm sorry. I violated your home, I took your possessions, I'm sorry I hurt you. I'm not a thief...”


New post on the blog, clicky clicky
sparkindarkness: (Default)
Marginalisation comes with many costs. Many personal costs, costs to life, costs to lifestyle, and certainly costs to health. Being marginalised can hurt you in a myriad of ways and I'm sure most people can see that and understand that.

Which is why it never fails to annoy me – or cause me grey hairs – when privileged people use the symptoms of our marginalisation to further attack us. They take our scars and try to bludgeon us with them.

And rarely is this so clear than in the right wing cluckings about the “gay lifestyle.” Because that's a meme isn't it? That' we're unhealthy? That we're diseased? Even that *gasp* being GBLT will lower your life expectancy! Yes, GBLT people are doomed to die young! They have to protect the kiddies from the dreaded gay because it will kill them! BEWARE THE GAYDEATH! GAYDEATH stalks us!

New post on the bloggy thing. CLICKY CLICKY
sparkindarkness: (STD)

This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where Renee has very generously allowed my random musings to appear on her excellent blog

Humanity confuses me at times. With this bruiser on my face I think I’ve had the following conversation several times.

Person: *gasp* what happened to your face?

Sparky: Someone hit me.

Person: *disapproving look*

Yes, they appear to disapprove of my face being in the way of someone’s fist. Yes yes they do.

Maybe they disapprove of my inability to dodge?

Maybe everyone around me secretly believes I am a secret agent or a trained martial artist – maybe I look so cool they can’t imagine anyone could possibly lay a finger on me without me ripping them limb from limb while delivering terribly witty one liners?

Or, as it occurred to me, we live in very different worlds. They haven’t been attacked. They’ve never been the victims of violence. They’ve never, really, face the actual threat of violence, it’s so alien to them that the reality of it catches them out – it can’t happen randomly, the world, their world, just doesn’t work that way. I must have been an instigator, I must have done something I shouldn’t have – not necessarily “asking for it” but at least doing something foolish or silly that put me at risk.

Either that or they’ve never placed me in their mental picture of a victim. For whatever reason, I don’t fir the profile of someone who has to be careful of someone who has violence enter their lives. I wonder if I should take that as a compliment or be vexed by their blinkered vision.

And, well, neither mind sets are ones I can picture. I’ve pretty much absorbed the idea that violence happens, happens to me and happens any time. I’ve accepted the idea that safety is pretty rare and you have to be on guard (though, clearly, this is a lesson I need to practice more). It’s not the first timer. It’s not the 6th time. It’s not the 9th time. It won’t be the last time.

And it has had me somewhat torn in emotional response. Do I envy them for living lives so… sanitised, so insulated from some of the harsher aspects of reality that violence is an alien concept to them? Be irritated at their ignorant naivety? Be angry because they are so ignorant and dismissive and almost doubting of my experiences?

But it also makes me think. It makes me think how hard sometimes it is to bridge the gap of people’s experiences. How hard it can be for people to understand a marginalisation who either do not live that marginalisation or just cannot see you within the context of that marginalisation (either because they have bought into stereotypes or preconceived notions). Part of this relates to my previous post on how if you’re privileged you don’t understand.

But I think it’s more. First a reminder to privileged people that they’re looking at the world through a different lens. But I think it’s also reminder to the marginalised that, no, maybe the privileged people genuinely don’t understand . Yes maybe they are shocked, confused and bemused. Maybe we do have to stop, take a few steps back and let them catch up with the conversation. Not that we need to put up with fail, wilful ignorance or general arseholery, but at least be aware that we may have left someone behind. Remember the nuance or assumptions made me lost (or completely different ones made) and maybe some gaps need to be filled.

Do I know where I’m going with this? No, it’s something of a ramble as is my wont. But it’s something to think about.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

It has been a while, but we, sadly, have another round up of hatred and bigotry from all sides as usual. The bombardment is everywhere, it comes in all sectors of society.

For a while I considered not doing these for the sake of the sporking, but I don’t want to run and hide far -it’s a bad habit that is steeling over me.


In the world of business and education

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The elected leaders of the world continue to wallow in hatred – it’s terrifying when you think these people are supposed to be leaders but have no problem showing their homophobic backsides


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We can never underestimate the power of the media and the damage the homophobia, prejudice and general fucked-up-ness of various celebrities. The damage these cause to hearts and minds unmatched

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Which brings us neatly to that paragon of hatred – organised religion.

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Lastly and most tragically – we have to look at the violence. The people hurt, the lives lost, the tears shed. I always insist these be linked with the above because they cannot cannot cannot be separated.

Read more... )



Now I think i need to find a corner to gently weep in

sparkindarkness: (STD)

This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where Renee has very generously allowed my random musings to appear on her excellent blog

I have seen a lot of various stripes of allies who fit into all of these groups that I have seen raging here and there and everywhere – and I think that’s good because these need some severe attention – especially when it comes to working through the thorny issues of allies and supposed allies and the various problems that can come from various people wearing/using the label. Which is good, I think there’s a lot of things that have been badly glossed over for a very long time. But I also think in some cases we’re creating confusion and reactions from the first 2 may be causing problems with the last. So, I’m going to ramble! (You know I have to)

Concern Trolls

Concern Trolling annoys a great deal. Sometimes it’s a legitimate, albeit ignorant, and well intentioned but foolish response. And sometimes it’s just prejudice with a flimsy cover.

The problem is that Concern Trolls tell marginalised people how they should think and feel and act – and often comes with paternalistically telling marginalized people what they should do (even acting against marginalized people’s interests for their own sake).

I’ve seen Concern Trolls tell GBLTQ people not to push for rights for fear of backlash. I’ve seen them argue against removing DADT because it will expose gay troops to bullying. I’ve had Concern Trolls tell me where I should go, how I should dress, cut my hair, to be more “butch”, not to babysit my little nieces, a thousand things I should do – all for “my own sake.”

Marginalized people know their own lives best. Marginalized people do not need instructing how to navigate the isms they face. Marginalized people do not need to be patronized and controlled. They do not need shepherding or parenting by privileged people who think they know their lives better.

The White Knight

I will always remember the wonderful straight friend in an online computer game leaping all over someone for their homophobic statements. After all, he knew that I approached the arena with no small amount of trepidation because of the ubiquitous nature of open homophobic slurs – and he strode forwards to strike down the dragon for me.

Except… I didn’t actually see anything wrong with the statements he was fighting. I didn’t see any homophobia and I wasn’t offended. I’m now presented with someone proud of himself for defending me from an attack that wasn’t and someone else who is deeply confused, who has been reamed for non-offensive offensiveness.

And it’s not unique. There have been more than a few occasions when some badness has happened, I’ve moved forwards… only to not get an word in between the straight people rallying to protect me… which, yes, can be nice – but if there’s lots of people discussing how a homophobic comment will hurt gay people and the only gay person there can’t actually get a word in? And there’s lots of people saying how I feel and what hurts and what doesn’t… and they’re not actually getting it right and some of them are blundering around clumsily and throwing in their own sporks.

I’m glad I have such friends, such allies that they want to stand forward when they perceive me under attack and who care enough about issues that touch me that they are passionate about it – but it’s almost amusing to have a crowd of people talking so vehemently about how silenced and rendered invisible gay people are – that the gay person cannot be heard. And the issues I think are important to me are lost in a wave of issues the straight people think I should care about – and what actually hurt me is ignored, while the straight folks address a problem I never even saw and still don’t understand.

It’s great to be an ally – but if you’re overwhelming the people you’re “helping”, leading the charge when you should be supporting and telling the marginalised how to manage their marginalisation – well, this help isn’t very helpful?

The Fierce Ally

The flip side is, of course, that a lot of them time I’ve felt like no-one’s got my back at all. In my current on going family badness, I despair of the fact that most of my totally-not-homophobic-honest straight family are firmly keeping their mouths closed. I would love a show of support from them and it’s not coming.

And it’s not the only situation, there are many times when I’ve spoken and almost heard the echo and there’s a whole load of straight faces looking at me with expressions ranging from irritation, exasperation round to contempt and anger. And I want to slink away, I want to drop it, I want to brush it under, bite my tongue and go hide somewhere. And I have lost count of the times I have felt so extremely alone in trying to be me.

And, yes, I admit the weakness, I don’t always want to take point. I don’t relish in the face confrontation, I largely dislike leading anything, I’m not a leader by nature. There are times when I’d love someone to defend me, to fight for me, to pick up the torch and batter back the barbarian hordes. Yes, it may make me pathetically dependent but when some arsehole has run his mouth off, or some fool has thrown a bottle at my head or even some epitome of clueless has rambled on – I like it when a friend and ally stands up and says “it’s ok Sparky, you finish your drink, I got this one.”

Because sometimes it feels like being on guard all the time. And damn do I feel guilty if I let something slide – because I know that silence in the face of this shit IS consent, is enabling and does perpetuate it. So I feel I have to, I feel obliged even when tired and worn and sporked and even scared. And that’s aside from the fact my anger will rarely allow something go past unchallenged without rupturing something.

The flip side is, sometimes I’ve been a room full of straight folks who either haven’t seen me or haven’t realised I was gay and the homophobia has come out. And I’ve felt very… uncomfortable – sometimes outright unsafe – speaking up and saying “guys, I’m right here, could you not?” I’m much more comfortable knowing that some of the straight people there will back me up, will support me – that if I speak up and object I won’t be doing so to an empty room

And if one of the straight people there speaks up against it, I’m even happier. Because sometimes I’m not there. And that matters.

Why? Because I need to know this. I need to know that the anti-homophobia campaigning isn’t something that only happens when we’re watching. I need to know that when the straight folk are alone, they don’t say “phew, the homos are gone, let us now express how much we think they should all burn in hell, crackle crackle crackle.” Is it desperately insecure? Maybe…

But haven’t we all been there? You’re in a circle with a lot of people who are privileged in one way and they say something you know is 10 kinds of shit – but no-one says anything? The group of white people who relish the sudden freedom from the DREADED PCNESS! The group of men who are merry and joyous with their sexist humour and the gatherings of straight folks who think no-one’s watching so it’s time to let the homophobia fly. We’ve been there, we’ve seen it.

And that’s a problem. I think hate speech and the basic passive acceptance of prejudice in society is a major problem – it is considered acceptable. “PCness” is seen as a burden, not the norm. All the dehumanising language, all the devaluing jokes, all the dismissive and insulting comments are considered normal discourse is all the norm – which you are forced to deviate from when one of those whiny minority folks is around. And this is the foundation on which hatred is built.

And the marginalised? Can’t fix that. Well, I guess we could, we could have stealthy operatives infiltrating various privileged gatherings with hidden cluebats ready to deploy at a moment’s notice – but it’s probably not practical. Cool, but not practical.

Privileged folks need to be the ones that say that marginalising language is not ok. Privileged folks are the only ones who can say “no, this is always wrong. Even when they’re not around, it’s still wrong. Cut that shit out.” When the straight people gather and let the homophobia spill out, it has to be a straight person who calls them out. When the men gather and decide that sexism is a-ok, it has to be one of the men to say “no, it’s not.” When white people congregate and the racism abounds, it has to be a white person who speaks up. Because the marginalised people aren’t there – and so long as the shit continues whenever our back is turned it will always continue.

So yeah lots more rambling (you know I like to ramble) and I’m not sure entirely what the point is – probably somewhere around “we need you, our allies, but we need you on our terms, to be our supporters, our fierce advocates and our staunch defenders – but we don’t need you to be our voices, our decision makers and our instructors”

Yeah, that sounds good, we’ll run with that for a time.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where Renee has very generously allowed my random musings to appear on her excellent blog

This is something I wrestle back and forth with a fair bit and have often wondered exactly how to put words around it. Sometimes a thought is formed but the words won’t play nice with it :)

There are a number of times – more times than I can count – when I am confronted with the following situation

Someone announces that they support equal rights for GBLTQ people, or they say something affirming or they say homophobia and transphobia are wrong… or people will show me links or transcripts or youtube vids of some straight person saying nice things about us.

And then I mess up my lines. Because I’m supposed to say “thank you” there. Or maybe have a little happy dance. Or at least praise their wonderfulness. Cookies are probably called for.

And I’m not criticising people who do. A lot of people do greatly appreciate and praise such statements. People find affirmation, hope and signs of progress. People find their own silver linings and sparkles :)

But a large part of my mind always goes to that fun-but-not-nice sarcastic place and thinks “wow, you’re not an arsehole. Well done. Would you like a plaque? ‘Fred is totally not an Arsehole’ You could frame it.”

Because treating LGBTQ people as equal isn’t – or shouldn’t be – praiseworthy. It should be normal and expected. It should be base behaviour. Treating us as equal should be as expected and normal as not slapping people in the face. It shouldn’t be praised when it happens, because it isn’t – shouldn’t – be special or above and beyond normal, decent behaviour. If Fred announces that he’s not going to slap you in the face today, we don’t thank him for it. We give him a look and tell him he’d better not! Someone saying a few nice things or refraining from treating me like shit – or refraining from treating other GBLTQ people like shit – really don’t deserve lashings of praise and happy snuggles from me, methinks.

It’s why I also tend not to be especially impressed by “I used to have a real problem with GBLTQ people but then…” It just doesn’t really impress me a whole lot, it’s like someone saying “hey, I used to punt kittens, but have totally stopped now.” I mean, yay? The lack of kitten punting is certainly a good thing – but is it really praiseworthy, even from a habitual kitten punter? Even in a time and place where kitten punting is commonplace?

It bugs me. It bugs me because it suggests that NOT being homophobic or transphobic is an achievement rather than a reasonable expectation. That simply saying nice things or refraining from being an arsehole is some kind of monumental effort or gift to us. It’s unusual, it’s difficult, it’s impressive, it is something extra – or – it’s a gift given, a concession or some kind of award.

And all of that may be true – it may indeed be unusual. It may have even taken a great deal of effort to reach that state. It may be rare and worthy of comment. But it shouldn’t be. Someone isn’t doing something especially good or going above and beyond what is expected of them when they treat us as equals, any more than Fred is going above and beyond expected behaviour when he refrains from punting kittens.

Not treating someone as less is not a gift given, it’s not a prize that has been won or a present you’re bestowing – it’s an injustice avoided. It’s an insult unuttered. It’s a sin uncommitted and a wrong not done. In short (hah, yes I know nothing I say is ‘in short!), it’s something you should be condemned for not doing – not something you should be praised for doing.

And I think it applies across marginalisations. You aren’t owed cookies because you manage not to be a misogynist. Why should there be praise and fuss because you’re not a racist? Should the disabled person say thank you because you’re not an ableist fool?

Why should any of them be grateful for what should be a basic expectation of human decency? Why is basic decency seen to be such an IMPOSITION on a privileged person?

Ultimately, I’m not grateful for being treated as a full human being. Because it shouldn’t be in doubt – it should be a basic expectation. It should be the base line. Now I can be happy that here’s someone who hasn’t succumbed to the poisonous prejudice that seems so omnipresent. I can be happy that here’s someone making the effort to get past their privilege. I can be happy for the progress it represents. I can be happy because it’s a nice word in a world that talks a whole lot of crap.

But I’m not going to be grateful for the basic respect. I’m not going to treat my equality as some kind of present that has been given me. It isn’t something given – it’s something owed.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Ok, the ONS has released statistics on most popular baby names in the UK. They do it every year, presumably because they’re so damned bored they have nothing better to do.

And they found that one of the most common names for boys was, apparently, Mohammed. *Shrug* Frankly I’m rather more disturbed by how “Oliver” and variations are becoming popular. Oliver? Really people, really?

Predictably the usual suspects are having the screaming meemies. The Daily Mail paused in their eternal quest to divide all the world’s substances into “things that cause cancer” and “things that cure cancer” to thoroughly lose their shit (I’m always amazed that the Daily Mail can completely lose their shit on a weekly basis, yet you open the paper and behold, there’s still a monumental amount of shit left) followed by the Torygraph running around with their hair on fire because ZOMG TEH MUSLIMS ARE TAKING OVER!

Right, some things to address here:

Firstly, as said extremely well here the methodology the usual suspects are basing their panic on is flawed in the extreme

But also, as touched on, let’s consider the name. It is an extremely popular name in the Muslim community, people have said that it’s traditional to name your first son that – I don’t know how true that is, but it’s certainly true that it is an extremely popular cultural name

Right, now try to think of an extremely popular traditional “British” name (ugh, as if Mohammed were somehow less British). I’m guessing most people instantly thought of something laughably outdated like “Henry” or “Albert.” There are some names that survive the test of time like James and Paul and Peter and Jack and Michael and Richard and – apparently, George and Oliver (really. Oliver. Oliver, people? George was bad enough – but Oliver?) but those names also have the rider of being considered “dull.”

In fact, dull seems to be something desperately avoided by many a new parent. Indeed, I sometimes wonder if we’re playing name-scrabble and seeing who can manage the most points with a treble word score if you manage to squeeze a “y” and a “k” into the name. Occasionally we’ll also get odd fashions that burn for a year or 2 then fall out quickly (there was a celtic name one recently – you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a Rhys – or Reese, Reece, Rhyes, evena  Rice at one time)

And I’m not saying this out of contempt or disapproval for these names (well, except Oliver. Really? Oliver? What were you thinking?) and I have nothing against little Ember Starsurge Mykynzie (vowels are so last century) Sparkletoes – but what I am saying is we’re dealing with 2 different trends with names.

One of which highlights and emphasises a traditional and highly respected name and uses it repeatedly – causing it to appear often (and this is by no means limited to Muslims, when visiting Portugal I was surprised to find whole villages that seemed to have 6 names repeated over and over and made heavy use of nicknames to differentiate)
And the other of which seeks “unique” names and will, inherently, avoid repetition of common, cultural or trend names.

Or, to put it another way – the number of kids named “Mohammed” in the country means sweet bugger all.

And really – this whole panic? Very unseemly to say the least. The desperate terror of the Muslims taking over is sickening to watch and, frankly, embarrassing. Yes, there are Muslims in the country. Deal with it – because this hair-on-fire Islamaphobia (and, let’s face it, racism – because you know they’re not picturing white people when they think of Muslims) is nauseating.


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April 2015

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