Goodbye-ee!

Looks like this is it everyone: end of the line. Well, at least for this blog.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I reckon this blog has run its course. I can’t keep it up on my own any more, which probably sounds a little pathetic, but it’s true. I’ve spent nearly two years on it, and it was an incredibly weird two years, but it has been fun. It’s definitely been that.

I don’t exactly plan on going anywhere; I’m thinking of running a (more personal) recovery blog instead. I said I wanted to use my time before I leave for uni focussing on my recovery & learning to cope with my mental illness, but I want to at least try and do something for other people too.

So: if you still want to follow me (although if you don’t, I get it), I’ll be at leatherjacketsnotstraitjackets.wordpress.com. It’ll be active from 1st January 2015, because that seems like as good a time to start as any, which is also when this blog will go offline forever. Whether or not I’ll actually delete it I don’t know.

Like I said, it’s been great and all the support I’ve had from you all has been amazing. You’re all fantastic and incredibly cool.

That’s all folks.

Love, Queenie

Feminism Doesn’t Need Any More Lena Dunhams

As far as I can tell, there are basically two reasons that people either refuse to call themselves feminists, or don’t take feminism seriously, or both:

  1. women in general are not taken seriously, and
  2. feminism keeps creating a space for people like Lena Dunham

On Thursday, an admittedly heavily biased right-wing blog posted an article accusing Lena Dunham, who has done some questionable stuff in the past, of sexually abusing her younger sister Grace. Now, Truth Revolt, the blog in question, is a slightly scary right-wing blog.

But.

Despite Dunham’s claims that Truth Revolt were “twist[ing] her words”, everything they quoted was taken directly from her book, Not That Kind Of Girl, a memoir which details, among other things, her early life with her parents and younger sister. And those details are incredibly disturbing.

They’re bad enough, in fact, that although I knew I couldn’t let this go unmentioned, I really can’t bring myself  to repeat any of the more graphic things she chose to share with the world for £8.99 a pop. Any survivors of child sexual abuse may well find reading Dunham’s words difficult, if not impossible, and I have both an elder sister and a young niece; I’m not going to linger on anything she’s said in great detail. Anyone looking for a fairly comprehensive review of all that’s been said so far can find it here.

Whatever Dunham’s sister has said – and honestly, “heteronormativity deems certain behaviors harmful, and others “normal”; the state and media are always invested in maintaining that…As a queer person: i’m committed to people narrating their own experiences, determining for themselves what has and has not been harmful” is a noble sentiment, but far from unequivocal – writing about what she did in the way that she did was wrong. And defending her for any of it is even worse.

I said that people won’t take feminism seriously because it creates space for people like Lena Dunham. It does more than that. Feminism – particularly mainstream feminism – allows people like Dunham to feel not only safe, but valued and lauded to such a degree that they can comfortably, openly, admit to and perpetuate harmful behaviours and people will still defend them for it. Everyone from Lena Dunham and Hugo Schwyzer to Joss Whedon and Julie Burchill feels safe within the feminist movement. They shouldn’t.

Feminism should have no space for racists. It should have no spaces for transmisogynists. It should have no place for homophobes. It should have no place and no tolerance whatsoever for abusers of any sort. But it does. The real failure of the feminist movement was never going far enough. It’s never been able to move beyond the confines of the patriarchy it supposedly wants to destroy and really stand for women. For all women. Our society supports racism, transphobia and victim-blaming as much as it supports misogyny. Feminism shouldn’t do so as well.

Anti-feminism may be a direct and natural result of patriarchy, but womanism and #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen and the myriad other movements and discussions like them are not. They’re a direct and natural result of white feminists in particular royally screwing up. Cisgender, heterosexual, middle-class white women are doing pretty well for themselves these days, but it generally seems to be at the expense of just about every other sort of woman on the planet. Dunham’s just one more woman profiting off a movement that was never designed for people like her, and using it to protect herself from the criticism, outrage and humiliation she so thoroughly deserves.

I don’t want any more Lena Dunhams. I don’t want one more privileged person spouting superficial pro-woman soundbytes to mask the fact that they’re a bigot at best or outright abusive at worst.

I want us to smash the patriarchy, not redecorate it.

Recovery 101 – I Can’t Remember To Do Anything But I’m Working On It

I know, I suck. I’m sorry. I say I’m going to do three posts a week and I manage three a month, maybe. I’m sorry.

But since I have actually remembered to do a recovery post this week, I thought I’d talk about an aspect of recovery that nobody ever really tells you about that much, which is setbacks.

Of course, people mention them. Therapists, and psychiatrists, and other mentally ill people will say “oh, you’ll probably experience a few setbacks. That’s normal,” but hearing about them and actually experiencing them are very different things.

Which is why the title of this week’s (ha) post is really long: I can’t remember to do anything because I’m still working through recovering from a horrible bought of depression that nearly killed me and I have setbacks. I have a lot of them. In between semi-closing down this blog at the beginning of the year and starting it up again last month I made three half-arsed suicide attempts. Three! And that doesn’t include the one I made last August. My point is, I was low – really, really, stuck-in-a-black-pit-of-despair life-is-meaningless bad.

That doesn’t go away overnight. Getting the right treatment is never going to mean that your mental illness will magically disappear forever. Mine will probably be hanging around me more or less my whole life, and even though I have access to professional help and happy pills and all that, I’m still depressed. I still cry a lot and feel little and stupid and hateful, and think that there’s no point in doing anything at all. I still think about killing myself.

A really bad setback is going to feel exactly like the worst parts of depression did. The self-destructive behaviours and lack of motivation might well come back, your appetite and sleeping patterns might change again just like they did before. But it isn’t the same. A setback could last a week, until you remember that you’ve been here before. This has happened before. And you know how to deal with it.

The setbacks get less severe. They get less frequent. They’re easier to deal with. Sometimes, you’ll have a full-scale relapse and have to start again. But you got out once, and you can do it again. Even if you have to spend the rest of your life climbing out of that hole to fall back in a year or two or ten later, you’ll keep climbing out. Because it’s worth it for all the time you spend at ground level.

Recovery is long and difficult and painful, and sometimes the effort put into just sustaining yourself is so great as to make anything else impossible. But even though I still spend some days or weeks feeling like hell I know that I can get better and I am getting better. Getting better is always an option with mental illness, even though it often won’t feel like it. There are times when no therapy or drug or psychiatrist is going to be able to help you, but if you can find something to help you stick around a little longer, you’ll end up in a place where you can be ready to start getting better. And even getting better will involve feeling just as bad as you ever did before, and wondering why you’re bothering, and thinking you’re a waste of space and ought to die, but you learn. You cope. You manage. You move on.

So, I suck at remembering to do anything. I’m sorry. But I am getting better, despite the setbacks. I promise anyone reading this who feels like it’s hopeless that you can too. And despite the effort it will take, it will be worth it.

Love, Queenie

Be(a)ware

It’s October, which means two very different things:

  1. Halloween!
  2. It’s awareness month

Of course, pretty much every month is the awareness month for something or other, but October happens to be the awareness month for several noble causes close to my heart. And vegetarians. Be aware of vegetarians. We’re out there, and we’re passionate about getting our proteins from soy bean curd.

On a more serious note, it’s also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when everything gets painted pink and everyone conveniently forgets that DMAB people are susceptible to breast cancer because they also have breast tissue.

Personally, I’m very aware of breast cancer. If anything, I’m too aware of breast cancer. I would like to know less about breast cancer. I would like the concept to be more remote and nebulous for me. In fact I think most people, these days, know about breast cancer, thanks to the aggressive advertising efforts of breast cancer related charities in the West. The survival rate, provided treatment is received, for women in the western world who are diagnosed with the disease is actually pretty good now. If only that quality of care could be extended to everyone around the world suffering from it, I’d be perfectly satisfied.

Because honestly? Cancer isn’t evil. It’s not something to beat, and it’s not tiny little white blobs living in some kind of bizarre dystopia. It’s just cells mutating wrong. Abnormal, potentially fatal, cell growth. And whilst it’s a terrible, debilitating disease, it isn’t evil. Spending millions, if not billions, of dollars on research into some miracle catch-all cure while millions of people with treatable variations of it die unnecessarily might be, but the disease itself is not.

Of course, I’m not saying that anyone should ignore breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter. If you notice swelling, pain, redness, unusual lumps or swellings around the breast or armpit, a change in the shape or size of your nipple, or dimpling of the skin that wasn’t there before, go see your doctor. Go. (Said I was aware of breast cancer, didn’t I?) But since that is, for most people reading this, a comprehensive enough guide to the symptoms when coupled with the huge numbers of pink ribbons, leaflets, and unnerving Channel 4 adverts around this month, I’m going to dedicate the rest of this week’s Monday post to some of the other, less well-marketed, things that October would like everyone to be aware of:

  1. AIDS. The disease which ultimately led to the deaths of both Mark Ashton and Freddie Mercury has its awareness month in October. There’s been some speculation that a cure for the virus may be a possibility, but it remains fairly fantastic at this stage. Initial reluctance and outright refusal to research the disease did eventually die down when it became obvious that it could and was also infected heterosexuals, and I’d like to take the opportunity to remind everyone that any blood contact with an HIV-positive person can cause it to spread. That means no unprotected sex, no needle-sharing and no blood pacts, okay? Stay safe, kids.
  2. Selective Mutism. If you’re wondering what the hell that even is, well, that’s why it needs an awareness month. Selective Mutism is an anxiety disorder, where a person is unable to speak in certain situations or to certain people. Despite the slight misnomer, sufferers don’t actually get to pick when they can and cannot speak. Shame, guilt, social ostracism or punishment will not induce sufferers to speak because that’s not how any illness ever has ever worked. If anyone you know (especially children who often struggle to verbalise their feelings anyway) has selective mutism, don’t try and force them to speak. They aren’t choosing not to, believe me.
  3. Down’s Syndrome. I’m far from an expert as far as DS goes, but I do know this: m*ng/m*ngoloid, d*wny, and r*tard are all ableist slurs which have been and continue to be used to insult, belittle and marginalise people with Down’s syndrome and using them if you personally don’t have DS is fucking disgusting so don’t do it. Ever. On a similar note, words and phrases like “derp” and “hurr durr” were invented to mock people with Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy so please also stop that. On a more positive note, American Horror Story has pretty good and rapidly improving representation of several girls with Down’s Syndrome (all played by Jamie Brewer, but don’t worry, that’s perfectly standard for that show).
  4. Domestic Violence. I feel perfectly okay with stretching this to include any form of domestic abuse, be it physical violence, emotional manipulation, gaslighting or financial abuse. If you find your partner frequently insults or demeans you, mocks you, makes you feel like everything is your fault, twists or shifts blame for all your upset onto you, makes themselves the victim in any situation (even when you’re the one being hurt) threatens to or actually does withhold money or other resources from you unless you behave the way they want, attempts to isolate you from your friends and family, and/or actually threatens or does any physical harm to you, then please get out if at all possible. Here is the UK domestic violence helpline and here is how to use Google Chrome’s incognito feature if you want to hide search history from your partner. Remember that you’re loved and worthwhile and you absolutely do not deserve to be treated badly by anyone, let alone someone who claims to love you.

That’s about it for today. A full list of all the things to be aware of every month of the year can be found here.

Love, Queenie

How To Be Rude

Trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault and rape both under the cut and in the links provided. Continue reading

Recovery 101 – The First Post

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, then there are probably two things that you know about me:

  1. I have a load of mental health problems, which leads to
  2. I am unreliable as all hell, hence this being the first of the posts I said I’d start a fortnight ago.

In the real world, I’m not much better, but online I am terrible at remembering to do things. I can barely manage to remember that I have, say, a twitter account, let alone do anything with it. This blog bears most of the evidence of my uselessness, because I attempt to impose a schedule on it. I’m still training myself to work to that schedule.

Forcing yourself to do things is difficult. Forcing yourself to do things when you’re clinically depressed is really difficult. Sometimes, you just can’t. And that’s okay. Really, it’s okay! I had no idea either until like a week ago! It doesn’t matter if it’s Biology coursework or a blog post or a job interview; if you just can’t do it, you just can’t do it! And other people understand. Weird, right?

Probably, if you have any sort of mental health problem that leads to low self esteem, telling yourself that – or hearing it from strangers on the internet with wordpress accounts – won’t do much good, because you won’t believe it. I swear it’s true though.

People are, for the most part (I’m excluding everyone who falls into the abusive to genocidal maniac categories here) who they are at their best, not their worst. So you screwed up writing that History essay – so what? Remember that great piece of English coursework you did? I’m pretty sure your teachers do. Yeah, you said that shitty thing in an argument with a friend – it wasn’t cool, but you apologised, and remember when you made them that really sweet Christmas present? Your friend does too. The people in your life will remember all the good, happy, kind things about you; how your smile lights up your face, those amazing biscuits you make at Christmas, how gentle you are around small children, the way cats just seem to love you, how willing you are to defend them when someone’s cruel to them (the people, not the cats. Maybe you look out for cats too, in which case: awesome).

Tell yourself that you are good, you are worthwhile, you are loved and loving and you deserve to be alive and to be happy. This will have a two-fold positive effect because not only will it make you feel better about yourself, but when you inevitably screw something up – not because you’re trash, but because you’re human like everyone else – you will be able to remind yourself of that, and simply apologise to all injured parties. You won’t spiral into a bottomless pit; you’ll just gasp, apologise profusely, and move on. And it’ll be better for everyone else, as well as you.

So think of this post, and me, or at least something similar, next time you feel like you’re complete garbage. Unless you’re Ray Rice, there’s a like 99.999% chance you’re totally wrong, and that you’re actually really great and loads of people love you and care about you.

Look after yourselves,

Love, Queenie

PRIDE

Brilliant as the film is, this post is not about encouraging everyone to go and see Pride right now. But, you could, if you wanted to. I’m just sayin’. It’s got Andrew Scott in it.

But no; what this post is actually about, is this:

LGBT kids, you have every reason to be proud of yourselves.

The fear, and the shame, and the self-loathing, and the defensiveness and the loneliness that so often define growing up queer are unnecessary. They’re wrong. The people, and the society, that teaches you to hate yourself and your community, are wrong.

The LGBT community has done so much – fought for the legalisation of same-sex relationships, had homosexuality declassified as a mental illness, enshrined the protection of its people into law, won back the right to marry and raise children – and, in 1984, without being asked and knowing full well they were probably going to get the shit kicked out them – raised phenomenal amounts of cash for striking miners with the Pits and Perverts benefit concert, getting one over on both Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch in the process.

This is not the queer history anyone will teach you in school. No one is going to tell you about Alcibiades‘ drunkenly sobbing at Socrates for not sleeping with him, or let you read Sappho, or Radclyffe Hall; Orlando is never going to come up on your GCSE reading list; most people never learn that Shakespeare was definitely probably bisexual when they’re studying Romeo & Juliet. The gay liberation movement is not part of the History A Level civil rights module. Tragically, no one discusses the founding of San Francisco’s first (openly) gay bar. But they should. Queer kids, you (and kids of colour, but that’s another post for another blogger who’s not whiter than skimmed milk) deserve access to your history. Because it’s so very important, when you grow up in a society that tells you you’re nothing, to know that that’s bollocks. You, like all the amazing queer people who came before you and who, for the most part, also grew up in societies and families that treated them like trash, can do anything.

I know you can, because you made it here to read this. Even if you’ve been taught all your life that God hates people like you, that you’ll forever be a disappointment for not providing grandchildren for your parents, that your life and your experiences are inherently sexual and therefore ‘inappropriate’, even if you’ve never been given a single useful piece of advice about your sexual or mental health, you still get out of bed every day and live your life. And it is worth living, believe me. It is worth living even when you’re closeted, and alone, and scared. It’s worth living if you’re the only queer person you know, and the people you know treat you like a token. It’s worth living when you feel broken and disgusting.

Your life is worthwhile. You are worthwhile. You always will be. No matter how much worse it gets, things do get better. If history really does repeat itself, then they’re bound to, and there’s no reason why it won’t be you that makes that happen.

Never forget that you are incredible, and that you have every reason in the world to be proud of yourselves.

But for fuck’s sake don’t make friends with anyone who talks about ‘Straight Pride’ or you’ll let us all down.

Love, Queenie

Positive Midweek Post

So, this is (because I am forgetful as all hell) the first of the positive midweek posts, designed to cheer you all up enough to get through to the weekend – or Friday’s blog post, at least. Shorter than Monday and Friday’s posts, I’ll be briefly discussing someone or something which will, I hope, make you all smile.

This week, it’s Gillian Anderson, who came out not too long ago for this post to be irrelevant in, appropriately enough, Out magazine. There are a whole load of reasons I think she’s inspiring, but her recent revelation is definitely one of the most important. After all, the media doesn’t seem to have such a great relationship with bisexuality. Take, for instance, Andrew Garfield’s desire for a bisexual Spiderman or Tom Daley telling everyone that he wasn’t monosexual. If you remember neither of these things, then there’s a good chance that you didn’t actually miss the news – both made the headlines with the word “gay”, rather than “bisexual”.

Out seems to have made a similar decision. Despite Anderson’s public relationships with men, they refer to her past relationship with a woman as “a lesbian relationship”. In fact the word “lesbian” is used four times in three paragraphs; bisexual, not once in the whole article, although Anderson refers to herself as “not 100% gay”.

Bi erasure aside, the article is good, and anything to do with Gillian Anderson is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Seeing LGBT people in the media willing to come out and be open about their identities is always great, particularly for younger queer people who might be struggling to accept themselves. To be honest, even if she’d never said anything about her relationship with another woman I’d still think she was excellent – not only was she a punk anarchist, she’s also my height, and I’ve been mercilessly teased for being short most of my life. And, she produced one of the best responses I’ve ever read in an interview, to the question “don’t you feel sorry for men?” Gillian Anderson does not feel sorry for men.

She has her own blog here, helpfully entitled The Official Gillian Anderson website.  I hear it was going to be called World of Tights, but you know how people are.

4chan User is Misogynistic Trash, in Other News: Water is Wet

I want to get one thing clear before I say anything else about this: these celebrity nudes were not ‘leaked’.

They were stolen.

Continue reading

Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?!

[Only short, but with significantly more pearl-clutching than usual, I present to you, gentle reader, a cry of help on behalf of our youth. Because they know precisely fuck all about consent. All of you run and get your siblings/children/cousins/random nearby teenagers. And enjoy.] Continue reading

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Bit late I know but I got a bee tattoo: http://bit.ly/2qWJWnQ
#manchestertatooappeal #manchesterbee #workerbee #i❤mcr #tattoo #bee #villageink