The Orlando Shootings

My dear readers, we have been alive to hear of the latest and most horrific mark on the honour of the United States, the worst mass shooting in all of American history in terms of sheer numbers. 50 dead, 53 injured. If you are still unaware of this story, in the early hours of Sunday (2:00AM local time), a gunman opened fire in a gay club in Orlando, Florida. The man was armed with an assault rifle and opened fire on a venue said to be hosting more than 300 people inside as part of a Latin themed event. At 2:09AM, the official Facebook page of the club instructed everyone to run away and keep running. The man took hostages and holed himself up inside the club, before police resorted to using explosives to create a hole in the wall of the building and storm inside. The gunman was shot and killed, though not before apparently declaring his allegiance to IS. Make no mistake, this story must not fade from our memories, this must be remembered as both a human tragedy and an LGBT tragedy.

The news have been eager to deflect on the LGBT angle, calling this a tragedy committed against people as a whole, rather than against a community but that is unfair. If a gunman shot down 50 Jewish people, we’d call them anti-semitic. If a gunman shot down 50 church-goers, we’d call them an antitheist. If you are considering a tragedy such as this, it is important we know who committed it and against whom and in this scenario, this man opened fire on a known LGBT venue – this is hate crime. You could try and argue that it being a gay bar, as opposed to a normal bar, doesn’t give it any extra weight to the story but the difference is more palpable than many of us can relate to. A gay bar is not just a watering hole for a community, it’s a sanctuary, it’s a place where you are the norm. As straight white people, you can walk into almost anywhere in the Western hemisphere and feel that you are the social default, the definition of ‘normal’. Gay bars, black churches, Muslim neighbourhoods, you might feel walking into such places as a straight white person puts you ill-at-ease but that is because you are walking into a different community, a community of people who adhere to different ways of life or look different to you but have banded together with those like themselves to look out for each other. In a world where there have been attacks on Sikhs just for wearing turbans and thus, being assaulted as ‘terrorists’, many of us want to be in a safe familiar setting where the man sat opposite us looks like us or thinks like us. A gay bar is just that, a place to deviate from the expected-heteronormative and not be judged for it.

IS have claimed they were behind this, whilst groups such as Westboro Baptist Church call this the wrath of God. Me, I call bullshit, I think IS wants to label any act of hatred or destruction as their work to make us scared and ignorant, to make us think they have power over us when in fact, they are nothing more than rag-tag thugs exploiting opportunities as they arise for lack of a better strategy, a cult of twisted madmen playing themselves up as the heralds of the apocalypse. Still, we expect this of them, they are profiteering hate-mongers wanting us to cast out our Islamic brothers and sisters into their receiving arms, that they might manipulate their resentments into weaponised anger. This gunman claims his allegiance to them but the FBI themselves have found no link, this is more than likely a blame-shift to the IS because you hear IS, your racist buddy hears “Syrian immigrant”. If you ask me, this is one man, one twisted man, using the assault rifle his country’s laughable laws allow him access to, as a means of executing a vendetta he has against those different to him. Also, funny coincidence, funny being extremely facetious, that the worst mass shootings in recent memory were against a gay bar, a planned parenthood clinic and an all-black church service, these seem like the communities another cult of hatred would like to see gone and I don’t mean IS.

Worst of all, in reaction to this, even worse than the news channels saying “This isn’t an LGBT tragedy, don’t politicise this (which I’ll address next)”, was Trump. Donald Trump, the pile of human excrement, has said this is what should lead Obama to resign for refusing to admit that this was the work of Islam and has decided to resort to “I told you so”, saying had the US tightened its borders, this wouldn’t have happened. First of all Trump, you sputum-sucking sack of horse shit, the gunman was an American-born man so that doesn’t work and secondly, he was not indoctrinated by some foreigner coming in and egging him on, he was inspired by online content and his own personal disgust for the LGBT community, his own father said so. I cannot be civil when it comes to Trump, the man is a buffoon to say the very least but to take a tragedy and use it as a moment to boast that you were the prophet of this, he is not only a buffoon but an amoral pus-filled sore on the face of the United States of America.

Politicise this, I said this of Paris attacks, I will say it of this, this is a matter to get worked up about. Be angry that the media is overlooking what this venue once meant to the LGBT community, be angry that the far-right feels the victims were struck down by God, be angry that the US is so backwards, an assault rifle is fine but an abortion is murder. Our modern world forgets things fast, we digest what we can and leave things behind, be it memes, memories or stories of tragedy but not this one. Almost twice as many people died in this attack as in the Sandy Hook shootings, more than twelve times as many people were injured in this attack as in the Binghamton shootings, this is not some bullshit story about a Kardashian or a Game of Thrones twist nobody saw coming, we are not going to just talk about this for a week and then move on to the uplifting story of a pug that rescued a drowning kitten or whatever, we are going to demand justice.

Now that I have you riled up or afraid, let me end on this note that I want all of you to remember, especially those of the LGBT community. In the wake of this, you may find yourself scared and uncertain of the future, you may want answers or vengeance or security. Firstly remember that your enemy is never a religion or a race, all religions and races are capable of good and bad. You may have friends or neighbours who are Muslim and feeling vulnerable so I implore you to reach out to them. Secondly, do not let this fear rule you. The LGBT flag is a rainbow, reflecting all the colours of the sexual spectrum, a world beyond the black and white of the gender and sexual binary but the colours stand for more than that, they stand for hope, pride and freedom. If you let this tragedy scare you into being someone different, terrorism has defeated you. Don’t shy away from going out. Go out more. Have some fucking sensational parties and drink to those who aren’t there to share the drinks with you, to the siblings you never met or the siblings that the hate in this world stole from you. Be louder, be prouder, be especially queer and never let hatred win.

Advertisements

An Analogy For The Bombing Of Syria

So I want to continue to explain my viewpoint on the recent bombing and as I currently lack video editing software to make a video on the subject, I’m going to relay a comical little analogy about bombing using David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn and water balloons. You might argue making a funny blog post about such a tragedy undermines the gravity of the situation but the point is to laugh at the absurd logic of the characters and heighten awareness of the issue. You’ll think the characters stupid and ridiculous and when you do, realise that those stupid characters represent our government.

So, to set the scene, David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn are hanging out together when along comes a guy wearing an ISIS t-shirt who calls David a wanker and runs and hides in a bar called The Syrian. David, pissed off by this, quickly goes home and makes himself a great big box of water balloons, whilst Jeremy watches with a look of concern.

JEREMY: David, I really don’t think this is a good idea

DAVID: Look, he called me a wanker. How many other people has he done that to? I’m going to make him and his friends learn a harsh lesson about common decency

JEREMY: By pelting balloons at them? Why don’t we at least talk to them first?

DAVID: Talk to them? If they’re willing to call strangers wankers, what makes you think they’re reasonable human beings?

JEREMY: Well maybe they are, maybe they aren’t, can’t hurt to try talking first

DAVID: Nah, I’ll lob balloons at them, asked my mates about it, they think it’s a great idea too

JEREMY: But you can’t just storm into a pub and lob water balloons around willy-nilly, you’ll get everyone soaking wet and angry

DAVID: I’m a really good shot with a water balloon, honest

So they go along to The Syrian, David and his mates with a box of balloons, Jeremy wandering after them with his own friends who mostly have hangdog expressions upon their faces. The Syrian is a relatively packed bar, with mostly ordinary people inside but there are some people wearing those ISIS shirts, mostly tormenting the other patrons and demanding free drinks. David sneers.

DAVID: See, those ISIS guys are dicks, look what they’re doing in there

JEREMY: Yeah well I don’t see how us going in there pelting people with balloons fixes the matter

DAVID: Well they probably have balloons too, I heard they were in that French bar the other day, they caused some real fucking mischief in there, I’m telling you

JEREMY: True, but the ISIS guys in the French bar don’t come to this bar or vice versa

David shrugs and starts throwing balloons, cheered on by his mates and even some of Jeremy’s mates start laughing and cheering. The balloon barrage begins, Jeremy watching uncomfortably as ISIS guys and normal patrons alike get pelted with balloons. Just then, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia comes along, watches what is going on and David explains. Abdullah laughs and asks if he can have some water balloons, which David agrees to and Abdullah wanders off with them, Jeremy watching him leave with some suspicion.

JEREMY: I think he’s going to give the ISIS guys some balloons

DAVID: Nah, we’re bezzie mates me and Abdu

JEREMY: Since when? You do realise Abdullah hangs out with the ISIS guys too right? He probably calls you a wanker behind your back

DAVID: Yeah but he’s sound really, we hang out too, he buys my lunch whenever we meet up. Plus, he gave me like, a tenner for ten balloons, good deal right?

Sure enough, the ISIS guys in the bar now have balloons, throwing their balloons back at David and even handing balloons out to other patrons in the pub, telling them David started the fight so he’s the one responsible for all this. Some patrons hurry out of the bar, pushing past David and company, some stick with the ISIS guys and some just lie there and get pelted with balloons. Jeremy voices his concern again.

JEREMY: Now everyone in that bar hates us, I’m pretty sure we can’t come here ever again

DAVID: I didn’t know this was going to happen ok? I just came here hoping to get the ISIS crew, the other guys just got in the way and that’s a shame but what am I supposed to do?

JEREMY: Stop throwing balloons?

DAVID: But I’ve hit so many ISIS guys

JEREMY: And lots more non-ISIS guys. You do realise they’ll all hide in our pub now right? I mean, I don’t have a problem with that but you hate anyone who isn’t your mate hanging out in our regular haunt

DAVID: Shut up Jezza, I’ll just tell the barman to shut the doors. Worked for that French pub. Besides, the water balloon fight is well under way now, if I stop throwing balloons, that doesn’t mean they’ll stop

JEREMY: They might if you apologise and leave them alone, maybe offer them a towel afterwards?

DAVID: What am I? A bloody towel merchant? Look shut up and toss a balloon already

But of course, Jeremy doesn’t and the balloon fight continues, with everyone involved getting soaked to the bone by the back and forth of balloons and David keeps giving balloons to his friend Abdullah, who then gives balloons to the ISIS crew, who are nutters that just fucking love balloons. Eventually, they’re all going to be too wet to throw any more balloons and everyone will be miserable and have a cold and need to wring out their shirts and only then will David realise he had done something very dumb and now the ISIS guys have left the pub out the back door, hiding in various other pubs waiting for David or his mates to come in so they can hit them in the face with their own balloons. David will have to apologise to the owner for throwing so many balloons and setting off a huge fight (The Syrian has had a tense atmosphere, people don’t much like the management and the ISIS guys stir up trouble a lot of the time) and whilst his apology will be reluctantly accepted, David probably won’t get served in that place and by extension, neither will his mates or even Jeremy most likely, just for association.

Now this was all very silly but if you read this thinking that David is a bit of a twat, guess what, this is a very scaled down and simplified reconstruction of the decision to bomb Syria. I’m not using this as the end-all argument, I’m not that stupid and taken literally, this post is not a great explanation of our situation but it gives those of you lagging behind a simpler model to refer to instead of combing through news articles (Though I implore you to get up to speed). Bombing a whole nation, even with ‘targeted precise airstrikes’, is akin to running into a bar and throwing stuff at the people you don’t like and when people say that’s a bad idea, you respond with “But I’m really good at throwing stuff, I promise I won’t break anything by accident”. Yeah, when has that ever worked? Funny thing is, David’s predecessor, Tony, had this same idea twice over and neither time did it work out and David thought him a twat for it at the time but now David’s had the idea, it’s suddenly genius.

We don’t want war and if we did, Syria isn’t the enemy, Syria hates ISIS as much as we do, they’re the victims, the trapped masses forced to fight under their flag or die in the gutter and presented with that choice, it’s noble to say you’d rather die but many of us would cower from sacrifice and live as bastards. Our problem nations are the ones pumping money into ISIS and slipping them munitions for further chaos – Turkey, Saudi Arabia – but we don’t start beef with them because they’re our allies and they have a lot of money that we want and that they’ll give us if we give them munitions… which somehow end up in the hands of ISIS. You see the problem here? Moral bankruptcy for financial gain, such is the way of our government and this has led us to declare war on a country that is still reeling from the last one it had.

Not In My Name

It happened, the government actually agreed to begin airstrikes in Syria, the votes for outweighed the votes against by a significant amount, though the votes against were many and the people of this nation voiced their disagreement but as you’re reading this, either preparations are being made or bombs are being dropped. I cannot condone this, you will never convince me that you can create peace through waging war, if history has taught us anything it is that violence begets violence. The needless deaths of the innocent has begun and the threat of ISIS to the UK has just increased. Now I warn you, whilst I will try to remain civil, I am livid as I write this and this will be an emotionally charged article but I implore you to read the content within and heed the words I write.

Paris was a target for ISIS because France agreed to bomb Syria, following in the wake of Russia who have been making such a move for longer than I care to mention and longer than is justifiable. The government has decided Britain needs to join in, I usually refer to Britain as ‘we’ – ‘we believe, we decided, we are’ – but I am not part of that and the government no longer represents us, considering our current government won on 26% of the votes because most of us just chose not to. ISIS will see this, ISIS will use this as justification to attack us and recruit more people into their fold. I ask you, if your home was blown apart, your family gunned down, your friends abducted and your entire country a barren wasteland and then suddenly someone offers you the chance to take up arms and kill the bastards that did this, would you join them? That’s ISIS. Those refugees we turn away and those innocent people we drop bombs on run, some run to other nations, some run to ISIS and give themselves over to it because hell, if everyone on the planet wanted me dead, I’d blow it up too. An unstable nation of war-ravaged homes and internal strife has now become the bombing grounds of the Western world, a pitiful landmass for everyone to bully because if you shoot enough people, you have to shoot someone worth killing eventually right? The logic of bombs is exactly that, it is fire and forget until every bad guy is dead, but considering we’ve had ISIS operations take place in France, carried out by people who were never Syrians to begin with, we won’t bomb away ideals, we’ll just perpetuate violence. Tragedy does not make the human spirit submit – it hardens it and sets it aflame with the thirst for revenge.

You might argue ISIS has this coming to them, they’re monsters right? Well not all of them and call me a sympathiser if you will, I sympathise with any fucking disenfranchised human being, something happened to them that made them that way and that is what we fix, we don’t fix something that is broken by destroying it. The heads of ISIS, deplorable opportunistic bastards, agreed, get them as fast as we can and then broadcast the message that we have their leaders, there’s no need to fight and then if we offer them the chance to give in and be forgiven, I bet many of them would take it. We could never give back the families we slaughtered but we could offer the chance to rebuild but no, we won’t do that, they’re all heartless savages right? And besides, what is there to profit from in rebuilding their country? This war is a money-making scheme, as David Cameron and his buddies make black market swapsies with Saudi Arabia, a nation with a government notorious for corruption that happen to have a business in giving ISIS weapons for their own gain, using ISIS attacks to ruin nations they don’t much like. The UK government put the smoking pistol in the hands of the shiftiest looking guys they could find and then used it as an excuse to start their idealistic campaign and if we dare have the gall to look into it more deeply, we’re terrorist sympathisers, we’re ISIS propaganda spreaders. You want ISIS propaganda? Here’s some – Join ISIS because if you’re Syrian, you’re pretty much fucked anyway, might as well take someone with you to Hell!

We tried military action against those shifty sods across the sea before, it was got us marching into Iraq and Afghanistan, snooping under rocks for those darn terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, only for the penny to drop much later that we’d ruthlessly attacked a bewildered nation and whilst they were reeling from the punch, we were actually looking for material gain. I wouldn’t be shocked if Syria sat on top of some untouched oil reserves as well. We remember how awful it was last time, it wasn’t a morally clear cut conflict, we saw brave young men either die, lose their limbs or be recorded doing horrific things to innocent people and now we restart the cycle. David Cameron, Tony Blair, the differences are becoming fewer and fewer. All we’ve done is started a new witch hunt because arms dealers need to earn a living too and war is good for business when you’re in a seat that has power behind it, all you have to do is make everyone scared, because scared people are stupid and easy to control. As a result of our actions, we’re going to be waiting a long time before Iraq and Britain have strong relationships as nations, only just recently did America and Cuba patch things up from the goddamn Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962!

Another thing, in this country we’ve heard the word ‘cuts’ more often than a news article about Edward Scissorhands going on a murder spree in a hairdressers but we’re about to spend £12 billion on war efforts. £12 billion? Who agreed to that sum of money, that sum which could have saved so many schools and hospitals from closures, that sum which could be invested into the education of the next generation or the rebuilding of our crippled local councils or, dare I say it, paid into the welfare state that so many people rely on to live? Tax credits cut, police force cuts, NHS cuts, we were told we had to have a tight belt to get by and suddenly the government decides to splash out on some indiscriminate mass murder – we as a nation saved up to buy David Cameron the Christmas prezzie of bomb-blasted Syrian ruins, it was on his list and we didn’t feel quite comfortable with his other request of Jeremy Corbyn grinded up and kept in a binbag. I don’t remember the people being asked if this is what they wanted, this came down to a group of fuddy duddies in suits sitting about bickering about how badly they want a war, the same nonsense that was pulled before we marched into Iraq funnily enough. Huge swathes of British people don’t want war, I don’t war, what happened to our voices? The media certainly didn’t highlight the “Don’t Bomb Syria” movement gathering outside the House of Commons, probably because the guy in charge of it wants very much to bomb Syria. We didn’t choose this, they did, an elite few declared war on behalf of a nation and now everyone is at risk – Syrians will become collateral damage and Brits will become terrorist targets.

Syria, this post is probably not going to reach you but I will say that I’m sorry on behalf of the nation and if I could offer up my life to end the bombing, I’d do so. I know I can’t because death is never an answer, it never fixes anything and I’m sorry because you know that from experience. Your people are going to burn and ISIS will offer you salvation through revenge and if that’s what you want, I implore you to resist the temptation but I cannot blame you if that is what you choose, I would struggle to deny the opportunity to kill someone that killed my brothers or sisters or friends or anyone of relation to me. Know that Britain did not choose this, for too long has our political system inaccurately represented our nation and pinned us under a totalitarian thumb that threatens to remove our human rights with surveillance and regulation. We were never asked, we never took a vote, the number of us that voted on this matter numbered enough to fill a hall, not a country. We wanted that money to save our public services but they took it, they said every penny counted to saving our country so we let them take it but now it seems they took it and invested it in harbingers of death. I weep for your people, for the hundreds of thousands of people like me that will die for the sake of possibly killing hundreds of people who aren’t. I will fight, through word and through deed, and I will never stop screaming at the system because what our government did is not British, nor is it the will of Britain.

Never will I allow death in my name. Never.

Anti-War Sentiment

Spoilers for Doctor Who first of all, tying in with today being Remembrance Sunday and yesterday’s Doctor Who being all about pacifist messages, I want to talk to you about why THAT scene of last night’s episode was spot on and why the message rings true of pretty much every war in the history of mankind – from the World Wars to the ongoing Syrian Crisis. Without further ado, let’s explore the sentiment and how true it is, no doubt you’re well aware but I feel it merits discussion.

The scene I am referring to of course is the ‘scaled down model of war’ in which humanity and zygonity(?) stand in the same room, opposite ends of a table with boxes they have been promised will either slay all their enemies or slay all their own people and they have no idea which button to press to do which. The Doctor supervises and tells them that this is how war works, you can fire the first shot but you can never guarantee who will die from it, in a war anyone can die, friend or foe, guilty or innocent. Of course, the Doctor knows this all too well, it’s revealed previously he ALMOST destroyed his home planet to save the universe with a similar device but we know how that worked out (Which I have mixed feelings about but let’s discuss that some other time). Both sides think there is no hope of peace and forgiveness and the Doctor tells them to stop being petulant children and just try to forgive one another, which he manages to make happen by erasing the memories of the human representative and telling the Zygon one they now have a chance to make amends, which they do. The Doctor’s speech is very important to this turning point, in how war achieves nothing and those who wage it never see past the ‘kill the bad guys’ stage, so rarely is the peace at the end given much thought and that pain does not justify the infliction of pain, it should instead inspire someone to be better and channel that suffering into making a better world. Very true, lest we forget that this is the sentiment Robin Williams held close to his chest in life, he suffered in silence because rather than unleash his pain in angry outbursts and scorn, he made people laugh constantly so people could see him and feel better, not worse.

I think perhaps Remembrance Sunday is often seen as hero worship, in that we pay our respects to the fallen and the brave deeds they achieved  but we forget that war is not glamorous, it is a terrible folly that claims the lives of soldier and civilian alike. Beyond the war poetry and Hollywood films, this wasn’t all a tale of tragic heroism, this was a tale of a few politicians and greedy people convincing generations of good young men to go kill themselves in order to resolve arguments. Harry Patch, the last Fighting Tommy, said this on the matter:

“I feel then, as I feel now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising legalised mass murder”

Now I think the Doctor would stand in agreement with Harry, except perhaps minus the guns but this is what war should come down to – actual discussion. If you, a politician or monarch or whatever, declare war, you aren’t bravely opposing a fascist, you are telling the world that you are prepared to sacrifice legions of innocent lives to prove a point and get your way. Ultimately, war costs us lives of guilty and innocent men and women and it is sad to think that war and aggression is what drives the advancement of technology, we are getting better and better at killing each other to the point now it can be done with a button. If you want true bravery, true bravery is being the one who lowers their weapon first and extends a hand to say enough is enough. As the Doctor says, cruelty only begets more cruelty, a vicious cycle that will go on and on until we kill everyone, it was true then and it is now – we haven’t plans for Syria once we bomb the everloving hell out of it or else the world would’ve been prepared for the refugees, the Syrian government hasn’t a clue how to restore their nation once the rebels stop, the rebels haven’t thought much further than revolution and ISIS’s train of thought boils down to “Fuck everyone”. We are achieving nothing but destruction and the people in power act like they are so brave for opposing ISIS, hardly realising ISIS was a demon of their own creation and their bravery extends as far as carpet bombing the innocent in hopes of killing the wicked amongst them. 200,000 people have died over the four years of war in Syria, 4,000,000 more have become refugees and I can assure you, those are not all terrorists that died and those are not scrounging thieves that fled.

War is the ultimate in human folly, it is the worst thing we do to ourselves and to one another, to call it brave is to romanticise the mass execution of our fellow men and women. Whilst we have moved beyond wars fought over family feuds and flags being put up where they aren’t welcome, we still wage war over political disputes and religious disagreements, things that we should really resolve through discussion, or perhaps even, leaving each other alone if needs be. I hold no power, I cannot gather the world leaders in a Doctor Who scenario and get them to settle it that way but oh how I wish I could. The greatest warrior of all is the one who chooses to end a war, rather than wage it until death.

Ugly Words

Ever want an easy way to start a shitstorm in a comment section? Say you’re a feminist, works wonders. Want another way? Try saying Black Lives Matter and wait how long it takes for All Lives Matter to come up as the rebuttal, I’d tell you to take a drink every time that phrase inevitably surfaces but you’d be comatose in ten minutes. Of course, these are dressed up as well-meaning things, calling yourself a fighter for equality because men have issues too or saying all lives matter, not just black ones but in truth these are attempts to whitewash and control social movements by an ignorant majority – the very fact they have to distance themselves from the word feminism shows they’ve missed the point. I don’t mean a marginal misunderstanding you can correct as easily as a spelling mistake, I mean they missed the point by such a distance they’d need to catch a bus and a plane to get back to it. Still don’t get my point? Hmm, let me fill you in.

Feminism

People have the misconception that feminism is about putting women at the top of the social hierarchy and rebuilding society around the awe-inspiring might of the vagina or something. Feminism started out as a movement to give women the rights that man already had – the right to vote, to work, to own property – and through protests and other means they achieved a great deal of what they set out to do. We’ve come a long way and humanity deserves some credit for that, for the most part in modern Western society, women are not so much seen as sandwich making housemaids but are also seen as politicians, doctors and so forth, that’s great. However, gender roles are still a thing, a negative set code that is forced on boys and girls alike, which I have discussed in great length and it is so ingrained in us that just the Fem in feminism makes it an ugly word to us, associating it too strongly with women (Counter movements even take the name of Meninism). Feminism isn’t done, women are closer to being equal to men but not quite there yet – most CEOs are still men and that’s not because women don’t bother, they’re just never promoted ahead or so on, women still receive lower wages for the same work as men in various fields such as teaching, construction and management and of course there are still things such as victim blaming in rape cases and entire countries where women are still oppressed (Though meninism tries to tell Western women that they should be glad they don’t live in Saudi Arabia, like that’s an excuse to call them a slut and demand sexual favours, akin to saying “It sucks that you got mugged but at least you don’t live in Venezuela, that place is really dangerous!”). Are we so uncomfortable with our feminine selves that we must lambast a movement rooted in it for daring to suggest women and trans women, lest we forget them due to their lack of representation in the media, are in fact just as worthy as cisgender men? Feminism isn’t about taking away the rights of men, it fights to represent them in things such as the oppressive male standard and how men can be victims of domestic abuse and so on – what feminism is is gender equality, it is not so much destroying the male dominated power structure but disrupting the lack of diversity within it by allowing women to be seen as true peers to their male counterparts.

Black Lives Matter

When police brutality began claiming name after name of black victims over things such as kids holding toy guns, men fleeing in panic at the sight of a police officer and even one police officer apparently mistaking his pistol for his taser and ‘accidentally’ shooting a man dead in the street, the media didn’t sensationalise it like it does everything else – bit pieces were featured in newspapers but the world spun on not really caring all that much. Black Lives Matter is a social media campaign to get people to talk about the fact people are dying and they’re not being spoken about in the news in any great length, their murderers let off the hooks with weak excuses and attempts to besmirch the names of victims are made. Seems in this world, if you’re raped or murdered, someone has to find a way to blame you for that, not your assailant. However, this campaign was hijacked by people saying All Lives Matter, all victims should be grieved for and justice for all innocent lives claimed wrongfully… which is what Black Lives Matter is all about. BLM began because the news already covers the tragic tales of innocent young white people getting murdered or assaulted or accidentally dying in tragic circumstances, black lives not so much and if they are, it’s not with that same respect and dignity, instead it’s a “Who is really to blame?” rhetoric spurted out at us by some right-wing imbecile defending the prejudiced actions of a trigger-happy police officer. BLM, therefore, tried to say the minorities were being overlooked and in response the majority went “Oh god, if they’re being overlooked, maybe we are too, let’s make sure that’s not the case! Quickly majority, let’s make sure every single story about us is heard on every platform we have!”, forgetting the minorities who are still waiting there to be given some time on that stage. Social media is where that happens but they get shot down for daring to suggest their deaths are just as sad as those of white people, who feel offended and have to ask why BLM isn’t giving those deaths consideration. They’re not a movement for that, white people don’t need better representation in the media, we’re already the ‘default’ definition of a human being, what more do we need?

In summary, the straight white male is obviously still the demographic that has all in its favour and it fears for the length of its supremacy over all others when those others unite and demand fairer treatment. Nobody wants to take away the rights of men or white people or Christians or straight people or whatever, when gay people are allowed to marry or white-on-black violence reported in the news, nobody loses out, nobody is worse off. Feminism isn’t man-hating, BLM isn’t racial discrimination. Such movements only want to establish an equal playing field where there is no favouritism. There is no need to fear, white men of the world, we still have a pretty sweet deal going on – we run most of the world, politically and financially, most heroes in fiction resemble us and we’re the most pandered to demographic in all marketing. Equality isn’t, and has never been, a movement to destroy society, it has always been a movement about making it fairer, richer and representative of the diversity within it.

What Evil Looks Like

This isn’t going to be a fun read but it is an important one and perhaps that should motivate you to read this article, especially if you are a man. Forewarning, the content ahead is about sexual abuse so if that will upset you, look away, but I encourage you to look on – these topics need to be discussed. By now this is old news but the point is no less valid and needs to be reinforced wherever and whenever appropriate. George Lawlor, student of Warwick University, opted not to attend the optional consent classes offered at his university on the grounds he does not, and I quote ‘look like a rapist’, apparently feeling unfairly judged as such and believing his own conduct above reproach. The said student put up his own blog post of why he didn’t go and I’d link you but I don’t want to sully this blog by offering traffic to such a vile corner of the internet but I’m here to offer a firm rebuttal and to explain why rape culture is a thing and why we need to work on it.

George’s primary point is that consent classes are condescending and patronising insults to men, accusing them all of being potential rapists. Consent classes, incidentally, are classes in which university students are educated on how to have healthy sexual relationships and how to correctly interpret real life scenarios. For example, if a girl comes over to a guy’s place with the intention of having sex with him but upon arrival, changes her mind, if that guys persists – that is rape. She wanted it, she changed her mind, coaxing her into it or pressuring her is rape. The classes focus on ambiguous situations, things that you might not be aware are unhealthy or unfair on your partner and how to behave more responsibly, ensuring each sexual relationship you have is completely consensual and legal if nothing else! Great idea if you ask me, I’ll go into it a bit more in a little while but I’d gladly go to such a class, not because I fear I lack the knowledge but because it sounds like a healthy environment in which to learn more about safe and satisfying sex lives. George though argues these classes are patronising, treating men like potential criminals, but this isn’t the case. Think about it this way – you’re required to attend Fire Safety meetings and Fire Drills in the world of work, does that mean they need to dissuade potential arsonists and pyromaniacs? Maybe, but for the most part it is the benefit of all involved, it promotes safety, knowledge and equips those present with the correct attitude as it reaffirms what they know to be right. We ALL know what to do in a fire, it’s ingrained in us – leave your possessions, leave in an orderly fashion, assemble outside at the safe point – imagine if the rules of consent were as ingrained in us as the rules of fire safety or crossing the road. Kids aren’t stupid, they know a car hitting them will hurt, we teach them so as to make sure they have all the knowledge they need to be safe.

Furthermore, taking these consent classes as a personal insult George, it tells me volumes about you as a person. You take ‘men being potential rapists’ as meaning you? If you know you have a healthy attitude towards sex, why is this so offensive to you? Men who get upset when feminism call out the patriarchy on sexism or transphobia by responding “But that’s not me!” need to realise it is not them specifically being challenged, unless they are actually doing those things in that moment, but the societal norm as a whole. You’re not exempt from that, as I’m not, we have to accept we’re a part of a culture that perpetuates violence and sexism and rape, what matters is what we as individuals strive to be and preach to others. We can’t be let off the hook as nice guys or knowing enough about feminist views to think that’s okay, we have to constantly work to be better, to do more – we might be a part of a negative culture George, but we enjoy the privilege of being straight white men, we get listened to, so don’t complain about someone maybe possibly implying you’re a rapist, shouldn’t the bigger issues be things like the prevalence of rape culture and the rising statistics over the years? Complain about that for a bit.

George put up a photo saying “This is not what a rapist looks like”, which I have two immediate responses to. One, what does a rapist look like? A January report in The Telegraph suggested one in every three women in the UK has been the victim of unwanted advances or sexual assault at least once in life so either there are a shit ton of similar looking dudes all with the same criminal attitudes or, more plausibly, there isn’t a singular rapist stereotype women should be taught to avoid. You want a disturbing fact? 80% of rape survivors KNEW the attacker, when we hear of rape we picture lonely women walking down an alley and getting mugged by a goon with a knife – this happens, let’s not overlook that, it’s terrible – but rape can be so much more subtle and dark. Rape can be a kiss that came with an unwanted hand in the front of a girl’s skirt, rape can be a drunken husband letting off steam on his unwilling wife, rape can be guys ganging up to take advantage of a girl they’re friends with. A rapist isn’t always some hooded delinquent in the shadows with the face of a killer, it can be that ‘friendzoned’ douche, a potential boyfriend, a study buddy, a one-time thing looking to make you his new habit. We like to think we can spot evil from a glance but we can’t, nobody has that ability, you can’t actually judge people that fast and before you know it, that nice guy you invited over one night to help you cram for an exam has turned up with other motives. If 80% of survivors knew the attacker and one in three women have at least said they felt like they were harassed, then one thing is certain – a rapist can look like anyone. You included George, no matter how nice or friendly or safe you think you look, I’ve known women who have been attacked by guys half your height and twice as jovial. I’m not calling George a rapist but just so he knows, he could look like one. I could too, get over it.

Lawlor stands at a position of privileged ignorance then, likely never having been a victim of sexual abuse himself, he can look down his nose at these classes that are just as much about empowering victims as educating potential aggressors into being better people. By disrespecting these classes, you disrespect every single victim of sexual abuse, you tell them that men aren’t responsible or accountable for what happened to them, it was their own stupid fault for getting too close to those nasty rapey men and not cosying up to nice guys like him. The outrageous tenacity of that viewpoint and level of stupidity makes my blood burn with rage. If you believe all rapists are bush-lurking cretins, you exempt yourself from being a rapist, you justify everything you do as not being an assault from the bushes. You also condone a certain creed of man to the harmful stereotype of looking like someone that deserves to be alone. Face it George, what you mean is handsome white heterosexual men aren’t rapists, but ugly ones or minorities are? I’ve had the misfortune of exploring your blog, from what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was your secret philosophy on the matter.

We need to break away from stereotypes, especially ones that belittle a serious crime like rape as being a horror story trope and not much else. Rapists aren’t a particular breed of men, some are but some are otherwise perfectly well-respected members of society. George, maybe you aren’t all that bad a guy and maybe I’m being hard on you but your contempt of consent classes is a privilege you can enjoy as a handsome white straight man, the most well-off of well-off demographics. We can’t let ‘nice guys’ off the hook by perpetuating the idea of all rapists being obviously creepy – it insults women, it degrades men and the facts don’t support it. Women’s safety is a massive issue, it’s one we aren’t doing enough about and these classes are an effort to address that imbalance, respect that.

Captain America and the Conservatives

How’s about that for a title eh? Not one I ever thought I’d be writing, that’s for sure. So what’s this about? Well, in a recent issue of Captain America, the titular character fights against a super villain called the Supreme Serpent, a white supremacist trying to keep illegal immigrants out of the country by terrorising the southern border of the USA. Captain America, who I should remind you is black in his current incarnation, doesn’t much like this idea and comes to the rescue of the terrorised immigrants, defending them and facing off against the white guy. So how’d this go down? FOX News lost their shit basically, calling this a bunch of liberal brainwashing bullshit made to vilify the white conservative as being just as bad as Hitler or ISIS and asked that Marvel make the villains less white guy and more… Muslim… No shit, they genuinely suggested a Muslim extremist villain, saying that such a character is more typically seen as an enemy of America than a white guy ever would be… Let that sink in. Done? Okay, rage with me here…

Straight away, let’s address Captain America and what he represents shall we? To the unobservant eye, Captain America is just patriotism given a face and a large metal shield to wail on Nazis with and you could be forgiven for thinking that but it’s untrue. You see, Captain America was originally designed to resemble the Aryan male, a handsome blond muscular youth with blue eyes, lantern jaw and that good work ethic that made him gosh darn perfect. You might guess this is because he is meant to be the American ideal of a wholesome robust farm-boy looking character fighting for justice but it goes beyond that, it was essentially a cruel cold kick to the balls for the Nazis. The Nazi ideal was also that of a super heroic blond boy, the fact that their fantasy was the one punching Hitler in the face served as a message, that a truly ideal man does not hold to absurd visions of supremacy. Hitler was wrong, his own male fantasy was the one kicking him down and telling him not to demand perfection of others because a core part of freedom is diversity, in being diverse we are free to be different people, having a set ‘this is what you should aspire to be’ rule limits diversity and tries to push people into a pigeonhole. However, Captain America is also the representation of the values the American people are supposed to hold in high regard – honesty, defense of the innocent, righteousness – fast forward to the modern era and we have a black Captain America because, well, why not? A black man can represent those core values of righteousness, look at Martin Luther King, Jr. for example! There was no liberal brainwashing behind making Cap a black guy, it was just Marvel acknowledging that the USA isn’t the land of the white, it’s the land of freedom and justice and justice doesn’t have a particular skin colour.

So, with that in mind, this isn’t a battle of left versus right through Captain America versus Supreme Serpent because Captain America isn’t the living embodiment of the left-wing, he’s just what patriotism should be – a love of one’s country but not a blindness to its flaws, a citizen of their homeland but a citizen of the world too, always striving to encourage their nation as a whole to be better. However, FOX identified with the villains here, calling WHITE SUPREMACISTS the right-wing conservatives in their audience. You know what that means? FOX News just openly admitted, through their own stupidity, they’re white supremacists, they see these white-skinned terrorists in snake costumes with assault rifles and think “Hey! That’s me! I’m not a bad guy!”. Conservatism and white supremacy aren’t, and shouldn’t ever be, one and the same, one is a mindset based in traditional values, the other a penchant for racially motivated violence. I mean, at least FOX News are self-aware, I’ve been calling them a bunch of bigots since I first stumbled across the mindless hate-mongering of Bill O’Reilly and here they are, feeling sorry for terrorists in snake costumes and demanding Captain America make it fair by beating up some Muslims or Nazis.

Captain America, incidentally, shouldn’t go on to fighting ISIS or Muslim Extremists, there is clearly enough racial prejudice in the world without printing comic books showing gratuitous violence towards Muslims as a heroic thing to do. If Captain America exists to be a role model, racism isn’t part of that aspirational standard he should set, that’s one good reason he’s a minority – it’s not about being white, it’s about being right! Kids need to see a socially responsible hero, that’s what Captain America is for – Iron Man shows what technology and ingenuity can achieve, Hawkeye is a hero who doesn’t need powers to keep in league with the best, you don’t have to be special, you just have to try and Captain America is saying that it doesn’t matter what your background is, what matters most is that you are a good person at heart (Thus why he was a weedy kid originally and then beefed up, it was the good in him that mattered, he was never meant to be just some typical action-figure hero). As for the argument that he needs to go back to fighting Nazis, well, White Supremacists are the new Nazis, look at Trump. Build a giant wall to keep Mexicans out? Hunt down all illegally bought guns but let licensed people keep theirs, a clever sounding move until you realise illegal weapons are prevalent in poor neighbourhoods and legal ones in affluent areas, essentially meaning self defence will become a matter of how much of it you can afford to buy. ISIS are awful yes, but their tactics are made to instill fear, to turn people against each other and encourage the hatred of the white majority. Why? Because scared people are irrational and easily broken. White Supremacy, that’s a fear and loathing of difference that turns to violence – lynching, organised marches, cross burning – amassing huge swathes of people into the most intimidating displays possible to inflict as much damage as possible. If an ISIS attack is a small tactical guerilla affair to make you paranoid, a Neo-Nazi march by the extreme right wing is a bunch of angry thugs starting a riot because they don’t like being so paranoid.

In short, this comic isn’t a criticism of patriotism and conservative values, it’s a criticism of racism and extremist mindsets and there should be a differentiation between the two. If you see these white guys getting attacked by a black hero because they harassed Hispanic children and your response is “This is political brainwashing, thanks Obama!”, then think again, think hard. Captain America was taking down a bunch of armed madmen attacking unarmed civilians, that’s what a superhero does, race and nationality don’t come into it. If you want Captain America to fight with Nazis, over zealous insane crackpots who love their country and believe it the best country in the world, well then I have news for you – he just did.