Before Friendship

It probably comes as a surprise to none of you reading this that my opinions earn me just as much ire as they do respect. For every feminist that stands at my side or ME sufferer that applauds the awareness I raise, there is another person willing to call me an over-sensitive wuss or accusing me of ignoring the struggles of men. Don’t be mistaken, this blog doesn’t get the traffic necessary for anonymous hate mail and when I do receive that, I can shrug it off as easy as anything. No, far more often, the people waiting to the sidelines to jump in with snide comments and putdowns are friends and family. My usual response is try to talk to them one to one to explain my point of view but if they’re gonna be pig-headed or, heaven forbid, insulting, that’s that and their name is quickly scratched from any Christmas card list I have going. I’ll never back down on my morals, I just can’t, morals define who we are, our codes are unique and we must not let others force us to against them or we lose ourselves. I won’t deny it can be disheartening but I won’t ever compromise on that aspect of myself. That said, here are some common arguments I want to lay to rest:

1. “That’s just your opinion”

I will not cut you out of my life for having a different opinion to me. I will not cut you out of my life for following a different religion or voting differently to me (Unless you support a party such as UKIP or Britain First). I understand my friends will have different opinions to me, I have friends who think minions are adorable, that Transformers are dull and that Dynasty Warriors is a braindead button-mashing experience but I don’t unfriend people over that. Opposing feminism isn’t having a different opinion to me, it’s an entire viewpoint away from mine, a whole different set of rules and values that just aren’t compatible with my own. Using feminism as an example, if you’re anti-feminist, then there a whole host of views that you may or may not fall in line with – victim blaming, slut shaming, the ‘place’ of women in society, friend-zoning, supporting such views is anti-feminism and opposing them? Pro. You might not wear the label but if you believe a woman shouldn’t deserve to be abused because of what she wears, that’s a feminist belief. Opinions are singular, you can look past those, what I am talking about is so much more than “That’s just what I think”, it’s “That’s what I deem to be morally correct”

2. “You’re refusing to hear what you don’t want to”

I think it’s fair to say that in this day and age of technology and viral videos and such, burying your head in the sand and ignoring the world around you is harder and harder to do unless you exclusively use the internet to do your Tesco food shop and watch porn and even then there’s probably going to be some crossover. We have the right to speak, the right to listen and the right to ignore, it’s a big deal with free speech. In all fairness, I’m not so much rejecting the viewpoint, I have to accept that such views exist and I am constantly aware of it, that’s why I do what I do, what I’m rejecting is the association of friendship between people like that and myself. I am AWARE of Donald Trump, that doesn’t mean if we met I’d have to have him added on Facebook to know that he is a racist orange gibbon.

3. “Refusing to talk to people with different views is cowardly and proof you can’t beat them in a debate”

This, I hear a lot, a sort of “If you don’t fight your case, you’ve lost” deal, like I’m on trial every time I put a link to a Laci Green vid in a status. I’ll start by saying that flat out refusing to talk to someone just because they’re right-wing or such isn’t how I start, that’s certainly a buffer I have up against new friends or partners, if a date makes a joke about Poland being full of cut-rate builders ruining the British economy by taking our jobs, I know I won’t need to bother asking her out on a second date. I do try and talk people around and I find, more often than not actually, it is not me that first resorts to personal attacks. Granted, in the past, I’ve had a tendency towards dismissing my opponents as imbeciles but more recently, it is often my critics that come forth with harsh barbs. A wide belief is the first to resort to such, is out of actual intelligent points to argue. I will try and talk someone around but if they’re being unpleasant or mocking me or such, I have no obligation to listen to the rest of what they might say

4. “What about Echo Chambers?”

Echo Chambers, for those who are unaware, are the idea of having a social media account that is loaded with nothing but people who agree with everything you say or do and as such, you become both big-headed and narrow-minded. I mean, if a hundred or so people are telling you on a near daily basis that you are very clever, attractive and morally righteous, surely it stands to reason you might one day believe all that to be fact? Well, aside from my hilariously out-of-hand anxiety having the power to keep any sort of ego of mine in check, not all my friends agree with me on everything I do and we are all capable of critical thinking. Dangerous as it is, I will always peruse the comment sections of news articles and videos, to see different views being expressed beneath. Largely, I’ll admit, it is people making vulgar remarks and such but there are a broad spectrum of opinions represented in these places, some fact-checked, some not, and I will take my time to mine the internet for comments actually worth reading. However, beyond that, on something like Facebook, can you blame people for wanting to be surrounded by people that like them a whole bunch and tell them nice things when we as a society are so readily prepared to pull one another apart? If you want an Echo Chamber, go ahead, you can always self-administer some doses of reality by watching the news or going outside, you don’t need a quota of dickheads on your Friends list to water down your self-confidence.

5. “You won’t win anyone around to your way of thinking by unfriending them”

Err… I’m sorry, when did that become my obligation? When did it become my job to try and win the hearts and minds of every person I meet? No, you see, the BLOG is where it’s my job to defend my viewpoints because that’s all this is, this is literally a website full of me saying shit I think and believe. My Facebook is just my day-to-day thought journal and means of contacting friends and sharing dumb photos I like because penguins are in it or it contains a pun or something. In my daily life, I have every right to just tell someone to piss off because Jacob Wolfe needs his space, Old Man Wolfe, on this site, is the guy doing the debating and lengthy arguments and such and if I need to illustrate my point, I can just tell Facebook friend “Go read this thing I wrote THEN talk to me”. I’ll defend my beliefs at any point in life, sure, but a highlight of the digital age is that if someone is an annoying wanker, you can click a button and they no longer exist in your radar, why would that not be a feature I would make use of?

Well, that’s that then, feel free to use these points in your own rebuttals when you have to explain to your parents why you blocked Aunt Carol on Facebook because she won’t stop sharing anti-vaccination posts on her profile. Your media, your choices, you don’t have any obligation to argue with people if you don’t want to and your beliefs are more than just opinions, they make you who you are and if people can’t accept them, they can’t accept you and that’s not on. Tolerance is all well and good but it’s a two-way street so don’t just put up with nonsense for the sake of being a good person, you have to let yourself break away from toxic influences. Just keep up to date on the world affairs and you won’t lose sight of reality behind rose-tinted glass (And hey, fuck reality once in awhile, take an evening a week or something or an hour of the day to just forget David Cameron is in power and go play a game or watch a film). Remember that you are no less for wanting to spend more time in the company of people like you and that it is a clever move to remove people from your life who will only cause you harm or upset. Okay? That’s all.

Really need a sign off phrase…

Advertisements

Privilege Check

Trigger Warnings – None

So would you believe it, my attempt to lighten the mood by writing an article about comic books seems to have gone down just as well as being the only lepper in the swimming pool, not too many people want to get too close and so as it happens, yesterday was a flounder on the site stats. Lesson learned I guess. Anyway, moving on, I haven’t done anything political in a while, let’s do that shall we? Sorry America, this isn’t going to be about casting your ballots, although do do that, but I want to talk about a common argument of the left-winged amongst us that always falls short, and I apply the term argument generously.

Ever heard the term ‘check your privilege’?. Basically put, it demands that someone shut up and consider how lucky they’ve been in their life and what they have going for them in terms of gender/racial/socio-economic factors that play to their advantage before they make comments such as “The reason poor people are poor is because they don’t work hard enough” or “Women only rally to feminism because they hate men”. Granted, these are stupid comments and are usually attributed to rich white heterosexual men, but telling said individuals to check their privilege is not the way to enlighten them to the struggles of a working class Joe or a lesbian denied her rights to marry. Check your privilege sounds good but it is, in a way, a form of racism because it basically tells your opponent “You are wrong because you are white and rich”. Ok, so what you’re saying there is that they are who they are because of where they come from and certain people from certain walks of life are just stupid? Remind me what we’re fighting for again?

Of course, not every white straight male is a privileged one and whilst I do have to admit I can enjoy some male privileges such as walking around topless if I so please or being more likely to get a job than someone called Stefano just on the basis of my Anglican name, I don’t consider myself all that privileged – working class roots, a life of living on the bread line and despite my advantages, the job market is still not embracing me with a big hug and promoting me up the ranks like it was going out of fashion. If you didn’t know me and told me to check my privilege in an argument, you’d have to make a lot of assumptions – that I’m straight, that I’m cisgendered and so on and so on. Not a great move, you know what they say about assumption, you make an ass out of you and me (Read it aloud, makes sense). You shouldn’t make assumptions about someone’s past and have that be your basis for an argument and you certainly shouldn’t reduce someone to a product of that background, they are, despite what you might think, still human and human hearts can be turned if you know the art to it

I might be the wrong man to make this point but is telling someone to check their privilege not just a horribly cynical point to use in an argument. You hear straight white male and immediately roll your eyes? Well fuck, that’s me and I’ve used this blog to make points for mental health, left-wing politics, sexuality spectrums, I’m only a few piercings and some green hair away from a modern day hippie. Your opponent in an argument is always a human being, I should hope, they have fears, traditions, values, interests and if they don’t believe in something you do, they have a reason, perhaps a flawed reason or one they don’t even realise but a reason. If you want to win an argument, by which I mean win them over to going “Oh yeah, you’re right…” then you have to find the reason they don’t agree with you and work with it, don’t just dismiss them because of that reasoning. I’ve had friends who’ve seen my flawed views and instead of going “Well you would say that, you’re a guy”… Ok, some have said that, but some have instead taken the time to challenge my views and help me achieve a broader understanding of feminist issues or sexuality issues or so on. You cannot assume someone will not empathise, or they won’t, and demanding they do with three small words is as effective as slapping them and then asking for a hug. No, fuck your hug, you slapped me

You have to realise, we can’t look at someone with a reasonably comfortable life and just tell them they don’t understand. Make them understand, duh. You should also note that even those who might understand what you’re going through won’t fully empathise because nobody is going to understand what you’ve been through quite as well as you do. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, we need allies, not enemies, wouldn’t it be great to get more rich white guys to say something on behalf of the minority groups out there? Idealistic dreaming, maybe, but not impossible and certainly worth trying as it has happened, remember that Texan sports presenter who defend the coming out of an American football player? I don’t remember names and probably should look them up but everyone saw fat, well-paid, white guy from Texas and assumed “He’ll call him a fag” and then instead the guy admits he’s uncomfortable around gay men, not out of hatred but out of a lack of understanding but he’s not against learning and he certainly doesn’t make the player any less of a man. I was impressed when I saw that, as was Ellen DeGeneres, who had him as a guest. If you want people to agree with you and understand your point, treat them as human beings, don’t dismiss their inherent humanity. I know it’s hard, they might be really ignorant but you have to try before just giving up on them or nobody will ever learn anything because very few people change their opinion on something overnight and they certainly won’t if you just flip them off

Remember what the goal is – to promote understanding, acceptance and equality and as such you must understand, accept and revere your opponents as equals so that you might make allies of them. I’m not the perfect example of this, I can make assumptions like any human being but we should make an effort and never just ignore someone on the grounds of their income or their race or we’re just as bad as the elitists. Reverse elitism, that’s it, check your privilege is reverse elitism

Sticking With It

Ok, something has to change, I have to really try harder to stay in this writing game because the cycle of inspiration, staleness and then silence, only to then be pestered for new material is getting a bit tiresome and frankly undermines my own integrity as a writer and a speaker for the views I claim to represent. Without affirmative action, at least in the form of a strong argument presented with eloquence, my opinions are nothing more than the pretentious smug ideals of a ‘social justice warrior’ who clings to words like ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ but never really does anything beyond scouring comment sections for people to loathe. Granted, words are words, my inane ramblings have yet to actually change someone for the better, nobody has come to me and said they view ‘sluts’ in a new light or told me how they’d justify their own existence to a rogue robot from the future but I figure if I keep trying, I can at least open the floor to discussion and hopefully that can lead to action. Heck, I’ve done a fair share of charity work and at the time of print, I am a charity worker – for a salary yes but I was with that same charity for four months as a volunteer, sue me if they repaid me by temporarily getting me out of queues at the DWP. Anyway, run on sentences about justifying myself aside, I need to make an effort, a real effort at that, to give the people what they want. By people I mean my friends who think I have potential as a writer and by what they want I mean studies of our culture laced with verbose humour.

So, where to start? The cycle I’m in means I face the daunting task of worthy comebacks. I did a little rant a while ago about the whole nude-photo leak scandal and how the true scandal is not that women are unafraid of embracing their own natural beauty and displaying it with the understanding that these photos were for private use but in fact the scandal is that this sex crime, which is what it is, made the victims out as villains, not the perpetrators. However, I have a lot to catch up on – nerd culture’s abject hatred of the female gender, the Ebola terror that seems to have everyone in a flutter and the considerable changes to Doctor Who that have me wondering if Steven Moffat has maybe dug a little deeper in terms of building characters. I do not lack material to work with, I’m following the news more closely now so I can be more in tune with the world and highlight things that say “Ok guys, let’s discuss this”. I must say though, I’ve changed as a man since I started these rants and so what was once me being a hyper-aggressive man with a dictionary attacking insignificant things like tattoos and catchphrases is now going to be a slightly less aggressive man with that same dictionary, albeit a few more pages, presenting his views on things actually worth talking about. I don’t burn with the anger of my youth, by which I mean two years ago, and I feel that using my abilities for nothing more than telling people they look stupid when they do this is kind of a waste. All the same though do feel free to read my older stuff but take it with a pinch of salt as people change, do not call it up in an argument with me saying “Didn’t you say this though?” to which the response will be “Yes, I said that at that time, would you like to hear my opinions from when I was twelve? Spoiler alert, they were also dumb” which is a rant in itself and I’m not afraid to admit to some really stupid opinions in my past but then I was uninformed

 

Long story short, I hope to come back into my element but this will have to fit around a social and working life as well as battles with low moods and shaky health. On the TDWC front, same situation, hit a wall with ideas and found myself struggling with plots as well as already noticing what could be better – a well established lore, Valerie being less of a typical female character with tits, guns and a grumpy attitude and the series arc being more noticeable throughout. TDWC is weird in that I can see the distant future being full of ideas, it’s just learning to walk before I run, I’ve not written series of works before except a comic series I had as a kid but looking at that in retrospect, it was more just Marvel Comics and Doctor Who smashed together with my face on it – I was a kid, kids copy shit, so what?

Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who insisted I get back in the saddle so to them this is me, getting in the saddle

Hi-ho silver!

Arrogance and Apathy (Originally Published – 8th February 2013)

Oh it’s a funny old life being Jacob Wolfe, self-confessed arrogant twat who rules his own little world but falls flat on his face at every hurdle. I recently triggered a massive debate when expressing my views on gay marriage, by which I mean I said I support it, a few people said they didn’t and I explained my argument before they buggered off then someone more intelligent tried to argue with me and it ended in agreeing to disagree, though with some discrepencies along the way. I won’t change my mind on core beliefs no matter how hard you try, and frankly my opponents weren’t trying to convince me they were right but rather tell me what I believed in was wrong, so to speak. I found the debate dis-satisfying though, the only intelligent counter argument to mine was that of religion and to me, talking to religious people about their beliefs is like signing up for being fucked in every orifice by a power drill, it’s a long and painful process that I don’t willingly agree to. I have my own personal religion so whenever anyone else brings up their religion, I’m offended by it, usually because it’s without me asking. However, with the topic being homosexuality, I should have been prepared for such. I’m arrogant, I admit it, and there are many reasons for that so I’m inclined to think I held my ground pretty well and did so with civility but being me, I never feel any sense of accomplishment in these confrontations. I boil in my own negative juices it seems, forever spiralling downwards because alongside intellect and arrogance, I decided to mix in pessimism and a general loathing for things that breathe… Great mixture. So, whilst I can often engage with the intellectual aspects of a person, their spiritual beliefs leave me with a bitter taste in my mouth and any stupid comments of any kind whatsoever instantly ring the prick alarm bells in my head. I can’t help it though, I think it’s just my character.

I worry about my cynical side sometimes, as humourous as he is with his massive vocabulary and the ability to outwit almost anyone who tries to challenge him but as much fun as he can be, he’s a miserable mother fucker and he’s quick to judgment. Internal arguments with myself have led me to believe I’d be a nicer person if there were less human beings crowding around him and doing stuff he hates, like existing. I guess I’m walking this tightrope between nice guy and total cunt but I’m doing the stunt whilst drunk and balancing on one foot with my arms cut off so it’s a bit hit and miss which side of the rope I fall off, the side where I pick you up off the floor or the side where I shoot puppies in the face… that’s a metaphor, I have no ill will for any puppy on the planet. The probable explanation for this is somewhere along the line, a younger me said ‘Fuck it’ and it just kinda stuck and honestly I swear that is the logic my brain goes by at times. Fuck it, I’ll tell them that they’re irritating. Fuck it, I’ll do a little extra work. Fuck it, I’ll go back to bed and grumble off to sleep. I realise I’m complaining a lot but it needs to come out and if you’ve read this far, you’re probably interested anyway which is kinda weird as effectively you’re just listening to the grumpy ramblings of an old man, so to speak. I’m bored, I’m broke and my body has developed the ‘Fuck it’ logic too, spontaneously deciding to make my spine feel like it’s made of uncooked spaghetti or my head feel like I’m lying on the road during a car crash. I spoke to my doctor, said it’s all just stress and depression. Thanks a bunch, you useless imbecile. The doctor also suggested my mood could be explained as the development of a sense of apathy that my body is reinforcing by periodically shutting down the systems at moments where it should be working. Oh well, I shan’t give up because I can’t give up and I haven’t done so previously so I’m not gonna start because of a few aches and pains in the joints. You’ll find I’m man enough to shoulder any burden I’m needed to, and then ask for more, because whilst I may be struggling at times, I still have that voice in my head that thinks I can run up waterfalls or punch the face of the non-existant God I don’t worship and that voice is what drives me to fight through each day

I was going to use this paragraph to tie things up nicely, or round it off with a positive note and a joke, but if I had a strong note to end on, I’d act on it myself. Besides, conciliatory endings don’t always have the same impact do they? In that regard, until my next rant, go away.