TOMBOY BOOKCLUB- BURGERZ!!!

Hello!!!! I had never read anything by today’s author before, but yesterday evening to enjoy the last strands of the sun I sat down on a bench, sparked a zoot and acquainted myself. This book did more to illuminate me than the sun did, and I closed the covers after finishing with what felt like afterglow swarming under my skin. I had tears in my eyes, and good ones. It is a playpoem from one of the UK’s most prominent emerging queer voices, championing a gender-non conformist identity politics in their work. They are a writer, performer and theatre maker and I for one am in love! Today we shall be honouring ‘Burgerz’ by none other than the fabulous Travis Alabanza!

Burgerz’ seeks to make sense of a transphobic attack (Alabanza details how they had a burger thrown at them on Waterloo Bridge, and to humanity’s shame not one person did anything to help in the aftermath) by interrogating the seemingly innocuous object that became such an insidious weapon: a typical burger, as the title may suggest lol. It isn’t a long play, but Alabanza has gloriously made each word count- as it is pretty much a one person show. There is a density of emotion throughout that really makes it hard to stop reading, and more importantly- empathizing. ‘Burgerz’ attempts to make plain the hidden hurt that has continued to resonate since the burger was thrown, how hate attacks are not a one-time, stop/finish event.

The emotions of shame and confusion that Alabanza felt (feels) cannot be contained, put in a box (‘Burgerz’ also uses boxes very interestingly in its staging): the burger is reclaimed and infused with new metaphorical meanings to articulate what it is to live as a gender non-conforming person. The hyper visibility in public making them prime targets for attack from bigoted scumbags, yet simultaneous invisibility when it comes to needing help. They address the social pressures that can make it so much harder to build up a self-concomitant identity when constantly lambasted with external opinions/orders on what does or does not go into a good burger.

The play is minimalist using only 2 other characters, a white cis-gendered (presumably straight) male and female, who act as witnesses to the monologue revelations. When Alabanza confronts these figures with the raw, and uncomfortable vulnerabilities of how they feel being placed at the bottom pile of society, it is defiantly and definitely NOT an SOS plea. It is a soulful demand for solidarity, a refusal to stand in front or behind each other when we could be standing next to each other. I walk past Waterloo Bridge every day to work, and I know it is a big bloody bridge. Many people would have seen, many people could have stopped.

If you are interested in learning more on the internal/ emotional aspects to living as a visibly queer, gender non-conforming person I would highly recommend this book. Equally, if you are wanting to learn how to be a better ally, and how to support marginalised people who the Powers-That-Be wants us to ignore, or worse to actively obstruct. If anything, ‘Burgerz’ has one simple message: do not stand by and let bad things happen. Do not be complacent, do not believe the problem has nothing to do with you, that you are above it all (news flash: nobody is above caring how other people are treated. Nobody is better than anybody else).

Keep an eye out for more work by Travis Alabanza- they have a lot to say about the wonders and woes of non-binary living, and the ways we can best uplift one another XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

“What came first? The Burger or the Box for the Burger. Man or woman. Or the cages made for man and woman. The person free from man or woman. Or the person in charge of capturing the person free from man or woman. Gender or violence? That last one was the same thing. When I think about boxes I think about order, about containment and the need we have to tidy things. I think about how when things are tidy, it’s always those that are messy that are punished. Colouring outside the lines was never rewarded, only shunned…”

TOMBOY BOOKCLUB- FRANKISSSTEIN!!!

Hello everyone! I chose today’s book as it definitely fits in with the Pride Month focus of exploring/championing views that challenge our heteronormative cis-gendered capitalist white supremacist patriarchy (phew that’s a lot of words to just mean BULLYBOY BULLSHIT). This book is vanguard in its scope, both experimental in it use of time in narrative and the technological horizons it purports for our shared future. At turns movingly reflective, laugh out loud funny, and just plain fucking weird (Fancy some disembodied limbs having a lark about? LOVES IT!), I shall take no further ado in introducing FRANKISSTEIN: A Love Story, by one of my fave authors, the indomitable Jeanette Winterson.

The book is a retelling of Frankenstein’s monster, grappling with the implications of creating independent life in the context of 21st Century robots and AI. Blending Mary Shelley’s life from eloping with Percy to her time writing in the Alps (not in that chronological order), with modern day Brexit Britain and the sci-fi exploits of a transgender doctor named Ry. It isn’t ever made explicit, but the characters are not ‘singular’ in this novel; each separate voice and its emotions bleed into how another narrates their own movement in a certain blob of time. Ry and Mary share similar sentiments in their different threads, and Winterson has created a comedic gem in her rendering of Lord Byron into a modern day Welsh sex-bot manufacturer, Ron Lord. Turning Byron’s hyper-masculinity and sexual promiscuity into a caricature of modern fuckboi pathetic-ness and surprising vulnerability.

Sometimes this layering and fracturing of different stories into one ‘thread’ leaves you feeling a bit wanting, as there are gaps of detail which, me being the pesky Virgo that I am, would love to go into the nitty gritty of more. But overall, I think the overlapping and collapsing of different realities to create a transgressive take on the repercussions of Frankenstein’s monster on the world is uber clever. Huge jumps in time and consciousnesses inevitably need empty space to move. To give all this jibber jabber I am spouting cohesion I will briefly outline the plot: Ry, a transgender medical doctor, finds themselves enthralled by the passionate yet dangerous affections of a world famous AI scientist, Victor Stein. Victor Stein is all about furthering human intelligence beyond the material limitations of the body, mainly how bodies naturally decay and take the brain with them, and how bodies impinge upon our freedom, encasing us in identities we may/may not fully align with on the inside. It emerges that Stein’s interest in Ry is not merely (or even mainly?) based in romance, but an intellectual desire that goes beyond what Ry could ever imagine.

Sometimes the way Stein reflects on Ry being transgender and the scientific implications of that did make me feel a bit uncomfortable, as at the end of the day all identities are not scientific theses but just fucking breathing beings, whose personhoods do not need to be so intricately theorized. But, no progress comes without knowledge and the way Stein conjectures about transgenderism may sometimes be alarmingly OTT, but is ultimately rooted in admiration not fear. Granted, that admiration thrives in a distance of not actually understanding what Ry lives through (Ron constantly mis-genders them as one example of a daily micro-aggression, but Ry always bites back with a wit that is very satisfying) but that is why their relationship is so deliciously precarious. The loneliness of love.

Transgenderism is entwined with transhumanism in Victor’s mind and the awesome potential of choosing your own destiny- biological or technological existence- a parallel beyond what Ry really envisions for their self. Ry doesn’t want to be warped into machines or protected by a metal shell, they just want love returned. And Winterson is a writer who profoundly and deftly deals with the big L word. In Frankissstein, computer algorithms and mathematical systems are the language in which love expresses itself for Victor. For Ry, the grandness of Victor’s vision for humanity escaping the tyranny of flesh becomes more pernicious and authoritarian as the plot unfolds, and the battle no longer is just one of social ethics and practical technological advancements. How can we feel love without our bodies? Is it fair to teach a robot always to give, but never feel love in the same way for themselves? And if we really can return to each other in another life, will we be wearing angel wings or tin cases? Is it possible to fall in love without faces?

Frankissstein can sometimes be rather meta in how deep Winterson gets into discussing technology, but this seriousness is offset with a tender romanticism and undeniable humour- there’s a bit where Ron and a Christian fundamentalist called Claire end up hitting it off which really did make my head spin in giggling. I recommend Frankissstein if you are prepared for your mind to be blown with scientific prophecies, for an adventure of bodies exploring internal landscapes of love in a technological future already unfolding. THANK YOU JEANETTE FOR ANOTHER BANGER!!!!! XOXOXOXOXXOXOXOXOXXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOOXOXOXOXOXOXOOXOXOXOXOXOX

“Victor shrugged. There is a view that love, because it begins so spontaneously, is also simple. Yet if love engages our whole being and affects our whole world, how can it be simple? The days of simple are done- if they ever existed. Love is not a pristine planet before contaminants and pollutants, before the arrival of Man. Love is a disturbance among the disturbed.”

TOMBOY BOOKCLUB- The Half God of Rainfall

Hello everyone! I actually wrote about this author very recently, but after a light summer rain I wanted to dance in thunder, hear the clouds boom (do you see I’m setting up a rain vibe?). Today’s book is a blending of modern quotidian life with epic forces of Ancient mythos, and I have just learnt that it has been made into a play too- so I guess it spans genres as well as histories. The Half-God of Rainfall is the latest offering from Innua Ellams- a dramatic tale of revenge against the powers that be, in this case the gods themselves.

I talked about Candy Coated Unicorns & Converse All Stars a few weeks ago, and this long poem seems to be a technicolour extension of one of the poems at the beginning of that first pamphlet- Portrait of Prometheus as a Basketball Player. Combining the drama, power and passion required for ruling the basketball court with the patience, meter and skill for composing poetry- The Half-God of Rainfall brings apparently separate realms of sport and art, of gods and mortals together into glorious collision. It follows the story of Demi: a half-god bastard prodigy born of rape. His mother is the mystic and quietly strong Modupe, a woman drenched with the sacrifices of her ancestors, who is forced through the cruelty of the Gods to repeat that cycle of pain herself- left alone and traumatized with a life she never asked for in her arms. The powers and influence of the Gods flow down to the world of mortals below, and whilst Demi may seem like a wimp to the other boys in his Nigerian village- it is his tears that rock the world, cause devastation with their emotion. He has inherited his mother’s humanity, along with some distant power. Love and rage. A powerful combination, which the Gods in their weakening purity cannot ignore, and like the mortal men they foolhardily think they’re so different from, seek to control in order to protect themselves.

However, whilst Demi is lauded with stardom he is not really the hero of this revenge plot. Ellams’ poem is a reworking of myth and modernity to make an exciting (and very satisfying) blood bath of feminine retribution against the Gods- who for all of history have been demanding that the feminine stays on her knees, in more ways than one… With the protection of the Nigerian spirits, and what turns out to be an inter-connected rebellion of all the feminine deities across the globe- rest assured Modupe does not let the Gods decide fate easily. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but Hollywood ought to zip it with Superman and that rabble, and really should make this poem into a film because I would LOVE to watch Modupe fuck shit up all goddess style. I thought I could predict the ending from the plot, and the tradition of revenge tragedies (me being an arrogant lil boffin) but what is remarkable about The Half-God is that it uses the old and hidden to make something dynamic and timeless. We all know that mothers are superheroes without capes, but this is a revision of herstory that truly reinstates mothers- and all those who suffer under colonial patriarchal violence- to their true majesty and vivacity.

If you love a good old plot of celestial planets and powers, sports and punch ups I would highly recommend this book. Its rhyme and metered verses make it fairly straight-forward to follow, without the laborious and cryptic language that epic poetry rooted in the ancients often remains. A modern decolonialization of myth to give the world a new taste of what power can look like, it’s potential when fuelled by love and not bloodlust.

“…Among the Greeks there is a famous tale of pride,
about a child strapped with feathers and wax. It’s told
this child who got too close to the sun fell and died.

Whenever and however this story unfolds,
it’s never admired that he flew that he proved,
it was possible, knew it, that- wings- fluttered bold,

Bright, b r o a d, a graceful glide of a thing and it moved
towards the horizon before gravity pulled.
His vengeance needed greatness… “

TOMBOY BOOK CLUB- FRESHWATER!!!

Todays’ book has me utterly besotted. It is one of the best – in my humble opinion- that I have read recently, way up there with Audre and Patti. I first found out about it because it is one of the longlisted books for the 2019 ‘Women’s Prize for Fiction’, but, more interestingly to me, it is the first book in the prize’s 27 year run to be written by a non-binary transgender author. By glorious coincidence, just as I finished this oracle of a book the months had changed to welcome in the beginning of PRIDE season- so what better way to usher in a month of acknowledging and understanding all things and people non-heteronormative or cis-gendered than by celebrating a book sincerely invested in expanding that conversation even more? Freshwater, by Akwaeke Emezi is stunning, wild and daring in its pursuit of defining freedom in identity: who really are we, and to whom do we belong, if not ourselves?

I didn’t realise it until mid-way through after reading some interviews, but Freshwater is actually a fictionalised representation of ‘real’ autobiographical experiences. I had been reading, stunned and touched that somehow, some stranger had put into words feelings I had never known myself how to articulate. To then learn that this story wasn’t pure imagination spoken through an art form, but grounded in and woven through actual breath and body was serious magic. This blurring of fiction and non-fiction is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to Emezi’s dismantling of oppressive reason and the destruction of organizing meta-narratives rooted in binaries. Freshwater vibrates with a low humming queerness and punk, strung through a modern indigenous ‘fairy tale’ of Nigerian spirits from another realm.

We follow Ada from birth throughout *her* becoming, however this isn’t a story of growing up- it isn’t wholly her speaking. It is the tale of the spirits trapped inside her- who both are and are not her, who want to live so badly, just not here– and what they make her do in the pursuit of their own freedom. The Obanje spirits are at once mischievous, malicious and innocent- not good or bad, childlike yet wise beyond years with their inherent knowings. They rail against the torture of individualized embodiment, the concomitant fears and consequences that come with realizing you are one and singular… to then throw away their rules. The sprits know they aren’t alone in Ada, she is of them.

In my feeble reckonings, I think the integral mission of Freshwater is to make known the alienating, terrifying, yet utterly freeing and beautiful realisations that come through the collapsing of the binary and fusion of supposed opposites. Deviation flows in abundance through Freshwater, a transgression of established borders, the edges we put up to organize ourselves which only leave us lonely: Blurring happy/sad, god/mortal, insanity/sanity, life/ death, the individual/ the crowd, male / female, black / white, animality / humanity, emotion /empirical fact… INTERCONNECTEDNESS IS A SECRET NO MORE!!! Awareness of self and the construction of destiny is rendered back to primal impressions, where knowledge is powerful because it cannot be appropriated for gain or purpose; it simply is what it is, and that’s who you are- for one moment.

I will stop fangirling now, but for anyone interested in concepts of multitudes and hybridity, I cannot recommend this book enough. Akwaeke Emezi has created a world of sprightliness and depth; intoxicating in its imaginings of private mental space, made vivid through the scaffolds of reality structured around raw flux at its centre. Freshwater was also a breath of fresh air for me, and I can’t wait for what else Akwaeke Emezi has in store!!!!!!

“…This is all, ultimately, a litany of madness- the colours of it, the sounds it makes in heavy nights, the chirping of it across the shoulder of the morning. Think of brief insanities that are in you, not just the ones that blossomed as you grew into taller, more sinful versions of yourself, but the ones you were born with, tucked behind your liver. Take us, for instance…”

TOMBOY BOOK CLUB- NANCY CUNARD!!!!

Hello again!!!!! It has been a hot minute since I’ve had a chance to write! I have been twitching to get the poetry/blog ball rolling again, and so I’ve decided to indulge myself and write about a poet I don’t know too much about, but whose work makes my soul sing in the lushest and funkiest of ways… NANCY CUNARD!!!

I first discovered this poet/heiress/bad-ass icon at an art exhibition- Modern Couples at the Barbican, to be exact. After having read a few more articles about her, I can paraphrase her fascinating life with my patchy knowledge as such: Nancy was born to filthy rich parents, magnates of the Cunard shipping line and famous for their posh parties. She was always embarrassed by her wealth, but used it to fund her art: establishing a printing press, The Hours, and hobnobbing with Modernist greats (she knew Virginia Woolf- FANGIRL MOMENT), even bedding many of them as her lovers too. SHE IS A COOL LADY. In her later years, she dedicated much of her life to fighting injustice: she was involved in the Spanish civil war, actively fought fascism as it spread throughout Europe, and also used her money to help champion the artistic talents and civil rights of black people in America to fight against racism there. Nancy actually lost her huge inheritance over her refusal to concede to her family’s wishes to break up with black Jazz musician, Henry Crowder (but sadly they split eventually anyways). She helped the French Resistance in London during WW2, and somehow was even on board SS Windrush from Jamaica when it travelled over to the UK (not that she was involved in fighting for immigrant rights so much, it is just a weird coincidence she was on board). Her activist efforts are sometimes dubious by today’s standards, many rightly criticise her efforts for being heavily steeped in exoticism and White Saviour-is, not really making the efforts to fully grasp how to best help people and rather revelling in the drama. However, I do like to believe Nancy had good intentions even if her execution was not always on point. In the end, her life was very sad- abandoned by most of her former friends and artistic cohorts, sick and mentally unwell in a Sanatorium; which is also why I think it is important to remember her now, so that grim loneliness in the hospital isn’t really her end at all.

Nancy’s poetry is full of heart and soulful observations about the world around her, infused with messages- whether it is an apple tree, a bunch of jonquils or a busy Parisian street, Cunard finds meaning in many places. One of the most stunning works to me is a long poem- Parallax– she wrote in response to T.S Eliot’s Wasteland, and what she felt was an uncompromising and somewhat misplaced negativity after the chaos of WW1. Where Eliot’s work is stark and undeniably morose, Cunard is febrile and sensitive, mingling the past sorrow of lost adolescence with the happiness from those memories that still lives in details of her contemporary post-war moment. She channels exuberance with grief, sensitivity with a tasteful gaudiness for expanding on minutiae, and doesn’t present a monotone landscape of emotion. Her works are serious in their poetic sincerity, adventurous in how they manipulate traditional motifs and structures in on themselves to create fresher voices, and saturated with nerve. Whether lamenting the loss of love and beauty, traversing and interpreting/interrupting urban landscapes or challenging social status quos and injustices- Cunard has a gravitas that can change its tune, but never its conviction to making us feel something.

Without going on and on, I will finish by including a poem of Nancy’s that I found very romantic and despondently beautiful in its intense stoicism on the pains of unrequited love. A sonnet of sorts that, in its strict structuring of lines, hides a trembling heart afraid of its own devotion, and the terribleness of the implications of being known. Nancy is a poet of mystic and fantastic vision, not fully understood but still starkly passionate in her various rebellions against family, cultural tradition and dominating politics. May we continue to rediscover and celebrate her legacy to modernism, activism, and generally being a bad ass rich bitch with a mission. The so called ‘socialites’ of today could never….WE LOVE YOU ALWAYS NANCY XOXOXOXOXXOXOXOXO

You Have Lit the Only Candle

You have lit the only candle in my heart that I am bound to worship,
Kneeling in the draughts of that cold and most solitary place,
Alone, without the stirring priests and breathless sounds of confession
That have made holy such other seclusions, and in their hour of grace
Absolved desires and sins that I am barren of. This sharp
Straight flame of yours is silent, and like a saint throws down on me,
Now I have knelt again after so long on this remembered ground,
The steadfast radiance of his mute impersonality.
You have lit the only candle that shall illumine my wayward paths;
And I tell you, before the time comes when its flames must tremble
and start,
Facing some great wind of eternity that rends and masters it,
I shall be gone with the thread of its tall spirit safe against my heart.

TOMBOY BOOK CLUB- ‘Happier’ by Tal Ben-Shahar

Hello beautiful people!!!! Today’s book was actually an unexpected read for me, as I found it festering amongst neglected leaves of newspaper piling up around the computer at home. At first I was sceptical of how good it could be considering it was just a freebie. But would you give it credence, it did actually turn out to be rather useful and interesting… it is Tal Ben-Shahar’s ‘Happier: Can you learn to be happy?

Happier is all about that: if and how we can learn to be happier people. It emerges pretty quickly in this self-help guide that happiness definitely isn’t a fixed inheritance or finite chemical resource that ebbs effortlessly from seemingly god-blessed beings of perfection, distant icons of inspiration who never worry or struggle to feel beauty or joy. Happiness is an innate prescient energy within us all, but like any muscle or lesson it has to become a consciously chosen habit to make a lasting difference to how you live your life. Ben-Shahar strongly advocates that everybody has a capacity for building up happiness, but that it isn’t as simple as just accomplishing your goals or doing what you’re told and expecting to be rewarded forever after with bliss. Nope, not at all. Happiness cannot be made into an object; is not money, the ‘perfect body’, or thousands of admirers- whatever ‘thing’ you believe would make you content. Those objects are symbols of status and safety in our capitalist world, but in themselves alone are meaningless without a jolly soul to enjoy, appreciate and give them value. Happiness, in this book, must be a sustained and cultivated perspective- of seeing and being- for it to be of any sincere use.

Happiness is defined by Ben-Shahar as synthesis and balance: harmonising present pleasure with long term self-concordant goals of personal significance. At the beginning, he diagnoses three types of people with different methods for survival, and he refers back to these archetypes throughout.

There’s the rat-racer: somebody who works hard for success with little time to enjoy themselves, and whose happiness is only ever ephemeral. Rat-racers mistake the relief they feel when a goal is reached for happiness, but because relief implicitly means there was discomfort before, happiness only ever comes after suffering. This yo-yo between constantly working like a frenzied bitch and then gasping for air evidently is not a nice way to live BUT THANKS CAPITALISM!!!

Next there’s the hedonist: somebody who has given up on the delayed pleasure and incessant slogging of the rat-racer, and instead chooses to only focus on present pleasure with no thought for the future, or what is really meaningful to strive for. They want to relax, but because they have nothing to temper the hours, eventually what once brought pleasure is just a bore. Ennui and despondency sink in, having nothing to make the pleasure meaningful, and so the hedonist becomes the final archetype. The nihilist: Somebody who has given up on finding meaningful work, and given up on the idea that pleasure brings happiness. The nihilist believes life has no purpose or pleasure and there’s nothing to do about it (can relate)…

BUT THAT’S WHERE TAL BEN-SHAHAR STEPS IN! In Happier, there’s different sections for different aspects of life- your work/career, love life, family and aspirations- where Ben-Shahar explains what could currently be wrong with the way we have become accustomed to think, and gives exercises to help us see ourselves better so we know what to do differently. He uses footnotes and real psychology research, so this is bona fide advice for any of the haters out there. And ultimately I think the lesson that the book showed me is perspective, and what you choose to prioritize in your life.

Like, you can’t always control what happens to you or how people you love (or not) treat you, but you can choose how to respond and conduct yourself. You can choose not to let it be a reflection of your worth, and not to let it grind you down or make you behave nasty. I think it is a call to a more authentic dialogue with the self, to really listen and be tough with yourself about whether the current things you think are important, or which get you down, really are important or deserve to have that power of emotions over you. If you listen to what you, ONLY YOU- not what TV or teachers or magazines or priests or singers or celebrities or friends or doctors or enemies or lovers have told you- then there can be no doubt as to what will really make you happy.

It made me think a lot about the commodification of emotion too, the sense that our western culture operates on the idea that obtaining certain things (wealth, beauty, popularity) imbues you with a corresponding emotion. IT IS ALL LIES, because if we are always changing and each one of us different, how can we possibly all need the same objects/goals to be happy?! The book is a reality check: None of us have been explicitly given a list of things that we have to do before we die. The sadness sets in when we feel we’ve lost power over this opportunity of freedom to make our own definitions, and choices of what happiness is and looks like to us. Do not let other people decide your life for you. To me, the good life is a zoot with my friends, a cup of tea and a book, writing poems and thinking of ideas about literature and society and THE UNIVERSE. To my brother it is art, star wars and frankfurters. To my dogs it is good smelling mud, a warm fire, cuddles and chews. We are all so wonderful and none of us live long enough, so don’t let other people think or decide things about you for you, it can never bring happiness, just more of the same: more people all aiming for a small plinth of fabricated grandiose, money and celebrity, and all climbing over and crushing each other to get there.

One of my favourite ideas that Ben-Shahar puts forward is that of the spreading of happiness being like a revolution, BECAUSE WHO DOESN’T LIVE FOR REVOLTUION AM I RIGHT LADIES?!? It can’t fail like other revolutions, where people have been forced externally to submit to new habits, because happiness cannot be forced or indoctrinated. It can only come from depths of yourself, and if it really is happiness and not pride or ego, shouldn’t ever bring others down. To Ben-Shahar happiness isn’t a competition, but infinity- you never want the feeling to end, you want a party to make the whole world dance! Helping yourself makes you more able of helping others, and looking at the state of the world right now, we definitely need to be helping and looking out for each other more.

To finish (sorry for this long cheesy post, the book has a lot to say and I have no qualms with being cheesy) I will include a quote as per usual. The book really isn’t long, and is accessible in its language and exercises so I really would recommend it to everybody! Whether you are in serious need of some guidance through murky waters, or just want to strengthen an already jolly soul- Happier might be able to help!!!! XOXOXOXOX

“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. It is when we liberate ourselves from our fear of happiness that we can help others… ”

INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY!!!!

Hello everyone, I am sure you know why I am writing again today… HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY!!!!!! The official day of the year when our globe celebrates the influence and life-force of all its womyxn, and a chance to raise awareness for current issues affecting womyxn which still need to progress. I was uncertain of what to write today, as I hope it’s pretty evident that I already believe feminism is a vital ideology – I didn’t wanna just spew my guts up about how amazing feminism is BECAUSE I DO THAT EVERY DAY ANYWAYS!

So I looked online for some inspiration, and saw that this year’s theme for today is #balanceforbetter- highlighting feminism’s goal to bring identity balance to economic, political and social structures as a sustainable way of bettering the planet, and saving it from nuclear annihilation under patriarchy. The idea of balance and feminism- in how the wider world can engage with feminism, and how those immersed in the culture practise it- got the gunged cogs of my noggin cranking, and hey presto this blog post was born!

I considered balance and feminism in three ways:
1.) Balancing the onus of labour for change
2.) Balancing conflicting ideologies within feminism
3.) Balancing your time as a feminist

THE ONUS OF LABOUR

What I mean by balancing the onus of labour, is that I think everyone should be invested (to a certain extent) in social change and helping each other, and that the sole responsibility for this change should not be forced onto people already being oppressed. It takes two to tango basically. Womyxn are not the ones not employing themselves, womyxn are not murdering themselves, nor are they generally speaking the ones who implement most of the public policies which impact our lives negatively- so why are womyxn given the burden of fixing problems caused by people who aren’t engaging to fix the problems they cause, or even worse aren’t aware of the damage they do?!?!? Feminism, like a good pantomime, can only really get its razzmatazz on if there is a willing and participant audience to listen and learn from the wisdom. I can give all my money to feminist causes, scream myself hoarse for change- but if there isn’t going to be a big wig with a heart listening (we could try and blow up government, but I don’t think that would be very proactive) or willing to help bring home the bacon, nothing will happen. This goes for all oppressions, btw- not just womyxn’s issues. The way racism is handled in the West is another example. There are plenty of books defining the black experience, about what slaves had to endure to overthrow their masters, about the martyrdom of freedom fighters and the bullets black people have had to face- but not nearly as many on defining what whiteness has done to black and white people, or what role white people play in aiding the perpetuation of inequality. The study of whiteness is growing now, but for ages, the liberation of black people was seen as just a black problem, which makes no sense when it was the whites making all the problems. Oppressed groups of course should always continue to strive for expanding their powers, the lexicon and scope of an inclusive revolution; but this growth has to be accompanied by a willingness from others to take on board and implement measures to materially shift inequality. Men- all oppressors- have to be accountable in understanding where they fit into and benefit from the current systemic hierarchies of gendered and racialized bodies, so that they can begin to fight for change from without the community of oppressed activist groups. The labour must be shared.

CONFLICTING IDEOLOGIES

I also thought about balance within feminist communities, and the need for tolerance of different ideas and approaches. I don’t mean that you have to necessarily agree with anything another feminist says, and actually if you are sincerely committed to helping each other you should be critical and analytical of new ideas. However, being critical and finding intellectual issue with someone’s ideas doesn’t mean that you simply have to set every single thing they’ve ever done or achieved on fire and start again. Nobody is perfect, and we all at different stages in our lives go through rough patches of the soul which affects how we think and see the world, and I think a bit of lee-way has to be found between fostering acceptance and community with honesty and critical analysis without it turning into a rhetorical fist fight. Nobody can be expected to know absolutely everything correct about a certain topic, and so time has to be taken in order to educate people with good intentions, and not alienate them further from the ultimate goal of feminism to uplift all peoples by being too harsh or dismissive. Obviously this becomes more complex when the issue of who should educate who and why comes in, for instance black folk do not at all have to educate white people. Everybody has to stay in their lane and be accountable. But apart from issues of tackling varying levels of ‘knowledge’ and education when it comes to unpicking feminisms conflicting directions, I also think there has to be balance in terms of different camps of feminists somehow finding a bridge for us to move forward together. I fucking hate white feminists and tory bitches who turn their backs on their sisters, just as I am certain there are feminists out there who would dislike me and think I’m a nut case – but that doesn’t mean either one of us is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. I think feminism should sometimes be taken out of morals and just used as a calculator is in the world. ‘Will my idea/ activism materially assist to improve the wellbeing of a real breathing womynx’s life?’ If both the left and right wings have tangible ideas for change, we should be balancing the perspectives and mingling new combustions of revolution! Differentiation and small grass-roots groups are necessary to keep a focus on the most marginalized, and to stop specific issues from being over-generalized or white-washed like too much of history. However, polarising the feminist movement between warring camps into tit for tat before any action is even taken only detracts and diverges from feminism’s ultimate goal: a good life for everyone. We must find balance to let all different modes of activism breathe, be sure to criticise when it is needed, and let the potential for solidarity between varying ideologies of feminism support each other so we are all uplifted. And if the tory feminists won’t compromise after honest critical debate, then you can fart in their face and tell them to fuck off.

BALANCING TIME

This one is obvious, but still important. In order to stay strong for the sustained fight of feminism, you have to balance your time between offence and defence. This might seem privileged coming from a middle-class white girl, and it undeniably is, as many people cannot avoid their fight if they are political prisoners or constantly targeted by authorized violence. However, for a lot of people- like and unlike me- feminism doesn’t operate in a life or death scenario constantly. So you’ve got to find balance between arming yourself for the fight and letting your heart breathe away from all the confusion and pain and upset that comes with confronting the ugliness inflicted upon each other every day. I think of it like a dog fussing a toy; sometimes, the more and more you try to make something work, the more frantically you try to make sense, the less and less sense you will have and you will just end up a hot and bothered mess of rage and confusion. Be gentle with yourself, because trust me, whilst it is important to stay informed and armed, watching the news constantly and mourning each and every story will not help anyone unless you actually do something. The world needs you empowered and able, not drained and defeated. To all the white girls out there, this is not an excuse to avoid hard work or let white fragility obstruct the path of progress. It is just a simple observation that everybody needs downtime from harsh truths and re-arranging reality away from insidious colonialization under the patriarchy.

And that is that! I just wanted to share some thoughts on this special day to keep the flame of feminism alive and burning like bad bitch! I hope you all have a lovely day contemplating the glorious existence of all the womyxn who have ever touched your life, and that you plot many ways of overthrowing the capitalist machine that keeps us apart from one another using no other criteria than our genitals. BIG UP THE GALDEM FOREVER AND EVER AMEN INSHALLAH AND PEACE!!!! XOXOXOXOXOXXOXCOXOXOXO