One more thing: I wrote this blog when I was feeling depleted. And in that fact is another political lesson: sometimes we can feel less depleted by writing about being depleted or even just sharing that sense of being depleted with others.
Sara Ahmed https:/
>Some of the most vulnerable people I know are also the best in a crisis, because they kick immediately into survivor mode.
Against Bargaining | Laurie Penny http:/
2 min read
I deal with trauma by writing, partially. It's a tool.
Writing publicly, too, I guess- I don't write what I'm not posting, even if it's to 3 or 4 friends. Sometimes it's tweets, sometimes it's a blog, sometimes it's just a verbal rant, edited on the fly with "which is to say" and "no scratch that".
Writing is also my process- I have sketchbooks, but they're lined and filled with scrawled notes with the occasional penned sketch before I return to the scrawl.
Processing and process are the same, and one is simply the feminised, traumatised version of the other. One you can sell, the other you must hide. Progressive institutions move this boundary, reject empiricism, embrace autoethnography and artistic methods.
But still, the Issue remains, stemming not from a simply methodological problem, but the very existence of oppression, and the social codings that create these differences.
Writing these vulnerabilities publicly is dangerous, because they open themselves to exploitation.
Writing things that aren't vulnerabilities, aren't personal, isn't dangerous- empirical, professional, artistic, these are safe.
The divide between process and processing is the divide between vulnerable and oppressed subjects. The act of writing publicly about vulnerabilities exposes one to punishment and further inhibits your inability to process and progress on these issues- Patriarchal processes work faster simply because they're patriarchal.
Nothing new there, but there's some words.
2 min read
Everyone seems a bit stuck right now- no one has any idea what to do. Guides are circulating- how to secure your computer, how to start a maoist revolution, how to join an anti-fashist network.
Maybe they're useful right now, But here's how I've done this, got up after brexit, after dead friends, after fights that you've lost and it feels like so many people- friends, aquaintainces, strangers- are going to be eaten by the grinding jaws of capital, patriachy, and racism.
First, you look after yourself. Yes, you're going to need to fight, but you can't fight yet. You've just been attacked. The psycological impact is going to leave you rocky for a bit. Cope how you cope- Eat, call friends, read, write, play video games, sleep(if you can), drink(be careful you're not making things worse)- give yourself space. Get yourself back on an even keel.
Next, look after your friends, especially those impacted worse than you. Cook for them, watch films with them, hug them, love them. This is looking after yourself too, to some extent- they blur into one another. But don't prioritise this over looking after yourself. Accept care, accept food, and take time for yourself if it helps. You're not helping other people if you break yourself helping them.
Third, work out what your problem is. Trump is a big problem, but you eat an elephant in a thousand bites, by fighting a milion small fights, alongside a billion other people. Maybe you're going to be fighting for transgender protections, maybe you're stopping people in your city starving, maybe you're resisting white supremacy in your community.
These small problems all sit hand in hand, and they're all fighting the same enemy, and you'll all be working with one another, but you need to chose your scope.
When you know what the problem is, angles of attack, places you need to know more, and natural aliances begin to fall out of it. Follow up on them. Send the messages, read the books, and exploit the weak points. Make the art, hug the friends, feed the hungry, write the blog posts, and smash fashist skulls.
But be ready for it, have people at your back, and have a plan.
5 min read
As a trans woman, every (cis) womens space you enter, every group you organise with, every friendship circle, will have the The Chat.
The Chat is not always a chat, or even delineated. Occasionally, it exists without a word being spoken, in glances and nods and eyebrow raises, in the implicit assumption that it could collapse into a formal, delineated space, a chat in an elevator, or a group dm, at any moment. Even in these implicit existences, the chat always exists as an exclusionary device. A common space that’s there the moment it’s needed and descends back into illegibility the moment it’s existence is noted and subject to power analysis.
The Chat is a critical concept, a tool for understanding how cis women’s solidarity is turned against trans women instead of being extended to us.
A space you’re not allowed, so they can work out how to handle you- the reasons, from “she’s violent”* to “how can I be a better ally to her” are an aside- the space is always created, and it’s always because trans women are scary.
Being called out is scary. Being afraid to mess things up is scary. Penises are scary. Whatever. There’s something of the monstrous, the queer, about all oppressed groups and when in a cis (white, straight, abled) womens space, this is found in the trans woman(and in the black woman, the queer woman, the disabled woman- different monstrosities all, all intersecting, and with different complexities I am not focusing on here).
Monstrosity is not uniform. Even in spaces where the monstrous is embraced, and encouraged, as it is in feminist and witchy circles, for example, it is a cis womens monstrosity, a monstrosity created of the action of being not a man, from the rejection of masculinity and the embracing of nature, chaos, sexuality. Trans womens monstrosity, the monstrosity of our voices and bodies and lives, comes from the faliures in our performance of cis womanhood. It can be embraced, weaponised, as all queer concepts in this vein can(and the embracing of ‘chaos and sexuality remain monstorous- after all, the figure of the cis woman is rational, chaste, and pure, when taken against the trans woman), but it is antithetical to cis womens monstrosity- failure to perform cis womanhood becomes , to cis eyes, the action of being a man, and as such, a normative action compared to theirs, built on the opposite.
And in fear of the monstrous, a space is constructed that’s safe. This effort is a transmisoginistic in it’s effect, but not in it’s intent. After all, womens solidarity means forming a shell, protecting each other, carving out safe spaces, front rooms, and reading groups. We’ve done it since forever, and when faced with the scary it’s a learnt and powerful reaction to exclude the scary and make space to deal with it, even if in an abstinently helpful manner- we don’t want to trigger you with these discussions, or take your labour, so we made a space where you didn’t have to deal with it. We’re doing you a favour. Intent is pure(and feminist).
But the effect is not- it recreates “us” and “them”, replete with a power dynamic inherited from broader society. The Chat can never exist without denying the trans womens womanhood, and it denies us social spaces, experiences, information, and, ultimately, a sense of inclusion and respect.
Of course, there are times when The Chat must exist- the only way to deal with real abusers are Chats that exclude them, give the oppressed space, and allow mutual aid and the victims to process and name their violence. And surely, there are trans women abusers in cis womens spaces who need resisting, and the chat is a tool which can be turned against them. However, The Chat exists in every cis womens space a trans woman enters, and so we must ask the question- within the group of women, is every trans woman an abuser, or dangerous? While you may find the odd throwback to the 70s in our activist groups, academic or artistic spaces, most people would find it patently absurd to suggest that all members of an oppressed subset of women are abusive or violent.
However, The Chat is always created, and the action of creating it not only others the individual trans woman, but by deploying a tactic that’s developed for dangerous people, re-creates the idea that all trans women are dangerous and violent.
*the violence is, of course far more likely to be perceived than enacted- trans women do not hold power in these spaces and the act of existing in them, especially if you fail to perform a traditional gender role, is perceived as (male) violence.
You comment briefly on your reactions to some of the radical-feminist works I cited in my first footnote. I am myself critical of some of them even as I found them vitally useful.
Rich, Adrienne. (1980). “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”
"the work of such women[lesbians, broadly defined], whether merely the daily work of individual or collective survival and resistance or the work of the writer, the activist, the reformer, the anthropologist, or the artist-the work of selfcreation-is undervalued."
Rich, Adrienne. (1980). “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”