Thursday, 24 December 2009

christian holiday

mmph. i don't like this time of year. i do like the midwinter enforced holiday - making us pause and hibernate for a couple of days. making us think of treats to give anyone we love. and i like pretty lights.

but i can't stand the terrible focus on family-as-a-measure-of-success that marks anyone who's not joyous round a table crowded with family and food, as a failure, a sad case, pitiable. it's so much added bullshit pressure for just-another-day. and so many people have to go back to families where whatever kinds of abuse took place and play happy and good, all the silencing and denial comes back out, abusers get to sit at the head of the table and be passed more potatoes.

to cheer myself up faced with such compulsory depressing nonsense, to remind myself that "things don't have to be [and already aren't always] the way they are" (as the Jensen book i'm reading keeps saying) i like to go seek out the shitstirring queers. ah, here they are:

Mattilda Berstein Sycamore: Many of us grew up experiencing the lovely embrace of marriage or its aftermath, so we, and most queers, certainly know a lot about how marriage is, and has always been a central place for beating up, raping and abusing women, children, queers, and transpeople. And, even better--getting away with it! What are the other problems with marriage, and the gay marriage agenda in particular?
Yasmin Nair: I don't get why a community of people who have historically been fucked over by their families and the state now consists of people who want those exact same institutions to validate their existence. I think marriage is the gay Prozac, the drug of choice for gaysbians today: It makes them forget that marriage isn't going to give everyone health care, it won't give us a subsistence wage, it won't end all these fucked up wars that are killing people everywhere else.
Gina Carducci: we need to be able to choose our own families and who visits us in the hospital and who shares our assets and who makes decisions for us, whether we are officially single or partnered. And gender is defined by us too, not by presentation but how we define our own identities. Sexual liberation and freedom and places to fuck without being policed. Housing. Healthcare. Social services. Protection for the environment.
Hilary Goldberg: The last time I checked -- the nuclear family model -- was a disaster! Enough already. The gay rights movement needs to divorce marriage and pull it together. The system is broken, these institutions are failing, why are people so set on shoring them up? Let's focus on ending capitalism, abolishing prison, ending militarism, ensuring immigrant rights, clean air, great food, love, equality, interdependence, independence, autonomy, non-hierarchical structures, and most importantly the universal reclamation of all land and water as public property.
Yasmin Nair: And, of course, the abolition of the prison industrial complex, the end of the illusion that more punishment and enhanced penalties in the form of hate crimes legislation will benefit anyone, safety for young queers who are beaten and/or raped by families and have nowhere to go, intergenerational sex that's not immediately stigmatized as pedophilia, an end to sex offender laws that do nothing to end the abuse of children but only add to the coffers of the prison industrial complex, an end to the death penalty, an end to the idea that life without parole is an acceptable alternative, queer sex in public without paying a fee in a bathhouse and without being harassed, jailed, or beaten for it, an immigration rights movement that acknowledges that it's a crisis of labor, not about "families" or spousal partners, an end to the disappearance and/or deportation of undocumented people, and oh, I could go on.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


been kinda overwhelmed (again) for a week or so, wanting to write stuff but not doing a very good job of finishing anything. part of this is due to a book arriving in my life: A Language Older Than Words, by Derrick Jensen. i'll be writing a lot more about it, as i slowly read it - it will have to be slowly, so it doesn't break my mind. from reading three chapters it seems it's so much of what-i've-been-searching-to-say, but taken a lot further past just (just!) oppression on a family/political scale into environmental/everything/the whole world... yes, really. plus there's a chapter where this dude Jensen chats with Judith Herman, who i'm always going on about, amazingness. here's just one thing she has to say to him:
"If you're part of a predatory and militaristic culture, then to behave in a predatory and militaristic way is not deviant, per se."
ahh, she rules. but anyway i was just kicked out of my work-tired blank overwhelm by receiving my first email newsletter from GenerationFIVE, having signed up the other week. they're so great. so i just wanted to post some enthusiasm about that book, and about inspiration. and you can read something by Mr Jensen here, an article which makes me think that the title of my last post should have been 'action & realism' :)

Monday, 7 December 2009

Friday, 4 December 2009

alternate realities; multiple realities

i want to say something about abuse and silence and denial and 'reality'. um. really not sure where to begin. i was talking with someone this afternoon whose abuser - like so many abusers - flatly denies to her face that any of it has ever happened. presented with these two conflicting realities - it happened a lot//it never ever happened, she believed she must be mentally ill as only mentally ill people can see two realities. believing she was mentally ill became self-fulfilling.

i read something once about 'spirited away', perhaps in a zine but i can't remember where now, a woman was describing how the film felt sort of familiar to her, felt like how it was for her to be a child subjected to abuse: living in multiple realities, strangeness, among ghosts and unexplained happenings.

i want to write about how bizarre the experience of abuse, and its after-effects, can be. how experiences of 'ghosts' and experiences of mental strangeness, dissociation and a sense of unreality are normal reactions to living through it. i want to write about how our denial and 'othering' of people's normal reactions to abuse can further traumatise survivors, for example like the woman i mentioned above, driving her far crazier than she was in the first place.

i want to write about how society is set up in such a way as to perpetuate abuse by feeding it with denial, by allowing a reality where abuse is absent or minimized, to exist. we need one, unified reality: society needs to acknowledge that abuse of power and control are everyday occurences, everywhere, and we can all work to minimise it.
"The knowledge of horrible events periodically intrudes into public awareness but is rarely retained for long. Denial, repression and dissociation operate on a social as well as individual level... Like traumatized people, we have been cut off from the knowledge of our past."
(I heart Judith Herman)

If abuse, its histories and its effects were acknowledged, then societal changes would have to occur. individual children would be more likely to be able to escape the twisted reality at home by being confronted with one, unified reality at school and in the media where abuse of power was unacceptable. the realities of domestic abuse and how to stay safe are not taught in schools because this would call into question all oppressions. if we, as a society, started to understand control then the whole structure would be threatened, would disintegrate.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

talking about control

there is an amazing post over at The Curvature about how people refuse to acknowledge any possibility that someone they know could perpetrate abuse:
"It puts the men that do such things in the realm of mythical creatures rather than living, breathing, and yes, complicated, human beings. If we do not know them, it is not our concern. If we do not know them, they don’t really exist. If we do not know them, we do not have to be afraid. If we do not know them, we do not have to feel responsible for the difficult work of changing our culture."
changing our culture. the change that needs to happen is for people to develop an understanding of control. for children to be brought up with an understanding of control. how it operates.

i've been aware this week of the resistance i come up against when i mention that someone in my community displays controlling behaviours. even my feminist friends are uncomfortable with me labelling someone as 'controlling'. they think i'm being the hypersensitive domestic violence worker whose mind is twisted to be suspicious of all heterosexual men (there's a little truth in that, but..!). perhaps i'm not explaining myself well enough. i don't mean "X is an evil, controlling, potentially violent, devil-man that we'd better warn our straight female friend Y about, in contrast to angelic, enlightened queers like you and i, who she'd be much better off with if only she'd escape her hetero false consciousness."

no: everyone is capable of control, and we will each take it as far as we decide to. our decisions about how far to take it are affected by our socialisation and what external sanctions exist against this behaviour (disapproval from our peers; prison, etc).

so when i say "i think X is quite controlling and Y might have a hard time as his partner" i mean: "i've seen and heard examples of X's behaviour that add up to a pattern of trying - and succeeding to some extent - to control Y. if he's given free rein by everyone just to continue, Y's life will get harder, because control always increases as far as the controller chooses to take it, and this choice is partly based on the reaction of the community. i think we should keep an eye on this situation, try and support Y where possible and try to show X that we do not think his behaviour is acceptable."

if we all had the understanding and vocabulary to discuss control then people like Y would be so much safer because it wouldn't be so dramatic, so taboo, to ask "is X ever controlling in any way?" and talking about someone's attempts to control another person would not be the same as demonising them.

(and yes this is an example of a straight couple that i've used and yes queers control one another too.)

Saturday, 28 November 2009

bear with me...

i swear sometime soon i'm going to have some insightful analysis of my own rather than just my splurgy emo response to what i see and hear. but in the meantime i just want to share what inspires me so hard, and gives me hope in the face of this kind of hideous drivel.


one that's sticking in my head...

"if you saw what they did to me, you wouldn't like it. they cut out my clitoris and stitched it up, it was the worst thing. i don't like to have sex."

this woman and i are around the same age. she has two children. she is wanting to get out of the city because of domestic violence, and because her husband's family want to 'circumcise' her daughter. she knows exactly what that would involve.

these past weeks i've been discovering new kinds of sex, new depths of sex. i've been shedding big pieces of socialised shame, feeling how to inhabit and love my body, how to love sex. in fact i was off in a reverie when this woman knocked on the door of the drop-in. i look her in the eye and try to keep still as she talks. i feel my privilege like vertigo, the edge of a chasm between us. the privilege of being enabled to feel that my body is my own. a few weeks ago i would have had a smaller understanding of what has been stolen from her. today this change in me is raw and new and i don't know how to comprehend this difference between us, the meaning of it, what change needs to happen so that every woman, child, queer, man, person feels that their body is their own. i guess now is not the time. i have a job to do.

she and her children got out of the city. perhaps her daughter will stay safe and her body intact. perhaps she'll grow up feeling that her body is her own. perhaps the woman will feel that herself someday.

more info about female genital cutting.

Monday, 23 November 2009

too personal

ach, i've been neglecting this blog even though everything's swirling round my head as much as ever. trauma, abuse and relationships ending seem to be affecting me in ways too close to home to blog about just now. writing here was starting to help a lot, drawing out themes, categorising things so it's not such a messy heap of painful stuff. you can start to be less overwhelmed if you get scary things in some kind of order, right?

i'm totally noticing what happens if i don't prioritise support for myself though. like, one of the points of this blog was to figure out how to be a healthy supporter, and i'm feeling a bit unhealthy now. noticing this is a start, but acting on it would be better.

hey, though, on a random note, i found out about Activist Trauma Support who seem super cool to me and have brilliantly-worded resources to download. it's so hard to persuade people (myself included) to take a break from this kind of work, and they put the case so well.

i fully intend to make space in my life for more time writing here cos it's good for me. back soon.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

you are not what you build

my wise friend said this to me last night as i was facing the potential end of one of the most important relationships of my life. i was talking about the pride i've felt in this long long friendship, how it's a fundamental part of my identity to be able to say i've loved this person this long, we've known each other since we were children, we know everything about each other, we are sisters. and that we've maintained this friendship, up until a year ago, effortlessly. i was so proud, too, of our year of working so hard on our friendship, of the fact we've never given up. i was saying how if i lose this friendship i'm also losing a huge chunk of pride and a huge chunk of my identity, i lose all the things i used to get from claiming that.

and my friend said, "you are not what you build". you continue to change within whatever structures you create and sometimes it doesn't fit any more, sometimes you have to escape it. within friendships and partnerships and groups and communities and institutions, they are bigger than us and sometimes we have to crawl out from under them, no matter how much we love them and how proud we are, how hard we've tried, how much we want them to flourish.

and yet i have never even questioned that i am what i build. i can't even figure out right now if it's from society or family or both, but i have a clear sense of "you better have something to show for yourself" and a huge part of that is lasting relationships as a marker of success. i have believed that i am my lasting relationships, and if they fail then i've failed. and yet some time ago, mainly through work, i became aware of how much more important people are than relationships. and i don't mean this in a hideous individualist way! i have seen so very many people subsume or destroy themselves for the sake of their relationships, often for a lack of wider community that meant their only source of love and support was that one-to-one relationship. so i don't see the solution, at all, as people prioritising our own personal needs above all else, but in people feeling that we can have different needs met by different people and different parts of our communities. and if one particular relationship or structure within those communities becomes unhealthy for us, or we otherwise somehow find it needs to end, we can move on without feeling like our whole world is crashing down and we have nothing to love or be proud of anymore.

so that we are building lots of things at once, maybe. and no one of those things is us.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

bottom line

isn't it about knowing your bottom line? i mean staying safe, as an adult, from controlling people. easier said than done, but isn't that what it comes down to?

like my colleague and her new partner, like me and relationship and friendship situations which i haven't figured out how to write about in this public forum..

i don't think any of us are safe from being controlled until we know ourselves and like ourselves enough to defend ourselves. til we know how far we will compromise in a relationship (and i include friendships here), and where the immovable line is where we'll stand and defend ourselves, bottom line. and by that i simply mean telling someone i don't want to see them for a while, recognising my need for mental space. being able to stand on my own two feet and state my boundaries, even at the risk of that person fucking off as a result.

even if we achieve this it's difficult to maintain in the face of all the things that can get us down. and it's so difficult to find a balance where connection, communication, love, negotiation, is happening but where control and domination is avoided. after bad experiences it feels best just not to get too close to anyone - and of course a healing, defensive period is always necessary but i want to find ways to describe how to connect again, in safer ways.

it's about resources too, of course. having the material and psychological resources to be able to cope on one's own if you find you need to extricate yourself from a partnership situation. having the resources to have the strength to fight to defend ourselves. far, far easier said than done. but this involves communities too, right. communities that are able to support someone materially and emotionally while they sort out a situation of crossed boundaries. communities that make it possible for someone to leave a controlling or abusive situation by sharing resources.

i have thought i was strong enough to avoid the bad end of compromise (or is all compromise bad anyway, while negotiation is the good version? i don't chuffing know!) but it turned out again that i didn't know or like who i was enough and let it slide. i feel pretty strong again these days but who knows. that's part of why i'm writing about it, "learning to leave a paper trail": being accountable to my own words can make me safer and perhaps what i write is useful to other people too.

and also i mean to say that control is normal. i just hope for other things, hope for other ways of relating. i need to find other ways of relating.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

trying out control

I had an amazing conversation yesterday with my colleague about control in relationships. I think about this stuff all day every day, keep thinking i’ve got a handle on it, then something else will come and disrupt what i think i know. Hence this blog, to try and order my ramblings...

My colleague has been through extreme domestic violence in the past, years ago. She’s been in relationships since. She started telling me about her new relationship and the little signs of control he’s started trying out, tiny intimidations, tiny put-downs, things that would seem like nothing, or even complimentary, to many people, but to her (and me) are huge flashing danger lights. He questions her about where she’s been out to with her friends. He’s ever-so-slightly sarcastic when he asks if men were there. He gently suggests that a pair of jeans are inappropriate. He leans in to whisper things to her when they are in public places. No violence, no abuse, no way, but he’s testing. How many people think this is unacceptable? How many people can see, clear as day, how if he succeeds in eroding her confidence at this stage, succeeds in having her change her jeans, he will chip away at her further, the control will increase as far as it can. Do you think i’m being dramatic? How do we talk about this?

My colleague and I agreed that either of us, at less confident times in our lives, would not have identified these behaviours as signs of a controlling person, even in the years we’ve been doing this job. Although we both felt that this behaviour was unacceptable, neither of us thought that it was grounds to instantly end the relationship, only to be vigilant – to measure his behaviours and her self-confidence, and to put her self-confidence at the centre of it all. If she notices she is changing her behaviour then the control has started.. but of course this is so difficult to measure and by the time you admit something like that to yourself it can be too late.

She did say ‘all men are like that’, and unwilling yet to come out as not-as-gay-in-fact-as-i-might-have-somehow-implied-sorry-to-be-so-confusing i kind of let that one slide. I didn’t know how, in the five minutes we had before people arrived for the group, to start talking about how women and genderqueers and whoever else try out control and often succeed, and how some men don’t, how to relate it back to my own relationships with people of different genders and the different kinds of control we’d tried to enact on one another.

My colleague said how unsettled she was by the fact this man was good and kind, respected, friendly; ‘you can’t spot them’. I said to my her ‘they don’t all start out evil, do they?’ and we looked at each other, acknowledging the pain of this. The pain of letting in the idea that we all use control, that abusers are human too, that there’s no such thing as evil. All of us, at some point in our lives, will try out controlling the people around us. When we are toddlers, for a start. And whether we find there are benefits, rewards, for this or whether we swiftly have to find other, healthier ways of relating, depends on the response of the people around us. If we kick off and get what we (think we) want, or if we kick off and the people around us recoil and condemn us. At any age, from the terrible twos to our first teenage relationships to lifelong friendships to... And we generally find that there is a lot more scope for control and/or kicking off to get results in the context of an intimate relationship. Kicking off in the queue at the post office will get us shunned or the police called: there are sanctions against this. Kicking off to someone we’ve been seeing a few months, who is invested in the relationship, might get them to change their behaviour in the interest of preserving the relationship. Result, reward, we get our own way. And there are so many ways to 'kick off', other than being violent or aggressive...

Oh god, again, so much more to say! Another time..

Monday, 17 August 2009

"i lost some of them"

the woman who brought her friend to the drop-in today who told me of the other friends she'd lost to domestic violence and the immigration system. women who'd been unable to escape their husbands, dependent on them in order to remain in the uk. prevented from working and/or from claiming benefits. no protection. "I've been there myself and i have to help her because many of my colleagues have been in the same situation. i lost some of them."

as a supporter you have to stay with what you're being told and get the support&information done, swallow the tide of anger and panic, that peculiar panic that comes from letting yourself actually think of catch-22s and kafkaesque situations, real traps, systemic traps, racist traps. then you have to remember to pause later to face and tug out what you've absorbed. sometimes i don't want to, but one purpose of this blog is to debrief and to explore healthy ways of being a supporter, finding out how to process people's everyday horrors.

the cases that i can't handle are these, where women are trapped between the control, violence and entitlement of their partner and the control, violence and entitlement of the state. i'm tired tonight. analysis some other time.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

cat-lit steps

late august, early hours, we stood drunk under the stars at the edge of the crag, contemplating our steep descent into the tree-top dark. as we willed our night vision to improve a white cat wove between our legs and took charge, tracing our path. its coat carried all the light in the sky, reflecting the cities that neighbour this small wilderness.

our star-lit cat waited at the corners of the path while we stumbled down, trusting, half-joking to each other about the chasm inches from our feet. as we caught up it would leap, apparently into nothingness, the only visible thing in a gloom made of rocks and trees and night.

i described the mythical sea-horses in the book i'm reading about ireland: they would gallop from clifftops to drown their bewitched riders. will this unlikely night creature have us step into the void? it chose not to; we were delivered to our tent and while we played at tarot by candlelight in an old fire pit, it hurled itself up oaktree trunks as if its next magic would be to fly.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

love, commitment, interdependence

Jess' new post at (Re)Thinking Walking has been buzzing around my head for days. I'm inspired by the ways she writes links between her ideas of love, relationships, commitment, family, violence, capitalism, resistance, queer, interdependence...

"That’s what we’re trying to do, isn’t it?, all of us who desire and work toward social and economic justice, all of us who are trying to create or sustain ways of being in the world that are not about dominance and exploitation and violence? So much of what we’re doing together is about building relationships of many kinds rooted in love and commitment, aiming for interdependency... Finding, creating, sustaining different versions of love and commitment is part of how we are resisting cultures of violence and domination, part of how we are surviving.
Queerness... can also be about radical visions of interdependency, resource sharing along entirely different lines from the hierarchical, atomizing, hoarding ones of the economic/social paradigms we’re living under. It can also be about transformative justice and figuring out how to be in relationship with abusers who are also survivors, or how not to, or."
Ach, i want to write with this much integrity and with such courage and clarity to draw links between the different parts of my life and what i know and believe.


ISOLATION is required for abuse. Repeated abuse can't happen if the person being abused can speak out, be believed and supported, and sanctions are put in place against the abuser continuing. "Divide-and-rule/conquer" is a big part of isolation.
In politics and sociology, divide and rule (derived from Latin divide et impera) (also known as divide and conquer) is a combination of political, military and economic strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. In reality, it often refers to a strategy where small power groups are prevented from linking up and becoming more powerful, since it is difficult to break up existing power structures.
One of my main aims with this blog is to articulate and study how patterns of oppression operate on a personal and family level using the same strategies and patterns as political oppression. I believe that the most powerful way for people to become safe from domestic abuse and child abuse is for communities to understand how oppression works and to apply this understanding to all the structures in our lives.
Typical elements of [divide-and-rule] are said to involve
Potentially, siblings living in a household ruled over by a tyrannical abuser could compare notes on their experiences, could identify patterns in his behaviour, could understand more about what their mum's going through and could unite to reduce his power and influence over them all. So before he can exert the worst of his behaviours he must first minimise the chances of this happening. So if a father is sexually abusing one or more children in the household he must say or imply "If you tell anyone ...." - so ISOLATION is so often backed-up with THREATS to be most effective. The other members of the household are silenced, they are divided, and they are ruled.
Children can be easily manipulated into joining in with verbal abuse against mum. They gain a sense of power (and perhaps material rewards from the abuser) from this, making them less likely to ally with mum in future. It can be very effective to play favourites with the children, gaining the strongest alliance from those who behave 'best' in the eyes of the abuser. This has the added benefit of creating jealously between the children and destroying their trust in one another, making them increasingly unlikely to unite against the abuser.

There is more to say about this, more to say, more to say...

Thursday, 6 August 2009

secrets and complexities

sometimes the support groups feel like entering another dimension. this is when i really love my job. hearing secrets shared and shame demolished. hearing what really happened, what we're not meant to hear. the simple act of creating a space where it's possible to tell the truth, the power of that bowls me over some days.

someone told us about holding her boyfriend underwater. because she knew he was just about to get her. i got leathered for it afterwards like but.. how pure her power was, for those minutes.. i had control.

these acts of resistance don't exist in normal discourse, can't be written in the magazines: already it's too complicated for the victim to fight back against the monster. so many lives contain these untold moments where the power dynamic was flipped. and yet the fact that she was violent in that moment has been used against her ever since by the abuser, eclipses everything he's done to her before and since. and our failure - as friends, family, community, media - to articulate what was really going on here: a moment of resistance against prolonged, calculated abuse of power, leaves her with a burden of shame and guilt that becomes weightier every time we refuse to engage with the complexities of that moment.
"The survivor's shame and guilt may be exacerbated by the harsh judgement of others, but it is not fully assauged by simple pronouncements absolving her from responsibility, because simple pronouncements, even favorable ones, represent a refusal to engage with the survivor in the lacerating moral complexities of the extreme situation. From those who bear witness, the survivor seeks not absolution but fairness, compassion, and the willingness to share the guilty knowledge of what happens to people in extremity."
Judith Herman, in Trauma and Recovery.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

you profit from the lie

riot grrrl showed me that this stuff really happens. that sexual abuse, rape and violence have been experienced by so very many young women. riot grrrl demonstrated, in typewritten and scrawled words and screams and guitars the sheer power of breaking the silence. that survivors have the right to tell their truth of what happened to them.

this is kind of a first step. as a woman (as a person) among the minority who have never experienced any physical violation, how did i become someone who is prepared to accept that these violations are real? i ask because i am frustrated and angered and saddened all the time by people who turn away from this. who deny and minimise and blame the victim. who turn away in their own minds from what their friends have been through. "if women told the truth for one day..." survivors are telling the truth, and survivors are waiting to be asked. abuse requires silence and denial. abuse withers when people look it in the face and start dealing with it.

if you have the privilege of never having experienced abuse you owe it to the world to figure out how to be an ally to those who have. like any other form of privilege: your comfort is at the expense of silencing and oppressing those who lack your privilege. this is unacceptable. you can start by accepting that you know people who have been through abuse, even if no one's ever told you such a thing. (if this is the case you could also ask yourself why no one's felt comfortable sharing this with you. do you indicate in your speech or behaviour that you deny or minimise abuse or hold victims at all responsible? do you make jokes about rape and/or paedophilia? how would you know if someone who'd experienced rape and/or paedophilia was in the room?). then the next step is, if someone tells you they have experienced intimate violence, believing them. meanwhile you could do some research about abuse, how it works, what effects it has, and how to support survivors. there is a lot of material out there to help you help people you care about. at some point i will make a list of the ones i know about on this blog. a starting point could be Support zine.

"I am not proposing that sexual violence and domestic violence will no longer exist. i am proposing that we create a world where so many people are walking around with the skills and knowledge to support someone that there is no longer a need for anonymous hotlines..."
Rebecca Farr of CARA, in The Revolution Starts at Home zine produced by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

thinking aloud

my good friend came to stay last week. we were discussing the uk queer feminist 'community', of which we've considered ourselves 'members' for some years, in the light of the racism running through it that has recently been exposed. we uncovered some of our assumptions about this 'community', not least that it had some shared values, philosophy, that it was 'fighting' for something. we realised that the incredible conversations she and i have with one another, and with a handful of others, have in fact never happened on any kind of large scale. this 'community' was pretty mythical. we had no shared vision of the change we need. it was pretty much a party scene with some workshops. we were 'cultural activists' and got to feel cosy and useful. my friend and i talked about the need to open out our conversations, because a movement needs a shared vision. and a shared vision requires dialogue, conversation, debate! we need to start thinking out loud and figuring out what we're doing and why. we need to talk with one another more often and more widely. we need to learn to critique each other and to take criticism. we need to take responsibility for getting over our own insecurites and learn to speak out.

i've worked with women experiencing domestic violence for the past six years and i'm seeing more and more that i need to talk about. i'm thrilled to discover that there are other people out there talking about domestic abuse and challenging the entrenched voluntary sector way. again this is something that i see being talked about in the US but not over here, that i am aware of. we need to analyse what's happening in the voluntary sector over here and be critical. i want to find other people who want to talk about this. i want to draw links between abuse of power in personal situations and in a wider political context. that's the other reason for this blog.

my old perzine was called 'Cleaner Light' after a kristin hersh song. kristin hersh being the very most wondrous musician in the universe. i did three issues over three or four years, writing when i didn't feel i could tell the people around me the things in my head. i'd keep it all secret, then publish the zine to great anxiety and later pride. these days i'm trying to remember to think out loud.