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WEIRDO ZINE FEST

A self-publishing fair for radical/marginalised makers.

FREE ENTRY

Saturday 9th February 2019.  12-5pm

Room 700, Leeds Central Library.

Image of person with back to us, wearing a jacket that says, “Femmes against Facism” on the back.

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TRIGGER WARNING: Mentions of Sexual Assault and Abuse.  Transphobia, Victim blaming.

These are all my own experiences as a Survivor of physical & sexual abuse.

Holidays are rarely good for me.  Where other folk spend time with their families, I am left with solely bad memories of the people I grew up with.  Long before the rise of Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, there has been a strong belief that women cannot be sexually abusive to others.  Women are seen as carers, nurturers, Victims, not perpetrators – if they are “bad” then it’s only ever as emotionally or financially abusive, never physically or sexually abusive.  People who readily believe me when I speak of the men in my old family, and how they hurt me, rarely believe me when I say similar things about my sister and her female friend or my mum.  Once I ran away from my old family, I’ve been pretty open about my experiences, but this refusal to even acknowledge women can be abusive, is incredibly painful and stops me sometimes from seeking help or sharing my experiences.  Acknowledging women can be sexually abusive isn’t a way to put women down or pass the blame: it’s a way of  believing survivors and what they say when they talk about painful things.

Something I read on Twitter recently made me despair: “Women can’t rape, because women don’t have dicks!”***  And other tweets along the lines of trans women are really men, hell bent on sexually abusing women and girls.  The fact that these kind of statements often come from other women, is the icing on the cake of wretchedness.

1: Men don’t have to pretend to be anything or anyone else in order to sexually abuse others; they will just do it if they want to.

2: Perpetrators of sexual abuse don’t need to have a dick, when they have fingers, bottles, handles of hairbrushes or anything else insertable.

3: Trans women are women. Some are abusive, and some are not, just like any type of human.

Transphobia only adds to the silencing and dismissal of survivors of sexual abuse, but this problem was there long before the addition of trans folk to the argument.  I’ve been called a liar for saying anyone in my family could be abusive, because “That doesn’t happen to black kids**”.  There is such a desperate push to mantain the narrative of abusers solely being men, that it railroads over the experiences that take such bravery to talk about in the first place.  I wish my mum and my sisters had not sexually assaulted*** me, but they did.  i wish I wasn’t forced to run away from my old family and everyone I knew, but I did.  and 26 years later, I wish I didn’t have to deal with people who deny and dismiss the things that almost cost me my life.  But I still have to.

** I gave this horrible quote as the title to my first zine, on surviving child abuse. https://writteninshadows.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/surviving-csa-zine.pdf 

*** In the UK, non-consensual sex between women is defined as sexual assault, not rape.  Other countries have different definitions, so please don’t generalise or use this as a way to derail survivors.  Whatever it is called, it’s still a terrible thing.  

A link to a few UK specific resources for survivors of all genders https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/rsa/rape-and-sexual-assault/support-for-victims-of-rape-and-sexual-assault/

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“Would you date a bisexual?”

Among the many insensitive questions I’d like to see disappear in 2019, this is in my top 10.  Firstly, it sets up the answer to be either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and when it comes to dating and romance, things are rarely this simple.  It also assumes that the person answering the question isn’t bisexual/pansexual themselves.  The way some of these questions are phrased are also leading: “Would you date a man who had sex with a man?”  The person asking this question is often looking for shock value; a reinforcement of their own ideas.  I’ve seen many youtube vids where this question is aimed at people assumed to be intolerant or bigoted.  Type the words, “Black bisexuality” into the search box of youtube, and you will find zillions of reactionary, depressing vids of black people, whether they are gay, lesbian or straight.  Tempers quickly flare at just the thought of dating a bi/pan person – how dare the interviewer even ask them such a thing?  Stereotypes abound, voices are raised, faces become twisted.  Bisexuals cheat; they spread sexually transmitted diseases, they can’t be faithful and will always want to be with another gender.  The potential for emotional and physical violence is evident in the disgust of many responses.  As a black bisexual person watching these videos, it makes me despair – having been out and open as bi for 25 years, these are the same responses I heard right at the very start.  So little has changed for bisexuals of colour.

Bisexuality and Pansexuality is about attraction to more than one gender: you can be bi/pan and a virgin/celibate/aromantic.  But to bigots, bisexuality is about having unsafe sex with as many people as possible, so that means they don’t deserve respect at even the most basic level.  The chances of the people answering this question, having dated/slept with/fallen in love with/been attracted to a bisexual person who was closeted, is pretty high, but their knee-jerk “NO!” ignores all that.  It lets the world know the responders aren’t that kind of person – sullied by any theoretical closeness to bi/pan people.

Would you date someone you were attracted to?  Would you be with someone you love, but many straight and gay/lesbian folks hate?  Would you accept that people who cheat or exhibit unsafe behaviour, come from all sexual orientations?  If the answer to the above three questions is YES, then I want to say THANK YOU for being an okay human being.

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Lyrics to Walking Wounded, by Everything but the Girl

What do you want from me? Are you trying to punish me? 

Punish me for loving you, punish me for giving to you 

Punish me for nothing I do, punish me for nothing 

You punish me for nothing, for nothing.

I’ve had the same two choices for my entire life: violence or isolation.  To be part of a family or relationship meant pain.  To leave the pain meant loneliness and desolation.  This has always been  the only two roads I could take.  I have lived in this part of London for over twenty years, but I have no local friends at all.  Strangely enough, most Eastenders don’t take well to bisexual, black, disabled survivors.  Most of them seem to think people like me don’t exist at all, and when they discover who and what I am, any outstretched arms of friendship wither away as they step back and keep on going.

Most folk think when I ran away from my family, all the pain stopped.  Some think that time and distance from the abuse and violence has faded, and I am left as an everyday, ordinary person.  Sure I flinch when a cup shatters on the hard floor, or freeze when the rare person tries to hug me, but I must be better by now surely?

The truth is only part of me escaped.  Only part of me survived.

I often wish I were Asexual.  I often wish I could live without sexual desire and all the problems it brings up for me.  But asexual people still have hearts; they have friends they snuggle with, and sensations their skin enjoys.  There is closeness, warmth and comfort that sing them to sleep.  What I want is to feel nothing, to protect myself from being hurt by denying I can feel at all.  This is not asexuality.  This is sadness.

Pic: a piece of beachglass and silver jewellery I made in 2005.

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Appearance is everything – a poem

I would like to be well spoken but I am not.

I would like an accent that says I went to a rich school and was raised in a rich way.

But my recovered voice reveals industrial North London, like an opulent velvet curtain swept aside beneath a crystal chandelier, mirroring the council estate where I was born, with cement walls the colour of Russian mink.