Snowflake: A story of tattoos and insults

So, very important fact about me: I got my first tattoo at the age of 26, and it is 2 small snowflakes on my right wrist. I got it in December of 2016.

You may be wondering why anyone on earth aside from me (and my mum) would care about whether I choose to get a tattoo and what it is, but the reason I am telling you this is because before 2016, I had never heard the word “snowflake” used as an insult. I had however gotten very used to it as a term of endearment and nickname from someone who means a great deal to me, and I had always thought that if I was ever brave to get a tattoo I would get a snowflake because it is feminine, meaningful and I just like it.

This article does a much better job of explaining the intricacies of the origin of snowflake as an insult, but in summary, snowflakes are used as an insult because actual snowflakes don’t withstand heat, are considered feminine, and finally, all snowflakes are unique.

The usage of snowflake as an insult is definitely not new but it has seen a resurgence in recent times and has spread with the aid of the internet and the global nature of media we currently experience.

Historically speaking, in the United States as early as the 1860’s, snowflake was used as an insult. In this particular context it referred to people who opposed the abolition of slavery, it was used because it implied that these people viewed white people as more important than black people.

Cue 2016 and the frankly surprising election of Donald Trump and suddenly everyone who disagreed with him was a snowflake or “sad” or any number of insults from his infamous twitter tirades (I’ve linked to his entire twitter there because frankly there’s such a constant stream of juvenile insults that I’ve no doubt whatsoever that you’ll find one of his dummy spits within seconds).

This insult caught on with such a vehemence that it was impossible to avoid it and I quickly realised that my tattoo was going to garner more than admiring looks, it was going to result in snickers about how I must be an easily triggered SJW. The thing is, I am absolutely, undeniably a Social Justice Warrior and I am so proud of it. The notion that fighting for social justice is supposed to be embarrassing or shameful is merely a tool used by the far right to shame those who stand up and oppose racist/homophobic/sexist/transphobic policies, speeches and actions by those in positions of power and the global community.

I refuse to bow down to the social and peer pressure that is increasingly present in my life to be silent when I see injustice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am angry, I am furious at the state of the world. When people I know and love are being threatened every day, you bet your ass I am going to stand up and be as loud as I can, but more than that, even if I didn’t know a single person being affected by the current political climate I would stand up and say that what is happening is categorically wrong and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen. When my own country is interning refugees and asylum seekers indefinitely, leading them to commit self harm or suicide or go on prolonged hunger strikes out of sheer desperation, I will stand up and fight for them, because the government of my country has silenced them so effectively it is frightening.

When the government of my country aligns itself with Donald Trump and continually announces itself as an ally of the US government, I will stand tall and say that they are not my government. I refuse to ally myself with a man like Donald Trump who has been accused of sexual assault no less than 15 times since the 1980’s, who has promised to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to prevent people crossing the border, who has incited racial and religious hatred through his comments about Islam, black people, and women.

I will be an ally to those who need it, those who are being oppressed and treated unfairly in a new political climate driven by fear, ignorance and bigotry.

I will proudly wear my snowflake tattoo because even though it didn’t start as a signal for being an SJW, it sure as shit has morphed into one, and I’m proud of that. I will always fight for Social Justice.

 

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When Things Don’t Go To Plan: On Realising Your Limits and Boundaries…

An update on one month of blogging

I’ve sat here for the past 45 minutes, trying to start this post. I’ve retitled it 3 times and probably will do so again before I post it. But what it boils down to is this: 5 posts a week is unsustainable for me right now.

May has been a month of experimenting with this blog, seeing what works and what doesn’t, what is popular and what isn’t and I have concluded that 5 posts a week does not work for me.

I have neither the motivation nor the energy to sustain such an upload schedule. I certainly have the time to do it as I am currently unemployed but it has boiled down to the fact that my sleep schedule is permanently whacked out, I’m not happy with the content I’m putting on this blog and I’m dealing with mental health issues (It’s not major or anything to be worried about, I just know I need to make self care a priority) nevertheless I feel that I have come to a point, 28 days into this blog that has made me realise that I went too hard too soon and need to focus on putting out content that I actually like and can be proud of, rather than just putting up a rushed half assed blog in order to maintain a schedule.

In light of this realisation and admitting to myself that I need to focus on good content, June will be yet another experimental month. I haven’t decided which posts to keep and which to omit. I am leaning towards keeping: Mental Health Monday, Thinking Thursdays and Feminism Friday, with the occasional disability advocacy post thrown in when I feel compelled to do so. However, this also may not work, I may find myself switching and changing things up constantly until I am happy with the direction the blog is going.

In the end, while this blog is for me to share my passion and if I’m lucky maybe educate and inspire people, it should also be about what makes me happy and proud of what I am writing.

I hope you’ll stay around to see what I come up with over the next month and watch the blog evolve!

while I’m figuring things out, please check out some of my other posts and let me know what you think I should keep and what you think I should axe!

Facebook, feminism and fuckery: A tale of one man’s anger.

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST DISCUSSES THREATS OF VIOLENCE TOWARD WOMEN.

Okay, so I’m angry. So angry. As per the title, there’s probably going to be a bunch of swearing and unkind language in this post, and I’m not even slightly sorry for it.

Gather round, I’m gonna tell you the story of how I got called a “man hating bitch who is easily triggered”.  It all began on Tuesday night, when I was scrolling through facebook, and found a post in one of the groups I’m in which professes to be fans of two well known youtubers who are brothers (yeah, you know who I mean). These two youtubers are very into social justice, equality and fairness, including rights for groups which are discriminated against (this is relevant, I swear). So imagine my surprise when a woman in the group posts about receiving an obscene, disturbing and threatening message from a “friend” via facebook messenger, and many people told her to block him and move on.

That part, I could deal with, it’s like sticking your head in the sand and pretending this sexist, violent, and threatening scumbag doesn’t exist in the real world, but I do get that sometimes its easier than trying to report something of that nature and hoping that some sort of acceptable outcome will evolve from it. The thing that got me really mad, was one commenter in particular who made a comment consisting of “I keep my friends list to 100 people who I know well, and also I’m a man”. That’s actually not paraphrasing at all… Can you see why I got mad?

That had the double whammy of victim blaming (by implying she had too many friends on facebook and therefore was inviting this) AND making the blunt statement that men aren’t the target of this kind of thing (Which is completely untrue). Over the next 90 minutes we commented back and forth and it got heated at points, I’m not saying I was perfect in my language. I was definitely angry and not very polite and I make no excuse for that, however what really got me boiling mad was when a third party commented that “man-hating women are so easily triggered” and the first commenter, henceforth known as Douchenozzle A latched onto that and called me a misandrist on numerous occasions, for my repeated assertions that women receiving online threats was not uncommon, should be taken seriously and should definitely be reported. Somehow this guy totally Jumped the shark into a discussion about how women can victimise men, how he has received unsolicited nude pics and therefore he is a victim too. I agreed, he is a victim, he’s a victim of unsolicited nude pics. However the woman who posted the original status that kicked this whole thing off, had been told by a male friend that he wanted to lock her up and use and torment her at his whim. I know unsolicited nudes is not cool, but there’s a huge gulf between “here’s a dick/a pair of tits/an ass” and “I want to use and torment you in a locked room.”

All of this is to say that fighting online produces no victors and will only suffice to raise one’s blood pressure to dangerous levels, but it also speaks to a frighteningly common trend in society:  the notion that threats made online are not taken seriously and are dismissed as “just words” by many people, and especially by those who the threats aren’t aimed at. We see this time and time again when it comes to any marginalised group: women, people of differing races, genders, sexualities etc. Those who aren’t being threatened are much more likely to say “well they only said it, it’s not like they actually acted on it.” But then, when a person is killed by their verbally abusive partner or the behaviour escalates in other ways people shake their heads and say “Well why didn’t they just leave the partner before it got worse?” Victims of any kind are rarely likely to catch a break from those who don’t understand what it is like to be a victim in the first place.

When I tell people that I got into yet another “facebook debate” about some issue or another, they’re likely to respond “just don’t get into it, people aren’t going to listen,” which is faulty logic. How are we to change problematic behaviour if no one says a word?  If those who opposed slavery in the US had said nothing, or the Women’s Suffrage movement had stayed quiet, there would still be huge numbers of slaves, and women wouldn’t have the vote. And frankly, I’m tired of staying quiet, for the sake of not having an argument. If I have to argue with 1,000 people about equality, then I will.

You know, being called a misandrist by a man who asserts that rape threats aren’t something to be concerned by if you’re a woman probably isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever been called, but it’s probably the most ironic. Only a true misogynist would invalidate rape threats.

As a nice little cherry on top of this bullshit soufflé, Douchenozzle A later came back to “clarify some points” by editing his posts to paint himself in a more sympathetic and less misogynistic light. Dozens of commenters called him out on it, and posted screenshots of his original statements. That part was sorta delightful, I’m not gonna lie, if that makes me a bad person then so be it.

This entire post has been brought to you by the internalised misogyny and anti feminist sentiment that has pervaded human societies for thousands of years.

Life Lessons: Fighting Discrimination in Education

School is already a battleground, but what happens when you’re fighting disability stigma too?

So, full disclosure: its 6:20pm on Tuesday here, I woke up this morning full of intentions to write this post first thing, upload it and get on with my day…that’s not exactly what happened. Instead, I woke up, had to cancel some flights for someone who is stranded in China, had to make a bunch of phone calls for other stuff, tried to get Ed Sheeran concert tickets, failed at getting Ed Sheeran concert tickets, ate pizza, napped and woke up just now.

Having said alllll that, let’s go.

 

As some of you may know, I was born with Spina Bifida, which is a spinal birth defect and in essence means that I walk with crutches, can’t feel anything below my knees and a bunch of other complicated medical stuff that I can’t be bothered to explain. Google is your friend there guys! And because I grew up with a disability, I’ve had 26 (almost 27) years to deal with the discrimination, stares, questions and downright rudeness that that sometimes entails.

 

This blog post isn’t going to be a “poor me” whingefest, it is going to detail some discrimination that I myself, and many others like me, have faced and continue to face on the daily.

I’ll go back as far as I can remember I guess.

 

I vividly remember being in kindergarten, and telling a teacher I needed my aide to help me go to the bathroom, she accused me of being a liar and making it up to get out of class time, which led to an unfortunate accident which was VERY noticeable for everyone to see. When my grandmother came to pick me up from school and I was in tears, my grandmother spoke to the teacher and demanded to know why I had not been allowed to use the restroom, and the teacher really didn’t have an answer, and so my grandmother asked “did you stop all other children from going to the bathroom?” and the teacher replied sheepishly, “well…no.” BOOM, that’s discrimination.

 

Imagine learning that at the age of 5, the idea that if you ask to utilise an aide to do something as basic as access a bathroom, you will be denied because your teacher, who is charged with overseeing your care for 6 hours a day, thinks you might be making up the need to poop! (A little side-note to that story: I’ve long since gotten over the trauma of that incident and have even gone so far as to forgive the teacher in question. My grandmother has not, she maintains to this day that that particular teacher is an awful person).

 

When I was 12, I went to one of my very first school dances, and a boy (who I thought was very cute, FYI) asked me to dance. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, as 12 year old girls are prone to do when boys notice them. So, we danced, until one of the other girls made the snide comment that he only asked me to dance because he felt sorry for me. Now, I don’t know if that’s why he asked me to dance or not, but I do know that that girl was clearly discriminating against me (and being a straight up bitch, too). Not only was that ableist bullshit, but it was yet another incident of girls being mean to other girls, and putting them down for the sake of it. Girl hate is a whole other bag of bullshit that I might write about one day.

 

When I was in high school (from years 7-10) P.E. was a compulsory class, and guess what? Not one single teacher made an effort to be inclusive or to play sports that could be easily adapted to include a person in a wheelchair, so I was either made to sit and watch quietly on my own, or sent to the library to read a book. I like to think that in the 10 years since I stopped having to do P.E. classes they’ve gotten a bit more inclusive, and have made an effort to include those with disabilities, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that wasn’t the case.

 

The thing that sticks out for me looking back on those bloody P.E. classes was that when my parents or I dared to ask why they weren’t adapted to include me, we got blank stares and platitudes. Finally, in year 9 I told my parents not to bother anymore, I couldn’t be bothered to fight that particular battle and had told myself so often that I hated sport that I didn’t care (in hindsight, that’s not true, the few times I got to go to wheelchair sports camps I had a blast!).

 

That kind of discrimination is bloody exhausting, especially since I was a self conscious teenager and the last thing you want to be seen as by your peers is “different” and the teachers make no effort to be inclusive.

 

When I got to university, I had one very memorable professor look me up and down as I walked into the lecture hall and say “excuse me miss?” and when I replied he said “are you sure you’re in the right place?” and so I reply “this is sociology 102 right?” and he says “yes, but are you sure you’re not looking for the special education unit?” WHAT. THE. FUCK? That was in roughly 2010 or so, not 30 years ago or something. I was speechless but when I gathered my wits, I walked out and went straight to the Dean of the University and lodged a complaint. Might have been overkill, still don’t regret it. He was required to apologise directly to me, and to undertake sensitivity training (I’d be willing to bet he never did it).

 

All of these examples come directly from my time at school and university, and if I had unlimited time and space, I could write pages and pages about the shitty things people have said and done, but the whole point of this is that discrimination is so disgustingly ingrained in our society that rarely is it questioned or challenged. It’s time for that to change.

Leave a message in the comments about discrimination you’ve faced or seen and let me know how you handled it.