A Quick Question About Racism

This time in a week, my office won’t be my bedroom but will be my balcony, or a local restaurant, or… my bedroom (I’m staying in a studio flat and would put money on having exactly the same set-up as I do now, except with a closer bathroom). I was going to write a post just gloating about that, but then I went on Tumblr…

I’ve been treating the site gingerly since Uncle Rick posted about Blood of Olympus spoilers, so I glanced down the page as edgy as Hermione when she realised the Basilisk was in the pipes and saw this:

Racism on Tumblr

It might have been just me and a couple of inspirational billboard writers who thought this, but I was aware from a pretty young age that racism is learnt. One is not born as racist any more than one is born believing in God or born thinking Saturday night TV is occasionally contrived. When we first spill out into the world, we have no concept of anything. Then we are taught things that the people raising us think. We learn theism or racism or TV opinions as we grow, either by believing other people or thinking about things then coming to our own conclusions. Then we say what we think to our sprogs or students or blog readers.

That’s probably how most ideals have survived. You know, Mr Caveman Sr. realised that fire is useful but hurts if touched, and he taught Mr Caveman Jr., who taught Miss Cavewoman. Over the street, Mr and Mrs Cave were learning the same thing and told Baby Cave Kid as well.

Haha, baby cavepeople. (Alternatively, as Jacki pointed out, Ms or Mrs or even Miss Cavewoman may have discovered fire. I bet it was Village Idiot Caveperson who twigged that it hurt. Unfortunately – or luckily for this analogy – we may never know.)

My point is, lots of us are taught racism. I was. Most of us are taught sexism as well (hey, I wrote about this last week!). My parents were raised disliking Germans because their parents sat through the Blitz. Back when slavery and colonialism was a thing, most white people were raised to consider all non-white people to be inferior. Most non-white people were then raised to think that all white people were racists, and back then they were almost definitely right.

But it’s 2014, snowflakes. We’ve all been raised in part by racist, sexist, homophobic people – and we’ve also been taught by intelligent people that racism, sexism and homophobia (plus all the other -isms) is fucking stupid. Some of us have weighed up the evidence and concluded, independently, that racism, sexism and homophobia (plus all the other -isms) is fucking stupid.

So is the above Tumblr post actually just as racist, narrow-minded and indifferently ignorant towards white people as some white people are towards non-white people? Does anyone else get really upset by any mention of new book spoilers? Should I just stop using social media completely if it continues to find new ways to piss me off?

Well, I know the answer to one of those questions at least!

A Tourist’s Guide to Being a Tourist: London Film Museum’s Bond in Motion Exhibition, Covent Garden

I should start this by saying that I know very little about cars and even less about the James Bond film franchise. I like the films – explosions! Pretty beaches! Completely implausible plots! – but I haven’t seen that many of them… and to be honest, when I was younger I thought that James Bond was incredibly disrespectful towards women and drank too much (doctors have recently proved that he would be a raging alcoholic if he was an actual person). My family, on the other hand, are huge fans and it was considered a given that we would go to Covent Garden to see the London Film Museum’s Bond in Motion exhibition, which is on until March 2015.

I also know squat about film-making, but the exhibition made me want to enrol in a course. Almost everything was downstairs except storyboards, which I forgot to photograph for future reference. The main exhibition space, which was basically a basement painted black and given decent wifi, housed a load of vehicles that where used in filming, as well as miniature models and scraps of props that had been blown up as part of the story.

Apparently this car is a big deal:

Bond's Jag

Someone had the smart idea to play on loop the scenes in which the vehicles featured playing in the background, alongside information plaques and iPads. I think the lady there was worried Bond was going to do something stupid, which I assume he did.

'Casino Royale' props

You can tell that Casino Royale was made either before the new passport regulations came in or by a design team who forgot that fringes are strictly forbidden.

Sidecar CarAt a stunt show a few months ago the monster trucks did that two-wheels on the ground trick and according to the bloke who was commentating, this Bond film was the first example of it (presumably in films, since every idiot with a car has attempted something similar since the dawn of the boy racer). Too bad I can’t remember which film it was, haha.

Event and Place London Film Museum, Covent Garden

Cost Between £9.50 and £38, depending on who you are. It’s not a cheap day out, but I suppose they’ve got to keep out the riff raff who’ll leap over the ropes and take selfies with the DB9 (you didn’t need to jump over the rope, there was space enough to take ’em anywhere).

Food Yeah, because they’ll let you eat near the priceless exhibits. Actually there was a cafe in which you could look at mini props that were made for long shots. We went to a Mexican place instead, which I can highly recommend.

Other people Bond enthusiasts or film enthusiasts, the lot. There was a small boy who was so excited to see everything he almost combusted, and there were partners or family of fanatics who were looking forward to going to the Mexican place. But even they were awed by the information about the filmmaking and the designers’ attention to detail. Too bad they completely forgot to note down useful names and details to research… 10/10 for things to look at, 2/10 for general visibility when searching for your phone in your bag.

Scoffed at the HeForShe Campaign? Right, Let’s Talk

If you haven’t seen it already, the next thing you should do today is watch the entirety of Emma Watson’s UN HeForShe speech. There has been a lot of news articles quoting it, but some of the most interesting parts weren’t cherry-picked as far as I remember, and watching and listening coveys her emotions a lot better than just reading:

Just to get it out of my system, let’s all take a moment to admire that intense outfit.

Okay, moment over.

By show of hands, who here considers themselves a feminist? Good for you. Who doesn’t, or didn’t before watching that video? That’s fine too, because Emma’s right (can I call her Emma? I always think anyone who works with or at the UN should be addressed more formally). Feminism has become a dirty word and synonymous with hating men, because it’s so easy for people to hate oppressors and turn to violence or extremism, which is of course the only aspect of any social movement that gets noticed by the general public.

When I was growing up, I thought vaguely that feminists didn’t shave their underarms, burnt their bras and hated their boyfriends. Thankfully I live in Britain in the 21st century, am moderately intelligent and have had access to education and evidence to the contrary. I now know that if someone doesn’t want to shave their underarms, likes to burn bras or hates their boyfriend, that’s their choice. None of the above are my gig, personally, but if I have a problem with a woman who does any of those things, it’s my problem. I can judge from afar, get grossed out or even ask them to explain their reasons but it’s not my place to tell them what to do. When I learnt the dictionary definition of feminism, I automatically knew I was one. Why wouldn’t I want the same rights as men?

From bbcone.tumblr.com
From bbcone.tumblr.com

Women who declared they didn’t “need” feminism upset me, because there really isn’t a country in the world where women have the same rights as men. When I was writing the ad that’s now on the sidebar for examples of indifferent ignorance, using “women who think we don’t need feminism” as an example was an obvious choice because one only needs to read about the girls raised as boys in Afghanistan or the women in India attacked for refusing a marriage proposal, or see the realities of gendered marketing, to understand that no one in this world is created equal.

The interesting thing is, I’ve never particularly not wanted to be a girl, because I like ‘girly’, things. I like to wear colourful dresses (they’re pretty) and a load of silver rings (they’re shiny), I like getting my hair done (it feels nice) and sitting around a table in cafes and restaurants, looking damn cute and chatting to people (I like people watching). But I live in a country where I’ll only be heckled or refused a job because of my gender. I won’t be forced into an awful marriage or refused education or abused; it’s not too dangerous for me to be myself.

That being said, I’m typing this wearing a three-day shirt and four-day jeans (I’m not going out), having only partially brushed my hair (I lost my favourite brush, and I’m not going out) and sitting in a room which really, really needs cleaning (cleaning is a lot of effort and it’s boring). I very rarely wear make-up because I’m highly affronted by the suggestion that I don’t already look perfect. I also grew up with a strong dislike of most beauty products, because they promised a different version of perfection, one that involved spending half an hour every morning painting my face. I’d rather be asleep, thanks.

Those traits are traditionally seen as ‘masculine’, or at the very least ‘not feminine’. My favourite example of society’s warped perception is my mother blaming my brother’s disgustingly messy room, refusal to put crockery in the dishwasher and inability to move his school or boxing bags from the hallway on the fact that “he’s a boy”. What, and the Y chromosome renders him incapable of clearing up after himself? He doesn’t do it because he knows my mum will do it, because she likes a tidy house and because she was raised in a society where women do the tidying. My brother’s not a bad person, and when he tidies he does it just as well as my mum – and probably far better than me, because I have the attention span of a gnat and always find something more interesting than housework.

But if my brother openly enjoyed dusting, or wearing lots of silver rings or colourful dresses, he would be abused heartily by his peers, our parents and the media. If I gave in to my desire to never vacuum again or started boxing or never replaced my hairbrush, I would be abused heartily by my peers, our parents and the media. That’s stupid enough, but what’s really strange is that I’ve never actually met a man who displays solely ‘masculine’ traits or a women who displays solely ‘feminine’ ones. I know girls who love make up and cooking but never clean. I know boys who like to keep their bedroom spotless and worship football. I know men who do the ironing and women who earn the most in the household. If straight couples have got any sense, they split the household chores and cleaning equally depending on each person’s strength. It works for gay couples, or the intelligent ones at least.

From moseisleywelcomingcommittee.tumblr

So I’ve given my two cents and now it’s time for you to. If you’re a bloke and you’ve got even the slightest inclination to agree with Emma or me or any of the feminists you know, you’ll sign up for HeForShe. If you already have or are a lady, you can email me your examples of inequality-based indifferent ignorance at transmissions@indifferentignorance.com. I’ll always change names and I might go off on a rant… I’ve collected a tonne of feminist/sexism/equality material to show you guys and I want to ask more questions about gender-based issues and social conventions.

What are your thoughts about HeForShe or any of the topics I’ve discussed? Leave a comment below or email me. If you’re happy for me to cite you in a blog post, contact transmissions@indifferentignorance.com; if you want things to stay private send them to tobequitefrank@indifferentignorance.com.

Zine Envy

I’ve been brainstorming ideas for the Five Years of Blogging – currently have about seven, but about three of them might not be plausible – and Gerard’s made me want to make a zine.

He makes it look so simple and pretty! I love playing about with tape and scraps of paper! On the downside, I probably don’t have enough decent work to fit a zine that is both entertaining and pertinent to this blog. Here is what I’ve come up with for topics so far:

  • How not to be a blogger
  • Designing an okay layout and/or colour scheme
  • What not to discuss
  • How to ward off the urge to post gossip or rude things about people who have upset you
  • Dogs

I reckon they’re a bit wordy though. Plus there’s my complete lack of photocopying resources. Downloadable PDF for £2.50 anyone?

Possibly My Last Ever Post from a Unified UK! Or Not!

You guys, this could be my last ever post this side of the Union! The next time I write, one quarter of my nationality (ethnic background? Family history?) might be foreign. Which would take my total amount of Britishness down to… like, a quarter. I’m not actually sure. Independence could cause a bit of confusion in England for people like my dad and his siblings, most of whom I think were born in England, but all of whom have lived in Glasgow and are Scottish on my grandfather’s side. Does this mean they can get another passport? Will we all need to get our passports out when we cross the boarder for Hogmanay or the Edinburgh Fringe? I dunno, because Scotland would probably have to apply to the UN to be a sovereign state (and join the queue behind Kosovo and Somaliland I think) and also apply to join the EU (behind Iceland, Albania and Turkey to name but a few).

It’s a bit complicated, innit, and the SNP should have clarified this. In fact, they may have clarified it in the last week or so but I’ve become so fed up with the sudden wave of campaigning that I’ve stopped paying attention and am just waiting for the result. Is it just me, or was nobody in the mainstream media particularly interested until about three weeks ago?

I’ve discussed my opinions about independence in a relatively calm state of mind – now the vote is actually upon us, I’m resisting the urge to post “DON’T DOOO IIITTTTTT SCOTLAND WE NEEED EACH OTHER PLEEEAAASSSEEE JUST CHOOSE DEVOLUTION PLEEAAASSEEE!!!” everywhere online. That might not fit into a Tweet, now I come to think of it, so I might just go and work on The Webways and choose which tartan skirt I want to wear tomorrow, grinding my teeth about the inherent shittiness of all politicians and wondering if the rest of the UK will get a vote if Scotland remains in the Union but is granted more governmental powers.

Oh, and I’ve decided to update the sidebar. Cleaner, huh. I’ll get one I’m happy with in the end.

Don’t do it, Scotland…. please…

A Tourist’s Guide to Being a Tourist: Gallery Different, Central London

If I was one of those people who values their worth by the artistic talent and/or success of their friends, I’d probably think quite a lot of myself. I do think quite a lot of myself. I’m not sure how I’ve done it, but most of my friends are into illustration, game design, writing or something similar (no interpretive dancers as of yet). A week or so ago I visited Gallery Different in Percy Street, which is in Fitzrovia. My friend Bernadette is part of an exhibition until 20th September of work by the Society of Women Artists, so we went for a private viewing (different from a public viewing in that they served wine and I got to meet some of the artists themselves).

This is one of Bernadette's paintings.
This is one of Bernadette’s paintings.

Sweet little dude, huh? This is her website, although if you really want to know what her paintings are like then you should pop round mine for a cup of tea since her work is in almost every room in the house excluding bathrooms (so far). In fact, if you want to commission her then drop me a line and I’ll have a word tomorrow morning when we walk the dogs. Incidentally, she did a portrait of Fred a few years ago and he looks very stately and not at all like he’s the sort of dog who nicks your slippers. I do, however, have video evidence of that.

Anyway, back to the art. Lots of women are currently showing their work at Gallery Different; my other favourite artist was probably Rosa Sepple, who knows how to depict a good night out. My nan, who came too, bought one of these pictures. I can’t remember which but I reckon anyone sneaking around her living room is going to get a fright when they turn on the lights and see a giant cartoon of poultry watching them.

Event and Place Gallery Different, Fitzrovia, London

Cost Apart from the train tickets and food we got afterwards, it was free. I’ve never been to a gallery that charges to go through the door, although the art itself isn’t exactly the price you’d pay for a canvas print in B&Q.

Food It was a private viewing so they served wine. I don’t think it’s something they do everyday.

Other people I wore nice shoes so I could pretend I was fancy and regretted it when my toes got squashed walking from the tube to the gallery. Judging by the people who were there, you can wear anything you like since it’s an art gallery and the more eccentric you look, the more people think you’re a Serious Artist. The gallery itself is in quite a nice part of the city so you might get a few art snobs wandering about, which are fun to watch although I can never be sure whether I want to engage them in conversation. 8/10 for people watching, 10/10 for things to look at. Possibly not the best place to visit if you’re uninterested in art.

Five-ish Ways to Celebrate Five Years of Blogging: MCR Poster & Magazine Giveaway

Despite the plethora of wonderful ideas you all had for how I could celebrate Indifferent Ignorance turning five, I have come up with my own celebration. It’s called Five-ish Ways to Celebrate Five Years of Blogging and is coming to an Internet-connected device near you between now and November!

I say five-ish things because I’m not completely sure if a couple of them will come to fruition or when, so check back regularly to see which number we’re on.

The first thing is on Tumblr now, because I thought it would be funny if my first blog celebration was held on my scrubbly little non-blog (I don’t get out much). Plus I need to post it before I go to Greece. It hurts my heart to part with MCR possessions, but it turns out that a couple of the magazines were spares anyway, and those posters deserve to be put up somewhere, hence the giveaway.

The next four or so things will be revealed in good time, ie when I’ve put them together. Right, I’m off to drink some coffee and celebrate entering my last year of teenage-dom. I’m kind of bummed that I’ve only got a year to change the lyrics of Teenagers to “we” instead of “they”, and only a year to use “I’m a teenager” as an excuse for being rude to people, but so far 19 is looking peaceful and productive.

Probably because I’ve done little but write copy for zoos and look at MCR merch.

Explaining the Internet Slowdown (and protesting so you might not be able to read it)

It’s not that often that a lot of the people who use the Internet agree on something, but it looks like the US government has given us all a common enemy (again. Didn’t this happen with SOPA and Prop 8?!). I don’t have a huge understanding of the technical aspects of it, but essentially the US Federal Communications Commission has proposed laws that mean Internet providers can charge money for websites to access their subscribers. Those who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay would get slower Internet connections than those who could. It’s kind of like private healthcare versus the NHS; companies who can afford to pay for top healthcare plans (or Internet) would get seen to quickly and in top-notch conditions (quick page loading), and the rest of us would be put into an 18-month waiting list and spend a week in A&E (the buffer symbol for minutes or hours at a time).

A&E is slow at the moment, but imagine if NHS hospitals were purposely given rubbish equipment compared to private ones? People on the NHS would stay ill or get worse while private patients would be sorted in a jiffy. Now I think about it, that analogy is quite similar to the debacle of non-free-at-point-of-use-healthcare countries… like America. Now’s not the time.

To show what these new conditions would be like, lots of sites – including Tumblr, Etsy, Twitter and Automattic, which powers WP and therefore here – have enforced a slow Internet day, today. Pages, videos and music streams are loading at the speed at which they would load everyday if telecoms companies started charging for access. Many sites affected probably could pay for the quick connection, especially if they increased adverts – but users are likely to be put off by the ads and anyway, what about little online businesses who pay for their own connection? What about people who want to stream videos from sites who haven’t paid for quick access?

The buffer symbol. All the goddamn time.

What can we do to prevent this shit happening at all: head to this website, which is petitioning Congress to stop the proposal from becoming law. If you’re using a site that’s campaigning for ‘net neutrality’, as they call it, you can have a look to see that they’re doing in protest.

Most big Internet companies are a bit corrupt. Most people on the Internet are tossers. But none of us wants to put up with slow service, regardless of the sites we use or the people we abuse while on them.

PS (sort of) Since Etsy is protesting too, I’ve put a discount on my Etsy shop. I was going to anyway to celebrate Blood of Olympus coming out in October, and today seemed a good time to start it. Enter UNCLERICK2014 at the checkout for 30% off, although maybe wait until the protest’s over for a good long browse.