Merry Christmas

Image from showing a drag Santa

I’m sorry I haven’t updated the blog for a while now: family things, a ridiculously heavy workload and adopting a greyhound have kept me away from the keyboard in the last few months. There are many fun things coming in 2022, but right now my RSI-addled hands need a rest.

I hope you have a very merry Christmas and that 2022 is happier for, and kinder to, all of us.


All men

Jessica Valenti: Yes, All Men.

The majority of ‘good’ men prop up sexism in all sorts of ways: Those who complain about #MeToo and not being able to ask out coworkers anymore make life easier for virulent workplace harassers. Men who joke about locking up their daughters pave the cultural way for paternalistic policies that limit women’s rights. Men who only want to marry housewives prop up systemic hurdles in working women’s career paths.


What you didn’t see in the papers

There was an important legal judgement yesterday that, despite being about trans people, has somehow failed to make it into the papers.

London’s High Court threw out the attempted judicial review of the Equality Act 2010 by LGB Alliance co-founder and trustee Ann Sinnott, saying that her case was “unarguable” and that her interpretation of the EA was “wrong in law”.

To cut a long story short, trans people and allies have spent the last four years explaining what the Equality Act and Gender Recognition Act say, and the bigots – with significant approving coverage from their friends in the press – wasted £100,000 of crowdfunded money to receive the same explanation from the High Court. The Equality Act applies to trans people irrespective of whether they have a Gender Recognition Certificate, and it is not legal for single sex spaces to institute a ban on trans people unless such a ban is legitimate and proportionate.

This is the second important judgement to attract virtually zero coverage: a few weeks back the Good Law Project successfully appealed against the Keira Bell judgement restricting the use of puberty blockers in under-18s.

This week’s futile exercise wasted £100,000 that could have been spent on genuine women’s charities. But it’s not about protecting or helping women. It’s about creating anti-trans publicity and ideally, anti-trans legislation. But like most vexatious cases funded by the Christian Right, the publicity is the point.

It’s nice to have a bit of good news, but it’s worth noting that as a co-founder and trustee of the LGB Alliance Sinnott’s action is in clear breach of the charity commission’s rules, as was the Alliance’s anti-trans advert in the Scottish press this week. It looks like the Equality Act isn’t the only legislation bigots don’t, or pretend they don’t, understand.


“This isn’t homeschooling”

For many parents, today is the beginning of another block of having the kids attending school virtually rather than in person. It’s many things – difficult and exhausting, mainly – but it’s not homeschooling.

Dr Mary O’Kane on Twitter:

This is not ‘home schooling’. Home schooling is a conscious decision made by some parents having researched that option. This is emergency education, during lockdown, while surviving a pandemic! So, let’s lower our expectations of ourselves a little. #homeschooling #lockdown

As Dr O’Kane adds:

The most important thing is our children’s wellbeing, and our relationship with them. We need to let go of our vision of perfect parenting, definitely good enough is good enough at the moment!


Beans and being mean

If you’re not Very Online, you may have missed Bean Dad: for a full day social media was sharing and/or piling on a man who posted about teaching, or rather not teaching, his daughter to use a can opener.

Emily Pothast explains it:

…despite a bombshell story about Trump attempting to manipulate the outcome of the Georgia election, “Bean Dad” was the social media network’s top trending topic. Bean Dad, it turned out, was John Roderick, who had issued a series tweets about how his 9-year-old daughter had asked for his help opening a can of beans while he was working on a jigsaw puzzle. Instead of showing her how to work the can opener, he made her figure it out on her own, which she finally did after six hours of “grunting and groaning.”

I saw the original posts and assumed it was someone very selectively telling a story in an attempt to go viral, as did Pothast. But as she points out, it became something more interesting when people began to unearth Roderick’s old tweets containing various slurs and quite a lot of homophobia, ableism and antisemitism. The tweets don’t appear to be sincere; they appear to be the kind of “edgy” humour you find in episodes of South Park.

And that got Pothast thinking.

Over the past day, the discourse around the Bean Dad kerfuffle has had me thinking about the larger cultural disconnect it reveals between members of the same community. This is the chasm between between those who have decided that joking about “funny rape” or ironically calling someone a “fag” actually isn’t very original or creative (and honestly never was), and those who feel alienated by the prospect of living in a world where their jokes about Jews (delivered with or without affecting a Cartman voice) are no longer met with unconditional approval.


The great bucatini shortage

This article made me laugh: Why is there a bucatini shortage in America?

Being educated noodle consumers, we knew that there was, more generally, a pasta shortage due to the pandemic, but we were still able to find spaghetti and penne and orecchiette — shapes which, again, insult me even in concept. The missing bucatini felt different. It was specific. Frightening. Why bucatini? Why now? Why us?

I didn’t know what bucatini was, so I’ve ordered some to try it for myself. There doesn’t currently appear to be a bucatini shortage in Scotland.


“The most political identity of all”

Jessica Valenti is on typically scathing form in this piece about cis, straight white men in US politics:

Because to them, white men are a politically neutral group: the default choice. Any deviation from that standard must be about ‘identity politics’. It has never occurred to them that white men are the most political identity of all.

For centuries, straight white men have been at the world’s helm because they were straight white men. Still, despite eons of patriarchy and the systemic disenfranchisement of marginalized communities, we are supposed to believe that the glut of white men in power is based on competence alone. How many times have we heard that an all-white male panel, board of directors, or leadership team was chosen solely on ability? They were race and gender blind in their process, they swear! It was all about who was best for the job!


It’s World Kindness Day

Any excuse to post this again:

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, God Bess You Mr Rosewater



In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s defeat, the commentariat are urging us to feel empathy for the would-be dictator, his acolytes and his supporters.

That’s certainly the right thing to do, the loving thing to do, the Christian… oh, fuck that and fuck those people. They put kids in cages and permanently separated them from their parents. They contributed to the deaths of nearly 275,000 people. They urged legislators to let evangelicals leave LGBT+ people to die in the name of religious freedom. They began a process that they hope will lead to the reversal of equal marriage and restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. They stood side by side with neo-Nazis. They put a rapist and a criminal enterprise in the White House.

Where was their empathy?

As author Elizabeth Sandifer put it:

Mussolini was summarily executed, dumped outside a train station, pissed on, and then hung upside down on display from a meat hook, and so I think everyone arguing that the left needs to reach out to the right needs to appreciate just how conciliatory we’re already being.


May the farce be with you

You might not think it from reading this blog, but one of the things I’m known for is laughing: as one of my friends put it the other night, “I don’t know ANYONE that laughs more than you”. I’m often reduced to tears by the silliest passing thought, and the more inappropriate it is to laugh the funnier I find it.

Pre-COVID I’d risk a beating from furious parents during school shows, because there is nothing funnier than a child trying to play a musical instrument they can’t play in front of a whole bunch of people who know they can’t laugh, and I’ve been in fits of laughter a thousand times on live radio, while trying to record podcasts, during doctors’ appointments and even while getting electrolysis. All it takes is one stupid thought and I completely lose it.

Yesterday was a good example. I was waiting outside my son’s school to pick him up, standing among a smattering of other parents when a Parcel Force van went by. My brain, which loves Spoonerisms and puns, immediately piped up.

“Porcel Farce,” it said.

I started to grin. And then I thought about it some more and how funny “porcel” sounds. And I started to giggle.

I looked up. A couple of other parents were giving me odd looks. As soon as I noticed them I knew that I didn’t stand a chance.

When you’re laughing and trying not to laugh, the worst possible thing that can happen is for you to see someone judging you. It’s an amplifier that makes whatever you’re laughing about roughly one thousand times funnier.

“Stop laughing!” I told my brain. “People are looking!”

My brain paused to consider this information and respond in a mature and sensible fashion.

“Heh heh heh,” it said.

It paused.

“Porcel farce,” it snickered.

You know when you laugh so much you start to cry? I was doing that. I whipped out my phone to try and pretend I was laughing at something I’ve seen on Twitter, desperately trying not to make a sound but emitting the odd squeak, and I laughed until I couldn’t see my phone for the tears. I’m quite sure my face was as red as my hair. I couldn’t dare look up for fear I’d make eye contact with another parent and it’d amplify the amusement even more, so I stood there shaking, squeaking and vibrating until my son appeared to save the day.

In the car, I told him about Porcel Farce. He thought it was funny too, but not as funny as the sight of his dad absolutely corpsing all over again.

I was getting facial electrolysis today, which was painful as ever. No prizes for guessing what my brain said to me or what happened next.