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Saturday, 26 July 2014

My Week

I am posting about my week, something I used to do here with more regularity. I'm not sure if this last week has been busier than most, but has involved more modes of transport.

On Saturday, Sonia and I went to a wedding out in the countryside, held at the Bride's family's manor. It was a lovely wedding. They had a live brass band (note to self: try to find a brass band ASAP). At the end of the evening, the later soul and broke up in a screaming fight that threatened black eyes. We stayed in ahotel room in the town near the manor.

On Sunday, we decided to look around for a place to have breakfast that was not a horrible, soulless chain restaurant and that didn't have Muzak. This took a while and we were later than intended back in London, which meant we were in serious danger of missing our skype appointment, so we stopped in an internet cafe near Paddington. The dream of the 90's is alive in a Paddington basement. I was in so many internet cafes just like that in my travels in 2001 and this place was a perfectly preserved specimen of the era. It was fantastic. And the meeting went well. The pracher, Sonia and I formed a todo list of things that needed to happen by the following Sunday. Not one of those things has been done.

Honestly, I don;t really remember Monday at all. I think I put a few things in boxes and then went to Sonia's dad's house.

On Tuesday, Sonia, her dad and I drove to Dover and then took the ferry to Calais. We went to the Carrefour in the outlet mall there and I felt despair. The British experience of France is very different than how Americans tend to approach the place. Sonia's dad went for a swim in the channel. We drove to a village I've forgotten the name of and had crepes and carrefour items. Then we went to Montreuil and checked into the most picturesque hotel I've ever seen. On the inside of the room, none of the walls were at right angles to each other and some sagged in completely different direction. The room was done up entirely in dark wallpaper with roses on it that covered every surface, including the ceiling. I felt somewhat dizzy whenever my eyes were open. We had dinner and then the next day went to The Wine Society and bought enough wine for the London wedding event and loaded it into the car. then we went back to the Carrefour, back for another swim in the sea and back on the ferry.

On thursday morning, I stuffed most of what I own into boxes and in the afternoon, a removals van arrived and took my stuff to Hackney, were it was strewn around the house fairly randomly. So I've moved house, but I have no idea where my socks or underwear are.

On Friday, I brushed up on how to cite things in wikipedia and then went off to the She Must Be Wiki feminist film wikithon at the ICA. I was originally meant to be leading the workshop, but then some volunteers from wikimedia got in touch and sort of assumed control of things, which I was fine with, but, in retrospect, it did set a bit of a tone, of which the implications become more apparent. Anyway, rather than go on about it, I do tend to have a different method of workshop delivery which assumes a higher competence of participants and takes less time, but I certainly have less experience with the wiki project. Uncomfortably, all of the people setting out to add feminist content were women and all of the 'wiki experts' were men. I use the scare quotes because, although the other three men have thousands of edits each, one of the women organising the workshop certainly has more edits than I do. The leader was trying to address the gender inequality of wikipedia, which is very nearly 90% male, by resorting to gender stereotyping, which I did not feel was entirely helpful. Another volunteer mentioned in passing that the project was founded on an 'Objectivist philosophy', which I think better explains the disparity. It's not really surprising that something founded under a pro-sexist, pro-racist, pro-classist philosophy is overwhelmingly staffed by extremely privileged people. The ability of 'axe-wielding feminist mobs' to access the tools does not address the inherent problems in the organisation.

After the edit-a-thon and a panel session, they showed the film She Must Be Seeing Things, which is about a white bisexual filmmaker and her black lesbian partner. It's funny, well-constructed, interesting and, as the introductory speech noted, pre-figures some of the shifts in LGBT culture that came up in the 90s. For example, they're a butch-femme couple, more in line with modern ideas of queerness than the ideals of the 70s. Cross dressing and a certain amount of cross-gender identification is a repeated theme. There is a film within the film, directed by the femme character. The lead character of that film often functions as a stand-in for her partner. That character would certainly be seen as trans* now, but at the time, was seen as a woman who gradually 'forgot her womanhood'. The butch lead also cross dresses and, in a scene that may be resonant for some trans* viewers, wanders transfixed into a dildo shop to inspect the wares. Shelia Jeffries was apparently outraged.

After the film, I went to a birthday party at a pub in Tooting, which is in south west London. My new house is in the North East, so it was kind of a journey. House parties are a relatively rare thing in London, as most people want to entertain in pubs. A lot of people don't have much space. Pubs don't have annoyed housemates lurking about. You don't have to clean up a pub before inviting people around to it. Anyway, it was a fun party.

Tomorrow, I'm going to move some furniture, do some things on the todo list, and got to trans pride in Brighton.


Apropos of nothing in particular, I'd like to offer some random advice:

  • If what you're saying is actually a long plea to explain how you're a good guy or deserve a cookie, maybe stop talking.
  • Don't apologise for the actions of your ancestors. Nobody cares about how you great grandfather was sexist or racist and it really is quite easy to see how you're trying to deflect attention from yourself and your own poor actions.
  • If you don't identify as a feminist or a feminist ally, try to find somebody who does to come to feminist events in your stead.

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