I was meandering around my head the other day and I realised I no longer thought of my self as a “Feminist” and thats not because I think feminism is a bad thing, and its not because I feel feminism is too exclusive. Some feminisms are exclusive but actualy they are not the feminisms that make the mose sense to me. but its because I’ve stopped thinking about feminism as an identity and started thinking about it as a set of tools to perceive and recreate the world with, its not about an Identity it’s not a thing that I am, it’s a thing that I do


Adoption induced rage!

Today I hate social services and if I don’t get this out of my system I wont de stress

I wanted my pre adoption files and to do this I had to go to the local social services because theyd been passed on from the social services who dealt with my adoption. But its not simple and straightforward no, I had to have a discussion with a post adoption social worker on what my motivations were and what I wanted out of the information, so social services could judge if it was appropriate to give me my information. Because clearly I am not an adult and cant judge or decide my own motivations for my actions. I think post adoption support is usefull for those who want it (of whom which I wouldn’t be one) but it sure as hell shouldn’t be mandatory.

And the woman I was talking to pissed me of so much, I was trying to ask her why I had to go through this palava and she kept just saying “I cant give you the information about anybody else in your family” when at no point did I ask for the info on anyone else in my family, and then she said “well I have to follow procedure I cant make a special case for you” I wasn’t asking her to make a special case for me, I was trying to have a discussion on why there was this procedure and why any adult adoptee should go through it. Then she was all “no one else complains about it” Really? Gee that couldn’t be because you tell them that if they have the wrong attitudes and motivations you wont give them their information or help them search could it?

And she seriously fucking said “we have to go through this because for all we know you could be a mass murderer, and we need to make sure you are not” ! wtf. What kind of thing is that to say to someone? Way to show you don’t trust adult adoptees

So I had to give her loads of personal stuff about my life, that was none of her business and that I don’t really like sharing, stuff about my relationship with my partner and my siblings and my parents. I told her I didn’t see my adoptive parents much because they were not good people and she kept pushing and pushing me to tell her why which I refused to but she still felt the need to tell me in relation to this “lots of adoptions work out really well and everybody is happy with the arrangement” firstly why the hell did she feel the need to impart this piece of information? What was it supposed to achieve, and secondly “everybody”? really? Everybody involved is happy with the arrangement? Even with adoptions that work out well most adoptees aren’t “happy” they were adopted, but also lets take a poll of first parents shall we and see how many of them are happy about the adopotion., because I’m thinking that number will be vanishingly small.

And then she asked me if I was “content” with my life. What does that even mean, I don’t think humans are supposed to be content, I don’t think that’s part of the way we are built, but also what does it matter? No I’m not content, I’m restless and flighty and insecure and don’t ever belive that what I’ve got is here for keeps and all those other good things that kids who spend large chunks of their formative years in care are, but what business is it of hers and what does it have to do with me seeing my file? (I lied and told her that yes I was mainly content with my life)

Seriously information about me, should be available to me on my terms, not on the terms and whims of social services

And then I had to explaining the nature of my adoption and who I was reunion with and who I wasn’t etc and she was all “oh your adoption sounds really unusual” yeah no shit because all adoptions have their individual quirks so you know possibly the adoptee knows what best for herself support wise and should be forced into “support” from people who have no fucking idea what they are talking about and who treat her like a child


This is a copy of a comment I left over at the Bead Shop The words in italics are Jenn’s, the rest are mine. There’s some stuff in it I might revisit further in the future

I don’t think poetry is that important to me, at least not on the face of it. I see the words on the page, I can read them – something about them isn’t coming across, usually. There are some poems I love a great deal. I can hardly stand to read Refugee Blues by W.H. Auden because it’s so incredible. At heart though, I’m a linguist. I have quite a scientific approach to language.

The thing I think people don’t understand about poetry is that it is a language (like you said further on in your post)and this is why they get so frustrated with it and are so quick to give up on it. It should be learnt like a language, it should take years and be started when young.

Books for very small children have all the basic blocks of poetry, rhyme, rhythm, repetition, but then once a child learns to read “properly” that is drooped for linear prose and isn’t picked up again till the child is in secondary school, and not only that but more often than not it is the romantics or Shakespeare that is presented as “poetry” and also a poem as presented as something to dissect, rather than something to be enjoyed whole. Learning about poetry works much better if its “well lets discuss what we like about it and what tools the poet has used to elicit that reaction in us” and that can be taken to any level from, “I like the words used” to “the trochaic reversed foot in line six and the feminine distressed internal rhyme in line seven bring about the feeling of X” but the way poetry is taught today is like teaching particle physics to someone who doesn’t even have elementary level science.

But also there’s an assumption that kids will “just know” how poetry works in the same way they “just know” how novels work, which is absurd, the reason people just know how novels work is because they read lots of them, whereas most people cultural exposure to poetry is more or less nill.

But also I think it is possible to have a scientific approach to poetry, totally, poetry is full of rules and button pressing to get certain effects, often neither the poet or the reader are consciously aware of these effects but they are there and can be unpacked if so wished.

I’m also of the opinion that you cant really say you don’t like poetry unless you’ve read lots of it, that’s kind of like saying you don’t like music.

I also get really frustrated that people can understand and talk about music the way you do and not understand that poetry works in the same way (this isn’t about you its about living in a culture that doesn’t want to understand poetry and its importance to systems of human thinking)

To me poetry is the bridge between language and music because the sounds and the meanings are of equal importance in a poem

Of course, there is a whole class struggle going on in there, a whole lot of ideology, because dissonance and weird rhythms are what those uncouth, swearing working-class people like…They were scandalous because they liked folk music, and adopted elements of it for their own music. People went to the concert hall expecting images of high-minded people strolling through fields, battling with the Gods on mountaintops, and so on – and they got, instead, images of lowly people fucking dancing and fucking in the bushes.

This is interesting, Tom Leonard who is a glaswegian poet writes a lot about code switching and how poetry written in dialects is not accepted as real poetry, because “real” poetry is written by oxbridge graduates who speak in RP. Though, in the last thirty years it has become more acceptable, though not because there is less classism but because poetry has become less culturally important so the borders of who is an acceptable poet are patrolled less rigidly. (One of my friends suggests that this is also the reason why more women are being published poetry wise) obviously its good that there is less judgement on who is seen as worthy of being a poet but the reasons for it are not.

recently there was an article in the guardian entitled Religions are Poems which caught my eye because for me poetry is an incredibly important part of my spirituality and at some point in the future I would love to do some proper academic research on the cultural and spiritual relationship between poetry and prayer. Despite the title of the piece it actually seems as if it arguing that poems are religions than the other way round.

After the introductory paragraph, the writer of the piece, Nick Laird argues

A good poem is a closed belief system

I actually really disagree with this, I think a good poem needs to be an open belief system, needs to give the reader many ways of entering, exiting and moving around in it. To be a closed belief system a poem would have to lay all its meaning out on the table and be static and rigid, any poem that does all those things is a bad poem.

He talks about how through the use of poetry he was:

I was trying to create, I think, a kind of religion to supplant the one I was raised with, and have now lost. In my part of the world the village religion that achieved full spectrum dominance is Christianity, and I was trying to supplant its dominance of my own mind. I am struck by how often I think of things in biblical terms.

This makes a lot of sense to me, i grew up in a christian community and sometimes it feels to me that the pathways in my head that make poetry important to me are the same ones used in religious ritual and experience, the fusing of structure, ritual, and rules, with instinct emotion and heightened senses. Also something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is the relationship between the bible and poetry. I have been thinking how one of the reasons the bible is misunderstood both as a literary artifact and as a spiritual artifact is because those reading it often have no understanding of poetry, but it strikes me that maybe the way i relate to and think about poetry has been deeply effected by my knowledge of the bible, large parts of the bible are very poetic,song of songs, psalms, Isaiah, even revelation if you take into account its extreme use of metaphor. and if you grow up in an environment where you have so much poetry in your life without you even thinking about it as being poetry that has to effect the way you relate to writing that is actually deemed as poetry.

Laird writes

The relationship between poetry, those goodly words, and religion is hard to quantify. Both involve the hidden, working at the borders of the sayable.

I love this, this is so beautiful. the reason I think poetry is so important is because it is working at the borders of the sayable it is constantly struggling to find ways to make the unsayable say able, it is constantly twisting and turning to give us different angles to look at things, different languages to speak in. and I never thought about it but yes, religion also is working at the borders of the sayable, or at least evolving alive religions are and this maybe why the pathways in my head that poetry flows down are the same ones that spirituality flows down because at the end of they day they are both trying to do the same thing.

Laird then goes on to present a critique of the lord prayer as if it were a poem:

The Lord’s prayer is one of the first poems I learned. Leached of its import by years of mindless recital, it’s almost a Sitwellian sound poem to me.

Our father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those
who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom,
the power and glory,
forever and ever, amen.

The verse uses an octosyllabic baseline and contains plenty of the features we expect in poems. Even though it is syntactically complex (it’s only two sentences), the lines are heavily endstopped with solid, repetitive masculine endings and there is a lot of sound play. In “trespasses” the feminine ending (meaning that the last syllable isn’t stressed) seems to replicate the very act of trespass – by going one step further than it should – and that “amen” is a neat full stop, a click on the send button of the email to God.

I personally think this is inspired because as i say I am really interested in the poetry/prayer relationship but i never ever thought about the lords prayer as a poem before which really reinforces what laird says about how it has been Leached of its import by years of mindless recital I also love how he describes it, a two thousand year old prayer, as an email, and i think poetry does that, poetry give you away of avoiding worn thought grooves and enables you to swerve of in other directions.

he goes on to say

Poetry can hold oppositions in equilibrium. Life tends to paradox and poetry can cope with that. Doctrine attempts to clarify and erase the contradictions, to organise lessons, laws and belief systems. Doctrine insists on an ethical dimension. It insists the scriptures be prescriptive. Poetry, being many-headed, doesn’t try to cohere. It is free-floating, various, associative and each poem sets out its own rules.

We live in a world that values streamlining, simplicity, absolutes and lack of complexity or contradictions but i am a fractured mess, i am full of oppositions, I’m bisexual. I’m multiple and I appear to be following both a pagan and christian path but I think the thing is that everybody’s complicated and nobody fits the streamlined capitalist patriarchal ideal of what a person is and i think poetry if we utilize it properly could both give us ways of dealing with that but also give us ways of changing that. Poetry takes us away from the prescriptiveness of dead religions and the rigidity of the current society we live in.

In her post Not dead yet, feminism and mythology Winter writes

But if we conceptualize feminism as work rather than identity, it is apparent that thousands of women in this country are doing the grinding work of feminism every day of their lives. They’re certainly not being acknowledged for it, and they may well not identify with it as a result of that erasure, but they are and always have been doing the damn work.

and in her post Feminism is about ending more than oppression Zenobia writes

The problem we came up against, was that horrible things are happening, oppression is taking place, so naturally we need to DO SOMETHING. When people’s lives are often at stake, we need to do something fast. And, often, there’s nothing particularly effective we can do at this point, because we don’t have the power to. I’m often very critical of feminist and other actions around the country, because although a lot of work, energy, good intentions, and all-round good stuff has gone into them, and the participants have got a lot of good stuff out of them, it’s really unclear whether they’ve achieved what they set out to. In a way, what they set out to do is way too tall an order. Often, the most vocally-proclaimed direct actions are in fact the most indirect thing you could possibly think of

These things are something I’ve been thinking about a lot these last couple of days, this was triggered by a post on the livejournal feminist community that effectively said that midwives were unloving because they were paid for what they did and were part of the system.

This makes me angry. The “feminism” that winter and Zenobia are critiquing doesn’t take into account that there are thousands and thousands of women, who do feminism, all day every day, social workers, youth workers, doctors, teachers, nurses, midwives, counselors. these women are creating, building sustaining communities, these women are the ones who know what is needed.

I’ve been actively involved in feminism for about ten years now, and I have organised feminist events and groups and meetings but for me the effect this has had on society as a whole pales into insignificance next to the hard graft ground work i do and have done as a youth worker, to me that’s still activism, and its actually more important than all the faffing about at the edges.

Its really easy to denigrate people for working within the system if you don’t need to work and are making lots of noise and colour without actually doing anything. Also i think women who do do really important feminist work of the type I’m talking about then get denigrated by the people who organise the big feminist conferences and the DIY feminist events without any acknowledgement that maybe they don’t have the physical or emotional energy or the wish to “do” feminism in their spare time because they do it all day every day, and that kind of ground work is exhausting and people need kick back time from it

But also people do these jobs out of love, and I think that should be recognised, yes people choose jobs because they find it rewarding but they also choose them out of deep compassion, respect and love for the people and communities they are working for and these days this is too often missing from what we usually refer to as “feminism” which actually too often come off as a kind of narccissim. just because they are getting paid for it doesn’t mean there isn’t love involved, however committed someone is they still need to eat

Aaaannnndd this post is going to piss of just about everybody

the recent reclaim the night march has bought the issues around the sex workers rights debate Front and centre in the feminist blogsphere, and the whole debate seems really off to me, makes me feel really uncomfortable.

Firstly I find the phrase “sex worker” problematic there is the issue of what is meant when talking about “sex work” Someone who is stripping to pay their tuition fees and someone who has been trafficked and held prisoner for the purposes of prostitution can both be said to be involved in “sex work” but they are in no way the same thing. and behaving as if they are is damaging and alienating to all the women involved I think

It seems the phrase “sex work” already locates you within a specific point that not all women are going to share. For those of us whose experiences in prostitution have been incredibly traumatic, the phrase and the concept “sex work” is not something necessarily
relatable too. I was never a sex worker, i was never ever a “sex worker” I was always prostituted.

This is why I use both the phrase “sex worker” and “prostituted woman” I don’t use them interchangeably. I try to call people what they want to be called but If I dont know then I use the phrase “sex worker” for women who choose to do it and “prostituted woman” for women who are obviously forced into it.

I personally am totaly anti porn and prostitution, partly because I do think sex is something exceptional and special and sacred and shouldn’t be exchanged for money, partly because I think that sex work is damaging to society and damaging to women, and I also think that women who are involved in sex work through choice, who do have other options but do it anyway arebetraying women, are helping create a society where women are seen as usable objects, are helping create a society where violence against women is seen as the norm. (but saying this we need to bear in mind that all of do things that disenfrachise other people, the clothes I wear are made in sweatshops, and the farmers who grow my food are not paid enough)

But just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean that that thing should be illeagle, especially if making that thing illegal is clearly going to do more harm than good. and I also think that just because I don’t like something that doesn’t mean that the people involved shouldn’t have rights. i don’t think people should join the army either but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be protected and have the same rights other workers have.

But one thing the whole sex worker rights debate doesn’t take into account is that for lots of women what the law says or doesn’t say wont make any difference. lots of men who use prostituted women know that they don’t want to be there know that they are underage, know that they don’t want the violence inflicted upon them,know that what they are doing to them will traumatise and they do it because they like the power, they like hurting people, they like knowing they have hurt someone. and for a lot of prostituted women there is nowhere to go. because what is happening is inflicted by their communities, because they are too young, or because they have been taken out of their communities and know no one, because they don’t speak the language, because they have shady immigration status, because even if they could tell someone what is happening this is the only way to feed themselves and their children.

I’m not overly interested in the wants and needs of middle class sex workers who have other options until every single woman who doesn’t want to be involved in the selling of sex isn’t involved in the selling of sex and that includes women who “choose” to sell sex because the global economy is fucked and that’s the best way of earning money

I’m also not interested in the rhetoric of anti porn/anti prostitution radfemms who appropriate my words and the words of women like me and filter them through an incredibly simplistic lens without doing anything practical to help those women or women like them.

However I would much much rather have discusions around this with someone like Renegade Evoloution who is pretty much diametricly opposed to me on this isuse, than with Maggie Hayes who is anti porn and prostitution because Ren has experince of the things the debate puts on the table and maggie hasn’t

and i really think that unless you are or have been involved in the selling of sex yourself or you are actively making things safer for women who are involved or you are actively helping women who want out to get out you should shut the fuck up about it really.

Children under, say, ten, shouldn’t know
that the universe is ever-expanding,
inexorably pushing into the vacuum, galaxies

swallowed by galaxies, whole

solar systems collapsing, all of it
acted out in silence. At ten we are still learning

the rules of cartoon animation,

that if a man draws a door on a rock
only he can pass through it.
Anyone else who tries

will crash into the rock. Ten-year-olds
should stick with burning houses, car wrecks,
ships going down — earthbound, tangible

disasters, arenas

where they can be heroes. You can run
back into a burning house, sinking ships

have lifeboats, the trucks will come
with their ladders, if you jump

you will be saved. A child

places her hand on the roof of a schoolbus,
& drives across a city of sand. She knows

the exact spot it will skid, at which point
the bridge will give, who will swim to safety
& who will be pulled under by sharks. She will learn

that if a man runs off the edge of a cliff
he will not fall

until he notices his mistake.