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Showing posts from May, 2016

Chilling Effects

Recently, I've been writing about antisemitism and strategically talking over people who are actually affected by it.

I try to look over every article I write, because typos are embarrassing and I like pretending to have a coherent train of thought. Reading over what I've written about antisemitism in the UK, I get concerned over such things as:

By writing about British antisemitism, am I erasing the plight of the Palestinians?

I haven't denounced Israeli crimes enough in this article. What if someone accuses me of being an apologist?

Oh man, my total ignorance of critical race theory and postcolonial theory is really showing here and I look like such a fail and I'm being so oppressive and-

The precise details are unimportant. The overarching message in all these thoughts is: be quiet, because you and your privilege are taking up valuable space in this discussion.

Also recently, I've had trouble sleeping and been browsing tumblr, which led me to Old Social Justice fro…

Down with Tumblr Writing!

If you use any social media whatsoever, you will have probably seen quotes by people which are invariably about love, loss, and existential angst. It is optional for these poems to be in all lower case, or to sometimes include short story fragments.

They are interesting; social media offers opportunities for disseminating work like no other (even when censored) and they can potentially do really cool things with images.

I just wish that most of them weren't so crap.

If you have bought and loved books by, say, Emery Allen or Lang Leav, you're probably furious right now. How could I, a talentless little wretch with hardly the reach of either of these authors, dare to criticise them?

The answer is simple: I'm in the wrong demographic.

I didn't really care that much about this genre of writing - I saw it sometimes on my tumblr dashboard and it didn't particularly appeal to me. I found it far too cloying and twee for my taste.

A while ago my best friend lent me Soft Hum…

How to be more likeable in one simple step

The internet is wonderful. It means you can google anything, from how to cook an egg to how to make people love you. Sure, results may vary, or backfire spectacularly and hilariously, but as long as you don't take too much stock in the advice of complete strangers you should be fine. Right?

To kill time while brushing my hair in the morning, I flicked through an article I saw on shitbook about toxic habits everyone has. (First mistake. I'm partial to clickbait and the shiny shiny.)

And what were these toxic habits, you might ask? The heinous crimes of...sharing photos on facebook, oversharing, and especially negativity. (Seriously. Perpetual optimism and the fear of expressing "taboo" emotions such as sadness or anger need to go fuck themselves.)

Well, after reading this very enlightening article, I think I can make a few improvements. In fact, given that I like to find elegant solutions to problems, I think I can find a way for you to free yourself of these toxic ha…

Sit Down and Shut Up

Antisemitism is not a new thing; it is centuries old. Antisemitism within supposedly progressive elements of society is also not new - funnily enough, it is also centuries old and arises partly from linking Jews with capitalism.

What is new is that antisemitism is now being discussed seriously in non-Jewish circles. Finally - we've only been waiting, like, thirty years for people to start paying attention.

I know that me talking about this is not going to make me any friends. In fact, it's probably going to alienate and annoy my friends and family, and make me enemies among people with whom I should really have a common cause.

I'm surprisingly not sorry about this.

Being a Jewish leftist in the UK is different from being a non-Jewish leftist - not just because of theological issues (I'm a culturally Jewish atheist, so theology is not an issue for me, but I'm still treated differently) but because of double standards.

If you are Jewish, you will probably have to tak…

Tinkering with Music

Dear friends: I apologise to you for having to put up with a diva like me. That is all.

I am the only child of a music teacher who studied the interpretation of music in detail. At least, that's my excuse.

I like different interpretations of pieces and have been known to listen to the same piece of music interpreted in four completely different ways. Only other music people seem to get this, particularly if I get into an argument with someone about how I prefer X conductor to interpret Y piece and they say actually Z was much better, and you won't be able to shut either of us up for the next hour...

...With this in mind, it's not exactly surprising that I like rearranging pieces too. (It's work, though, and I really don't have the time to spare to be working on full arrangements. Aaargh.)

I suppose part of it is that I come from a very classical background, where technical skill in performing pieces other people have composed is paramount. One can think of Western …

Are Mentally Ill People Annoying?

Mental illnesses are very cruel. They make you feel like you're worthless, suffering through a living hell, and better off dead. They warp your perception of reality; everything you do is a burden on humanity and everybody secretly hates you. And because the world's a horrible place, mental illness is viewed as something shameful, a weakness, a vileness in the soul.

With this in mind it's important to have support and people who keep reminding you that they love you. I find that a lot of people, especially younger people or those burnt by a recent betrayal, are very hung up on the idea of people leaving.

(While I'm on the subject: everyone leaves or dies. This does not make the time you spent together any less meaningful. Prepare accordingly.)

A natural consequence of self-hatred and the desire to still have people love you is hyperawareness of every tiny little thing you do, constantly watching out for anything which might annoy or upset them, at which point they will…

Uppity Jews having opinions and being uppity

Surprisingly for a loudmouth such as myself, I've been reasonably quiet about the most recent antisemitism row (where "reasonably quiet" has been redefined to mean "making lots of upset tweets"). I've sort of just been hiding, waiting for it to blow over and focusing on my exams.

Unsurprisingly for an argumentative and opinionated young woman, I've decided to stir this up again for shits, giggles and pretending to be good at this social justice malarkey. I couldn't really think of a good format to put this in, so this is a list of common responses I get when upset about antisemitism.

"But criticising Israel isn't antisemitic!"
Ah. Got to love everyone's go-to. Look, I know criticising Israel isn't antisemitic, you know criticising Israel isn't antisemitic, your mother knows criticising Israel isn't antisemitic and basically everyone who isn't ridiculously pro-Israel can tell the difference between criticising the Isr…

The Real World

It's very common for people to say things along the lines of "In the real world, people aren't going to accept your gender identity/sexual orientation/anything else I personally find icky or confusing" to demonstrate just how tough and edgy they are.

You'd think the solution to this problem would be more kindness and acceptance of other people, but then we couldn't be dicks to each other on the internet.

While having a conversation with a good friend of mine who also happens to be doing some really amazing work on disability theory, we were venting about academia - me because of my exams (and I'm procrastinating right now, aaaargh), her because MA students are surprisingly immature. In my year I've had problems with some quite prejudiced people.

There are myriad possible reasons to be horrible to other people, from sport to competition to the fact that there are many, many more ways to be a jerk to someone than there are to be kind. What distresses me…

Despite Everything: Science Communication Edition

I get a lot of anxiety over whether I'm employable and doing the right things to become employable. A source of great shame for me is that I didn't get a placement last year.

So trying to write my letter of motivation for my exchange programme wasn't the most comfortable of experiences. Trying to write it in my third language didn't help either!

(I might suck at being employable, but I speak four languages with designs on improving at least an extra three beyond "bullshitting" levels. That counts for something, right?)

For anyone who hasn't written a letter of motivation, it's basically a page of showing off and explaining why you want to do something.

So in my letter I had to show off more than just my love of black holes and why I want to go on exchange to this particular university; I had to show off things I'd actually done.

I think I'm a particularly lazy person with a patchy employment history. My history disagrees with me.

I did my firs…

Cynicism about Mental Health Awareness Week

It's Mental Health Awareness Week and I'm angry.

I'm pretty vocal about being mentally ill, both online and in my personal life. I'm vocal because I believe I shouldn't have to lie about my health to be accepted in mainstream society. And amazing communities dedicated to fighting stigma and educating the public have helped me tremendously in my recovery.

So I feel pretty terrible for saying it's not enough, but it really isn't.

Our NHS is being gutted. People aren't getting the care they need. A&E departments, mental health wards and just about every service you can think of are being shut down around the country.

A GP cannot attend to the needs of a mental health patient in a 10-minute appointment. Even the wait times for counselling are six weeks. Six weeks to someone with severe depression are an eternity. If someone needs therapy, they might wait almost two years with no mental health care at all. And if someone needs a bed on a psychiatric ward…

On mental illness, trigger warnings and safe spaces

It's Mental Health Awareness Week and I felt obligated to write something. Good job I picked a controversial topic, then!

Trigger warnings and safe spaces are two topics that attract heated debate - and by "heated debate", I mean "socially conservative commentators getting needlessly offended and calling each other nasty names over the internet". I'm not going to go into detail on my own position here, because it's irrelevant to the point I want to make and frankly it's not an argument I feel like having.

I know people who have mental health problems and are in favour of both of these things.

I know people who have mental health problems and are against both of these things.

I know people who have mental health problems and aren't entirely for or against either of these things.

I know people who have mental health problems and have no opinion about either of these things.

The point I'm trying to make here is that people with mental health pr…

Surprisingly, not a plot device

I wrote about this just over a week ago, but I'm a real broken record here.

There exist several tropes to do with wild and mysterious and dangerous and sexy (always sexy) women and frankly I'm bored of all of them. I'm bored of them because they're just another little box to be squeezed into (and inevitably fall short, because I'm a human being and not a set of narrative devices). I'm bored of them because being reduced to a one-dimensional stock character, even a sexy, artsy, mysterious one, is boring in itself.

For example, I'd like to think I can be sexy, artsy and mysterious - maybe not all at the same time, but I've definitely been all three of these things to different people. I can also be silly, cute and make enormously stupid mistakes, which kind of ruins the mystique but also makes me...well...me.

Nobody needs yet more flowery descriptions of girls whose sole defining qualities are being mysterious and vaguely dangerous. You know what we need?…