Guy Fawkes: Not what you think.

I was born on the 5th November 1985. Not many people can say that they had fireworks let off as they were born, but I can. I had never learnt much about why my birthday was so important to British history and culture, until recently. I knew the rhyme and I knew Guy Fawkes had tried to blow up the houses of parliament, which is why we all had a big party. Like most people however, I was never quite sure whether I was celebrating the torture and execution of a traitor or the fact that the government and king were almost destroyed.

Guy Fawkes

 

The story goes that King James I ingrained the tradition into British culture so as to make a mockery of any Catholic rebellion against the throne and government. He encouraged the people to create dolls of the pope and burn them on bonfires. Later on this would have evolved in to what we know as a modern celebration with sparklers and fireworks.

 

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Since the release of V for Vendetta in 2005, the mask that is supposed to be the face of Guy Fawkes has circulated and infiltrated resistance movements across the world. I’ve seen it at anti-government rallies, peace protests, the London riots, animal rights demos and most recently at the anti-fracking demos. Let me explain to you why, in the most simplest and uneducated way, Guy Fawkes should not be used as a figurehead of any resistance movement, anywhere.

Google Image Search Guy Fawkes

 

Guy Fawkes was born in York in 1570. His father was a protestant, but his mother’s family had catholic sympathies. When his father died in 1579, his mother remarried a couple of years later, this time to a catholic. Guy subsequently grew up catholic influenced by his step-father, his step-father’s family and the school he attended in York.

In October 1591 Fawkes sold the estate in Clifton that he had inherited from his father. He travelled to the continent to fight in the Eighty Years War for Catholic Spain against the new Dutch Republic and, from 1595 until the Peace of Vervins in 1598, France. He became known as a master of war and even changed his name to Guido Fawkes to fit in better with his Spanish comrades.

In 1604 Guy became involved with a group of catholic nobles through an old school friend and his brother Christopher. These nobles planned to assassinate King James I and place his young daughter on the throne as a puppet catholic queen. The assassination attempt failed and so the Gunpowder Plot was born and attempted in 1605. Unfortunately for Fawkes, one of his co-conspirators got cold feet and gave word to a friend in parliament. This lead to the discovery of dozens of barrels of gunpowder and Mr Fawkes himself under the houses of parliament on 4th November 1605.

He was brutally interrogated and tortured before finally being executed in 1606.

Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were pro-monarchy. They didn’t like King James I because he wasn’t catholic and imposed various restrictions on practising catholicism. They wanted a catholic king preferably, but a queen who they could marry to a catholic noble of their choice would do. Maybe one of them? Does this sound like the type of people you would want to represent anti-monarchy, anti-aristocracy and feminist movements? Nope!

They were also exceptionally pious catholics, hell-bent on civil and holy war. They had the names and addresses of all Scottish protestant nobles living in London and they had every intention of murdering them and their families, had they not been caught. Guy Fawkes would no doubt have been part of this, given his talent for murder on the battlefield. Is this someone you really want to be a figurehead of peace protests?

I understand that people want to remain anonymous during demos and protests because of police and CCTV surveillance, but before Guy Fawkes, faces were painted black, clown masks were worn and even at a freedom to protest rally I attended in 2008, we had blank masks with green curly hair.

Guy Fawkes was pro-religious piety, pro-state sponsored aggression, a warmonger and certainly not a freedom fighter for anyone other than catholic nobles. It’s time we found someone else who will enter parliament with honest intentions.

(NB, the lack of capitalisation on the word catholic is deliberate.)

Rant No.1

This week I have three weights sessions, four spin classes, two circuits classes, two Spartan training sessions and a long hike planned; yet I am still able to cook healthy food, promote veganism, have a fulfilling relationship with my partner, look after five cats and a bunny and still have time to read and learn so as not to be ignorant of the things around me. I might even get some me time this week too. (Oh yeah and let’s not forget the 35 hour working week.)

It annoys me greatly when people say that they don’t have the time for the gym. What? Are you too busy watching three hours of TV a night or did your life depend on you getting that achievement on your new Xbox game? (I’m a gamer as well and I manage a good few hours of that a week too so :P)

It annoys me even more when people say they don’t have time to read and educate themselves on matters of importance not only to them, but to the planet and to the animals. In the past week I’ve had several people talk to me about non-abolitionist single issue campaigns. It always boils down to lack of knowledge on their behalf. I can understand if you haven’t read every abolitionist book out there, but not reading my deliberately simplified and easy to understand blog posts on abolitionism? Now that just sets my face on fire! Instead of arguing with me about the validity of your method of advocating for animals, you could have read my blog and perhaps grasped why I cannot and will not support your speciesist way of thinking.

 

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“You are highlighting the plight of one species of animal. In a society where the use of animals is accepted and considered normal, for any animal advocacy group to single out just one, immediately suggests that this particular use is somehow morally different than all other uses. That somehow this use is unacceptable, but the others are fine—or at least better. This has the effect of normalising all other uses in the eyes of the public. It suggests that some species of animals are okay to use, but some are “special” and deserve to be protected. This is actually speciesism (the belief that one species is morally superior to another), the very thing that we need to oppose if we are to achieve rights for animals. It’s helping to create moral inconsistency in our view of animals instead of challenging it.” – Jenna Fox, The Abolitionist

A Week Off

A couple of weeks ago now a friend of mine was taken from this world by someone who never deserved to have someone as amazing as her in his life. The whole metal community in my home town drank, partied, grieved and drank some more in her honour. I went to a couple of events and even carried on going to work until last Monday when it hit me hard in the face like a brick. The girl who was the first person to actively use Mouche and Emzy together , who would listen to my problems or dance the night away with me: She was gone, forever.

I had to have some time off to get my head around it, but that’s when my depression really started to kick in. All I wanted to do was sit on the sofa, play video games and drink and that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t even go to the gym.

My depression is a crazy monster that lives inside of me that makes me act strangely and alienates those around me. It’s also heavily affected by a healthy diet and a serious amount of exercise, neither of which I had last week. I continued to spiral downwards.

When I’m not in control of how I feel, I tend not to be in control of my gender issues either. I kept switching along my gender spectrum. This is highly traumatic for me because I can get dressed, go out and then be in the entirely wrong clothes and feel 100% dysphoric.

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The picture of my Dad from 1978 rings a bell with me. I don’t have any biological male siblings, so I have no idea what I’d look like as a guy. I’ve been in femme mode for about the last two months and now I’m sat firmly back in androgyny, or as I like to say: without gender. Mykey my partner, has been supportive throughout this time and I look forward to him meeting the more masculine me, but for now I am back in control and where I like to be.

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To top it all off, my oldest rescue cat went missing on Saturday. This triggered my anxiety and made me very twitchy. Thank-fully she came back and is happily asleep somewhere warm and comfy.

All in all, I feel a lot better today and I’m back at work. I even went to the gym this morning, so onwards and upwards.

An inspiration from an unusual source!

In May 2012, my partner of four years left me. I spent the next 3 months on the floor, drinking myself to death. It was during this time that I realised that my ex had suppressed something in me and it was starting to manifest itself. I realised that I was gender queer. To those who don’t know what this term means, let me break it down for you: people who are GQ live outside of the binary of male and female. They identify as neither, yet will flirt between them and sit in the middle without gender too. This is called being androgynous. (My best friend tells me that I am all kinds of androgynous hot. Who knew?) Personally my own gender switches when it feels like it, but especially when I am going through immense emotional turmoil and let’s be honest, I’ve not been short of that lately. Anyway, after my emotional breakdown I started to rediscover myself. I became this whole new creature, who could proudly sport a beard and urinate in the male toilets, or wear tight jeans and low cut tops. I really liked where I was and where I am to this day: Openly GQ.Gq_flag

Now I’m going to skip a good few months of losing weight and training hard at the gym (I can write about that somewhere else, because you know you want to hear that one) and we arrive at January 2013. I am in a new relationship with a white, heterosexual male. It never even occurred to me that this might pose some challenges, but luckily it hasn’t.  He is very understanding and he also inspired me to write this particular post. We were talking the other day and he mentioned my lack of caring about what people think of how I behave. A confused face was made by me, to which he explained more. He mentioned that he was impressed with my lack of caring about particular roles in the bedroom and that I just did what felt right. When we were out at the pub, I always accompanied him to the bar and we took it in turns to pay – this made him smile. Then the fact that I would come up behind him and hug him, which he always saw as a male role – this makes him think I am amazing.  I look female currently and I guess he thought he’d have to pay for things and wait on me hand and foot, both in life and the bedroom. It doesn’t work like that with me because gender is irrelevant. We work as a team of two equal people. (Although I am stronger than him, which won’t last for long because he is training everyday like me.) Now I have had this inequality in relationships pointed out to me, I can see it everywhere: One partner taking advantage of the other because of their perceived gender and therefore role norms. Why should what is between your legs, dictate how you behave around people you find attractive? How do we even begin to combat this as a queer movement and eventually as a society? For now I’ll keep being amazed at how many norms I don’t conform to in my newly, visually heterosexual relationship and look forward to the new adventure life has placed before me.

(NB: My new partner identifies as male, so I have referred to him in this pronoun.)2013-02-01 11.47.01

My first post!

20130119_192419Hi guys! This is my very first post. I’ve been pressured by my Facebook friends to start a blog for a long time. Hopefully I can cover all the topics I’ve been asked to write about, which range from vegan food and fitness to animal rights philosophy all the way to queer lifestyle.