I’m sorry, but you’re wrong this time.

In this blog post I am going to be swearing, a lot. If you are easily offended, please don’t read past here. This is not for you.

Last week was busy in the world of abolitionist veganism for quite a few reasons. Sadly none of them were positive.

I’m going to start this story right from the beginning. Right back in September 2014 when things started to really change.
I and many of my UK vegan friends were part of The Abolitionist Vegan Society or TAVS for short and had been for quite some time. The movement had been founded in the US on Gary Francione’s principles of abolition of animal exploitation, in response to the lack of consistency in The UK Vegan Societies ethics. I had never felt more at home. I had long conversations with members about everything from animals to my gender identity. I felt we really understood each other and I felt like Sarah K Woodcock was my friend, even though I had never met her. Unfortunately last summer there was a lot of racial tension in the US and rightly so after what happened. It seemed like the US members of TAVS then went on a mission to declare every single action of anyone who disagreed with them as racism, sexism or homophobia. They had taken being an intersectional group to a level that no normal person could possibly ever live up to. A few UK TAVS members voiced their concerns and others declared that they were going to disassociate with them because they couldn’t live up to the new expectations. In no way were these people racists, homophobes or sexists. In fact they were and still are bloody good vegan educators. They are my friends and just because they are white, does not mean they are racist or anything else for that matter. TAVS went on a bullying hate campaign calling them misogynists and plastering their pictures all over the internet and quotes from their Facebook walls where they had used the word cunt. (More on this later.) It was so bad that one even had to change her name so she couldn’t be identified. All the UK abolitionist vegans that I know immediately withdrew their support from TAVS in disgust. I messaged Sarah asking what was going on and the reason’s for her actions and I was ignored and unfriended.

Us UK abvegans felt very alienated. We had no one to represent us. So what we did is went back to what we should have been doing all along, grassroots vegan education and not messing around on Facebook with TAVS.

A few months later Pete Crosbie who runs the Willowite Animal Sanctuary, posted the below image. He is an Australian TAVS advocate. He also provided the pictures for the TAVS calender. He was not reprimanded at all. It wasn’t even mentioned to him when I spoke to him about it. (No offence intended Pete.)

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Why if cunt is such a horrendous word was he not pulled up on this? Convenience. It was convenient for TAVS to ignore this because it didn’t further their agenda and they got to keep their calender.

In the last few days it has been made public that Tower Hills Stables, a supposedly vegan sanctuary in the UK have been selling eggs from their rescue hens in a vain attempt at trying to educate people on the horrors of the egg industry. Gary Francione picked up on this and publicly asked on their FB page why they were doing this. I have also chimed in on this debate as I don’t feel it is effective activism, it is exploitation and is not what vegans should be doing. A few hours later it was brought to Francione’s attention that Martin who runs the sanctuary, had used the Buddha image from above. Francione has started a hate campaign and is actively bullying Martin, calling him a misogynist and splashing images all over the internet. Francione never picked up on Pete Crosbie. Maybe because he is an abolitionist and Martin isn’t.

So now you have the background to what I am about to say, it might make a bit more sense as to why I am saying it.

I do not and have never had a problem with the word cunt. I first heard it when I was 10 years old, but didn’t really know what it meant until much later. The word itself is the only English language word that describes the whole of the genitalia. It has various origins mostly involving female deity worship and words that describe the genitalia in a pleasant way. I can think of a lot more offensive things to call it than cunt:

George Bush

Unmentionable parts

Tuppence

Wizard’s sleeve

Hairy axe wound

Beef curtains

Gash

Cock pit

Spam purse

Bubble gum sandwich

Pussy

Spunk skip

Pink velvet sausage wallet

Bucket

Slit

Clunge

I mean for fuck’s sake! Those are some really offensive terms right there and it’s always cunt that is singled out. It is a word of beauty! As the world migrated away from female goddess worship and towards male god worship, it also moved towards more sexual repression and male privilege. The word became taboo in the middle ages at the height of single male deity worship. The female and her devilish temptations should not be mentioned.

Therefore is it misogynistic to single the word out and demonise it? Is it not damn right bloody sexist as a white, heterosexual male to decide that a word reclaimed by some feminists (including myself) is in itself wrong?

In the UK and Ireland the word cunt is used as a term of endearment in most circles of people under 50. We call each other cunts as we do call each other mate. The word describes genitalia but it also describes your friend. Therefore to have the American’s (TAVS and Francione) impose their sexism and cultural colonialism on us because they don’t understand is absolutely unacceptable. How dare they!?

I’m sorry abvegan movement, but you’re wrong this time.

 

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Some things I have wanted to say for a while……

1)      What made you decide to go vegan?

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My first steps into exclusively plant based living was in 2003 when I was 17. I saw it as something I could do to be more extreme than my peers. At the time I was just getting into really extreme metal, oh and I still ate bee’s puke aka honey. I wasn’t vegan.

We didn’t have loads of vegan products at the time either. We had tofu and vegetables. I got bored really quickly because I couldn’t cook and just went back to being a fussy omnivore aka a vegetarian .  (I’d been a vegetarian since I was 14, having seen something similar to the Meet Your Meat video in a food technology class. I wish someone had told me I could do more then, I might have listened.)

It was a few years later when I was 20 that I started to read disturbing things about the way that we use animals in society online. Before I’d just been concerned with whether an animal’s life was taken from them. Soon and after not much reading, I realised that we could not justify the use of any animal for human pleasure. That’s what eating animal products is after all, palate pleasure. I watched some videos and I read some recipes.  I went vegan and have been that way ever since.

2)      How do you live without cheese?

How do you live with it? It’s a great big lump of fat, blood and pus. It’s also not addictive, so stop using that excuse.

There are vegan cheeses available with some that are better than others. You  However and to be honest, I very rarely buy them. When you become vegan the way you cook changes, especially if you are not eating a ton of replica meat products, which are processed to hell and everyone should keep to a minimum.

You also eat different foods. Here’s my pre-vegan diet:

Breakfast: Toast and cereal with cow’s milk and cow’s butter.

Snack: Snickers bar

Lunch: Processed meat with processed potato with spaghetti hoops.

Snack: A clementine

Snack: Ham sandwhich with cheese

Dinner:  Bird’s Eye chicken lattice with new potatoes and spaghetti hoops

Supper: Sardines on toast

 What I eat now:

Breakfast: Porridge with a nut and seed mix and soya milk

Snack: Banana smoothie

Snack: Apple, orange

Lunch: Three bean soup

Snack: Banana

Dinner: Kale with Eygyptian spiced leek, potato and beetroot topped with two soysages

Snack: Peanut butter on a rice cake

….and it’s different every day. I can’t stand eating the same stuff now. I remember my pre-vegan diet because it was the same, always. Everything was centred around something from an animal and now there is no centre piece. If anything the centrepiece is the flavour.

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3)      What does GQ actually mean?

GQ stands for Gender Queer. Wikipedia describes it quite well:

Genderqueer (GQ; alternatively non-binary) is a catch-all category for gender identities other than man and woman, thus outside of the gender binary and cisnormativity.[1] Genderqueer people may identify as one or more of the following:

  • having an overlap of, or blurred lines between, gender identity and sexual and romantic orientation.[2][3]
  • two or more genders (bigendertrigenderpangender);
  • without a gender (nongendered, genderless, agender; neutrois);
  • moving between genders or with a fluctuating gender identity (genderfluid);[4]
  • third gender or other-gendered; includes those who do not place a name to their gender;[5]

Some genderqueer people[6][7] also desire physical modification or hormones to suit their preferred expression. Many genderqueer people see gender and sex as separable aspects of a person and sometimes identify as a male woman, a female man, or a male/female/intersexgenderqueer person.[8] Gender identity is defined as one’s internal sense of being a woman, man, both, or neither, while sexual identity refers to an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to others.[7] As such, genderqueer people may have a variety of sexual orientations, as with transgender and cisgender people.[9]

In addition to being an umbrella term, genderqueer has been used as an adjective to refer to any people who transgress distinctions of gender, regardless of their self-defined gender identity, i.e. those who “queer” gender, expressing it non-normatively.[10] Androgynous is frequently used as a descriptive term for people in this category, though genderqueer people may express a combination of masculinity and femininity, or neither, in their gender expression and not all identify as androgynous. However, the term has been applied by those describing what they see as a gender ambiguity.[11]

Personally I really dislike being called he or she. I’m just Emz.

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4)      How do you fit it all in? (Training etc.)

I think if you want something bad enough, you’ll make time. It’s hectic, but it gets the job done.

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5)      What does Child Free really mean?

To me it means that I am choosing, purposely not to have biological children. People choose this for various reasons, but for me the main one is over population.

When my mum was born, there were less than 2.5 billion people on the entire planet. By the time I was born in 1985 (37 years later) there were 4.8 billion people on the entire planet.  In forty years we more than doubled the Earth’s population.  As we come into 2014, we are looking at a human population of 7.1 billion. Many scientists believe that the tipping point for resources, land, water, food etc is 9/10 billion. After that we will begin a downwards spiral of mass starvation, fresh water wars and possible extinction. Up until that point it is believed that if we reduce our population expansion, we may actually have a future. This issue is more important for our long term future on this planet than climate change.

My opinion as to why people aren’t talking about it and don’t want to change is simple:

a) People are inherently selfish and do whatever satisfys them regardless of the consequences for others.

b) Governments and religion actively encourage people to breed so that they have a larger work force, army, following and are therefore more powerful.

c) There isn’t any money to be made from a child free person.

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6)      Do you hate children?

No. I just think, on top of what I have said above, that we should look after the ones we have properly before we even remotely consider bringing more into the world.

baby-money

 

7)      What is your favourite animal organisation?

I don’t support animal organisations. They do not promote veganism as the end goal to ending all animal exploitation and many of them are in business partnerships with animal agribusiness. For example Peta and KFC.

Happy-Animal-5

8)      Where do you get your protein?

Everything has protein in it, even lettuce and potatoes. I eat food so question answered.

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9)      How much time should we devote to reaching out to other progressive groups about veganism and what are effective ways to do that?

I think we firstly need to concentrate on getting a mass turnaround from single issue and welfarist campaigns by animal rights activists. All major change happens at the grass roots of movements. However on the otherhand,  if we had more groups such as Viva, Peta and Animal Aid promoting a purely abol;itionist agenda, I think more people might start to see the light without the constant backlash upon entering discussions with them now.

This is a difficult question to answer because I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer.

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10)   Do you believe in conspiracy theories?

I believe sometimes that there is more to a story than the official version tells the public. I take each individual incident as it comes. I wouldn’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist, no.

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11)   Why aren’t you pro-life?

By pro-life, this question means human life.

I believe that every human being should have free choice to do what they want with their lives and their bodies as long as it doesn’t hurt others. Having loads of children hurts others. Using animals as resources hurts others. (As detailed above) However removing a ball of cells from a woman’s womb does not hurt anyone. Even later abortions where the ball of cells looks like a miniature human, it has been proven time and time again, by medical science, that there is no consciousness and there is no pain, pretty much like a plant. If the ball of cells cannot survive outside of the womb, then an individual woman has every right to remove it from her body. If the ball of cells can survive outside of the womb, without massive 21st century medical intervention, then you probably left it a bit late and I don’t agree with that.

In my opinion you shouldn’t be pregnant in the first place for reasons stated above, however if I found myself pregnant I would get an abortion without a second thought or hesitation. Mykey agrees with me wholly.

pro-life-vs-pro-choice

12)   How do you feel about direct action?

Direct action is a single issue campaign and therefore does not coincide with abolitionist vegan methodology. (You can read more about this in my animal rights section.)

Let’s take the action of the Hunt Sabs in the recent, “Sab the Cull” campaign. I am yet to hear how that has actively created a vegan world or even a substantial move towards it. Why? Because it hasn’t! By focusing on a single issue, it has made others feel better about different types of animal use i.e that the type of animal use they are participating in is not as bad because you aren’t protesting against it. (Again this is detailed greatly in my AR section, read it.)

If an animal was in trouble for whatever reason and we were able to help her, then we would. However I wouldn’t spend my valuable time and money running around a field before light, because that is not an efficient way to create more vegans. Me talking to, cooking for, handing out leaflets to and promoting veganism to people does.

I know the mainstream animal rights movement sees the Hunt Sabs and ALF as some sort of gods, but we have to be realistic. This type of activism has been around for 40+ years in the UK and is it working? Have we seen an end to the use of animals in medical experiments or a complete ban on hunting? Have we seen a sizeable change towards veganism? No! Stop wasting your time, effort and money on things that aren’t creating a vegan world and start creating it. You owe the animals that as an absolute bare minimum!

 

 

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.