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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Guest Post - On Autism, Social Skills And Acceptance

This post is by my amazing daughter person Noah Grace. 

I am in awe of them. 

Enjoy. 

Title: What an Autistic Wants You to Know About Social Skills

Hello everyone, my name's Noah Grace, and I am autistic. After a period of research and self-diagnosis, I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (the label that is used when you are able to speak before the age of 3) a couple of months after I turned 19. Since then, my world turned upside down in the best possible way as my perceptions of myself and the world I live in changed dramatically. I think about life as an autistic person a lot, and I want to share some of these thoughts with you today.

For those who do not know much about autism, it is neuro-developmental (this means the origin of the condition is in the brain, and that it affects your developmental milestones like talking, walking and caring for oneself – these are often expected to come late or not at all, or inconsistently, but talking for me came early). It is lifelong, cannot be cured as it is not a disease, and comes with many challenges in the areas of speech, language processing, sensory processing and social interaction. It is good however to be aware that of the difficulties and challenges autistic people face, many are not necessarily caused by autism itself and I will be talking about that to some extent in this post.

The root of the word autism comes from the ancient Greek for "self". The condition could therefore be described as "selfism" - the disorder of being too focused on the self. One could say that our problem is that we are too focused on ourselves to realise that we are not normal, too selfish to care how our abnormality affects others, and we should be shown how abnormal we are so we can change our weird behaviour, follow social rules better, and thus have a better standing in society. If we can't change our behaviour ourselves, we should be trained to act differently.

(Yes, that is actually what a lot of people believe, and act on. We are bullied and abused to this end, as people think that if we are treated badly enough, we will change. There is a great deal of money being made right now and a great deal of harm being caused in 'therapy' that attempts to condition autistic people away from acting autistic. You can read more about that at the end.)

For me and many others, the self-absorption and disconnection from other people and the outside world is not actually the source of what's different about us from other people. It is largely a coping mechanism for the pain - both sensory and emotional - we experience while living in this harsh and intense world. If any non-autistic person spent a lifetime being mistreated, ignored, misunderstood and their sensory systems given a constant onslaught, they'd probably disconnect from the world too.

Spend any extended period of time with an autistic person and you'll find we care deeply, extraordinarily, about things outside of ourselves. Many of us adore animals. Plenty are activists, using their words to promote a better world. Lots of us have close friends and are in loving relationships, or want to be. One of the diagnostic criteria is that we have strong, abiding interests called "special interests" in a topic or object, sometimes multiple. We are not really that "selfist". We want to interact with the world in our own way, we want to express our feelings, we want to do our thing. But in a world with so many barriers in front of these things, few people actually help empower us to do so, instead deciding to believe we are incompetent, unfocused and uncaring.

In this post, I mostly want to discuss my perspectives around social skills, or social rules, or social obligations – there's a lot of names for it. These are the guidelines for carrying yourself while out and about around other humans. Some are unspoken, you absorb them from watching (you see the way your parents interact with others) and some you are specifically taught, whether you are autistic or not ("Say please and thank you".) One example of a social skill is the skill of "small talk" – little snippets of conversation you have before you have a proper conversation, or what you say to someone you don't know well to ease the awkwardness… I'm not totally sure actually, I'm not the best person to ask…(!)

One might be tricked into thinking I can engage in small talk, if you only watch me do it once or twice. Truth is, I find it very difficult to have a conversation without meaning. Did someone bring up the weather? I'm pleased, because I actually care about the weather and find it to be an interesting topic. For a lot of people though it is quite boring. They will mention it in passing before moving onto a more pressing topic, whereas I would actually like to discuss it for a while.

You might say to me "It's awful weather today, isn't it?" as a lead in to another conversation, but in my apparent enthusiasm for amateur meteorology (and my relief that we are on a topic I know something about), I won't notice. I'll say, "Yes, it's very rainy! It's not as cold as it was yesterday though. Today it's 8 degrees which almost feels warm compared to the freeze-ya-balls-off temperatures we've been having lately. I really hate those. I wonder what the average temperatures for this time of year actually are? I'll Google it in a minute. I don't mind the rain as long as it isn't really cold or I have a big coat on, which I do. It doesn't have a hood though. Sadly, I don't have an umbrella - I left it on a train in North Wales - so my hair will just have to get a bit damp." 

I generally don't get that far, because in a break between my sentences, the person will change topic. For me, the person who has plenty left to say about the topic, it feels quite jarring. 

As you can see it is hard for me to use my words for anything that is meaningless. Unless I feel comfortable, I tend not to change topics at all in a conversation, and will just carry on talking about what interests me about the topic until my conversational partner changes it. I will try to actually engage with someone's "how are you?" or "dreadful weather isn't it?". It goes against my natural way to communicate to say something I don't have any investment in. And yet, as my mother, the owner of this blog site knows, if you get me comfortable and on my own, I might tell you a whole manner of things that sound almost completely random and meaningless, with no connection to each other. But if you know me, you know that they aren't. You know that I notice small details, little patterns, small events of my day, little sounds, little songs, little phrases and that to me, they feel like everything. If I share them with you, it indicates a good deal of trust.

When I talk to someone who is not aware of my diagnosis, it feels like I am trying to keep up an illusion of normality, because to show autistic traits, especially when someone doesn't know you're autistic, is to be… is to be weird. rude. stupid. crazy. annoying. To be written off, in someone's eyes. Which of course, I don't want, because I would like others to believe I have something to offer my peers and general community. But for me to try to appear non-autistic is as difficult as an apple trying to appear to be an orange. There is just too much I cannot fake. Too much slips out. There's too many social rules I cannot keep in mind all at the same time.

When I'm talking to someone aware of my diagnosis, who also isn't bothered about me keeping up the appearance of some of the more arbitrary social rules, I have a much better time. I can come away feeling socially fulfilled instead of confused and anxious, with damage to my self-esteem.

The thing is, I do care about following some social rules. I don't want to say something upsetting to someone, for example. I want to think carefully before I comment on someone's appearance, or anything else that could cause offense. I want to consider the setting I am in, and not say something sensitive I might have otherwise said if I were somewhere else. I don't wanna embarrass someone on purpose. All these social rules that avoid other people becoming hurt emotionally and physically? I do care about those. I don't want to hurt anybody, and if I do hurt someone, I will apologise, demonstrate that I know which actions or words were offensive, and that I won't do it again.

However, there is something that I have started to learn. I care about not hurting people, but I see the difference now between someone being hurt by me, and someone being confused and offended by my unapologetic existence as an openly autistic person.

Some of the things that offend people without actually hurting them, that I do, are as follows:
- not making consistent eye contact, or none at all (it feels so gross)
- fidgeting or stimming (stimming is short for "self-stimulatory behaviour" – not as rude as it sounds, I promise! It is repetitive or specific actions undertaken to help us regulate our sensory systems – and because it feels nice. Some are painful and harmful like headbanging or hitting, and should be avoided, but even these have a purpose. My favourites are flapping, rocking, dancing, wiggling, playing with my hair, scratching (a harmful one that I'm trying to stop doing) and singing silly little songs. More about stimming at the end of the post.)
- not asking further detail out of people when they offer information to me. It's not that I don't care, I just forget that you are supposed to do that. If you know already that I am interested in the things you say, please tell me as much information as you like! You don't have to wait for me to ask!
- talking for a long time about one thing, or zipping around between different topics very quickly
- telling them things which sound pointless and uninteresting to them even if it really matters to me
- giving short, blunt responses so it sounds like I'm not listening – I am listening, I just don't have the energy for longer responses but I still want to hear what you are saying
- doing something else while you are talking so it looks like i'm not paying attention, even though this actually helps me pay attention
- if we only just met, not asking you questions about your life or trying to find out things about you
- not talking at all if someone i do know isn't in the room
- taking the things people say literally

None of these things are actually doing anything to hurt anybody. It is only hurting people's perception of normality and the necessity of social obligations. If they wanna think I'm dishonest or lying because I don't make eye contact? Let 'em, I'll carry on prioritising not feeling the intense physical discomfort of eye contact. If they wanna think I'm rude instead of acknowledging that I find back-and-forth conversation hard and I'm trying my best? Fine. I don't prioritise trying to influence someone's opinion of me, and apparently, this is wrong. Apparently, I'm supposed to care more about what people will think than about keeping myself feeling comfortable and happy, and I used to, because I was bullied into thinking I should – but I don't anymore, definitely not nearly as much as I used to. 

What's more, I am now aware that social rules that prevent some people being offended often rely on others' feelings and boundaries being ignored. For example, if someone touches me casually on the arm during conversation, that is seen as OK under society's rules but personally it makes me feel really uncomfortable and gross, especially if I don't know the person well or wasn't expecting it. If I show discomfort and tell them not to touch me, I have violated the societal rule of not causing a scene and I'm the one in the wrong, even though they made me feel uncomfortable in the first place! I know now that this is messed up! 

This rule meant that I thought I had to put up with many more horrible excursions over my boundaries, and some really awful stuff happened to me over the years. Lots of social rules are bad and privilege some people over others, and allow them to get away with doing bad things. It is considered wrong to bully people, but if someone is acting weird, that's not considered bullying, its considered "for their own good". Small children being forced to hug and kiss their aunts and uncles is another example of one of these bad social rules. We don't have to follow these, in fact, we should challenge them publicly until they aren't rules anymore.

I spent a long time being shown that my natural way of being is wrong and must be adjusted to be 'normal' and do what everyone else does. I know now that it's not my job to help people avoid having to experience difference and diversity in human neurotypes and behaviour. If that means I have 'bad social skills', then fine, because keeping the status quo is not something I want to be good at! It is important to me to state that autism awareness is not truly awareness if people will only accept us when we have been taught to act like them, or if we can't be taught, are hidden away so we don't inconvenience anyone. It should not be give, give, give on the part of autistic people. The process of awareness and acceptance is much more take than give, which people don't like to hear but it's true. It is also true for other marginalised members of society. I'll explain what I mean by that now.

This is the give - I do think autistic people should learn a bit about social skills, especially where it comes to not hurting other people, and about not following rules that are harmful, but this is the take. Even more importantly, non-autistic people should learn about us. They should learn from our own words, typed, written, pointed to on a letterboard or spoken – not just from so-called experts. Experts and professionals often show the same biases and prejudices that laymen do about autism, and can't always be trusted to have our best interests in mind or educate about us properly. Charities should also be treated with suspicion until you can divulge their motivations – are they trying to raise money to cure, prevent, 'treat' or find the cause of autism? Do they focus more on the suffering of non-autistic parents than on autistics themselves? Be very very wary if so. The American charity "Autism Speaks" is an infamous example.

Non-autistic people should make the effort to learn about our body language, to learn about our sensory systems, to learn how we think, to learn about the ways in which we naturally communicate. They should learn about echolalia (repeated speech, other people's words, slogans, etc and repeated noises, a real source of fun and effort to communicate for a lot of autistic people.)

They should learn that for an autistic person to not speak is not the worst thing ever actually. Different is not bad.

They shouldn't label us as high-functioning or low-functioning, they should learn that autistic people's abilities and difficulties run on a rich and varied spectrum rather than a capable-incapable binary. This is much more respectful to autistic people as a whole. The saying goes, "once you've met one autistic person, you've met one autistic person", and it's true. Even if an autistic person cannot talk or indicate they are listening in a typical manner, don't underestimate them and talk about them thinking they can't hear you. Don't force someone you consider "high functioning" to do things you think they should be able to do.

Non-autistic people should meet us on our level, instead of acting superior and like the standard, like they are normal, like they are more human than us. Even if a non-autistic person doesn't intend to come across like this, their own body language, vocabulary and tone can betray these less conscious biases. Just because we struggle with interpreting tone and body language doesn't mean we don't notice if you're patronising or belittling us, and it still hurts. A non-autistic person should never talk to autistic adults like we're children, no matter what "mental age" they think we have.

 I think society and the world at large is richer for having autistic people and our differences in it. It's better for me to be myself, not just for my own health - it allows other people to be exposed to things that will open their mind and help them think differently not just about autism and autistic people, but about society in general.

I openly and deliberately break social rules these days. I wear builder's ear defenders – you know, the ones they wear when using a pneumatic drill – because traffic hurts my ears, and I'll explain why to people if they ask me. I dance while walking, I run around excitedly like a five-year-old, I sing quietly to myself in shops. If a noise is hurting me, I'll cover my ears. If the light is painful, I'll cover my eyes. I scribble in a notebook while people are talking around me, and still take in every word and occasionally take part in the conversation. I turn down invitations, citing sensory overload as a reason. I fidget and stim and rock back and forth and wiggle. I tell people I'm autistic, instead of playing the pretend game. I try very hard to be myself, and it's tragic that so many of us are in the position of having to try to reclaim our own identities, but here we are. I'll keep trying my best.

I asked a friend of mine, Rose, who also has Asperger's, some things she would like me to add to this blogpost, of her perspectives of some things that are difficult to do with being autistic. She typed this directly herself, here's what she said.


"1)    
Often in a workshop or in a simaler situation I might take bit longer doing stuff or do things a bit differently. I find it being really uncomfortable being in a workshop (for example the wood and metal workshop at the uni i am currently studying at) the main reason is the machines I find them very intimidating. When other people get on with doing the work I will struggle so this will lead me into being a little slower.

·         This would lead people to think I don't get it so they would patronise me (which I really hate) and in the end it makes me feel more stupid. I am a human too! 

2)    I feel anxious quite a lot in mostly normal situations (traits usually to come with Aspergers is Anxiety, Depression and OCD) I tend to tell a soeone who is with me that I feeling anxious because that makes me feel better sometimes. But sometimes when I tell some I feel anxious they would think im making it up for attention but im generally am really anxious and this doesn't help the situation.

3)    I find conversations over the phone really hard to process because as much as I don't really like speaking to new people as well at least I be able to see their reactions and stuff. I don't think this is all the reason why I don't like speaking to people over the phone is just one of the reasons. I will not leave voicemails no matter it is too even if it is my own mum!"

She makes a good point about how anxiety and other mental health conditions can come with autism that I forgot to cover in the main body of the post. It is important for non-autistic people to remember that this is not an accident or coincidence. When we are treated badly for being autistic, we are more likely to have bad mental health. We are not just more naturally susceptible to mental illness. Society at large with its social rules that enable our denigration and abuse is more to blame than our neurobiology.

She also talks about some specific situations that she struggles with, even if they are seen as easy for other people, and how some people react to it. Please take to heart how belittling she finds this. Even if you don't know whether someone is diagnosed with autism or not, if they are struggling or doing something more slowly than you expect them to, be patient and understanding. You don't know why someone might find something hard unless you actually try to understand instead of just getting frustrated with them. And sometimes… they don't actually need your help thank you very much! Just let 'em get on with it at their own pace.

 

If you read this far, thank you for trying to take in these perspectives! I really appreciate it! Here are some other perspectives and some further reading, if you want to find out more about autism and other issues I have touched upon in this post.

http://www.autism.org.uk/about.aspx
 - The National Autistic Society has a lot of information and resources for autistic people and their families. This page has lots of useful links.


https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/20/autism-does-aba-therapy-open-societys-doors-to-children-or-impose-conformity
 About ABA therapy, a commonly used type of 'treatment' for autism (I say 'treatment' in quotes because it is not an illness)

http://www.wikihow.com/Tell-if-an-Autism-ABA-Therapy-Is-Harmful More about how to tell if a therapy is doing more harm than good, and how to tell whether its aims are realistic or abusive.


http://www.wikihow.com/Interpret-Autistic-Body-Language A quick starter on how to try and understand what an autistic person's body language is telling you. Every autistic person is different and there is no one-size-fits-all but this page has some great messages. Method 2 Number 3 really made me smile, because I recognised myself so much in it and was happy that someone else realised that we are often so deep in thought.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-22771894
 A brief introduction to stimming

http://what-is-stimming.org/ A very long list of possible stims! Some of them are harmful stims, most are harmless - I find reading this list and stimming along very joyous!

http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.html some information about sensory processing difficulties – a list of the myriad of symptoms one can experience and what senses can be affected.
https://spectrumnews.org/features/talking-sense-what-sensory-processing-disorder-says-about-autism/ an article about what the link between autism and sensory processing difficulties could mean.

http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2012/04/18/what-you-need-to-know-about-echolalia/ Info on echolalia and its two types with its relevance to communication. This is written about children but can be extrapolated to adults too. There is also a from of echolalia that is called scripting, where you think of, or come up with, or have a vague idea of what to say in situations in advance, and then repeat it when you are in that situation. It is sometimes more subtle than the other two forms, people might not be able immediately to tell that you are scripting. More on that here: https://musingsofanaspie.com/2014/10/09/echolalia-and-scripting-straddling-the-border-of-functional-language/

 

https://themighty.com/2016/05/rebecca-burgess-comic-redesigns-the-autism-spectrum/ An explanation of what is meant when we talk about "the autism spectrum" as opposed to using functioning labels to try and describe somebody's traits.

Here is some info on different types of non-speaking communication used by autistic people. There is alternative augmented communication, rapid prompting method, facilitated communication (mostly discredited, but sometimes still used), the local sign language in their area (regardless of whether they are also deaf or hard of hearing), Makaton, and possibly others I don't know about! It is also worth drawing attention to something known as "challenging behaviours" – you may have this impression in your mind of autistic people, mainly children, as shouting and screaming in public or being violent. This is in itself another form of communication. More on that in the last link in this list.

http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/page/what-is-aac and a free online course to introduce the concepts in AAC more deeply http://www.aacelearning.org.uk/courses

https://www.halo-soma.org/learning_faqs.php#q1 About RPM

http://www.positivepartnerships.com.au/en/fact-sheet/facilitated-communication-autism About FC

https://www.makaton.org/
http://researchautism.net/publicfiles/pdf/essential-guide-autism-challenging-behaviours.pdf

 

Note: If you read this post or any of the links I posted, and find yourself identifying with it and recognising yourself in it, that's great! I suggest you do a lot of research into what you have identified with, because you might discover something new about yourself and that in turn might make your life a little better. 

 Final Note: I mostly use identity-first language in this post – that is to say, "autistic person" instead of "person with autism" which is known as person-first language. Please don't correct me that I should use "person with autism" instead, because while I agree that my personhood should be a focus, you also cannot separate my autisticness from my personhood. Some people say that you should use person first language because you wouldn't call someone who had cancer "a cancerous person" but autism is different because it is not an illness or a disease – it is a big part of me, and that's not a bad thing. If you have to separate a huge part of my life from me in order to see me as a person, your language isn't the biggest problem.

That's all for now! Thank you!



Tuesday, 10 January 2017

On Being Kinder

Hello and welcome to what will be a weekly update. I know I neglected this blog dreadfully last year and I intend to make up for it this year.

But not in a NEW YEAR NEW ME type of way.

Apart from the fact that every single one of us is Fucking Perfect Exactly As We Are, I can't be doing with the whole idea that an arbitrary date is the way to go to change things about ourselves that we don't particularly like.

Wanna stop smoking? Do it. Wanna lose weight? Do it. Want to be less judgemental about how others live their lives? Don't wait. Self improvement on the back of self loathing on a certain date isn't going to help you.

Just before christmas... EAT LOADS! YOU HAVE TO CONSUME OR YOU ARE SHIT!

Just after christmas... YOU DISGUSTING FUCKING PIG! LOOK AT THE FUCKING STATE OF YOU!! LOSE SOME WEIGHT FATTY!!

These are not knew ideas, every year someone blogs on it, it is well known that mixed messages about food and self esteem exist. Gym memberships soar in january, people go a month without drinking, the social media updates about how many days they haven't been smoking abound.

Here is an idea. If you really feel you have to make a New Year's resolution, make it this one.

Be Kinder.

That's it. To yourself, to others, to the planet. Go take that class on flower arranging and if you decide it isn't for you, then don't beat yourself up about it. Just take a different fucking class. Write that book you said you would write, even if you only write for an hour a day and manage 200 words. Shave your head if you want. Go on holiday. Fall in love. Be brave and run naked down a beach. And don't beat yourself up if your dream is just to get through the day without hating yourself. It's all valid. Be kind to yourself.

But not in a 'No one will love you unless you love yourself' type way. That bullshit is not just not true, it is damaging. So be kind to yourself and fuck off that way of thinking.

Not sure what I wanted to say with this post. Just wanted to let you all know that I am ok. Better than ok, I am good. Really good. I'm in a new, healthy relationship with an amazing bloke, I have moved city, I am starting a new job in a couple of weeks and my mental health is better than it has been for a very long time, if ever. I go to football with my housemate on a regular basis #BLUEBIRDS. I am eating healthier and yet don't feel like I am denying myself anything. I do kickboxing now. And it turns out I can kick and punch HARD.

I am writing a book, I am blogging and I am happy.

I am being kind to myself.

Here is hoping you can be too. And if you can't, then you can at least be kind enough not to beat yourself up for it.

Much love,

Deeva xxx


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

On Xenophobic Shite

Happy fucking 2017 people! Deeva is back and she is back with a fucking vengance!

Had a bit of a year last year, moved house, broke up with The Lovely, got with someone I had liked for a VERY long time, lived through my idol's death, learned about myself and survived the fucking godawful European Union Referendum.

It will come as a surprise to precisely NO ONE that I voted remain. I like to take a risk as much as the next person (probably a lot more to be honest) but fuck going into Brexit.

I can't believe I am allowing myself to type the word Brexit, it sucks. It is like shipping two fucking terrible things. Britain and Exit. It is worse than fucking Hiddleswift as a name. I was ready to separate those two just so I didn't have to see that word in print again, luckily the vacuous, other people's art stealing, no credit giving baggage sorted that out for me.

But I digress.

So I was happily farting around on Facebook when I saw thisThis Piece Of Shit. And it is dreadful. Made, it would seem, by the TSSA and being shared around by Momentum, it is, obstensibly, a short film about why we should re-nationalise the railways. I have long been in favour of public ownership of the railways by the way.

It should have been good. It should have told us what the benefits of re-nationalisation were. How it would mean prosperity, and jobs and people being able to actually afford train travel again. If it were proper propaganda it would show us a post re-nationalisation utopia. One where it was always sunny (so not shot in Wales), where all the nations bought the world a fucking coke and there was never any need to sit anywhere but in a chair on a train.

It could have spoken to us like grown ups. Talked about subsidies and cost and who gets the profits and how a public owned railway might just be one that ran on time.

Instead we got a sinister video that spoke to the 52% who did vote Brexit. It had white faces (because obviously TSSA can't show black faces being the enemy, diversity be damned!) smugly telling us THANKS while sitting next to a bicycle, watching football ('talk about a humiliating defeat' ringing out in the background) or not keeping an eye on the very blonde child who seemed a second away from ending up in that canal when she lost control of her Heelies.

The message that Johnny Foreigner is in charge of our railways is beneath you TSSA. Your video would not have been out of place being shown by the Leave campaign last spring and for that you should be hanging your head in shame.

Xenophobic shite is still xenophobic shite if it is only white people appear in it. It is still xenophobic shite if there is a child in it. Still xenophobic shite if it pitches the people of one country against another in any kind of way, especially by portraying Europeans as sitting round talking about how we are all suckers because we don't have cheap rail travel.

Maybe, just maybe, instead of producing this crap, you could have had your actors tell us how they have cheap rail travel BECAUSE their railways are in public ownership.

Badly done TSSA, badly done.

At least it will give you something to watch while you drink bitter tea out of your Labour Party racist mug.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Guest Post - On Tinder, Dick Hunting And Disappointment

This guest post is by a mate of mine who has made me roar laughing. If you are of a delicate disposition then what the fuck are you doing on THIS site??

Now let me tell you, online dating is a weird thing.  Profiles are largely fake and full of the kind of lies people think will make them desirable, pictures are strategic (trust me, mine are all at a perfect angle with my make up and hair done nice.  Got to use the right bait to catch a pretty one) and Tinder boys are a curious breed.  I've experienced them all from men wanting a wife (nah mate, am good thanks) to men wanting a dominatrix (and alas I'm a sub so can't fill that role).  But all in all I've found that they believe all women are princesses in need of saving OR a walking masturbation aid.  There is very little middle ground.

As a result of this mentality I developed rules.  They're dead simple.
1. Boys do not stay at my house
2. If you send a dick pic as an opener you get nothing except a swift block
3. If you catch feelings dead quick you will get blocked
4. If I don't want to see you again you will get blocked
5. Fuckboy games will get you nowhere fast and you will get blocked

So before that comes across harsh, I guess I should tell you why I'm on Tinder; why I'm really on Tinder.  Hi, I'm Nutty.  I'm 30, I'm into Xbox, Netflix, younger lads, dick, and the kind of sex that leaves bruises.  And it's sooooo much easier to get what you're after online than it is to find a random in a bar who is too drunk to even fuck, never mind do it how I like.

To explain my rules I'll have to give examples so you understand.  Names are obvs changed to prevent little fuckboys getting exposed and allow them to continue their games with a degree of anonymity.

BOYS DO NOT STAY OVER
Enter David.  Pretty enough, decent in bed but nothing to write home about.  Met off tinder purely because I was horny and had no one to play with.  He stayed for three fucking nights because I was bored and ate all my food.  He left when I threw him out after arguing with him about why the fuck he hadn't gone home yet.  Sleeping over breeds attachment, I'm not about that life.

NO UNSOLICITED DICK PICS
I have my snapchat on my Tinder profile.  Sometimes it's funny.  Sometimes it's just wall to wall disappointment.  I'm literally swimming in a sea of dick the second I open that app.  And oh my days do little boys lie!  Sweetie, I know what eight or nine inches looks like, I had that on tap for years (this is part of the reason why any woman is lucky to get my ex incidentally) and your three inch effort doesn't qualify.  Go bother someone else with your attempted cockfishing (it's a real thing, trust me.  Catfishing with your dick is pointless and disappointing, let me tell you)

DONT CATCH FEELINGS
Here we have Mortal, a boy I met off Xbox.  A dirty little 19 year old catfish from Hull who I fucked for a few months right after I became single.  Kid caught feelings after the first time we had sex (I'm just that good) and wanted to move in with me.  Lesson learned.  I don't want a fella right now, I just want someone to give it to me rough on a semi regular basis.  Off you fuck with your feelings.

BAD SEX = SWIFT BLOCK
If all you have to offer me is thirty seconds of disappointment and nothing else, off you fuck.  If you don't return oral, off you fuck.  If you've a grip like a three year old, off you fuck.  If you think spanking is kinky, then baby you've seen nothing yet and off you fuck.  Simple.  I know what I like and I'll look til I find it.

NO FUCKBOY GAMES
Don't tell me I'm the only girl you see.  You're not the only lad I fuck, and I'm upfront about it so be straight with me.  Don't make me out to be special, I don't care.  You're here because you're pretty and I like your dick; nothing else, don't get it twisted.  But mostly don't insult my intelligence by assuming I don't see through it.  I know your games because I play them too.  Every lad I plan on seeing again is the best sex I've ever had.  Because male egos, especially young male egos, can be fragile and like to hear that shit to make them come back.  The lad who actually is knows it, loves it, looks at me like he could eat me, does me rough and I fucking adore him for it all.  But never assume I don't know your game because I play it better; I'm a hell of an actress when it suits.

But back to Tinder.  I've always been a slut.  Yes I said slut and I meant it.  If men can own being called a fuckboy, a term developed so women could call them what they are, then I sure as fuck can own being a slut.  And I won't be ashamed of it.  I like dick, I love sex and I refuse to be shamed into thinking its a bad thing.  It's not at all, and if men can go out looking for a quick fuck then so can I.  If my body count offends you then it's your issue not mine.  If the sex I like upsets you, then don't have it.  I like what I like and I am who I am.  If my actions aren't lady like enough for you then I would like to suggest you drag yourself into this century, times have changed mate.  And I use Tinder as my dick hunting ground because it's a simple way to weed out the weak and get what I'm after.  Saves doing it the old fashioned way and only getting mediocrity when I'm after a little more than that.

And as for mediocrity, oh my days.  So many boys who talk a good game and can't back it.  And so many more who are so vanilla it hurts.  Don't tell me you're a demon and turn up with a freshly polished halo and your wings on straight.  I want a good hard fucking, not someone to make love to me.  But I digress...

So originally I went on Tinder to find love. Or whatever.  I won't find that on Tinder but more power to the people that do.  But I went on looking for someone to fill the void my ex left.  And not THAT void, although to be fair I'm yet to find someone that measures up.  No, I just mean someone to care about me.

Now a few months of mediocrity and taking anything offered to me brought me to the following conclusion:

DATING SITES PREY ON THE NEEDY, THE LONELY, AND THOSE WHO FEEL DAMAGED.

I walked away from a wonderful man because after years of depression I just couldn't do it any more.  It wasn't his fault but the relationship didn't help me.  I left.  I took to online dating thinking I knew what I wanted.  I wanted someone to love me and make me happy.  How they were meant to make me happy, I had no idea.  At that time I couldn't make myself happy so how anyone else was meant to I'll never know.  But I had this Hollywood, romanticised idea of the whole thing so fuck it, why not.  A few fucking awful dates later (see Gimley, the little larping weirdo that found me a bit too much to handle, or Luke who had all the personality of wallpaper paste but talked a good game) and I realised something.  These sites are a glorified cattle market.  And if you stick a low price around your neck you'll end up being bought by someone that couldn't afford your actual value.

After so long in a relationship I thought I stood no chance.  And Tinder is such a fickle place to search for love with its catalogue of catfish and disappointment for you to swipe your way through in the hope of finding something meaningful.  Admittedly it's the only online app I use now.  I refuse to pay for Match, Plenty of Chlamydia can fuck off, and OK Cupid is weird.  So is Fet Life although I think that's a given.  Had some very curious offers off that site, let me tell you!  But I really thought that as a thirty year old fat bird no one would want me.  I felt damaged.  I took what I could get because I thought I deserved no better.  Using Tinder didn't help because I was getting no one interested in me.  I was too needy, too low, too filled with self doubt.  And that's what Tinder needs to thrive.  People who don't feel they deserve more than some little cretin demanding pictures and calling you a bitch for not sending them.  I know because I was one of them.

I'll tell you what fixed my attitude, his names Paul (well no it's not but let's pretend).  He's a friend I've known online for a while.  He's criminally good looking, mad as a box of frogs and pure, utter filth.  And he fucks me like a whore and worships me like a goddess.  Perfect.  Now, like I said, Paul is criminally good looking.  And when he knows he's going to do wonderfully bad things he just looks better than you could imagine.  I'm easily a seven fucking a solid ten when I'm with him.  But you know what, he loves it.  Every wobbly, bumpy, annoying bit of me I hate he thinks is fantastic and he loves how I look.  I've never had a lad tell me I'm sexy with a look in his eyes like he could eat me.  Not like when he looks at me.  And if ever something is going to cement in your head that you're something special it's that look.  The fact that he thinks I'm sound and he's the only lad I break my rules for (he gets to stay over. Hell, I'd keep him chained up in my bedroom if it weren't for the ethical and legal implications) is all an aside with him.  He gave me back the kind of confidence in who I am and how I look that I've not had since I was 19.  And I never knew I'd lost it before he reminded me.  I've not caught feelings by the way, I'm just fully addicted.  Good dick will do that to you.

Now if you want examples of how vile men on dating sites are, go take a look on my Twitter @ScouseTindrella (no do it, follow me, love me...I'm funny as fuck I swear!). There are so many examples of why men are a curious species.  And no, I'm not a man hating lunatic.  I love men, they're wonderful and most of my bestest humans are men.  Just that some of them need a high five in the face with a brick.  But if you don't get your way don't take it out on women.  And don't get mad when women play you at your own game.  I don't NEED to find you attractive, a compliment isn't a binding sexual contract and yes babe, women will use you for sex as much as you try to do the same.  Times are changing, embrace it and move on.

The same attitude applies to friends and family.  Their concern is sweet but I'm not after it.  I shouldn't use dating apps because men are after ONE THING.  Um, yeah same.  I don't go on Tinder to make friends in much the same way I don't go on PornHub to see if that plumber can actually fix the sink.  Calm down.  Stop trying to force me into a box I don't fit in and make me go back to your version of happy.  It's not the life I want right now.  Plus I worked hard to build my little army of fuckboys and I'm not about to give it up now.  I really don't want to settle down and find someone to marry.  If I wanted that I'd have stayed with my ex, plastered on a happy lie, and tried to power through another few years of misery and depression.  But it's not what I want.

I'm trying to own Tinder right now.  I'm throwing the games back at the fuckboys that play them because I understand the rules and I'm better at it than they are.  Wanna be creepy with me, go for it babe I'll put it on Twitter and show the world how much of a catch you aren't.  Wanna tell me I'm something special and lie, sweetie that's fine; 7 billion people on this planet I can easy find another fuckboy to take your place amongst the ranks.  Wanna call me a slut, please yourself but I'm a slut that knows her way around a man and who will never give you a demonstration.

I felt less than I was for ages.  I know I'm worth more now and no half arsed concern from friends and family about my lifestyle will alter that perception.  Sure, I'll find a nice guy eventually, but til then I've my little fuckboy squad to entertain me.  Who cares if they're not age appropriate, younger lads are much more fun, I can promise you that.  So hold your concern, your worries, your fears that I'm getting a reputation.  I have a reputation and I earned it - I'm different (which from what I can gather means filth, but it sounds more polite so I'll run with it), I'm a damned good time and I'm down for a laugh.  If you like it come see me, if it's not your thing shut your mouth and judge someone else.  I love me, online dating won't break me of that now, and I'm having a fucking ball until Mister Right comes along.

"Worship me like a goddess but don't get me twisted.  I'm not Aphrodite.  You're messing with a goddess of vengeance and war.  Tread carefully." - @ScouseTindrella

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Angela Gibbins Ate My Hamster

Note: all the way through this I am going to be referencing articles. I will not be linking to any of them. If you really do need to read hateful crap then find it yourself.

Over the past couple of days there has been a media furore surrounding one of my close friends, Angela Gibbins. Real nastiness. She has been subject to death threats and rape threats. She has had the press camped out on her doorstep, imprisoning her and questioning her neighbours. She has an online petition calling for her to be sacked. She has had hate articles written about her, one of them downright vicious. She has been misrepresented as a champagne socialist. She has had her wedding photograph stolen to 'illustrate' this as if carrying flowers and a glass of cava whilst wearing a stunning frock coat is just what she does on tuesdays.If you didn't know Angela you would not know that it was her wedding photo by the way. You would usually expect to see a big white floofy dress right? Angela doesn't do big, white and floofy. She has been called a 'dog faced feminist bitch'. There have been aspersions cast upon her looks, her personality, her reasons for not having children. She has been reported for hate crime. Fucking hate crime. For pointing out a rich white kid has privilege. If those screaming for her blood spent that energy actually fighting racism then, y'know...

Her alleged crime? That she reportedly called HRH Prince George a Fucking Dickhead on Facebook.

Well, let's get that one out of the way straight away. She didn't. The Dub Pistols shared the meme.


And so have at least a thousand other people. OK? Can we get past this crap now please? There is no need to pillory this woman for having an opinion on privilege and comparing the fate and future of George to the lack of future and the fate of another 3 year old child who wasn't lucky enough to be born into the royal family.



Angela isn't vile. She isn't a bitch, she isn't deserving of death, by hanging or otherwise, or unemployment. She is a good woman.

Let me tell you about my friend.

She is thoughtful. When I decided I wanted to learn to draw, she sent me some beautiful pencils and a lot of great advice.

She is encouraging. When a member of my family was struggling with confidence over their art, she spoke gently to them, encouraged them, praised them and helped.

She is generous. When a friend of mine was having trouble with University finances, she talked him through it and made sure an autistic man got the chance to study.

She is caring. When she gets libraries re opened she also makes sure that schools are built; when she is getting finance for buildings in the desert, she makes sure that no one suffers by insisting there is not a drop of wasted water. When you are low she sends a message saying 'All will be well.' and you believe her. Because she is Angela and she will move heaven and earth to educate, facilitate and make you feel safe.

She has been shot at three times (hit once, grazed twice) rescuing people from war zones. She doesn't pull the ladder up after herself, she makes sure that she creates opportunities for women.

But it's fun to make things up like she isn't a real person right? We could start a #AngelaMadeUpHeadlines hashtag.

Who Let The Dogs Out? We'll Tell You Who!

'I went to Glastonbury with Angela Gibbins and she stole my Pikachu.'

ANGELA GIBBINS FAKED THE MOON LANDINGS

You get the idea right? It's all fun and games and no one gets hurt.

No. It does hurt people. It hurt Angela and her brilliant husband when they had the memory of their happiest day stolen from them. It hurts her friends and family to see her being pinned down in her own home. It hurts her colleagues at the British Council because they now have to shoulder her considerable workload.

I only hope that it doesn't inspire the same kind of person who ended up killing Jo Cox.

Angela inspires me. I stand by her and restate that there really is no room for an hereditary monarchy in a democratic society.

Got your back Ang x




Wednesday, 15 June 2016

On The Bristol Vigil For Orlando

Trying to sleep but it's not coming. Too many feelings whirring around my head. Too much making my heart spin. So I am writing some thoughts here.

Thoughts on how the fuck we ever get over the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. How the fuck we ever get over the loss of 49 souls. Thoughts on how we, the LGBT community ever go on.

Going to the vigil was a start. Being surrounded by my community was a wonderful and brilliant thing.

I saw old couples who were not used to being able to show affection holding hands with smiles splitting their faces.

I saw the old war horses, those who had battled and marched and seen loved ones fall to bashing, being disowned, AIDS, suicide. I saw a mixture of sadness and and resolve. A digging deep so they wouldn't give up.

I saw young people blatantly holding hands and kissing their loved ones, aware in some way that this, being queer in a public place, is a radical act in itself. I saw them not giving a single shit about what anyone thought and that made my soul happy.

I saw my community 2000 strong. My siblings. My family. And they saw me. Actual me.

And the fear that we will never be safe retreated somewhat in the face of it.

The healing can start now. Slowly, tentatively, but determinedly.

We're still processing, we're still mourning but we won't stay down. We fight. We organise.

I'm calling on our Mayor to put the councils money where his mouth is and make sure youth and young adult LGBT services in Bristol keep their services.

And I'm calling on everyone to stand and say this was a hate crime against LGBT people. Don't let this, US, be erased.

We let love win.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

On Being Woke AF

Oh I'm proper pissed off today. I don't know if it is because I am over tired or because this year has been like a fucking roller coaster but today can fuck off.

This year so far has had some brilliant bits. The Lovely has started his own business, we are closer than ever, Daughter Person is going to Uni, I got a first in a uni assignment, my job fulfils me and I became an aunty again to the fightiest little girl ever. (12 weeks early, came out shouting, you can tell we're related).

Also has had some proper shit bits. Mental health took a real knock after spending less than 2 hours with Bio Mum and I got a (not entirely undeserved) bollocking at work. I'm tired, my endo is shit and I am piling on weight so not always feeling very good about myself. I am weepy a lot of the time and I despair a lot of the time and I am starting to blame one thing.

I am woke as fuck.

I sometimes wish I wasn't. I sometimes wish I could go through the world totally oblivious to the shit that goes on. I sometimes wish that I wasn't as aware of mental health issues, or race issues, or gender or disability or sexuality issues.

I sometimes wish I was the kind of woman who was happy with her lot in life and thought that All Lives Matter because we need to be equal! I sometimes wish I had no idea about privilege or intersectionality or the fact that 2-3 women are murdered by their current or ex partners a week.

Maybe I would sleep better. Maybe I wouldn't be so fucking TENSE all the time. Maybe these things wouldn't piss me off so much.

Motivational posts: Fuck off. Just fuck off. On my FB timeline RIGHT NOW is such bullshittery as HIT LIKE AND SHARE IF YOU HAVE A DAUGHTER/SON/MUM/DAD/DOG/CAT/CROCODILE OR WHATEVER THAT YOU LOVE WITH ALL YOUR HEART!

Well fuck me, I love my cat and my daughter person, I had better share the shit out of that!

Oh and articles about THE WORST EYEBROW SINS WOMEN CAN COMMIT.

Are you fucking shitting me? Do you not think that we have enough to worry about without people judging us for our fucking eyebrows now? It's like patriarchy panicked because women had started to not give a shit about armpit hair and had to have something to have a go at us about. PSA: do what the fuck you like with your eyebrows. Couldn't actually give a shit and if you are judging women for theirs you either need to get a fucking grip and/or stop buying into a patriarchal society that wants women to shame each other for capitalism.

While I am at it, people can make you feel bad without your consent. (this is the motivational post I hate the most, fucking victim blaming piece of shit that has no idea about manipulation and coercion).

Also, if you derail a conversation about violence against women to talk about men, you can fuck off an all. You are part of The Problem.

Don't want an abortion? Don't get one. Just stay the fuck out of everyone else's wombs and decisions.

Also, reverse sexism is not A Thing. Sexism is backed up by cultural oppression and capitalism and teh menz don't get that. You're confusing sexism with Fragile Masculinity. And worse, they have women doing it.

Reverse racism: See above.

And white people. Stop thinking you can say nigger. I don't care how much fucking hip hop you listen to, you don't get to say it. Not ever. Stop.

See what I mean? All of this would be easier if I never had any political awakening. I would be able to go through my life without giving any of it a second thought. But I can't.

I can't see the bloody poster for Emilia Clarke's new film without wondering why, when she is gazing directly into the eyes of her loved one FROM THE SIDE that we can still see her entire bloody cleavage!

I can't see a 'joke' saying that (and I really wish I was making this up) 'gagging is the most romantic sound you can hear because it means someone has chosen your dick over oxygen' and not lose my shit.

I can't not call out slut shaming. PSA: women can have lots of sex and still respect themselves.

STOP FUCKING JUDGING WOMEN FOR THEIR CHOICES.

I can't not call out racism, homophobia, transphobia or ableism.

STOP JUDGING PEOPLE NON STOP.

My life would be easier but I just can't.

You can't go back to sleep once you've woken. You can't be blind when the scales have fallen from your eyes.

You can never go home again.