On being an “ally”

The concept of being an ally has become increasingly contested as everyone who is white, straight, and cisgender wants to opt out of the responsibility of complicity with oppression.

So here are a few rules for when you want to talk about working to end oppression.

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Of Wonder Woman, Goddesses, and humans

I went to see Wonder Woman at the weekend. I had been warned that there were issues around diversity and representation, but not enough to necessitate a boycott. (I did boycott Suffragette for airbrushing out Sophia Duleep Singh and other Black, Asian, and minority ethnic suffragettes.) However, Wonder Woman is fictional, so perhaps less problematic than attempts to airbrush PoC out of actual history. I generally prefer Marvel superhero films to DC ones, but I had been told that Wonder Woman was going to be great, so I went with an open mind. I also refrained from reading anything involving spoilers beforehand. I enjoyed the film, but agree with the critique by Valerie Complex and Robert Jones Jr that it could do better in terms of representation of queer characters and people of colour.

Spoilers (for Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy 2) below the cut – you have been warned.

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The Brussels sprouts controversy

Few people realise the intense, convoluted and internecine controversies that rage in the world of vegetable folklorists. These dour scholars generally gather in the darker corners of academe, preferring potting sheds and greenhouses to the more usual bars and senior common rooms frequented by their colleagues. They putter about in the basements of libraries where more mainstream scholars fear to tread, seeking out old manuscripts and botanical treatises. Some of them roam the highways and byways of obscure rural districts, seeking undiscovered nuggets of folklore and superstition. These solitary pursuits result in impassioned debate when these normally taciturn scholars meet.

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Recommended Reading For The Resistance

Many people are expressing shock and dismay that a fascist government has taken over the USA, and at the rising tide of xenophobia in Broken Brexit Britain. However, if you are at all familiar with the rise of the Third Reich and the operation of oppressive systems such as the British Empire, the signs have been writ large for some time. If you need a crash course in recognising the oppressive atmosphere for what it is, then here’s a crash course. Why have I chosen mostly novels? Because novels try to describe how it feel to be in the situation, and to provoke empathy. And empathy for the persecuted is what we need more of right now.

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