Here’s the deal: I see a lot of bad tweets online and get sent even more, which is negatively impacting my already shaky psyche. So, because pain shared is pain doubled, I decided to write about these. I’ll try to make this into a column and continue with other posts whenever I can. All opinions expressed are my own, and, for legal purposes, satire. Any complaints can be directed at email@example.com or by summoning me via a complex arrangement of candles. (This is also partially inspired by Ten Thousand Posts, a podcast by Hussein Kesvani and Phoebe Roy)
The Aesthetic Judgement
So what do we have here? Looking at people’s display names, @s and profile pictures is always a good starting point, allowing you to extrapolate our favorite prejudices from them before bothering with such trifles as content, historical implications and whatever. We will not allow ourselves further research into these people’s profiles cause that would be both cheating and effort. So up there we have “Critfacts the Doom Enby [red square emoji]” @ (presumably) CritFacts. All signs point to furry (the profile picture, the name format), which is common enough on twitter. Furrys are notoriously active on social mediy vary between aggressively owning hateable people and just making complete fools out of themselves. At any rate, they play with their cards on the table, cause what really do you have to lose as a furry? You’re gonna be made fun of anyways. Also, whoever you argue with has to face the fact that they’re arguing with a class of person often known for laughability. As such we have here a perfect environment for a funny, stupid hot take. Laugh at it, make a furry joke, go home. But instead the real stupid (in what way is going to be discussed later) is underneath. Which saves this article from having to make fun of furrys explicitely which I don’t usually spend my time on cause I couldn’t care less about what animal people identify with. Also making fun of a group that’s largely queer teenagers feels unnecessary.
The lower name and profile picture are another striking semiotic bundle that also points to a subspecies of poster. British person (let’s be honest, who else is named Shona Graham) with flower in the profile picture and their full name on display. This never means anything good, but let’s look into the specific flower. The flower is a white poppy with a green button saying peace (thank you research team), remembrance symbol and alternative to the red poppy. Not to get into the weird and boring discourse that is UK remembrance culture, but white poppies instead of red clearly symbolize the desire to end all wars, connected to the peace pledge union (I also cannot leave you without the fact that someone started using purple poppies to remember animals who died in service).
So we have here non-binary furry versus british peace activism fan. Both these things are going to matter for the evaluation of the content. An interesting conflict is already implied by the strict difference between the account aesthetic. The anonymous, persona-based furry account, an amount of difference to the core of society that necessitates a position outside of it in the heterotopic space of social media can’t be united with the aesthetic of the opposition. Shona’s aesthetic is based on the middle-class political activism of peace movements (if you can name a more middle-class extraparlamentary movement than pacifists, I’d be surprised) and the clear generational pointer of having one’s name readily available on twitter without being a blue check.
So let’s get to the point of this, the content. To Critfact’s question “What’s your objection to a unified queer community”, Shauna replies “ same objections Jamaicans, Indians, Pakistanis and Americans had to unified British Empire, is there a problem with that?” There are so many flaws in this argument, we need to tackle them one by one. The levels here are gonna be the metaphor in itself, the metaphor in its appliance on the situation and the argument it is used to make.
In itself, it is interesting to look at the list here. India and Pakistan of course were partially allied in their anti-colonial struggle, but split by religious and political differences. I can see their connection in being against an unified Britain, but with Jamaica, the difference already becomes very apparent. Of course, both British colonial India and Jamaica were mercilessly exploited as plantations for British trading companies and ruled by a minority of Brits. But Jamaica is tied in with the British slave trade and thus the Black Atlantic, while India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the exploited people were primarily natives. India and Jamaica both saw their own and very different riots and movements, but I’d let their bunching slip. But there is someone else here, and that chap is called America. I will boldly assume this means the US of A, a settler colony which rose up the become the first (proto-)capitalist democracy out of a number of reasons, but whom I would by no means compare to Jamaica or British colonial India. American settlers never suffered at the hand of the British empire like Carribean, Afro-Carribean and South Asian peoples, all most white Americans suffered of were high taxesand aching backs from pushing those damn tea crates into the water. Also America was free almost 200 years before the others. So here, in the coherence of the metaphor in itself, the bullshit starts.
Let’s see how this faulty metaphor applies to the situation at hand: a unified queer community. Turns out it doesn’t. Who in the queer community rose to independence from the whole of it because of exploitation by a ruling power within the LGBTQIA+ community? I get that there is adversity within different parts of the letters LGBTQIA+ and some of it stems from the more priviledged groups using their societal acceptance relative to other parts to kick down. So this might be at least a followable point from a trans or non-binary perspective, but hear me out. I don’t think Shona is either. Let’s gather some facts. Shona is presenting as a middle class woman who sees herself as part of the community. So the possibilities here are non-binarity, trans, bi, pan and lesbian or whatever combinations. I do think Shona is cis because her conversation partner is non-binary and if she was coming from a similar perspective, maybe trans and/or non-binary, why is there no appeal to her conversation partner on the basis of shared experience? Not only is that missing, the extreme metaphor in response to a question suggests clear opposition to everything CritFacts is and stands for. My reason for the assumption of her as lesbian is that this tweet points to parts of the community wanting to separate. Shona is clearly identifying with the colonial states wanting independence, clearly no one making any point using colonial metaphors in this way is seeing themselves as anything but the victim. And the only LGBTQIA+ separatism I know of is lesbian separatism, which goes further than Shona’s thoughts, but let’s leave that, this has already been enough guessing at the sexuality and gender identity of someone else to make me lose any amount of reputation. If we assume this admitted guess at her sexuality is true, who does she here see as the colonisers?
Remember that I said Shona is older, middle class and British? If you are as achingly online as I am, this might trigger in you a certain feeling, a suspicion. Yes, TERFs, of course. The aesthetic, the drastic nature of a response to another queer person, the self-victimisation, the lunatic levels of missing knowledge on every level is prime TERF stuff. So who do these eldritch beings from the ancient waves of feminism think of as colonisers? Trans people of course, you knew what TERF means or at least you’ve googled it by now. Trans women specifically (they also hate all other trans people cause they’re bigots but lemme make this point). The hate and pretended fear of trans women often appears in the language of invasion. Trans women invade women’s spaces without real women™ consenting to that and so on. So if you already have brain worms like that, the jump to a colonialism metaphor is not far even if it breaks your mental ankles. Or, to put it less polemically, the paranoia of TERF narratives about trans women has a near infinite potential of representation in increasingly skewed metaphors, causing a certain unreal feeling. And when the content of a tweet is so indecipherable that the hermeneutical assesment feels more like a guess, there is the striking realization that TERFs do not live in the same reality as non-TERFs.
What’s the conclusion to all of this? I’ll make a list.
- I should get off of the internet
- You should too
- Fuck TERFs
- No really, turn the computer off now
- There might be another one of these
Markus was listening to God Is Under The Porch Where The Dog Died by Slug † Christ and All Balls Don’t Bounce by Aceyalone while writing this.