Thursday, 15 March 2018

Fear Factory & Phobia

Hello me luvs.
Hope you're all well.
Today I managed to make a mess of my shift rota and turned in for work when I could have had a lie in. To be honest, I could have slept until noon, I'm absolutely knackered (No, it definitely has nothing to do with my acquisition of Metal Gear Solid - The Phantom Pain, honest).
 But I'm awake now and I haven't written in ages, so I thought... why not?

Just to say here, about where I left off last time... 

I won't be continuing that story in the same form. Mainly because the dredging through painful memory wasn't helping me to heal. Perhaps one day I can revisit it all with a different outlook, but for now, I need to stay up, and all of that was keeping me down. 
I'll be touching on points from that time period, and some parts that I still haven't discussed whenever they are relevant to whatever I'm writing about in future. However the continuity style that I adopted shall be dropped. At least for now.
Despite some of the things I discuss, I don't actually want this page to become a pity party.

With that said, let's talk about fear.

The Fear Factory. No, not that industrial metal band from the 90's, no, I mean the one that we all have somewhere in the grey matter. The fear that we harbour that breeds fear in others.
It can be nothing more than an anxious thought about leaving the iron switched on, or it can be something that controls every waking thought and steers us, making our decisions for us.
Fear is an evolutionary trait, an advantage in survival of the fittest. We feel it without conscious thought, and it's there to keep us alive. 
Throughout the course of our live's we are all taught to fear things; 
Fire, electricity, violence, wild or unusual animals, clowns...Wait what? Yep, some people are mortally afraid of clowns. Nice job there, Stephen King.
But thanks to News and tabloid media, our fear catalogues got pretty fucked up. 
Now, instead of things that pose an actual threat to our existence, we have been trained to fear, through repeated exposure to negative press about [insert perceived bad thing].
There's loads of them; Swine flu, the Y2K bug (yes, retro fears count), followers of Islam, North Korea, electric cars... the list goes on. But to all of these, there are some facts, however stretched, diluted, tainted and bastardised, that cause the fear to grow in too many of us.
Minimise the facts, maximise the fear, seize the control.
It's a historical tool that is massively effective, just look at what happened in Germany in the early 1940's. But it's sadly, this is not a technique that has stayed in the history books.
It still happens today and the propaganda is more subtle than ever.
I won't give you my "911 was an inside job" piece just now, that's a whole other blog LOL
But let's just accept that it's there. Always there, always controlling.

*I'll wait here for a sec so you can go and check your iron*

Now, what I don't understand, is that historically, you could only ever see transgender people (or gender non-conforming) in the media from the negative hype angle.

The shock and awe, the drama and scandal. The Jerry Springer episodes I saw as a kid who had just begun crossdressing, for reasons they didn't understand, teaching me that the transexual is an object of ridicule and disgrace. Prophecising my life as a pantomime of gender confusion, that's when the fear began for me. Yeah, I have my own transphobia that I deal with. (Again, that's a blog subject all of it's own, but for now we shall return to outward expression of fear.)
I'm glad to note that more recently, there has been a shift in what stories the press and media will publish about transgender people. Aside from the ongoing American myth of "Transgenders will rape women in bathrooms/toilets", most of the media these days is click-bait articles; 
"You won't believe these AMAZING transgender before and after pictures (number 37 is INCREDIBLE!!!!!)"...
5 exclamation points? Really? (Probably from Buzzfeed)
And if it's not this it's Caitlin Jenner talking about Bruce, or Laverne Cox talking about Netflix. And I love the more positive spin and exposure. Visibility breeds acceptance and normalisation. I am all for it. It's exactly what we need.


I remember the Nineties. It was a time of 50p mixes and rollerblades.

Bike rides and Sega. The hot new mobile handset was a Nokia with an dot matrix display, and the internet's best page was Yahoo. Any media that put transgenderism in a positive spin either did not exist, or was fenced off to LGBT news and media. 
Historically, transgender folk have been projected as the punchline, the gay man tricking a straight man into sex, the faggot, the drag queen.
The flamboyantly effeminate reject walking the streets in patent stilettos, or the headliner on Jerry Springer.
And people remember this. People retain the 'information' they get from the media because it helps them to develop their world view. And just because the 'information' now carries a new narrative, it doesn't mean those people forget the old 'information'.
They retain it because it created fear in the unknown or taboo. And fear protects us. It's like an alarm that keeps us alive.
And we like being alive.
The fight or flight response is what keeps us breathing.
We sense danger, then we either leg it as fast as possible, or we beat the shit out of it.
Why were transgender people targeted in the first place?
Couldn't tell you for certain. But I'm guessing any one or multiple of the usual, easily defeatable assets to maintenance of the status quo, for instance

"It goes against the teachings of the lord our God" or just for the same reasons people hate brown people/white people, poor people/rich people, men/women...
You know, good old fashioned xenophobia.

Why is it such a problem that people have been taught to fear the tranny?
Well 2015, 2016 and 2017 saw a year on year increase in the number of murders committed on transgender individuals in the United states.
And last year in the UK, the Office for National Statistics reported that one third of transgender people were the victims of a hate crime.
I won't press the point further just now, but if you want further reading, click here.

So we have ended up in this weird cycle of transphobia breeding androphobia / anthropophobia (Fear of men / fear of people).

And its 2018...
We have global warming, climate change, Donald Trump vs the World, disease, famine, population surplus, inequality, social caste, and there are people who still want to violate and persecute other people who weren't lucky enough to be content with the body they were born with.
And the cycle continues in the weight of fear. 
Trans people stay indoors because it's easier and safer. 
Keep it a secret because it's easier and safer. 
They isolate, withdraw and decline. Contributing to the highest suicide rate of any minority group, with an 84% lifetime prevalence of suicidal ideation and 48% who attempted suicide.

It's hard for me to look at stats like this. Because I can fucking well relate to it.

I know fear. I've been taught fear my whole life. Bullied at school. Harassed for being a 'sweddy' (that's a 'mosher' in Wiganese). News and media filling me with hate and fear when I reached 'adulthood' (I still think I'm a child). So how do you break the cycle?
(Here comes the tangent...)

Drive, my dears.

Or more specifically, Drive, by Incubus

Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear,
And I can't help but ask myself how much I'll let the fear take the wheel and steer
It's driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
But lately I am beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel
Whatever tomorrow brings
I'll be there with open arms and open eyes
Whatever tomorrow brings,
I'll be there, I'll be there
So if I decide to waiver my chance to be one of the hive
Will I choose water over wine

And hold my own and drive?
It's driven me before and it seems to be the way that everyone else gets around,
But lately I am beginning to find that when I drive myself my light is found
So whatever tomorrow brings
I'll be there with open arms and open eyes

Whatever tomorrow brings

I'll be there, I'll be there
Would you choose water over wine?
Hold the wheel and drive?

Hold the wheel and drive?

Effectively, think for yourself.
So if something is on the news or in the media, heard as gossip in the pub or at work, or if you hold a belief or judgement that you realise you have no evidence for, I implore you, all of you...

Think again. Take the wheel and steer for yourself. Form your own opinion and don't judge.

That song has been in my life for the last 17 years, and I don't see it going away for the next 17 years either. It's a life lesson and a great driving song - What could be better, really?

Driving gives us freedom to explore new places, new ways of looking at life.
It lets us see the world from another perspective. Everyone should learn.
It's hard, and the road is often rough, but it's still worth the journey.

Okay, enough cliche, what can we do about it?

Question your fear. Question the fear in others.

Question everything and question the answers.
Question the news, and extract the facts from the hyperbole.
Remember that correlation does not equal causation.
Speak out against injustice and inequality.

At this point I feel like I'm preaching my world view to you all, and while that is not my intent, I do intend on making the world a little bit better in whatever way I can.
So I'm going to leave you all with one more song.
Because in/tolerance has long been a subject in songwriting that I've always found to be hugely emotive. It speaks to the very core of the soul because equality includes everyone, even Jeremy Hunt.
Equality, Inclusion and Diversity are the fundamental basic tenets of a society and world I hope we would all want to be part of. When they are at risk, compromised or are absent, then we are all at a disadvantage.
One of my all time favourite bands and all time favourite songs.

First they put away the dealers
Keep our kids safe and off the streets

Then they put away the prostitutes
Keep married men cloistered at home
Then they shooed away the bums
Then they beat and bashed the queers
Turned away asylum-seekers
Fed us suspicions and fears
We didn't raise our voice
We didn't make a fuss
It's funny there was no one left to notice
When they came for us

Looks like witches are in season
You better fly your flag and be aware
Of anyone who might fit the description
Diversity is now our biggest fear
Now with our conversations tapped
And our differences exposed
How ya supposed to love your neighbor
With our minds and curtains closed?
We used to worry 'bout big brother
Now we got a big father and an even bigot mother

And still you believe
This aristocracy gives a fuck about you
They put the mock in demockracy
And you swallowed every hook
The sad truth is you would rather
Follow the school into the net
Cause swimming alone at sea
Is not the kind of freedom you actually want

So go back to your crib and suck on a tit
Go bask in the warmth of your diaper
You're sitting in shit and piss
While sucking a giant pacifier
A country of adult infants
A legion of mental midgets
A country of adult infants
A country of adult infants
All regaining their unconsciousness

Sorry for the slightly preachy, tangented post. But I'm guessing you all have your own fears.
The point is really not to let that fear make your decision for you.

Make a decision based on love, not hate. 
Try for a better world by making a better you.
I often wonder what my life would have been like were it not for fear. 
I still ponder what my life would be like to never have to fear ever again.
It's probably true that we will all, at some point, become fearful. 
Just don't let it take control.

If you liked it, then share it. Tell a friend. Let me know what you thought, or ask me a question. Click on one of those ads while you're here, I'd really appreciate it xx


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