The End 2017 Gender and Politics @AlinaMeridon

Gender and Politics

Early in December, there was discussion of a questionnaire to be sent to school children asking a variety of questions. Amongst them were questions related to gender, i.e., whether they feel “comfortable in their gender.” Naturally, this caused a backlash. Parents were horrified, no doubt fearing that just asking the question would traumatise their poor children and start them on the long lonely path to a different gender. Even Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Tory MP whose not-so-secret superpower is privilege, disapproved: “These questions are not likely to be helpful. The child is too young – if they have these sorts of issues, the parents are the right ones to discuss it with, not a state survey.”

Parents. Right. Like Tina Traster who wonders how to talk to her ‘daughter’ when she clearly refuses to listen to him. (That whole website – transgendertrend.com – makes my skin crawl with its insistance that children’s beliefs about their own nature should be denied. Stephanie Davies-Arai, the Founder, is clearly very resentful of trans women.)

It’s not just parents and politicians that are transphobic. The comments sections on newspaper articles and all over Twitter are vile, a seething morass of bile and hatred. TERFs like to say that trans women have male privilege, but however justified they think their anger is, the reality is that trans women have to endure an almost constant stream of abuse – even from prominent feminists such as Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer.

This is why safe spaces are important. For trans women and for many other minorities that mainstream society would prefer to ignore. Environments in which it is possible to debate important and challenging ideas, without having to keep defensive shields at maximum. Public speakers whose established views threaten these safe spaces should not be surprised at being no-platformed. This is not about creating echo chambers; it’s about creating an environment in which new ideas can flourish.

Ideas that terrify the Establishment. “Special snowflakes!” they cry. “Huddling stupidly in their safe spaces and no-platforming anyone that might disagree with them…” And meanwhile these snowflake politicians try their hardest to no-platform all new ideas, and to make the schools a safe space free from any real education.

Pods & Poetry with Freya Pickard

Freya Pickard has been very kind to me recently, giving me a spot in her Escape Pod series: What five things would you take with you if abandoning ship in deep space?

And in November, I was a featured writer for Freya’s haiku series on the theme of ‘Monster’. This is a theme that speaks to my heart – after all, I wrote a novel called Suzie and the Monsters in which vampires are the lesser of evils – so I was delighted to have all five accepted. I wrote blog posts to give each haiku some context:

  1. Monstrous Haiku, the fragility of consent
  2. The fair maid’s breast, the vampire’s prey
  3. These words, a forlorn hope
  4. The Feather of Alt-Truth, the real monsters
  5. Rise of the Robots, the horror of the machine

Fractals

Mandelbrot set

I have all my life (well, from mid-teens, I guess) had a passion for programming computers, and whenever I have learned a new language or a new operating system I have set myself the challenge of learning how to create the graphical image of the Mandelbrot set.

Mathematically: The simplest and most traditional form (that I use) of the problem goes:

  1. Choose a constant number. Let’s call it C.
  2. Take another number – start with the number zero. Let’s call it Z.
  3. Multiply the number Z by itself, and add the specified constant C.
  4. Repeat Step 3 until Z is bigger than two.

It’s a very simple sequence. Now, obviously, if C is big, then there will be few if any repetitions. If C is very small, then there will be lots of repetitions. Where it gets interesting is if you let C be a complex number with real and imaginary parts – represented in the image by horizontal and vertical respectively, with zero somewhere in the middle of that largest black region – then sometime the repetitions go on forever. And that black figure represents all the values of C for which that happens.

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