I have questions about some of the response to the PUA/Roosh V meet-ups.

Some people, especially men themselves, seem to be suggesting that it is up to straight and cisgendered men to practically oppose these gatherings in order to take the strain and responsibility off those less able to. In particular this has been suggested to mitigate the risks of Roosh K’s followers exacting revenge through the threat of doxxing.

In one instance I’ve even seen a suggestion that antifa ‘manarchists’ would be better suited fighting these rapists than engaging in street fights with fascists. (As if punching a fascist is something only white cisgendered men do and that that is somehow wrong because it’s only an expression of their ‘masculinity’ and not antifascism. Actually they should be saving women, not racialised people.)

What irks me is that this proposition seems to come in the form of ‘men, it is your responsibility to do this because others can’t’ rather than ‘men, you benefit hugely from the rape culture that we are subjected to. It’s your response to stand up to this because you should be fighting every day to end rape culture’. And I think it sounds a lot like ‘go fight these men to show you are not a rapist and assuage your guilt’.

The role of men in combating and ending rape culture has to be everyday, it has to be self-reflexive and it has to be about challenging patriarchal entitlements amongst friends, family, colleagues and other men they have sway over. I don’t think it should be one of substituting oneself for people you think are weaker than you and are in need of your protection. Rape and abuse doesn’t happen simply because people can’t protect themselves, it happens because we protect those who do harm others from any sort of accountability.

There will be women and non-binary people organising in opposition to these PUA gatherings because they are always organising against patriarchy and rape culture. Go join them, take your lead from them and don’t replace yourself for them.

And if you really want to protect people from rape, continue to do this in all those instances where patriarchal entitlements are less obvious than a bunch of rapists gathering in public.

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I have to apologise in advance: I really ought not to write this. Firstly the subject is clearly thirsty for attention (an appearance on Channel 4’s First Dates does not a ‘reality TV personality’ make). Secondly, I really do think we should expend our energies on poignant battles. Daniel May’s conservative gay values really do lack poignancy.

That being said, reading is fundamental. So let’s do some history…

June 28, 1969, a police raid sparked rioting at the Stonewall Inn. It was transgender women, drag queens and the best of the gender defying gay and lesbian community that fought back in the radical tradition of 60s militancy. They defended their venue from armed police who sought to shut down their abnormal associations, all the while many of them balanced fabulously on high heels. See, despite having been told they were men and that they should only ever behave as such, they shouted back a grand ‘FUCK YOU’ to that sort of normality. The Pride parades we enjoy each year began June 28, 1970. They were once a reminder of our pride as a community in Stonewall, in who we are and in what we wear.

Yet in his fifteen minutes to shine, Daniel May of First Dates’ fifth season attempted to unwind all of this history. When presented with Paolo as a date, everything fell apart at the revelation that the young Italian likes to wear a pair of heels. Attempting to express his dismay and inability to compute that someone with a penis could put on a pair of shoes with equally phallic potential, it all got a bit much for Daniel.

But that’s okay, right? We can’t govern people’s desires and inner thought processes. Well watch me go.

Daniel’s first instinct was to tell Paolo that it isn’t normal for men to wear heels. Noticing how revealing his language was, he has since decided that the problem is actually none of us understand what the word ‘normal’ means because we don’t know how to use that most challenging and arcane of books: the dictionary. Sure, simply observing a high street you’re more likely to find the men of this country sporting the short-heeled variety of shoe. In that sense Paolo is a deviation from the norm. But his comments suggest that Daniel isn’t simply the sociology undergraduate he pretends to be.

Speaking to GuysLikeU, he says “I really don’t find camp men attractive at all. I am gay for a reason and that’s because I like a man to be a man. I like a man who can kick and punch me in the bedroom, not scream like Bambi. I just wanna put a sock in their mouth and run out the house […] I really do believe certain gay men make it really really hard for us gay guys who are not camp. Unfortunately we still live in a world where being gay in not fully accepted and there are certain gay men out there that I cringe at and they make me embarrassed to be gay myself.”

And then it descends into pseudo-psychology and taxonomies of camp, allowing Daniel to delineate just how much femme is too much femme. A necessary task when you yourself have gone on national TV wearing a black sequin blazer.

I say ‘femme’ not because it’s a term Daniel uses, but because that is what this is about at its heart. The ‘masc4masc’ short hand signifier of gay hook-up apps is a stand in for a ‘no fems’ ethos. One that sees being gay in opposition to desiring femininity or anything associated with women. I’m not here to explain the fragility of your masculinity to you; Seán Faye has done quite well at unravelling gay male misogyny here though.

Daniel’s words really do speak for themselves. ‘In a world where being gay is not fully accepted…’ he chooses to cringe at other gays. He’d rather be more like the people who don’t accept him, than like others in his own community. He’d stand with your street harasser and attacker, quite happily being normal.

This isn’t a question of desire, it’s one of solidarity. You might not like heels. They might even turn you off for whatever reason. But as people who are routinely marginalised we usually try to adopt a principle of not treading on your fellow weirdos in an attempt to make it. That kind of behaviour is called assimilation and heteronormativity. Your desires may be your own to interrogate, but when you join in a chorus of public bigotry expect to be told just how bad your private reasoning is. Especially when it’s so painfully obvious that you’re trying to get a media career out of this.

So-called men in heels are not making anything difficult for you; they won you the rights you enjoy today. If you want someone to blame for any homophobia you experience, try a homophobe.

There are those of us who have become distanced from the gay-male community precisely because this brand of heteronormativity is the norm. It’s feeble and it’s sickening (not in a good way). And it’s certainly unworthy of the struggle that brought us to the social standing we enjoy today. Instead we are queers. Those who are told we’re not normal even by the Daniels of this world. Those femmes who wear heels, lashes and make-up for your entertainment, but you wouldn’t be caught dead with in the street.

The next time there is a Stonewall riot we’ll remember you were on the side of the police.

Resist! is a new collection of writing edited by Ray FilarI have a chapter in the book entitled Communities of defence: legal political organising after the riots which draws on my work with Defend the Right to Protest and other campaign groups to ask where we could have played a role during the August 2011 riots and how we can learn from our failings.

It is available as a free ebook or to purchase as paperback from Lawrence and Wishart

The tragic killing of Michael Brown has proven to be a world changing event. So many people on both sides of the Atlantic are now conscious of a the long running epidemic that is the state sanctioned killing of people of colour. We are now at a point where this widespread devaluation of black lives calls into question entire systems of violence.

When we learn that black lives don’t matter we also learn that queer lives don’t matter and women’s lives don’t matter. We can’t get away from the connections between these. As soon as we begin looking at the many wrongs of the police we come to a point where the entire myth of service, protection and justice unravels.

The police, along with all those other institutions that help them ‘get away with it’, are rightly the recipient’s of our ire, but we have already learnt that the denigration of life, especially black lives in this instance, goes much further than the individual officer or even the institution.

We need a society which takes life seriously. A black vitalist world would be one where many things are absent: police, prisons, immigration detention and a whole host of other violent forces. Yet we can propose a positive image of what we demand from such a society  too. We call for justice all the time, but for good reason. This is not an empty concept or one that is irredeemably bourgeois. In the hands of campaigners it often means dignity being done to the violence they have already suffered. In the hands of the state it means precisely the opposite to this.

We need modes of accountability for all areas of life. Accountability would be the tenderness and dignity required of us all toward one another. Criminal justice and punishment are modes of escaping accountability.

#BlackLivesMatter is an imperative that runs through all interactions. Other than death perhaps the greatest attack on black lives are courts and prisons. The large solidarity protests with Ferguson were important, but how do we address black life more generally?

The work of groups such as London Campaign Against Police and State Violence are so important for this very reason. These campaigners are there in the courtrooms where otherwise individuals are forced to face a law which is their enemy all alone. At this point we should remember the twenty four hour courts of the riots. It is a great failing that many of us were not there, but now we are well placed to build the infrastructure necessary to pose a threat to the smooth running of criminal justice.

Our prisons are spaces where both life and death come into question. Is life in a cell living at all? Similarly prisons themselves account for a chunk of the state’s killing. Deaths in prison, like deaths after contact with the police are out of control and those responsible are immune from accountability.

It is hard enough to breathe out here, how can one breathe inside the walls of prisons?

We can’t breathe.

Do you feel that shortness of breath that accompanies every little encounter with the police? It is a sign that we’re fighting a taxing fight. But we fight nonetheless until we can all breathe free. We are at a moment where together we have learnt what needs to be burnt down and what needs to built up. Let’s build new lives together. Lives that truly matter.

There are no freedoms, only violences of varying qualities and intensities.

Politics is the work of passing judgement on violences.

Some judgements carry the weight of the law.

The law is the monopoly over the legislative use of judgement/violence.

The state holds the monopoly over the legitimate use of violence/judgement.

In acting politically it is incumbent on us to be violent and exercise judgement apart from the state.

In acting radically it is incumbent on us to craft the tools of healing from violence.

The user of violence need not be guilty.

The subject of violence need not be innocent.

Tragedy and trauma are forms of appearence of violence.

Violence holds various social masks with differing acceptabilities.

It is politically important to pass judgement against some violences. Sometimes violently.

It is politically important to want to be violent towards violence.

It is politically important to pick sides.

It is politically important to be on the side that is violent towards the law.

It is politically important to be on the side that is violent towards reactionary violence.

One must be violent towards ones own violent urges.

As long as there is violence there is political work to be done.

As long as there is political work to be done there will be violence.

We should be violent towards politics.

There should be no politics.

There should be freedom.

There should be no violence.

There should be freedom.

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