Monday, 16 August 2010

'Between violence and silently seething, between my fist and my Polyanna flower...'

First things first. Check out the magnificent Laurie Penny's newest blog over at the equally magisterial New Statesman website.

Next, familiarise yourself with the points about status made in this Wired Article about the effects of stress on the human immune system and life expectancy (curtsy in the direction of Lilith von Fraumench, who first brought said story to my attention on Twitter.

Next, equip yourself with a copy of Mind Bombs by Garrick Alder, a book I heartily recommend for a variety of reasons, one of which is this gem of a fact based on a survey by Mary Shaw of Bristol University:

'The suicide rate is higher in deprived areas than in prosperous ones. For some inexplicable reason, the poor seem to suffer from fatal depression...Herefordshire reported only four suicides between 1991 and 1996, compared to 208 in Manchester during the same period.' 

The facts are in and the facts are these: kyriarchy kills. Wherever there are disparities in status, those inequalities make the people on the receiving end sicker, weaker, and fatally miserable.  They shorten lives either through the slow attrition of stress effects on the nervous and immune systems, or by making it more likely that someone will be pushed to the point where they see no other option but to kill themselves.

Conversely, more equal societies save lives - a fact amply demonstrated by The Spirit Level, a book which, by an astonishing coincidence, has came under sustained attack by right-wing demagogues just at the precise moment when a government that seems hell-bent on increasing inequality to Victorian levels is fucking the country without benefit of butter.

I'm going to say this: the only reason you could possibly have for opposing greater equality (and here I'm not talking merely about equality between economic classes but between abled and disabled people, people of different ethnicities, people of differing gender identities, sexualities, etc etc), given the fatal consequences of an unequal system, is that you're doing alright from it. Other people may be dying but hey, you're alright, Jack (a phrase which was often used by right-wing moralists to bash union members in the fifties - how bitterly amusing that modern exponents of the attitude are exactly the type who huffed and puffed when it was poorer people who were doing okay). And if that's your attitude, then I find you morally and, frankly, physically repugnant.

And I'm brutally aware that I do okay from this system. I'm white, I'm reasonably able-bodied (though mentally often crippled by low self-esteem, depression, social phobia, and a history of self-harm and eating disorders), and, while I might occassionally court harassment for my genderqueer antics, I run nothing like the kind of horiffic risks faced by trans women, or a lot of cis women for that matter. But I am trying, in my own way, to make a more equal system; and I'm not engaged in defending the tapestry of fuckery just because, from where I'm standing, it looks kinda pretty.

The kyriarchy kills. If you defend it, you have blood on your hands. And more and more people are realising that, and getting sick of suffering at your bloodstained fingers.

You know what happens next.

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