First They Came for the Travellers: Solidarity with Govanhill’s Roma

It is International Romani Day AKA Roma Nation Day on April 8th 2012. Join us in Govanhill to celebrate: see our Facebook page. Read about day of action in London here.

International Romani Day flag

The Romani flag proposed by the 1971 World Romani Congress.

I’m worried. I’m worried about the drift to the right in Govanhill, in Glasgow, in Scotland, in the UK, in the World. I’m worried about encroaching fascism. I think the time for saying “You’ve just Godwin’d yourself on your own blog” is over. It’s not funny any more: ask Trayvon Martin’s family. Ask the ethnic minorities and Jewish families of Toulouse. Ask the families of 77 dead teenagers in Norway. Actually, ask me. I live in Govanhill. They haven’t stared coming for me and mine yet, but my neighbours may be at risk. You think that’s hyperbole? At what point will you start worrying?

I was in a taxi last week, and was treated to a diatribe on how dreadful things are these days in Govanhill, where I live, as the taxi driver knew, because he picked me up there.

Glasgow Taxi advertising lapdancing club

This is not the taxi. But it is a Glasgow Taxi advertising a lapdancing club. Another reason to stop using Glasgow Taxis. Photo by lenivor on Flickr

Specifically, how awful the Roma in Govanhill are. This speech culminated with a self-satisfied description of how the driver’s sister had thrown a bucket of water out her back window onto an older Roma woman who was using the garden below as an outdoor toilet. ‘What kind of people go to the toilet outside?’, he asked indignantly, without pausing to consider that maybe one answer is ‘The kind of people whose bladders aren’t that reliable after years of childbearing, who live in grossly overcrowded conditions with no working toilet or no running water or too many other people using the toilet’. That’s without even considering, ‘The kind of drunken idiots who pee in public on their way home from the pub’, many of whom I have seen in Glasgow over the years, mostly male and white. More

Why I Became a Feminist

I grew up around the outskirts of Glasgow and up until my early to mid twenties I was unaware of feminism. Discovering feminist ideas sent guilt surging through my brain. It was like getting a new lens with which to look not only at my present way of being but all of my past too. I was horrified with the way I had thought, believed and acted previously. As far as I was educated by TV, film, music, books, family and friends, being male meant desiring sex from women. Seeing women as objects of desire rather than human beings but then I didn’t really see humanity in males either.. I was too effeminate and as such I would be called gay or bender and would be beaten up regularly. This was ALWAYS from males, the violence was a way of them reminding me that I do not fit into the masculinity box. I think the fact that I was obviously heterosexual was what made my feminine traits all the more unbearable for these males. I was breaking out of the masculinity box. That box that tells you to be a “hard man”, a “big man” and “take nae shit fae nae wan”. A man should love football and sports, enjoy porn, like drinking and “going on the pull”. Let’s not forget the main important thing, be able to fight.

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Weegies, teuchters, neds and chavs: microaggressions and pejorative language in Scotland

You won’t read the slurs in this post again on the Village Aunties, unless it’s under very particular circumstances. The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted the following clause in the Village Aunties guidelines page, Take Heed:

Village aunties challenge language and actions that reinforce oppression.

Use of language on this blog that reinforces sexism, heterosexism, racism, transphobia, and class oppression (to give but a few examples) will not be tolerated. Not taking heed will get commenters summarily banned according to the sole discretion of the village aunties.

This includes such terminology as “ned”, “chav”, “pikey”, “white trash” and other insults regarding people’s position in the class structure. It also includes “teuchter”, “weegie”, “Gaelic mafia” and other terms (including sectarian slurs) used to insult people according to where they belong in Scotland’s cultural landscape. Exceptions will be made only for individual village aunties who rightfully claim a label for themselves, and for the use of words from Scots or other languages in the context of that language, as long as they are used non-pejoratively. For instance, self-identified ned feminists are more than welcome; as are posts written in Scots that use the word “teuchter” in its original sense.

Many readers may be shocked, puzzled or annoyed to read the second paragraph. The white people among us (which includes me) know we can’t use “the ‘N’ word” or “the ‘P’ word”. Most of us understand why. There are a range of words in between these almost universally acknowledged slurs, and general insults like the lovely Kiwi insult “ya egg”, where the degree of taboo, offense or potential hurt or exclusion are debated.

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