The Slerby Dump.


Remember how a little while ago I wrote a blog on not letting roller derby get you down, because it’s just a game, etc?

Print it out, set fire to it. Let us never speak of it again.

I’m in the middle of a horrible roller derby slump. I feel like I’ve peaked, having skated for eighteen months. I love jamming most of all but in the past few months every time I’ve been knocked off and bridged back, or I didn’t get lead, or been sent to the box, I question my resolve and my ability. I watch other jammers jump apexes and inspire cheers and hoots from the bench, and I see our team get stronger and stronger with every game they win, and yes I’m happy and excited. Roller derby is not a game for individuals, you must play as a team. But god damn, it feels as if I’m actually getting worse. My ego hurts.

I felt completely invincible a few months ago, when I considered myself a strong, reliable jammer. If we were stuck I knew I could always rack a few points up. Perhaps it’s because we’re playing bigger, stronger teams than we ever have before, but these days I feel like the spare dick at a wedding.

“So-and-so is going to be an amazing power-jammer”, “Miss Thing is quickly becoming one of our top skaters”, and so on. It is pathetic to feel envious of people you love and yet I do. Every jam I’m not picked for gives me this cold, vinegary feeling in my gut; like I’ve swallowed a huge pickled onion. An onion pickled in piss. And others have told me, and I have told myself, that this is a phase. Everyone goes through the derby slump – it’s like puberty again, because you go off for a mini-weep in the toilets a lot and get bad skin and compare yourself to your friends. Every tiny nit-pick about your own performance blooms into a full-grown insecurity it becomes impossible to ignore. But it’s just a phase.

I whinged to my coach recently that I felt like I was getting worse in training. He explained that I was looking at it wrong – I wasn’t getting worse, the team was getting better. Our walls were becoming impenetrable, and as a skater who has jammed a lot for my team in the past year, this was really exciting. That helped a lot – I realised that, yes, I’d been putting in a LOT of work, but I wasn’t the only one. It was a nice big slice of perspective.

But – and this is important – the work-rate of others does not depreciate your own. The biggest thing to realise when you are caught in the swamp of uncertainty is that telling yourself that you suck doesn’t help. When you are ill, you either take medicine that helps you to feel better, or you just suck it up and ride it out.

When you are in the derby slump, your medicine is your own kindness.

Watching my team-mates glide through a pack, the tiny voice in my head (which for some reason sounds like Brittany Murphy) says ‘I’m useless, everyone knows I’m a shit jammer, I’m faking it’, and – one of my own personal favourites – ‘I’m riding on the coat-tails of being good in Fresh Meat and now I’m playing it for real and I’m not ready.’

Brittany Murphy is chatting nonsense and here’s why. Say you’ve got a cold. Do you stand outside in winter in a wet jumper rubbing shit all over yourself? No, because that’s insane. It’ll also make your cold worse. If your self-doubt is a cold, then fuelling your self-doubt with Brittany Murphy’s smack-talk about being a failure is exactly like rubbing shit all over yourself. You don’t get rid of a cold by adding to it and you don’t get better at roller derby by telling yourself you suck.

Instead of comparing myself to other skaters, and pulling out my own eyelashes wishing for the strength of ten Mighty Mighty Bashes, I’m trying very hard to remember that no two skaters are ever the same. Everyone has their good points and bad points. Some are great at juking, others at jumping – some are very strong and some are very brainy. You might not be the strongest or the fastest or the best at throwing hits but you know you serve a purpose somehow – you just have to keep working and find out what it is. To everyone else, it’s obvious. You wouldn’t be there otherwise.

Feeling like you’re shit at something you’re passionate about is horrible. But as long as you’re still doing it, and you keep trying to push your way through that seemingly impenetrable wall of I’m-not-good-enough though it might take weeks and months, you cannot say that you have failed. And you’ll climb out of the derby slump, realise that while you were freaking out about being rubbish you’d actually been getting kind of great, and eventually you’ll wonder what the hell you were worried about to begin with. And we’ll all live happily ever after. The end!


The Interesting Thing about Feminazis…

…Is that they don’t exist.

I was working in the pub and chatting to the chef and he goes:

“What do you think about feminazis?”

Having never been asked that question in real life, and assuming he was somewhat joking, I said “I like them, I think they’re good.”

Mateyboy responds: “Oh yes. Nothing like a bit of reverse sexism masquerading as equality.”

Feminazis do not exist. No, honestly. They don’t. The two very, very simple reasons for this are:

1. Nazis believed in the systematic oppression execution of millions of people based on the idea that some races, sexualities, and abilities were inferior to others. Feminists seek freedom from oppression at the hands of a society which values men above women.

2. Women under a patriarchal society do not have the power to reverse the discrimination they suffer, and have it be truly effective or institutionalised. For this reason, women cannot be really sexist, and reverse sexism is not a thing.

I’m not really into censorship but I will make an exception for this. Do you see how the term ‘feminazi’ is not only inaccurate, but offensive? It really is that simple.

You have hardline feminists and less hardline feminists. You have people who believe – like Martin Luther King did – that freedom cannot be given by the oppressor, it must be taken by the oppressed. You have people who believe that the goal of feminism has changed with the evolution of society, and that whereas pretty dresses and shaved legs and lipstick were once the uniform handed out to us by the patriarchy, we have reclaimed them as our own. There are women who want the right not to find a nice husband, settle down and have three kids, free of judgement – there are women who want the right to have exactly those things, free of judgement.

But debates about shaving and makeup and pink are boring – cutesy topics which, I think, detract from the gristly stuff which people don’t like talking about. Let’s do feminazis.

Personally, I’ve never seen eye to eye with the kind of feminism (tumblr users call it liberal feminism) which is fun and friendly and, to all intents and purposes, a slightly more political version of The Babysitters’ Club. I don’t think feminism should have a cuddly side – it should be fierce and strong. A force to be reckoned with – something that the patriarchy fears. It doesn’t matter if a man sides with feminism, or calls himself a pro-feminist – he shouldn’t get a medal for it any more than someone proclaiming that they’re not a racist should.

“I believe women deserve respect!”

Congratulations, you’re not a scumbag. Have a cookie.

The nervous bloke’s idea of a feminazi, from what I can tell, is a woman who would prefer a matriarchy (or ‘gynecocracy’ which is much cooler) over a patriarchy. Instead of equality, she wants supremacy over men. The word ‘feminazi’ was made ~a thing~ by sentient ballsack/radio host Rush Limbaugh, whose other great works include such phrases as “take that bone out of your nose and call me back” (said to a female African American caller). But having done five minutes of research, which is almost as much as I did for my dissertation, I’ve discovered that the idea of a gynecocracy/matriarchy/whatever is not as clean cut as that. There are lots of different theories about it. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote Herland, a novel about three men stumbling across a feminist utopia and reacting to it in different ways; a friendly looking ‘neopagan’ lady going by the moniker ‘Starhawk’ reckons the difference is that: “patriarchy is held to be about power over others while matriarchy is held to be about power from within […] a utopia where women are leading societies but are doing so with the consent of men.” A writer named Cynthia Eller  “feminists … [have] the understanding that female dominance is better for society—and better for men—than the present world order”. All crazy, dangerous ideas.

But that’s just it – the idea of being governed by women, however fantastical it may seem, is the Rush-Limbaugh-quoting man’s worst nightmare – despite the fact that women don’t get a say in the reality, which is being almost unanimously governed by men, with little to no consent. Obviously, whipping out your Gilman, Eller or Starhawk (or even Andrea Dworkin, who advocated women having their own country) in response to your feelings on ‘Feminazism’ is a boring and stupid thing to do. Wanking over your reading list is pointless when it comes to conflict. So instead of trying to convince you that ‘Feminazis’ are not a thing with an impressive list of names, here’s a simpler exercise.

Imagine a world where the roles are reversed, and feminist autocracy is in place. Men hold a meagre 1% of the world’s wealth. They are terrorised and abused in countries all over the world. They are targeted by extreme feminist groups for wanting the right to an education. At work, they earn less than a woman doing the same job. They are expected to put a family before a career. They are objectified and spread naked in magazines and television for the amusement of women. 1 in 5 men have experienced sexual violence at the hands of women from the age of 16.

That, apparently, is the aim of a ‘feminazi’. Despite the fact that all of the above happens to women under the patriarchy. When it happens to women, it’s just the way things are. When it happens to men, it’s feminazism. Men who accuse women of ‘feminazism’ are terrified of being treated the way they treat women, even if that would, THEORETICALLY, level the playing field. Feminazism: where the idea of men being in our position is so horrifying that it equates with the discrimination of the Jews in Nazi Germany.

Anyway, this is all just navel-gazing, thankfully! Guys – and specifically guys – I wouldn’t worry. As long as you’re dead set on the idea of Brad Pitt stripping down to his pants once in a blue moon being ‘objectification of men’, and as long as you accuse women who want to discuss women’s issues without the input of men as being ‘reverse sexism’, your stupid ugly regime isn’t going anywhere.

Anyway whatever here’s a gif of Lily Rabe.