Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Done, dun dun!


Well then. For once I get to post something positive!

Of Bloody Reflections is finished. Again. Rejection advice, beta feedback and recovering brain function has all been assimilated, the creases and errors ironed out, and...

I think it's good. I think it's there.

I'm feeling something close to relieved glee, mixed with nervous dread.

But that's cool because this last year has been fucking hard, I've worked fucking hard and I think it's paid off.

Of course it still has to run the gauntlet that is publishing professionals and, of course, audience. Which means that no matter how often I claim finality, there is likely to be more work ahead. But I think it will be the small stuff now.

This is just a small post because I'm all excited but I will be posting more about the process and giving a sneak peak at the opening chapters, and maybe even an artwork or two.

So don't stray too far, eh?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sex Tape: Racism, Lies and Misogyny


At some point in the last year or two a sex tape has gone around, in which a woman with brown skin, face unseen, does dirty things. She has a tattoo on the small of her back and wore hoop earrings.

Online you can also find 'Sugar', a local woman who makes porn, and is maybe/allegedly a prostitute. Her profile pik has yellow lighting and her skin seems tanned.

Near my home lives a woman, with brown skin, who has a nasty reputation and is suspected to be involved in criminal activity. She wears a hooded, fur trimmed, tan coat.

I am not any of these people.

If you have read this blog, or my twitter or facebook profiles, then you will have seen my comments on the abuse I have received and strange occurrences that have happened. I still have not got to the bottom of all of them, and some are still on-going and not worth talking about here, but this is something I feel needs sorting the fuck out.

A recap:
The police broke into my home, no warrant, no suspicion, and tried to access laptop, went through paperwork, books, art folder, as well as places you'd expect them to look for illicit materials, ie drugs. I put in a complaint an received a near illiterate reply. They didn't report it to the IPCC.

I was sexually assaulted. He, a white UKIP voting male, made comments about knowing who I was, that I was a dirty whore, before he crushed my breast and clawed at my vagina in an attempt to penetrate me. Matters became violent when I fought him off and my nose was broken. The bouncers did not help me*, one threw me into a wall and grabbed my breast, then another escorted me out of the venue. There he tried to brush over what his colleague had done, and a police officer noticed and came over, thinking I had been kicked out and was maybe an easy arrest/PC points. I told him what happened. He sneered and told me to "Fuck Off".

The police have followed me around the town center and have informally warned staff in the shops there that...well I'm not quite sure. But the change was noticeable, the dirty looks, the fear, the sneers, the security guards following me around, people pointing and whispering 'That's her.' 'whore' and other comments.

There have been anonymous reports made to the council, the school and social services, with vague descriptions and locations. Primarily: a brown skinned woman in her 20's.

Friends have informed me of the disgusting rumours. Men have become increasingly aggressive, making lewd comments, and grabbing me if out in the pubs. Women have become disgusted and distant, with claws behind closed doors. The comments are often racist.

Most recently somebody tried to kill my cat. They tied a noose around his neck and strung him up, tied it so tight I could barely slip the scissors underneath to cut him free. My son found him on the doorstep in the morning, there was paint and rust from the front gate worked into the weave of the rope. He must have jerked free, perhaps as they were hanging him, and escaped, but the intention was for us to find him when leaving for school that morning.

I went to the police. It did not go well.

The first officer was one who had broken in to my home and then, later, been so rude to me I had to ask him to leave the premises. He was unhelpful, all full of smirking, and laughingly told me he had never set pen to paper, re the complaint, despite the fact that the reply from the police contained his signed statement. The police forge their data.

I asked for another officer. After a while two emerged. One was friends with one of my exes. The other was the one was the officer who told me to Fuck Off after my sexual assault. I did not recognize them at first, but gradually placed them over the course of our conversation.

They refused to help, said I deserved it and made other comments that led to my digging for the reason. They thought I was a black/Latino webcam girl/porn star/prostitute criminal smack head. For real. They asked if I had tattoo's, about my online presence/following, if I liked anal sex, if I would take off my coat so they could see my body, if I was trans. There is more but I've lost the will to type it.

Any why did they think this? Because it is a predominantly white area and I, and the women above, all have tanned/brown skin, and I wear an orange coat (no hood, no fur, wholly different cut). If you are drunk, or cross eyed with wanking, there is also a slight resemblance to 'Sugar'.

I asked them to run a check on my file, offering official ID. They did so, confirming my lack of a police record, though the anonymity of the sex footage forestalled them for wholly believing who I am. The officer who told me to Fuck Off offered a small apology, expressing his regret. "I thought you were someone else..."
 "And, what? That I deserved it?"
 "Well...yeah"

No one deserves this, sex worker or no.
  
If ever, anyone, has been sexually assaulted and asks the police for help, tries to report a crime, then help they should get. Always. This is the law. These are our autonomous bodies.

I do not forgive him, I offer no redemption. But if he is truly regretful, truly see the gross error, then he can prove that by ensuring his future career is one that fights on the behalf of women. One that, at least, fulfills his duty.

They said they would not help me, or my family, that they would never admit to this, that it was my word against theirs. They told social services I was delusional. They told my son's school I was safe. They told me they would stop following me, yet in a recent trip to the supermarket, sure enough, there was an officer practically darting through the tills to find me.

It is probably not safe for me to be posting this, after the police revealed the assumptions made about me the recent events make more sense. A woman's sexual reputation is often the first thing trashed when people turn against her, or she becomes too vocal in her demand for equal rights, in her dissent, and men's behavior is often sexually aggressive. Due to this I simply did not piece things together until now. I merely noted that hate against 'non-whites' and women had intensified.

But here we must consider audience, because it is men. Men who share these videos, men who interpret sex work as allowing them to give in to the urge to use and abuse, nay: to destroy. Because it was hate that I saw in their eyes. It must also be noted that they conflated several different people wholly because of the tone of their skin. It was not race, we are diverse amongst us. Just generally brown. This is xenophobia. This is racism.

My name is Ashley Fox.

I am not a 'whore'.
I am not a sex worker.
I am not a criminal.
I am not all brown women.
I have never made a sex tape.

I am a writer, I am a feminist, and I am pissed off.

See, the first rule of feminism is that you uphold equality. This means that you accept every individuals autonomy. They control their choices: their mind, their bodies, their sexual activities. Everyone has the right to be free to make their own decisions, including a physical freedom from assault and abuse.

Now, personally, I could never become a sex worker. My first sexual experience was rape. It left scars. I enjoy sex, a lot, that and reading are my favourite pastimes. I also have a predilection for BDSM, and at one point had a year of celibacy to mediate on these factors of my personhood and decide whether they could be healthily mix (They were, though I do not date, play, and have infrequent lovers.). I also feel that, given the violent, sexist society we live in, it is too dangerous. Both for the person, and also in how it contributes to the prevailing objectification of women. We are literally comodfied as sex, and sex sells. Who cares if a tool is blunted or broken. Right?

However, other people feel differently to me and have become sex workers, or their circumstances have presented sex work as a means to finance a better life. (And then there are those who do not make the decision but are coerced or forced into it, but for the purposes of this discussion, in light of autonomy, I feel the need to distinguish from those who have chosen.) Their decisions are different to mine, and whilst I cannot really support those decisions I will always support the right of a woman to conduct her life as she pleases. And I don't really expect sex workers to care about my views, or decisions, although I am always up for a discussion. Despite the events in my life, fueled by the uncertainty of identification, I can fully understand why sex workers sometimes remain anonymous. It is simply life threatening to do otherwise.

Every woman, every person, has the right to be safe.

So think about this, the next time you share that video, or make assumptions, or listen to rumours. Think about this and remember that gossip is but the indulgence of a fearful, bored mind and often has little to do with the truth. Remember my wounds, my hardships, under merely a rumour when you see someone who is actually a sex worker. Treat her as a person, not a thing to be used, to exorcise your fraught sexual desires or anger, not an object that presents an easy outlet. And question, don't just lap it up and spew it back up, unheeding of the damage it causes.

Men: a woman's expressed sexuality is not your justification for hate, for use. Nor is her body yours.

Women: Be safe. Remember how easily this could be turned against you, with a nasty word or two, a passing resemblance. Be kind to each other.

People: We can do better than this. Stop getting freaked out by differing levels of melatonin. Stop viewing sex as a sin. Stop making yourself feel bigger by lessening others.

It's time for change.



*I will not name and shame the venue, as I had a chat with the manager/staff a few weeks later and there were promises to do the right thing and be more vigilant in ensuring that women are not drugged, or assaulted on their premises. I did not have high hopes but the police did say that the venue is a lot more stringent now. If you already know the venue, and think this assessment is incorrect please do comment.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

"..."


The plate is increasingly full, fat sparse,
the tree that cradles the family nest
is mournful creaking.

Beneath, a dark shroud over
snow pierced with crocus...

The new moon soon 
calling Cornflowers to be sown;
for peace.

We sway, this way-
that way, made of stars
glinting hope over crass hate.

...cigarettes smoked in silence,
alone, between tar stained fingers,
no time for tears, fears but
calm

(and cussing).

Thursday, 1 January 2015

TW: Everything can change, on a New Years day.


So 2014 was a mixed bag, eh?

Started off rather well, in that glorious spring all hopeful and marked by sunshine. There was a writers con and London book fair, much poetry, a brief if pleasant love affair, time well spent with friends, the book faced hard truths and was seriously cut and expanded, the whole narrative arc being reformed into a duology.

Then I got sexually assualted, nose broken, menstrual cycle askew from where I was thrown into a wall, furious at the police officer that told me to 'Fuck off' rather than help, and cracks began to show. The old night terrors sarted in again, with a vengeance, and all my years spent mediatating through my depression and triggers were tested.

Although much shaken, the gleam of spring lost, I continued. A bit quieter, a bit more focused on myself and my health, but carried on writing.

Then, in the first week of the summer holidays, someone I care about screamed 'I want to destroy you!' and slammed a car door into my head, the locking mechanism striking just above my temple. There was blood and brain fluid gushing out of my ear. It was pretty grim. The Dr diagnosed a concussion the next day and sent me home with no help or pain meds. I simply didn't realise how badly I was hurt.

I have little recollection of the week that followed: passing out in bed with lucid dreams, and tremours, hair perpetually wet and nose running, and a lot of pain. Only getting out to make meals for my son following routine, saying little but 'yes' 'no' 'I love you', then going back to bed.

I got relatively better, persevered. Though really I was overcompensating/ applying false logic to make sense of the changes in my behaviour. It was also cyclic: I'd rest and feel better, then push myslef to far, too fast and have a flare up. Toward the end of summer, and again in the autumn, I had a scab of blood and brain fluid come out of my ear and then the pressure in my head would rise and all my symptoms became worse: memory, balance, motor functions, vertigo, stutter, the inability to access memories/thoughts or deal with the frustration that all of this caused.

In septemer I went back to the Dr's. Trigemenial neuroplasia suspected. Eye tests followed, 20:20 vision but partial face paralysis and nerve damage. Further tests were done to check for bone fragments pressing against my optical nerve and thankfully none were found. Before midwinter I had an apt with a neurologist and am on the list for a CT scan, and given naproxin to bring down the brain swelling. Which is actually working and I feel more clear headed than I have for a long time, though it does little to stop the pain at impact site or headaches.

I am healing, slowly, and hopefuly no brain lesions or what have you will be found. Hopefuly it will be a matter of controlling swelling, working through symtoms and letting time do its work.

Somehow, during this, I finished the book (again) and sent it out to my beta readers. Though the feedback that has started to come back has very much driven home my obvious inability to edit whist all of this was going on! Embarrassing, but now I find it kinda amusing (which is a good sign, my sense of humour returning). I simply cannot work as fast, or process as much, as I used to but am quietly tinkering away, changing the first chapters to better reflect story, to incorporate the feedback.

So, yes, in the autumn I went dark. Simply didnt have energy to deal with people in my personal life, or online, except for dealing with the fallout of divorce and deaths in the family. I pulled focus on recovery and looking after my child, trying to minimise the effect on him. I didnt really get much help, and may have lost some friends along the way. I have no tolerance for negativity, or for loud, bright places. It has been overwhelming at times.

And now it is 2015. My resolutions?

1. To remember how to put the world aside and simply enjoy the love of my family; my clever, capricious, kind Rowan and our canny cat, Sherlock, who so recently choose us.

2. To continue to recover, if not to who I was before than to someone better.

3. To not get assaulted, sexually or violently.

4. To polish this book into something worthy of readers and prepare for publication. To keep writing, keep editing, keep researching. To be who I want to be, and to find my success.

5. To raise my voice against the injustice that is abysmally insidious within our cultures. To not accept less than what is right, to fight for it if need be. Though always remembering that violence breeds more violence and if peace and equality are to be pursued with an honest heart than those tenets should be what guides the actions in pursuit of such.

6. To remember, when pain is sharp and body grinding with exhaustion, when my mind is hemmed in by inability and frustration, when memories claw with all too real talons that bear the sensation of their origin and the fear and rage within rise...to remember that it gets better. That simple truth that seems so absurdly ephemeral a times. It gets better.

7. To try. Always.


This is a personal post true, though I'm all too aware that this has been a shit year for a lot of people. But perhaps we can all have hope. I think change is coming. It will be painful, and disappointing, and full of awful times, but if we grit our teeth and refuse to be bought down, to be destroyed or subjugated, than maybe we can ensure that change is a good one.

In love and solidarity.
Ash


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

in twaine


 it stretches in silence
this whine pulled long, loose and fine

    not enuf slices of pie to swirl

painted glimpses of nows past
into rationalised sighs

diffusion perhaps
is the issue forthright

   all over in cusses the
                  cusp of the tongue tips

or refusion to effuse
in spite of blight when
brighted thoughts anoint

              but for pointed fingers and shy eyes

Which issues then most grave?
When one of the grave and the other
in peril
sweat spiked silence esues

much better then, this
reattaching quintessence

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Mera










A pencil (and a little accidental charcoal) sketch of Mera. Very much a work in progress.