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(this is a rewriten post, that I tidied up and made more coherent)

I read the first essay: A Question of Class in Dorothy Allisons Skin about five times and every single time I read it I cried. it bought home some sharp hard truths about the fact that my adoptive parents have no idea who their children are or where they come from.

I am not middle class, I have never been middle class but I was colonised by the middle class, I was taught that I was middle class, that my people were middle class, that I was exactly the same as all the other middle class kids around me. i have had advantages by being adopted into the middle class, but not as many as you would think, I still spent my early twenties crazy, broke and homeless i still don't really get the rules of middle class behaviour and sensibilities and I still fuck up royally all the time.

I grew up in a really affluent town in the south of England amongst good schools and university educated adults, but that's not who I am, that's not where I come from. I wasn't even born in to the working class, I come from the underclass, the chaotic poor who have given up, who have no where left to turn.

Nobody ever made connections or taught me to make connections between poverty, lack of education, mental heath issues and having all your children taken into care. I was taught that poverty was a personal failing. My adoptive mother would often scream at me or one of my brothers "Do you want to end up living in a council house?" as if that's the worse thing that could possibly happen, as if my people, my blood line for generations back hadn't lived in council houses.

And there were things we were expected to know, things good, well behaved, well bought up middle class kids knew, that we couldn't possibly have known, the three times table, the fact you don't talk about money, the words to silent night, as if I hadn't spent the first six years of my life in the east end of London not being fed or educated properly

Allison writes:



I understood that we were the bad poor: men who drank and couldn't keep a job; women, invariably pregnant before marriage, who quickly became worn, fat, and old from working too many hours and bearing too many children; and children with runny noses, watery eyes, and the wrong attitudes. My cousins quit school, stole cars, used drugs, and took dead-end jobs pumping gas or waiting tables. We were not noble, not grateful, not even hopeful. We knew ourselves despised. My family was ashamed of being poor, of feeling hopeless. What was there to work for, to save money for, to fight for or struggle against? We had generations before us to teach us that nothing ever changed, and that those who did try to escape failed.




And I understand that, my father was an alcoholic, him and and my brothers father ended up in prison, my other siblings fathers disappeared, half my sisters got pregnant as teenagers and all that goes back generation after generation, nobody was educated and if they worked they did mind numbing soul destroying jobs. And so many of them died young or disappeared

I grew up in a world where girls of the class I was born into are seen as slutty, promiscuous, are more likely to be teenage mothers, and boys of the class I was born into were expected to be vandals, layabouts, criminals. so we were policed heavily, I was screamed at for being cheap, provocative, obscene, flirtatious, and my brothers were regularly forced to watch a video that talked about how bad prison was, because despite all that babbling about nurture over nature my adoptive parents and their educated middle class friends still believed that the bad blood had a chance of winning through.


My mother, the woman who gave birth to me, got pregnant with my sister at 15 and in the environment I grew up in that was seen as a personal failure too, there was no understanding, no critique of the fact that there are clear understandable reasons why women of her social class who lived with intergenerational poverty, mental health issues and lack of education would get pregnant very young

and now I have this whole web of class issues that can't be untangled, there is so much dissonance in the way I relate to class. I am ashamed that I come from generations of poverty, embarrassed that my sister cant behave more middle class like in front of my adoptive parents, and angry that I got told for such a long time that where i come from was defective, wrong, and I should automatically be able to become middle class despite the experience of my formative years,
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there's a new community called [livejournal.com profile] dignified_dress which says on the user info This is a community for people who are serious about what they wear and who want to share a culture (and resources) in which clothing can be an ethical choice. A choice that considers the workers who produce our clothes, the environment that sustains our production of clothes and the women (and men) who wear it.



which is all good if you can afford to buy ethical clothes, lots of people, especially in this economy can't. If people can afford these clothes then good for them but its way too easy to move into a headspace that assumes moral superiority over someone because you have the financial wherewithal to make shopping choices that they don't. if you have four kids and no job you are going to buy your clothes from George/walmart



sometimes environmental/ethical shopping feels like another form of classism, a way of denigrating poor people because they don't make the "right" choices
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I work with adolescents who have fallen through the education system and I cant ignore the fact that the adolescent boys I work with, One has been so damaged that he only makes sense about 40% of the time, one of them cant afford new shoes even though the ones hes wearing are split along the seams,and one is on the autistic spectrum. They do not have and will never have the privilege and chances and choices that the middle class university educated women who are big noises on the British feminist scene have. Yes they have more privilege than the adolescent girls I work with have but its still crumbs.

The more I interrogate my adoption issues the more I come to terms with the effect class had on my life, the effect where I come from had on my life and how its shaped me, and the shaming attitudes and prejudice towards where I come from that I received from the middle class adults all around me during my childhood and adolescence and most feminists I've ever met have no fucking Idea what that feels like, or what it feels like to be hungry, homeless, or stuck in a psych unit.

as I've said before feminists have dropped the ball on issues surrounding motherhood and repro justice, but those feminists who want to be parents often have no problem riding roughshod over other women's reproductive rights if it means they get a child out of it.

there's an assumption that the system largely WORKS because it works for THEM, because it works for middle class, able bodied, white, cis, hetero women then it mostly works it just needs tweaking here and there, they dont see how it doesn't work for others, how it causes systemic violence and hardship to others

I am so fucking sick of discussions about body hair and make up, I dont care what some one looks like or who they fuck, I'm not interested in peoples individual choices about things like that too often that turns into a feminist circle jerk of "I'm more feminist than thou" and doesn't take into account intersecting oppressions or life experiences.It's what people do in the wider sphere that interests me, I really dont think standing on street corners protesting is going to change anything. the people I work with and a large chunk of my religious community are making way more difference than most of the feminists I know, they are doing the hard graft ground work of supporting oppressed marginalised people and making resources available for them. None of them would dream of calling themselves feminist, they just do this shit because it's important because someone needs to do it.

I am sick of the invisablising of lives that arnt theirs, the silencing of voices that arnt theirs, the disbelif of experinces that arnt theirs, the dumbass middle class femmininity reaction of "but why do you have to be so meeeeen?" or "anger never got any one any where" bullshit when they are called out on any of this stuff.


but what do I call myself instead - "are you a feminist?" "no I'm a community weaver" doesnt really work

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