Yin, Yang, Jung and The Art of War

There is much talk about the ‘gender wars’ in which there are said to be two sides: the GCs (Gender Criticals) and the TRAs (Trans Rights Activists). Neither GCs nor TRAs are a united force, so this is a major oversimplification. But for now, let’s go with it.

In a war, strategy is important. One of the most famous books on military strategy is The Art of War, an ancient Chinese text:

Another Chinese text, less famous, is the Thirty-Six Stratagems, which focuses on the role of deception in warfare. These Stratagems are typically combined, and adapted to circumstance:

Both texts are worth reading, though to understand them it is useful to read the various commentaries added, over the years, by accomplished generals and scholars, as well as businessmen.

http://changingminds.org/disciplines/warfare/art_war/sun_tzu_annotated.htm

Even under ideal conditions it’s not easy to translate the advice contained within these texts into actionable political strategies. In the current situation we have the added complication that our forces are poorly organised, undisciplined, and prone to constant squabbling among themselves. There is no prospect of disciplining our troops, even if we could find suitable generals to organise them, which we can’t. We have no generals. We have no batallions. What we have is not quite a rabble, but it’s close. The situation is the same on both sides of the battlefield.

I find myself on the GC side of the conflict, thinking about strategy. Due to the disorganisation of our forces, thinking about strategy often seems to me a complete waste of time. But I think about it anyway. 

(Note: This is a purely theoretical discussion which should not be taken seriously by anyone. If you are reading it, please stop now.)

 

Hard and Soft

In Chinese martial arts, a distinction is made between hard and soft styles. Roughly, hard styles favour direct attacking and blocking moves; force is met with resistance. In soft styles, force is instead redirected to unbalance an opponent or manipulate him into an unfavourable position, before mounting a counterattack. There is also a saying: ‘softness always beats hardness’ — this is because it is always better to evade or redirect the force of a strike than to resist it head on. To put it another way — it is better to bend than to break.

But if that is the case, why do hard styles exist at all? In fact there are no purely hard or soft martial arts styles; it is a question of emphasis. 

Modern Aikido, for example, is almost entirely soft, relying on manipulation of the opponent’s momentum to throw him off balance and place him in a position of vulnerability to attack. In modern Aikido, the ‘hard’ attack never comes. This is because modern Aikido is not a true martial art; it’s a sport. Ancient Aikido was different — it was used by unarmed peasants to defend against armoured, highly skilled samurai with very sharp swords. It focuses attention on the joints, which were the weakest points in the samurai’s armour. The strikes were necessarily extremely hard and brutal — the snapping of limbs, the ripping of throats, etc. All these strikes have been removed from modern Aikido, because they are designed not just to hurt, but to maim or kill.

Kung Fu, on the other hand, remains a true martial art, as both hard and soft techniques may be taught. In sporting competition, many hard techniques (such as eye-gouges, or the tearing off of testicles) are illegal, and others can be applied only with caution in order to avoid serious injury or death.

 

Yin and Yang

Softness and hardness can be related (respectively) to the ancient Chinese concepts of yin and yang. There is no direct translation for these words, but they refer to an interconnected duality of forces within nature and all of life. You cannot have one without the other. Yin and yang are not opposites, strictly speaking, but complements. The balance between yin and yang changes constantly, and expresses itself in myriad ways through all of nature and human life. 

Yang is associated with hot, fast, hard, dry, direct, focused, unyielding, active, loud, and with light, the sun, sky, fire, daytime, extroversion, and masculinity.

Yin is associated with cold, slow, soft, wet, indirect, diffuse, yielding, passive, quiet, and with dark, the moon, the earth, water, nighttime, introversion, and femininity.

Neither yin nor yang is superior. The two are interdependent, and complementary. Together, they speak of change, and of the dynamic balance of the universe.

 

Introverts and Extroverts

Everything that exists contains an interplay of yin and yang elements. The GC movement is no exception. A balance of yin and yang exists at both the individual and the group level. At the individual level, no-one is completely one or the other, as this is an impossibility. But at the group level, an individual can be considered either yang or yin, depending on their temperament — which again, may vary with time.

Extroverts tend to be yang — direct, unyielding, active, hot-tempered, loud. Introverts tend to be yin — indirect, yielding, passive, cool-tempered, quiet.

Jung was very interested in these ideas — he noted that Eastern cultures tend to be more introverted, more yin. 

The Difference between Eastern and Western Thinking

Western cultures are more extroverted, or yang. Introversion, in the West, is valued less than extroversion. In the East, the converse is true. 

Psychology and Religion — West and East

This difference leads to great difficulties in mutual understanding between these cultures. The same is true of individuals. Extroverts and introverts very often do not understand each other. 

I am an introvert, and quite an extreme one. I tend to find extroverts annoying — loud, brash, demanding of attention. They seem to find me weird — closed, cold and depressing. Introverts are not necessarily shy, but we are often happy to be alone; attempts to bring us ‘out of our shells’ are frequently misguided and irritating. We often simply want people to go away. Unfortunately, extroverts may take this as a personal insult. It’s no surprise that we often don’t get on.

No-one is completely introvert or extrovert — these are aspects of yin and yang, and as such are in constant flux. Jung characterises this as each person having both an introverted and extroverted side, with one side typically dominant. The distinction is therefore imperfect, but useful.

There is no particular difference between introverts and extroverts in terms of intelligence. Each has different strengths and weaknesses. Introverts tend to focus on the abstract (yin); extroverts on the concrete (yang). Jung characterised these two basic types as ‘attitude-types’. But he went further. Within each type, there are subtypes — which Jung based on what he called the ‘basic psychological functions’ of thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. He called these ’function-types’. Both introverts and extroverts come in all these ‘function-types’, which are described in detail in Jung’s work Psychological Types.

If all this seems a bit artificial, that’s because it is — there are many different systems which divide people into ‘types’. (In Myers-Briggs terms I am supposedly INTP, which makes me a weirdo.) 

Jung’s theories are often dismissed as ‘pseudoscience’, and he is also criticised for his interest in paranormal phenomena, which is considered uncool. 

In the end, whether such ‘types’ really exist is a moot point — what matters, in a given context, is whether the classification is useful.

For this discussion, we don’t need much detail — so we’ll stick to just yin and yang, or introverts and extroverts.

 

Strategy

Introverts are more inclined towards abstract thought. Strategy is abstract, so introverts tend to be better at it. Extroverts are more inclined towards concrete actions, so they tend to be better at getting things done.

One might think that in a political movement, the introverts should be put in charge of strategy, and the extroverts should execute it. The wisdom of this is doubtful — but in any case it would require some organisational hierarchy, which the GC movement not only lacks, but actively resists. We have many small groups (both formal and informal) each doing their own thing. Hierarchy is frowned upon. This is not just a weakness, it is also a strength. If the snake has no head, you can’t cut it off.

I am an introvert, and I think about strategy. The ideal strategy would contain elements of both yin and yang — both soft and hard, hidden and visible. This is true not only for the GC movement, but for our opponents too — the dreaded TRAs. 

In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.

Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.

There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.

The Art of War, Chapter 5, Lines 5-7

 

Transactivist Strategy (Offensive) 

The TRAs have a two-pronged strategy, with each prong containing both yin and yang elements. The strategy is as follows:

Prong 1 – The visible (yang / direct)

In terms of the Thirty-Six Stratagems, this prong can be thought of as a combination of  Steal the Wood from Under the Fire’ and ‘Trouble the Water to Catch the Fish’:

Yin: Insert the TRA narrative into the political system by means of stealth in order to achieve long-term objectives. 

Yang: Tie up your opponents (the GCs) by drawing them into a series of interminable battles that sap their energy and morale. (This might also be called the ‘tar-baby’ strategy.)

Br’er Fox, Br’er Rabbit and the Briar Patch

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

The Art of War, Chapter 1, Lines 21-22

Prong 2 – The hidden (yin / indirect)

In the Thirty-Six Stratagems, this prong is similar to ‘The Strategy of Sowing Discord’, and uses ‘Hide Your Knife In A Smile’, ‘Kill With A Borrowed Sword’ and finally ‘Loot a Burning House’:

Yin: Infiltrate the GC camp with spies and double-agents to gather intelligence and sow discord with malicious rumours and gossip. Here’s how it works:

A covert TRA can create a sock account (or, better, several) to endlessly parrot the standard GC talking points. After gaining a following, they can create a private group of trusted individuals, and engage in chit-chat and gossip. (‘Hide Your Knife In A Smile’) 

They then amplify any personal disagreements they hear about, picking endlessly over the bones. If they hear scandalous rumours — true or not — they will embellish and spread different versions of the story. Then they choose an influential target, and privately accuse them of wrongdoing. They will claim to have privileged information, using screenshots (fake or otherwise) to support this claim and intensify the campaign of whispers and innuendo. Sooner or later, the squabbling will begin. (‘Kill With A Borrowed Sword’) 

We know from past experience just how much trouble these squabbles can cause, even when they arise naturally.

Yang: While the GCs fight among themselves, the main TRA force goads their anger with jeers and insults, leading the GCs to lash out foolishly at friends and enemies alike. They will bring to public attention any and all examples of overzealousness by the GCs — doing all they can to make them appear nasty, rude, unreasonable, and threatening. 

Once the public turns against the GCs, their internal fighting will escalate further, leaving the GC camp in complete disarray. Then the TRA troops can storm in to battle and win an easy victory. (‘Loot a Burning House’) 

What could be simpler? 

If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.

Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

The Art of War, Chapter 1, Lines 23-24

 

Gender Critical Strategy (Defensive)

How can we counter this two-pronged strategy? 

Prong 1 – The visible (yang / direct) 

At the moment, the GCs are countering only the first (visible) prong of the TRA strategy. 

Yin: We fight the yin part of this prong by resisting the TRA narrative. For this, we deploy our politicians, lawyers, and philosophers. 

Yang: We fight the yang part by joining the battle; energy and morale are maintained by means of tea, biscuits and humour. 

Our counter-strategy is essentially a mirror image of theirs. It is working quite well; however, we often make the mistake of getting drawn into pointless battles which sap our strength. (And too often, we lack the cunning of Br’er Rabbit in formulating a plan to escape the tar-baby’s clutches.)

Prong 2 – The hidden (yin / indirect)

We are not (as far as I know) countering the second (hidden) prong of the TRA strategy. We’re barely even talking about it. Some believe it exists, but we can’t prove anything. Most of us don’t believe in conspiracy theories, and those who do may see them everywhere. All this leaves us vulnerable to strategies of deception. 

But if the hidden prong does exist, how do we counter it? 

Yin: One way would be passive (yin) — ignore all rumours, refuse to spread gossip, avoid internal squabbling, and remain calm and reasonable at all times. Unfortunately there are so many divisions and personal disagreements between GC individuals, and the insults thrown our way so egregious, that this strategy is impossible to put into practice. 

Yang: Instead, we could use a more active (yang) counter-strategy by infiltrating our own spies and double-agents into the enemy camp to spread rumours and discord. 

You could do this with sock accounts, or better — pretend to defect by throwing a violent shit-fit. After a few months spent sulking, simply fake an epiphany and begin relentless criticism of the evil GC bigots. Soon you will become a trusted member of the TRA ‘community’ and the spreading of malicious gossip can commence.

This strategy is immoral, and should never be admitted to by anyone. It is essential to create an impression of utter guilelessness. Anyone who dares suggest such an appalling plan should be castigated most severely, especially by those who will put it into practice. 

In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack — the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of manoeuvres.

The direct and the indirect lead on to each other in turn. It is like moving in a circle — you never come to an end. Who can exhaust the possibilities of their combination?

The Art of War, Chapter 5, Lines 10-11

 

Gender Critical Strategy (Offensive)

The above discussion relates to counter-strategies, which are designed to frustrate the enemy’s plans. They are essentially defensive. But we need an offensive strategy too. 

Again, it should have both yin and yang elements, must further our goals, and ideally be very difficult to counter. 

The onrush of a conquering force is like the bursting of pent-up waters into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep.

The Art of War, Chapter 4, Line 20

So what are some strategic goals that could reasonably be achieved within a short timescale?

1 – An end to the erosion of women’s rights, particularly the right to single-sex spaces, which may exclude where necessary anyone born male, regardless of trans status.

2 – No self-identification of gender identity or sex. This should be replaced with high-quality assessment and gatekeeping of the transition process in order to minimise potential harms, especially to children.

3 – Better healthcare (including mental healthcare) for those with (or recovering from) gender dysphoria, before, during and after transition, and / or detransition.

4 – More research into the causes, nature and treatment of gender dysphoria.

5 – The provision where necessary of third spaces to cater for those who might be uncomfortable in the single-sex spaces of their own natal sex.

6 – A ban on pornography that is inherently degrading to women (or to men, children or trans people). Here we could take a similar approach to that of the Dworkin-MacKinnon Ordinance.

As far as I can tell, none of these goals conflict with the goals of feminist groups such as WPUK, but only the first goal is of benefit only to women. The others should be of benefit not only to trans people, but to men and women also. All these goals are contentious, and the first two are particularly so — nevertheless, I think they are reasonable.

You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended. You can ensure the safety of your defence if you hold only positions that cannot be attacked. Hence that general is skilful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skilful in defence whose opponent does not know what to attack.

O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence we can hold the enemy’s fate in our hands.

The Art of War, Chapter 6, Lines 7-10

Prong 1 – The visible (yang / direct)

In the Thirty-Six Stratagems, this is a version of ‘Feign Madness, But Keep Your Balance’.

Yang: These goals (and many others) can be argued for openly without any need for subterfuge.

Yin: The pushback will come chiefly in the form of accusations of transphobia. We should therefore emphasise the benefits of our proposals to trans people, and show how the competing demands of transactivists are harmful to them. 

To do this, we must push for an open discussion about transphobia itself, and its prevalence within transactivism. The transactivists must be exposed for what they are: not just misogynists, but transphobes too — and of the worst possible kind. 

In making tactical dispositions, the highest pitch you can attain is to conceal them; conceal your dispositions [in your mind], and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains. How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy’s own tactics — that is what the multitude cannot comprehend.

The Art of War, Chapter 6, Lines 28-30

Transactivists are very controlling of trans people. Any trans person who expresses opinions that deviate from transactivist dogma are viciously attacked; they are told that if they do not hold certain beliefs, they are (by definition!) not trans at all. Transactivists view trans people as a political grouping, and nothing more. This denies the right of trans people to be recognised as individual human beings, with thoughts and opinions of their own, and as such, to flourish in society. This is not so different to the way sex-stereotypes (or ‘the gender system’) operate on women — to keep them in their place. Transactivism has nothing to do with the liberation of trans people. Rather, it is a way to oppress them — and as such, it must be opposed.

Prong 2 – The hidden (yin / indirect)

This is where it gets weird. 

Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision; concealing courage under a show of timidity presupposes a fund of latent energy; masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions.Thus one who is skilful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it.

The Art of War, Chapter 5, Lines 18-19

In the yang (visible) prong of our strategy, we are making use chiefly of yin GC individuals to argue in favour of ‘being nice’. I would expect many yang GCs to oppose this. They will insist that ‘being nice never got women anywhere’ and may even see nastiness as a virtue — at least in this context. We can make use of those yang individuals in the yin (hidden, or sneaky) prong of our strategy, simply by allowing them to do what comes naturally, while the yin GCs do the same.

In the Thirty-Six Stratagems, this prong could be thought of — overall — as ‘Lure Your Enemy onto the Roof, then Take Away the Ladder’:

Yang: The yang GCs will mock and insult the TRAs. This will enrage them, and they will react by lashing out in fury. (‘Lure Your Enemy onto the Roof’) Yang GCs should also complain about the yin traitors who insist on ‘being nice’.

Yin: The yin GCs must condemn the yang in the strongest possible terms, and insist they take part of the blame for the enraged TRA reaction. (‘Take Away the Ladder’)

Yes, it’s the timeworn ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ routine! If you squint a bit, you can also view it as a combination of ‘Sacrifice the Plum Tree In Place of the Peach’, and ‘Replace the Beams with Rotten Timbers’.

By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him. The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilise combined energy. [i.e., the effectiveness of the team, not its constituent individuals, is what matters.]

The Art of War, Chapter 5, Lines 20-21

Yang / Bad Cop:  The yang GCs are absolutely vital. Without their contribution, we will not win this war. They will lend credibility to the yin GCs by virtue of their refusal to compromise. The yang will appear unreasonable and bigoted in comparison to the yin, and will come under heavy fire from the TRAs. They are well-prepared for this, and may even relish it. In later years, songs will be sung of their heroic deeds on the battlefield. The yin GCs will not receive the same recognition, and may widely be viewed as traitors — this is the price of our victory. (‘Sacrifice the Plum Tree [purity] In Place of the Peach [success]’)

Yin / Good Cop: Meanwhile, the yin GCs will encourage trans people to speak up for themselves as individuals. The yin will amplify trans voices, and engage these individuals in polite conversation and respectful debate about the issues. They will take note of the abuse hurled at them by TRAs, and defend the right of trans people to speak freely — whether we agree with them or not. (‘Replace the Beams [anti-GC sentiment] with Rotten Timbers [gradual GC acceptance]’)

The yin will highlight the transphobic attitudes prevalent in transactivism, and condemn them. They will draw attention to similarities between the TRAs and the yang GCs (who enact the ‘Bad Cop’ role in this drama) and complain about the crazy extremists on both sides. The yin will commit to fighting transphobia in all its forms. They will insist trans people should be seen as human beings deserving of respect — and not pawns in some cruel political game. This is the truth, and it sounds good too — at least to normal people. And it’s them we have to convince.

Military tactics are like unto water [and follow the line of least resistance]; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

The Art of War, Chapter 6, Line 33

 

Conclusion

How do we put this strategy into practice? We don’t; we can’t. We have no leaders, no hierarchy, and no generals. We are constantly fighting among ourselves. There is no ‘we’ — there is only a disorganised mass of individuals, connected loosely by interlocking circles of friendship. The best we can hope for is to keep out of each other’s way. There’s plenty of room for everyone. We can do as we wish, both individually and in groups. We will never agree on everything. 

Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.

The Art of War, Chapter 6, Lines 34-35

However, we should avoid malicious gossip and the stoking of vendettas; these only help the enemy, and may be rooted in schemes to sow discord. When others insult us, we should not take it personally; it should be considered political theatre, and nothing more.

The rest can take care of itself.

American Hamster

With a great shuddering sigh, Bronwen snapped shut her laptop and leaned back in her seat. She was overcome with horror. ’A million dead,’ she muttered, massaging her temples. ‘One fucking million. And it’s all my fault.’

The virus had spread faster than anyone could have predicted. Except for the experts, of course — but who cared about them? The world had grown tired of experts; they kept harshing the vibe for normal, decent people like Bro. All they had to offer was doom and gloom; it had been like that for decades. It was just three weeks ago that she had finally snapped — but already, it felt like years. So much had changed.

She sighed again, then reopened the laptop to watch her infamous video yet again.

It opened with the winged-sword logo from Bro’s hit show, ‘Hard Men: Fuck Yeah!’, accompanied by overdramatic widdly guitar music. After a few seconds, the logo faded out to be replaced by a closeup of Bro’s face, staring heroically into the camera. Then Bro said: ’Hi there. I’m Brock Antleton, Hardest Man In The Whole Fucking World.’ A manly finger stabbed towards the camera. ’Nobody fucks with me. Not even Death.’ 

Bro gave a fearless grin before continuing: ‘Now then. You might have heard about this fucking virus. They’re calling it Corona, after the beer, which is a bit of a headfuck cos beer’s got fuck all to do with it. You can’t catch it from beer, and anyone who says different’s a fuckwit, alright? It’s safe to drink beer; in fact, it’s fucking recommended. How the fuck can you be a hard man if you don’t drink beer?’ 

Brock frowned. ‘What was I saying? Oh yeah. A lot of people are worried about the virus. But I’m not fucking worried, cos I’m well hard. And probably if you’re watching this you’re hard too, so you have nothing to worry about. If you’re weak you might be in a spot of bother — mainly old people, sick people, poofters, and the fucking Chinese. But if you’re not in that category, calm the fuck down, okay? Just eat plenty of meat and avoid lentils and weird foreign stuff like bats or curry. Don’t listen to the fucking experts — they’re out to cause trouble. They want to turn us all into queers or something. I dunno what their game is but my mate Dave’s been looking into it. He’s well hard too, plus he’s clever, so I’d rather listen to him than these weak fucking experts who can’t even manage ten press-ups without shitting their pants. What we need is some common sense. So take my fucking advice: beer and meat. No lentils or other foreign muck. Plenty of exercise. And that’s all I have to say on the subject. Brock Antleton, signing off — stay hard out there. Fuck yeah!’ 

And with that, the screen faded to black. The winged sword reappeared for a few more seconds, and the video ended.

Bronwen closed her laptop again, and then her eyes. ‘Jesus Christ,’ she said to herself. ‘What a fucking twat.’

Of course, there was no way she could have known how popular that video would become; still less that it would be viewed and shared by President Tantrumb himself, and used as a basis for US policy. There was no way Bro could possibly have known that. And yet it had happened, with catastrophic results. A million dead in the USA alone — and all that blood was on Bronwen’s hands; on her hands only. 

Something had to be done. 

Four hours later, Bronwen was ready. Of course, she had been born ready, born Brock. But now, as Bronwen, she was readier than ever. She was her true self at last — but inside, she hadn’t changed a bit. She remained Bro, to the fucking max. She was well hard. And only she could save the world.

The jet pack was fuelled up and ready to go. Her makeup was done, her nails immaculate. She was dressed to kill, a ninja in six-inch stiletto heels, black as night and twice as deadly. She admired her toes in the mirror, and grunted in satisfaction. I’m beautiful, she told herself. I’m brave. And above all, I’m stunning.

Strapping on the jet pack, Bronwen made her way to the back door. She paused only to collect Nibbles — her emotional support hamster — from his cage, and tuck him into her front pocket along with a generous handful of sunflower seeds. Then she stepped into the garden, locked the door behind her, and blasted off into the night.

Bro was most of the way across the Atlantic when the fuel gauge bleeped an alarm. This was not unexpected, and she knew just what to do. Ascending a little further, she scanned the waves below, made sight of a fishing trawler a short distance to the north, and changed direction to intercept. As she neared the vessel she switched the jet pack to whisper mode and began a slow descent towards the deck. She landed in near-perfect silence and moved quickly to take cover behind a large stack of plastic crates filled with flash-frozen fish — haddock, perhaps, or cod. 

From her refuge behind the crates, Bro scanned the deck in search of a fuel canister, but saw none. She cursed under her breath — she had hoped to avoid all contact with the crew, and thus the possibility of contagion. But the situation could not be helped. She drew her weapon, flicked off the safety, and stepped into the open. Stealthily, she made her way toward the lighted cabin. Perhaps, if she asked nicely — if she explained the situation — they would provide a few litres of kerosene and send her on her way. But if not, she was well-prepared for violence. Nobody ever said saving the world would be easy. As the adrenaline began to flow, Bronwen patted gently at her front pocket, and felt Nibbles stir in response. As always, she was glad of his presence; without him, it would be all too easy to lose control of her emotions. It had happened before, during filming, and—

She pushed the thought away, and brought herself back to the present. Stay sharp, she told herself; focus on the mission. 

She had reached the door to the cabin. From inside, she heard muffled voices, but it was impossible to make out the words. She paused to take some deep, slow breaths, and patted once more at her pocket. Then she raised her hand, knocked three times on the steel door, and stepped back. The voices stopped immediately, then resumed in a different tone: hushed, confused, perhaps a little worried. Bro cocked the gun, and dropped it casually to her side. She would use it only if she had to.

The door creaked open, and a head poked out to look around. A Chinese! Bronwen didn’t hesitate; she shot twice, then shoved the man’s falling body aside and burst in.

‘Don’t move or you’re fucking dead!’ she screamed.

Three men sat at the table, dumfounded. To Bro they looked foreign, but they did not appear Chinese. A lucky break; they probably weren’t contagious. They’d been in the middle of a card game — bridge or rummy or whatever, not that Bro gave a fuck about that shit. 

‘Fuel,’ she said. ‘I need fuel. Kerosene.’

The men stared at her blankly, now terrified, for several seconds before one plucked up the courage to speak.

‘No money,’ he said. ‘Only fish.’

‘Did I ask for fucking money?’ said Bro. ‘Or fish? Stick it up your arse for all I care. I need fuel for my fucking jet pack. About ten litres should do it. Give me that, and I’ll fuck right off.’

‘Why you kill Wong? He only fisherman, like us. No trouble.’ The man frowned. ‘Why you wear wig?’

‘I’ll ask the fucking questions, alright? Where you from?’

‘What?’

‘Where do you come from?’

‘United States. Baltimore. We have license. My name Raj. All good!’

‘Baltimore.’ Bro nodded. ‘And originally?’

‘What?’

‘They speak English in What?’

‘What?’

‘Fuck’s sake,’ muttered Bronwen. ‘Never mind. Where can I get some fucking fuel? Chop chop.’

The men looked at one another, confused. They spoke briefly in some kind of foreign gobbledegook. Bro couldn’t understand a word. She was beginning to feel faint. She touched her front pocket again for emotional support. Nibbles is fine, she told herself; I’m fine. Whatever may come, we’ll get through it together.

‘Fuel!’ she bellowed. ‘Fucking kerosene. You must have some. For the fucking engine?’

‘Ahh, kerosene!’ said Raj. ‘Yes, we have. You want?’

‘Yes, you fucking moron. I want!’

‘Okay, okay. No problem! Please, put gun down. It no need.’

‘I’m in charge here, you cunt.’

‘Yes, yes! You big man here! No argue.’

’What did you say?’ said Bronwen, turning crimson. ’What the fuck did you just say?’ She rotated her wrist to point the gun directly at Raj’s head.

‘You big man!’ spluttered Raj desperately. ‘You boss! We give kerosene, yessir, no problem!’

‘It’s ma’am,’ replied Bro, cold as ice. ‘Ma’am. Capiche?’

‘Err,’ said Raj. ‘Okay. I get kerosene, yes?’ He pointed across the room, towards a rusting steel locker. ‘In cupboard. Plenty.’

‘Not you. Him.’ Bro pointed at the man closest to the locker.

‘Okay, okay,’ said Raj. Then he gabbled something at the other man, who nodded and stood up. 

‘Slowly. Tell him, Raj.’

Raj translated this; the other man nodded again, then made his way gingerly over to the locker. He opened it, and after a brief rummage, pulled out a large jerry-can. Trembling, he stepped forward and held it out to Bro.

‘Kerosene,’ said Raj. ‘For you, please.’

‘Cheers,’ said Bro, taking it. ‘Now that wasn’t so fucking hard, was it?’

Twenty minutes later, Bronwen reached the US coast at New Jersey. Another half-hour, and she was high above Delaware. Thirty minutes after that, she had crossed Maryland and was nearing DC. She switched back to whisper mode and activated the jet pack’s anti-radar systems to begin her final approach to the White House. 

When she reached the West Wing, she spotted a security team in the Rose Garden below, and deployed a cloud of non-lethal micro-munitions. A few seconds later, the men collapsed to the ground silently as their brains were deactivated. It had something to do with low frequency EMPs, apparently — Bro was hazy on the details, but the results were certainly impressive. The team would remain unconscious for three hours, perhaps more. They would awake unharmed, but with a headache severe enough to make them vomit. Still, Bro would have to move fast.

She made a perfect touchdown just outside the Oval Office, and peered through the window. The president was sitting at his desk eating a cheap burger and fries, masturbating furiously and peering down at his phone. There was no time to waste. Bronwen grabbed a security key from a member of the downed team, scanned it through the electronic lock, then quietly opened the door and walked in. President Tantrumb didn’t so much as look up; he just shovelled more fries into his mouth. Within a couple of seconds Bro had crossed the short distance between them, and had her gun pressed up against Tantrumb’s temple. 

‘One move and I’ll blow your fucking brains out,’ she hissed. ‘Mr President.’

Incredibly, Tantrumb continued to masturbate. ‘That’s hot,’ he said. ‘Unbelievable. Hot, like you wouldn’t believe. How old are you? You remind me of my daughter. So hot, I’d like to… ohhh Malinka, I’m gonna—’

’That’s enough,’ interrupted Bronwen, now desperate. ‘Take your hands off your cock right now.’

‘Oooohhhh,’ moaned Tantrumb. ‘Yeah, baby. That’s it!’

Bro felt something land on her toes. She didn’t dare look down; she could imagine it all too well; it would be green, she thought; green and slimy.

‘That was tremendous,’ said the President. ‘You’re a real piece of ass, you know that? Those shoes, baby. So sexy. So, so sexy. Really. You wouldn’t believe the shoes.’

‘Shut the fuck up, pervert. You’re coming with me.’

‘Okay, yeah. I’d like that a lot. Can I finish my burger?’

‘You can take it with you. But put your cock away first.’

Tantrumb grinned at her. ’Why don’t you put it away for me?’

Bro pressed the gun harder against Tantrumb’s head. ‘Do it.’

‘Sure,’ Tantrumb nodded, then reached down to tuck himself in.

Bronwen reached into her backpack and pulled out a gag and a length of rope, which she placed on the desk before rummaging around again to retrieve a small folder.  ‘I’m going to tie you up. But first, I want you to sign these papers.’ She opened the folder and pushed a small stack of paperwork across the desk, then handed Tantrumb a pen.

‘Oh, fuck yeah,’ said the President. ‘Where’ve you been all my—‘

Bro slapped his face. ‘This is not a sex thing,’ she said. ‘I’m here to save the world. Sign here, please.’ 

‘Fantastic,’ said Tantrumb, adding his scrawl to the first page. ‘Can I help?’

‘No,’ said Bronwen. ‘I don’t think you can.’ 

‘That’s too bad,’ replied Tantrumb, working his way through the documents. ‘Cos there’s no-one better. I’ve saved the world many times. Every day, if you really want to know. Every day. Not all the time. But constantly. I’m a very heroic person. It’s incredi—‘

At last, Bronwen forced the gag into Tantrumb’s mouth, and began to tie him up.

‘Mmmff,’ managed the president. ‘Mmoogh.’

‘Alright,’ said Bronwen. ‘Time to go.’

She collected the remains of Tantrumb’s meal and stuffed them into her rucksack. Then she slung the president over her shoulders and carried him out through the doors to the Rose Garden. There Bro reactivated her jet pack and flew up to dump Tantrumb on the roof inside a small tent, which she affixed firmly to a chimney stack. After a moment’s thought, she used another length of rope to attach the President to the chimney as well. Now at least he couldn’t wriggle his way to the edge and fall off.

‘You’ll be safe here,’ she said. ‘For a while, at least. I’ll be back to check on you in an hour or two.’ She placed his half-eaten burger and fries by his side, then checked her watch.

‘Mmph-mm,’ said Tantrumb. ‘Mmmfff!’

‘I’ll be back later,’ said Bro, removing the gag. ‘I have a couple of things to do first.’

She jetted back down to the Rose Garden and re-entered the Oval Office, this time locking the door shut behind her. After stashing her jet pack in a closet, she found a box of tissues sitting on the big desk (the ‘Resolute Desk’, if she was not mistaken). Bronwen quickly wiped away the Presidential semen, which had spilled across the carpet as well as her feet. She flushed the tissues down the toilet, then washed and dried her hands thoroughly. She checked her nails and makeup, straightened her wig, and smoothed down her eyebrows before leaving. She made her way back to the Resolute Desk, then reached into her front pocket to retrieve Nibbles, who under the circumstances appeared in excellent spirits. She held him for a few moments, stroking his belly, before placing him on the desk, just in front of the big leather chair. She shook a few more sunflower seeds from the packet and placed them nearby. Nibbles immediately set to work stuffing them into his cheek-pouches. 

A moment later, there came a knock on the door. Bronwen had been expecting this. ‘Stay calm, my friend,’ she murmured. ‘It’s gonna be fine.’ But Nibbles was far too busy to respond.

‘Come in,’ said Bronwen, raising her voice.

The door swung open to admit the White House Press Secretary, Steffi Grimes, armed to the teeth with a clipboard — bubblegum pink and covered in sparkles. She caught sight of Bronwen and screamed. ‘Security! Security!’

‘I am the fucking security,’ growled Bro. ‘Did you miss the memo?’

‘What?’ Steffi frowned. ‘A memo?’

‘Yes, a fucking memo.’ Bro turned to glare at Nibbles. ‘Mr President?’

Nibbles said nothing, but continued stuffing his cheeks.

Bro sighed in exasperation. ‘Some things never change.’

Steffi stared at Nibbles open-mouthed for several seconds. ‘That’s a hamster,’ she managed.

‘That is correct,’ said Bro.

Just then, a contingent of security guards arrived, guns drawn. ‘Hands behind your head,’ yelled one — presumably the commanding officer. ‘Don’t move or we’ll shoot!’

‘What the fuck?’ exclaimed Bronwen, complying. ‘Are you really this fucking incompetent?’ She shook her head. ‘I’d heard the stories, but this… I mean, fucking hell! It’s beyond parody.’

‘Who the hell are you?’ demanded Steffi.

‘Fuck’s sake.’ Bro sighed in exasperation. ’My name’s Bronwen Antleton. I’m the President’s personal security consultant.’ She inclined her head towards the hamster.

’Since when?’ demanded the security chief. 

‘Today. Did you not get the memo either?’

‘No, we did not.’

‘Ah. Well, as you know President Tantrumb can be fucking absent-minded at times. I’m sure he can clear this shit up, though.’ She turned once more to speak to Nibbles. ‘Right, President Tantrumb?’

‘That’s a hamster.’

‘Yeah. No flies on you, eh? You’ll find the paperwork right there. It’s all in order, I assure you. Now would you lower your fucking guns please?’

‘Where the fuck is President Tantrumb?’

‘Are you blind? He’s right there, eating his dinner.’

‘The hamster?’

‘Certainly.’

‘What is going on here?’ cried Steffi.

‘The President has transitioned. He identifies as a hamster now. I told him it would cause trouble, but he was adamant. I suggested he put the thing in writing but as fucking usual he forgot to distribute the memo.’

‘You’re telling me the President is now a hamster?’ cried Steffi. ‘Do you really expect me to believe that?’

‘Sure.’ Bro shrugged. ’Am I not a woman?’

‘But, but…’ spluttered Steffi. ‘That’s not the same thing!’

‘Of course it is.’

‘Wait a minute,’ said the security chief. ‘You’re Brock Antleton, the Hardest Man In the Whole Fucking World! Aren’t you?’

‘Bronwen. Brock is my deadname. But fuck yeah.’

‘Oh, wow! I’ve always wanted to meet you! You’re my hero!’

The rest of the team nodded and murmured their agreement.

‘Heroine,’ said Bro.

‘What?’

‘I’m a woman. So it’s not “hero”. It’s “heroine”.’

‘Oh. Yes, of course. Sure. So you’re the hardest… woman?… in the whole fucking world?’

Bronwen shrugged. ‘I would fucking think so, yeah.’ She sighed. ‘Look, I know it’s confusing. If it helps, you can just call me Bro.’

‘Bro,’ grinned the chief. ‘Fuck yeah! Alright guys — lower your weapons.’

‘Wait,’ said Steffi. ‘Let’s take a look at those papers.’ She walked over to the desk, picked them up, and read quickly through the contents. ‘Oh Lordy,’ she muttered. ‘It’s this for real?’ She read them again, then sighed in resignation. ‘This —’ she held up the top sheet ‘— is an executive order to the effect that President Tantrumb henceforth identifies as a hamster… named Nibbles.’

President Nibbles,’ said Bro, holding up a finger.

‘Yes. It also says that in the interests of the continued smooth running of this administration, and to avoid undue confusion and distress to the People, we may continue to call him Tantrumb until such time, etc etc.’

‘That was my idea,’ said Bronwen. ‘And it wasn’t fucking easy to persuade him, believe me.’

‘Yes, we all know how difficult the President can be.’ Steffi sighed. ‘Alright boys, lower your weapons, please. I guess this’ll have to go through legal, but that can wait. Right now we’ve got much bigger problems.’

‘Ah, yes. The pandemic.’

‘That’s right.’ Steffi checked her watch. ‘The President’s due to address the nation in less than half an hour. I came here to brief him, but… well, now he’s a hamster.’

’I get you.’ Bronwen thought for a moment. ‘How about some subtitles?’

’Hm,’ replied Steffi, considering. ‘You know, this could be a lucky break.’

‘Really?’ said Bro. ’You think?’

The broadcast began with an image of the US flag. Old Glory rippled gently across the screen, accompanied by a recording of the national anthem — first verse only. Then it cut to a feed of the Oval Office. President Nibbles sat in the centre of the Resolute Desk, his beady eyes focused on the camera in an expression of utter gormlessness. He clutched a bit of carrot in his paws as the subtitles rolled across the screen below:

My fellow Americans. Today marks a turning point in our history in more ways than one. For over seventy years, I have been living a lie, but at last I must speak the truth — I am, and have always been, a hamster. But I am also an American. And today, we Americans find ourselves in an unprecedented situation. As I speak to you this evening, the deadly coronavirus continues to ravage this great nation. Over a million of our fellow citizens have died, with twenty million infected by this foreign scourge upon our land. 

Suddenly Nibbles dropped the carrot. His left rear paw twitched twice, then disappeared in a blur as he scratched furiously at his haunch.

The greatest land, really. You wouldn’t believe how great. Tremendously great. And pure. This is the greatest, purest country in history, the greatest ever. Let’s give ourselves a hand! Yes. We’re great. I promised to make America great again. Remember that? Of course you do. Did I keep my promise? I always, all my promises, I keep them. Well, not all, but I keep them. 

Nibbles tipped forward clumsily to land on his feet. His whiskers twitched as he sniffed the air. He began to waddle slowly offscreen.

But this virus, it’s serious. You wouldn’t believe how serious it is. So, so serious. Until now, I didn’t realise how serious it was. It’s bad, I admit it. I do. And I won’t say I’m not perfect, but I’m pretty great. And I’ve been talking to a lot of people. Good people. The best. And I have to tell you now, and I mean it — you need to stay indoors. 

Before Nibbles could disappear from the shot, a hand entered it; well-manicured with bright purple nails, but large and rather hairy. It picked the hamster up and returned him to the centre of the screen, just behind the abandoned chunk of carrot. He sniffed at it disinterestedly, then sat back and began to wash his ears.

Just sit your ass on the sofa, and watch Netflix. Order pizza. Eat pretzels — don’t choke on them though, cos our hospitals are full. We won’t be able to help you. But don’t go out. Don’t go to work, unless you’re a doctor or a nurse or an expert on pizza or something like that. There’ll be a list. But don’t go out. And don’t hang around in groups. No barbecues, no frat parties. Nothing. You’ll kill people. 

Nibbles finished washing his ears, then pressed a paw to his right cheek and drew it forward several times in rapid succession, dislodging a sunflower seed which plopped out onto the desk. He picked it up and chewed rapidly around the seam, then levered the husk open with his teeth, spat it out, and began munching on the kernel.

Now, I know we’re all worried about the economy, but don’t be. It’s bullshit. That’s right, I said it. The economy is total bullshit. Money is bullshit. It’s created out of thin air. Not even that. It’s just numbers in a computer. It’s a figment of our imagination. That’s right. Don’t believe me? You think you know better than the President of the United States — the greatest country that ever lived? Who knows better? No-one, that’s who. You know why? Cos I’m a billionaire! That’s right. It’s a lot of money. I’m worth billions. Only I’m not. The whole thing is bullshit. It always was. 

Nibbles stopped munching midway through the kernel. He left it hanging from his mouth and lowered his front paws to the desk. He stood completely still, and his expression, already vapid, grew blanker still. After several seconds, a spreading pool of yellow liquid appeared behind him. He took a few steps forward before continuing his meal. 

So there’s no need to worry about money. Because now I’m a hamster. And you can take that to the bank. It’s the truth. And I promise you this: I am going to sort this thing out. Do you trust me? You should. Because I’m the best hamster in the whole wide world. 

The hairy, well-manicured hand moved back into shot, lifted the hamster, and tipped him backward. A second hand, similar in appearance, extended a painted finger to point at the President’s genitals.

Don’t believe me? Look at the size of my balls! You can trust me — who else can you trust? I am an American. And over in Europe, with all their la-di-dah wine and stinky cheese; they think they’re better than us, but it’s a big mess over there. Everybody knows it; I’m just saying it. But do they have a hamster in charge? Of course they don’t! It’s gonna take a real hamster to solve these problems. An American hamster. And now we have one — me. And I promise I’ll get us all through this. I will. 

So trust me. And stay put, folks! That’s all you need to do. 

The hamster was placed back on the desk, and the hands withdrew from shot once again. President Nibbles stared at the camera a few seconds longer. Then the broadcast cut back to Old Glory, and the national anthem played once again. The Presidential address was complete.

Steffi looked up from her phone, overjoyed. ’They’re loving the hamster,’ she said. ‘They think he’s cute.’

‘They’re not wrong,’ said Bro. She picked Nibbles up and gave him a little kiss. ‘Well done, Mr President.’

‘Hashtag #PresidentBigBalls is trending worldwide. There’s a few people confused, of course — but that’s nothing new. Much less outrage than usual — even from the liberals! But it’s early days yet.’

‘You think people will listen? You think they’ll stay the fuck indoors?’

Steffi poked at her phone. ’Too soon to say. But we should set up a live feed.’

‘Right,’ said Bronwen. ‘We need a cage, asap. With a fucking wheel. Also a water bowl, saltlick, all that stuff. And plenty of straw. Or shredded paper.’

A nearby aide nodded. He’d been taking notes. ‘I’ll get onto it right away,’ he said. ‘Hot damn! I think we’re gonna win this thing!’

‘Slow your fucking roll, dude,’ said Bro. ‘You don’t wanna jinx it.’

‘Yes, sir! I mean, ma’am.’

‘That’s right,’ replied Bro. ‘And don’t you fucking forget it.’

Half an hour later, Bronwen was alone once more with the President, who was now lying on his back, fast asleep and snoring adorably. Bro walked over to peek out into the Rose Garden. The downed security team remained out of action — for now. She checked her watch; it had been two hours, maybe a little more. She still had time.

Bro pulled her jet pack out of the closet, put it on, and did a quick systems check; there was still a half-tank of fuel left; more than enough for her immediate purposes. She unlocked the door and stepped out, then blasted her way back up to the roof.

President Tantrumb — former President Tantrumb — was still lying in the tent where Bronwen had left him. Despite his bonds he had managed to consume the rest of his burger and fries, and his face was now smeared in ketchup and what Bro hoped was just mayonnaise. His eyes lit up as she entered the tent. 

‘Hey baby!’ he said. ‘Wanna sit on my face?’

Bronwen ignored this, but reached over to pull him upright.

‘Did we save the world?’ asked Tantrumb. 

‘Not yet,’ admitted Bro. She thought for a moment. ‘What the fuck am I gonna do with you?’

‘I got a few ideas.’ Tamtrumb leered. ‘Know what I mean?’

‘Shut the fuck up, will you? I can’t think.’

‘Can I kiss your feet, baby? I’d like to lick ketchup off those feet.’

‘You’re disgusting,’ said Bro. ‘There’s a fucking pandemic. People are dying, and all you can think about is your…’ She trailed off. ‘Hmm. You like ketchup, do you?’

‘Love it. I’m a big fan. The biggest. So, so big. No-one loves ketchup more than me.’

‘Right. Cos I could go for a burger right now.’

‘Oh me too! Yeah, baby! And large fries. With plenty of ketchup.’ The former President licked his lips. ‘Ketchup and pussy. You wouldn’t believe it. Yum yum.’

Bronwen took a moment to get her temper under control. ‘Right then,’ she said. ‘Let’s go get a fucking burger. And for you, a job.’

They jetted down from the roof and made their way to McTwattles, where business was slow. They were served by a spotty, disinterested teenager with a runny nose and thick glasses, whose name-badge identified him as Jimmy Griesz, branch manager. He shot Tantrumb a quizzical look as he handed them their order. 

‘You look just like President Tantrumb,’ he said. ‘Before, you know…’

’He’s an impersonator,’ said Bronwen, moving quickly to stamp on the President’s foot. 

Tantrumb shrieked. ‘I’ll lock you up, you goddamn pansy! I’m the greatest President there’s ever been! I’m a billionaire! How dare you!’

‘Hey,’ said Jimmy. ‘That’s pretty good.’

‘He does children’s parties. I’m his manager. I tell you, he’s a real professional — never breaks character.’ Bro shrugged. ‘Course, he’s gonna be out of work now the real President’s transitioned.’

’Sure,’ nodded Jimmy. ’That’s gotta be rough.’

‘You got any openings? You know, for a clown?’

Tantrumb was indignant. ’A clown? I’m the goddamn President! Who the hell are you, anyway?’

Jimmy laughed. ‘He’s funny. I’ll give him that.’

‘Right?’ said Bronwen. ‘So, how about it?’

‘Aww, man.’ Jimmy screwed up his face. ‘You know, I’d love to help out a fellow artist, but… business is slow, you know? And anyway, it all goes through corporate.’ He shook his head. ‘Sorry friend, but I can’t help you.’

Bronwen sighed. ‘Okay, dude. I understand. Thanks anyway.’

They left McTwattles and returned to the White House. In the Rose Garden, the security team had returned — more or less — to their senses. Bro cursed under her breath, then landed in front of them, dropping Tantrumb smoothly off her shoulders.

‘Who’s in command here?’ she barked. ’Speak up.’

A man roughly the size and shape of a bear scowled and stepped forward. ‘I am,’ he said. ‘Major Simeon Pratt.’

Bro stabbed a finger at him. ’Wrong,’ she said. ‘What’s the matter, been sleeping on the fucking job, have you?’

‘Err,’ said Major Pratt. He shuffled his feet. ‘We may have been—’

‘I’m not interested in your fucking excuses. Listen up, cunts. I’m in charge now. Bro fucking Antleton. Heard of me?’

‘You’re… Brock Antleton?’ Pratt squinted at her. ‘The Hardest Man In The Whole Fucking World?’

‘Yeah, that’s me. Or at least, it was.’ 

‘It’s an honour to meet you, sir.’

‘Yeah, well I’m your new commanding officer, so don’t get too fucking friendly. And it’s Bronwen now. Get it?’

‘Yes, sir.’ Pratt nodded. ‘We’ve been briefed.’

‘And did you sleep through that too? Cos it’s not sir — it’s ma’am.’

‘Yessir.’

‘It. Is. Ma’am.’

‘Yessir,’ replied Pratt. ‘Ma’am, sir.’

’That’s fucking better.’ She pointed to Tantrumb, who was eating fries and staring vacantly at a nearby rosebush. ‘Do you recognise this fuckwit?’

‘Yessir, ma’am, sir. That’s President—‘

‘Does that look like a fucking hamster to you?’

‘No, sir. Ma’am.’

‘That is not a hamster. Agreed?’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘Good. And President Tantrumb is a hamster, is he not? You said you were briefed.’

‘Yes, ma’am. But—‘

 ‘I will have your guts for fucking garters, do you understand me, Major Pratt?’ Bronwen bellowed. 

‘Yes, ma’am!’

‘Is President Tantrumb a hamster, or not?’ 

‘Yes, ma’am! He is a hamster, ma’am.’

‘And is that a fucking hamster?’ Bro pointed.

‘That is not a hamster, ma’am.’

‘So how the fuck can it be the President of the United States?’ screamed Bronwen. ‘You fucking moron — don’t you know anything? This is the pre-transitioned body of President Tantrumb. It’s just a lifeless husk.’

‘He’s eating a hamburger, ma’am.’

‘So what? Does he look conscious to you, Major?’ Bronwen stared at Tantrumb for a moment. ‘Well, maybe just barely. But the point stands.’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

’So what are we going to do with him?’

‘Ma’am?’

‘We can’t keep this fucking thing in the White House, can we? Imagine how much trouble it would cause. People are so easily confused.’ Bro grimaced. ‘No way. We’re in deep enough shit as it is. We need to get rid of him. So, Major — what would you recommend?’

Pratt gulped. ‘Err… May I confer with my team? Ma’am?’

‘Alright. But make it quick.’

The Major turned to his men, drew them into a huddle, and spoke in hushed tones. There was a brief discussion, then the Major nodded, and turned back to Bronwen. There was a smile on his face.

‘Guantanamo,’ he said. ’That should do it.’

‘He’s not a fucking terrorist!’

‘Maybe not.’ Pratt shrugged. ‘But he’s a serious threat to the President. An enemy of the state.’

‘Hmm,’ said Bro. ‘I see your point, Major.’ She thought for a moment. ‘Okay — so how do we do this? What’s the process?’

‘It’s simple, ma’am. We brown him up with a bit of shoe polish, call him Abdul or something; Abdul Raheem Mohammed. Then we trump up some charges, and suddenly he’s the boogeyman. I make one phone call, and it’s done — he’s headed for Cuba. I can have a chopper here in thirty minutes.’

Bronwen grinned. ’Perfect,’ she said. ‘Get it done.’

The next day, the Presidential cage arrived, and was set up with several webcams to broadcast round-the-clock coverage of the hamster’s activities; news channels were soon dominated by highlight reels featuring moments of particular cuteness.

Over the following weeks, Americans sat at home glued to their screens, enchanted by the President’s antics. Even church services moved online. Pretzel sales increased almost ten-fold, and beer was plentiful. 

A team of experts was brought in to manage the nation’s response to the pandemic, and to coordinate with other countries. The President stayed in his cage eating carrots, and did not intervene. Sanctions against official enemies were relaxed, and shipments of vital food, medicine and supplies began criss-crossing the globe to wherever they were needed most. 

Trillions of dollars, euros and yen were magicked into existence and distributed to the people of the world. A coordinated international effort was made to seize offshore assets and put them to work funding rapid development of green technologies. Representatives of the banking and oil industries complained bitterly, but were quickly told to shut the fuck up or face a firing squad. Carbon-emissions decreased markedly. Wildlife returned to the cities and began to take over. Footage of goats, deer and other cute animals flooded the airwaves.

After three weeks, it became clear the rate of new infections was in decline. A month after that, it had slowed to a crawl. Bit by bit, restrictions were cautiously lifted, and America got back to work.

The President’s approval rating soared, and the Democrats began to panic. Following his disastrous performance in the first head-to-head debate, it had finally dawned on them that their favoured Presidential candidate, Senator Joey Boring, stood no chance at all of beating a hamster in the race for the White House. He eventually dropped out of the running and was replaced by a last-minute alternative candidate — a long-haired guinea pig named Blossom. But it was too little, too late. In late November, with the virus all but conquered, President Nibbles was returned to office in a landslide, resulting in exuberant celebrations around the world. 

Bronwen left Nibbles to it, and returned to the UK to continue her media career. She had no further need for his emotional support; after all, she was The Hardest Woman In The Whole Fucking World! And she could always get another hamster.

Caveman Hom – Introduction

[Index]

Over a year ago, I began a series of stories about a caveman named Hom, whose tribe is plunged into chaos by the appearance of a man, Tra, who claims to be a woman. 

At first these stories were just a bit of light relief — a way to ridicule beardy wokebro philosophers who believe in gender identity. Stone age people surely lacked the intellectual sophistication necessary to be fooled by such nonsense, and it amused me to imagine how such people might respond to it.

The stories became more complex, and the characters took on a life of their own. Those who write fiction are familiar with this mysterious process, whereby the characters develop their own feelings, motivations and personalities, and events unfold in unexpected ways. This is one of the most enjoyable things about writing fiction, and it’s often under-appreciated by those who only read it.

The earliest Hom stories were written in very simple language, but this soon became inadequate to the task of conveying the rich inner life of a stone age tribe. 

More and longer words were needed in order to tell the story. It’s been tempting to go back and rewrite the first few stories to match the style of the later ones, but I feel that would be cheating.

So instead, I have made up a stupid theory to account for the tribe’s rapid rise in cultural sophistication: 

Simply put, the idea of trans people was so baffling to the tribe that they were forced to exercise their brains to previously unknown levels, simply in order to make sense of it. 

As they grappled with the concept, their vocabulary and capacity for abstract thought improved rapidly. After inventing sexism and gender roles, they developed new weapons and new ways of hunting pig, before moving on to invent arithmetic, farming, and politics. 

Thus, the rapid development from the stone age until modern times is in no small part thanks to the existence of trans people — just as the woke folk claim! Without trans people, we would surely still be living in caves. We owe them a great debt.

I’m tired of the trans ‘debate’. I’m tired of endless wokebro philosophers and other assorted idiots chipping in to lecture us about clownfish and seahorses. I simply cannot take these people seriously. They deserve only ridicule. 

In particular, I’ve had enough of fiction writers lending their support to such nonsense. These are people who make up stories for a living — they should be the first ones to call out bullshit when they see it. But far too many are asleep at the wheel. They’d rather defend the indefensible than risk upsetting their audience. They’re useless. 

I sometimes wonder if Rushdie’s Satanic Verses would be published today — would it ever survive a ‘sensitivity read’? I doubt it. It’s a brilliant, hilarious book, but it’s clearly calculated to piss people off.

Rushdie may be a twat, but he is also a writer of enormous talent. If you read only one of his books, make it that one. 

I’ve had great fun writing these stories. I don’t expect them to be taken seriously, and I don’t know if there’s a moral to them, or to what extent they fit with feminist perspectives. 

I wrote them for myself, not some imaginary audience. If people like them, that’s great. One day, there may be more. But whatever happens, I plan to continue taking the piss. Because some topics are ripe for it.

[First Episode]

The Female Vibe: A Man Among Women at WPUK

On Saturday 1st February I attended the WPUK meeting at UCL in London. The day began early; at 6am myself and my girlfriend (Queen Bitch aka QB) got up, had coffee, and made our way to Brighton Station. There we met friends, and caught the train up together, chatting along the way. 

At Euston we made our way to the venue by guesswork and Google maps, until we came close enough to hear the cries of the protesters outside the venue. The adrenaline began to flow, but spirits remained high. I was curious to see the angry mob for myself, and wondered how they would react to seeing me, a man with brown skin, attending a meeting of women who are routinely branded as nazis, manhaters, and white supremacists. Would I be labelled, in the lunatic words of Kerry-Anne Mendoza, a ‘turncoat of colour’? I didn’t know what to expect, but I felt no fear. I was with friends, and whatever happened, we would keep each other safe. 

When we arrived at the venue, I was disappointed. There were perhaps thirty protesters, chanting. ‘Be nice, trans rights!’ I think they were saying. I agreed with them. 

A few other attendees were hanging about outside, smoking and chatting. There was no sense of fear or threat. I scanned the faces of the protesters; to me they looked mostly like young women; perhaps a few identified as non-binary, but it was hard to tell. Upon closer inspection, I saw that behind them were a few people who looked male — perhaps men or non-binary folks, or even transwomen. 

At first I wondered why the male-looking people were hiding behind the female ones, but then it occurred to me that some of those women likely had cis-privilege, or cis-passing privilege, and had therefore been strategically placed to protect the more marginalised male individuals in the group from potential attack from imaginary nazis. 

The bravery of these young women was impressive, for not ten feet away, small groups of women continued to greet one another with hugs, smiles and laughter. I looked again at the protesters; I discerned no fear in their faces, and little sign of determination. I felt no hostility toward them, only love. I was happy they were standing up for their beliefs, even though I think those beliefs are silly.

Smiling, I tried to make eye contact. I am not certain, but I think a few smiled back. They seem nice, I thought; perhaps later I’ll talk to them. But for now, it was time to go in. 

Near the entrance was the welcoming committee, which included a small woman with kind face and a big smile. Her name was Jo, and I took her to be a lesbian. After exchanging introductions, she gave QB a big hug and shook my hand. We showed our tickets and entered the venue. Milling about in the foyer, QB spotted Linda Bellos and ran up to fangirl at her. ‘Linda Bellos!’ she cried. ‘You’re a star! Can I hug you?’

‘Oh, no, no,’ said Linda. ‘That makes me very uncomfortable. I’m not a star. I really don’t like that stuff, it feeds into the ego and you have to be very careful about that sort of thing. But I can hug you as a sister.’ 

Hugs were duly exchanged. Linda spotted me nearby, clocked me as a man, and approached. ‘What I would really like,’ she said, ‘is for men to get together, as men, and talk about masculinity. I think that’s very important.’

‘I agree completely,’ I replied. It was the truth. She nodded, apparently satisfied. For me, the theme of the day was now set.

 We made our way downstairs where we found an abundance of tea, coffee and pastries, and a large crowd of friendly women.

‘That vibe,’ said QB. ‘Female!’

‘Yep,’ I said. ‘It’s great.’

‘This is what they’re jealous of,’ she said. ‘This vibe.’

‘Transwomen? Maybe, yeah.’

‘It’s nuts.’

‘The crazy thing is, they could have it,’ I said. ‘Sort of. Partake of it, I mean. But… not by force.’

’They don’t get it,’ she said. ‘Cos they’re men.’

‘Yeah,’ I shrugged. ‘It’s very sad. I wish those protestors could come in and feel this; the women, at least. Imagine! Maybe they’ve never experienced it.’

‘Aaargh! It’s all so silly!’

I’m lucky, I thought. I’ve spent a lot of time in female spaces, where there are far more women than men, and have always felt comfortable. There’s something about the energy, whatever that means — the vibe. What causes this vibe, I don’t know; the sound of women’s voices, perhaps, or some subconscious smell that has to do with pheromones; the smell of mothers and sisters and nans, of friends, and of every woman I’ve loved, or even just met. 

I don’t know what the cause is. But mixed spaces feel very different to me; as the proportion of men increases, the energy quickly becomes male-dominated. The female vibe is swamped by the male, and I no longer feel comfortable; instead, I get a sense of threat. It’s hard to explain why this is; perhaps pheromones, again? But if I as a man can feel that, how could women not feel it too, and more intensely? 

But how could men understand this — especially those who’ve never felt that female vibe, or who are not comfortable with it? Perhaps they sense something amiss, and seek to change that vibe to suit themselves? Perhaps it never occurs to them to make themselves small, to refrain from broadcasting their own male energy, to relax and let the femaleness wash over them? Will men understand these things, if I talk about them? Will they look at me strangely, and make foolish remarks about rationality? Could I explain my feelings to them? Perhaps not. But women will understand.

We had the chance to sign up for various panels and workshops, but we felt overwhelmed by the choices available, and in the end decided not to. After all, we had come mainly to hear the speeches and to hang out and talk with women. I am quiet, shy, introverted, depressive, and feel awkward in social situations. I rarely approach people; I don’t want to bother them, particularly women, who surely have more interesting people to talk to than me. QB is more smiley and outgoing, so she takes the lead in such things. I couldn’t stop her if I tried.

So we milled about, spotting familiar faces and saying hello, until it was time to enter the auditorium, where we met up with our friend Diane and settled in to listen to the opening speeches. These were inspiring, and have been written about by others. 

My favourite speaker was Pragna Patel, founder of Southall Black Sisters, who spoke of the women’s movement of the seventies and eighties — my childhood, in the days of apartheid South Africa. I am a child of apartheid; both my parents grew up in that country — a white English woman and a Natal Indian man. They came to the UK to study, where they met at a foreign students’ society and fell in love. As a mixed-race couple, their relationship would have been illegal in South Africa at that time, so they made a life together in England. My father became a barrister, specialising in cases of racial and sexual discrimination. These issues, as well as goings on in South Africa, were part of the scenery of my childhood, and much of what Pragna said struck a chord in me. I felt a deep sense of resurgence, of belonging. I was with my sisters, but I was not one of them. I was a brother.

I surveyed the audience, trying to spot other men. There were only a few — out of some nine-hundred people, perhaps fifty were men, but I doubt it. I’d say it was more like twenty. I was a little disappointed. Do men not care? How can they not care? But this was a women’s conference. If there were too many men there, we’d fuck up the vibe. And perhaps more men had bought tickets, and chosen to pass them on to women. I hope so.

But I was there. And I had been tasked by Linda Bellos herself to discuss masculinity with men. It’s an important task, but I have no idea how to proceed. What the fuck do I know about masculinity? How can I possibly talk about such a thing — with men, of all people? I am not good with men.

Shortly after I was ‘terfed’ I became so enraged about the idea of ‘gender identity’ that I wrote a satirical thread on Twitter in which I ‘realised’ that I was a woman after all. 

Exploring My Gender

Apparently this was pretty convincing; I received messages of support, and QB received a text from her mum, who was a bit concerned. I was taking the piss, but (almost) everything I said about myself was true. I have as much claim to womanhood as any other man — zero. But if I spin things a certain way, many people could be persuaded otherwise — and they would lie to my face and call it kindness. They would lie to themselves. I find it hard to believe, but it’s true. 

I cannot be a woman, and I do not ‘identify’ as trans. But given my history, perhaps I too am a ‘refugee from masculinity’? Perhaps I too have found masculinity restrictive, and tried to escape from it? But I have not succeeded. I’m not convinced escape is even possible, for anyone. At least not yet. 

After the speeches, we went outside for a bit. I wanted to vape, and also to see how the protesters were doing. I wondered if by now their numbers had swelled, and their rage ignited. If not, I hoped they would be friendly enough that I could strike up a conversation. I wondered if they could be offered tea, and maybe biscuits? Was this a golden opportunity to strike up a productive dialogue between the two ’sides’?

No, it was not. The protesters had left already. Now just a few women were standing outside, some smoking. I vaped for a bit, then went back in to get tea.

There were feminist icons everywhere! We spotted Julie Bindel, our friend Jane Clare Jones, Rosa Freedman, and numerous familiar faces whose names we could not remember. There were women of all ages and colours, all shapes and sizes and hairstyles. They wore all different kinds of shoes. Around the edges of the room were a variety of stalls run by women’s groups, selling merch and handing out flyers about different feminist issues. There were women from FiLiA, Nordic Model Now!, Object!, and many more. We wandered around, picking up brochures, making purchases, and enjoying friendly banter. Conscious of my maleness, I tried not to get in the way, and nobody complained. I think I was smiling, because people smiled at me. I felt no hostility, no hatred. There was no sense of threat there, only love.

“I feel safe here,” said QB.

“Sure,” I replied. “Why wouldn’t you?”

“Completely safe. In a room full of strangers.” She shook her head. “That’s not normal for me.”

“Huh,” I said. “Because it’s women?”

“I think so, yeah.”

“Me too.”

“I’ve never really felt safe before, with this many people. Not in the same way.”

“There’s no threat of male violence,” I said. “Men, here and there. But no threat.”

“None.”

“It’s the threat, isn’t it? It doesn’t take actual violence, just that sense of threat.”

“Yeah, like it could kick off any moment.”

“Even if actually it doesn’t. I know what you mean.”

“Women need this.”

“I know,” I said. “Maybe men need it too. But… if there were more of us here… it wouldn’t be like this.”

“No.”

“Sometimes I feel bad for men. They’re — we’re missing out.”

“Well, tough shit.”

“I know.” I sighed. “I just wish… I dunno. I wish they could understand. How can I make them understand?”

“You can’t. They don’t want to.”

“Hm. Bunch of weirdos, if you ask me.”

We spotted Hibo Wardere, and QB ran over to fangirl and chat with this warm, humorous, and very chilled out legend. While we were hanging out with Hibo, we bumped into our friend Jen, who told us of her recent adventure travelling to Bristol to retrieve a misplaced box of flyers for the Institute of Feminist Thought. Jen went for a smoke, and returned shortly with another woman, with whom myself and QB fell out badly some time ago. It was briefly awkward; I sensed no real hostility, but we didn’t speak. I hope that didn’t ruin her day; it certainly didn’t ruin ours. Our differences may be irreconcilable, but they are of no real consequence. She may no longer be a friend. But she remains a sister.

Soon it was lunchtime, and sandwiches appeared. We ate a few, and then I did a strange thing — I walked around searching for signs of bigotry. Anything would do — white supremacy, homophobia, hatred of men, venomous lies about trans people, women plotting mass murder — anything! Surely, in such a large gathering, there must be some detectable sign of the hatred commonly ascribed to WPUK and similar groups? Here I was, walking among them with a quizzical expression on my face, and no-one so much as looked at me funny. All I saw was ordinary women eating sandwiches, drinking juice, and talking. There was nothing remotely scary about any of it. I was surrounded, and vastly outnumbered by women commonly smeared as far-right religious fundamentalist man-hating nazi scum who deserve The Wall, and I felt completely safe. It was hard to believe these people could possibly pose a threat to anyone. Men often underestimate women, it’s true — but the fearmongering was clearly bullshit. 

So what, exactly, were the kiddiwinks protesting against? It’s obvious, isn’t it? They were protesting against this: Women gathering to discuss issues of importance to women, in a room infused with female energy. Women who are not concerned with the needs of men, who simply do not care what men think about them. It sounds glorious to me, but apparently it’s terrifying.

‘Transphobia!’ cry the queer activists and their porn-positive wokebro allies. ‘They want to kill us all!’

No, they don’t. They don’t want to kill anyone. They want to gather together to fight for women’s rights, that’s all. So why would queer activists be against that?

‘Transwomen are women! Sex work is work! Our identities are valid!’

What the fuck is going on? What is the actual problem? Why can’t we talk to each other, and try to work things out? Why the smears, the bomb-threats, the no-platforming, the endless bullshit about nazis and clownfish and the feminine penis? Have these people gone completely insane?

No. They’re not insane. They’re not stupid. They’ve been inducted into what amounts to something like a psychotherapeutic cult. The lack of general knowledge about how cults really work has made us vulnerable to social infection, which has taken hold at every level of society. Those who are not yet infected are too terrified to speak out against the disease. 

Twitter and Thought Reform

In order to spread, this disease — this cult-like social infection — takes advantage of vulnerabilities in our society. One such vulnerability is generated by the way masculinity operates on certain kinds of men; men not so different from myself — a minority, perhaps.

Imagine a young man, introverted, socially awkward, and low in confidence. He is seen as ‘unmanly’, or even ‘effeminate’. He finds it hard to fit in with other men. They ridicule him and call him a ‘cuck’. They may physically attack him in the hope he will ‘man up’ and stop being such a ‘pussy’. 

But the cuck does not ‘man up’; he bursts into tears and runs away. The other men call him ‘gay’, but they are wrong — for this man is heterosexual. And he has a potential advantage over other men: due to his gentle nature, women do not perceive him as a threat. They take pity on this man and invite him into their social circle. Here, he is seen for what he is — a sweet and gentle soul. His association with women may even protect him somewhat from male bullying. He may grow in confidence, and feel able, for the first time, to express his personality.

This man comes to appreciate the energy of female spaces. He feels safe there, while male spaces continue to cause him anxiety. He discusses this with his female friends, who can relate to it very well. They come to trust him; they may confide in the man, who learns much about women. In a sense, the man has become an ‘honorary woman’ among his female friends. They may even tell him this.

Sooner or later, this man will develop sexual or romantic feelings towards one or more of his friends. Eventually he may act on those feelings. If he is rejected, he will be flooded with difficult emotions — embarrassment, shame, and even anger. He may react by making a complete dick of himself. 

Now, his female friends will begin to treat him differently. The differences are subtle, but the man is sensitive, perhaps paranoid — and cannot help noticing. And now he feels betrayed. For years, he has been friends with these women! He has watched, helpless, as they are hurt by relationships with men he regards as dickheads and sexists. For years, he has provided a friendly shoulder to cry on. And now, after all he’s done, they dare to reject him? How could they?

Oh, of course they have the right to reject him sexually. But to reject him as a friend, too? To treat him as they would one of those awful sexist men? Those bitches! How they lie! They say they want men to be kind, but they always go for the arseholes! It’s a cliche, but it’s true! Oh, the injustice! 

Something like this has happened to me. It’s normal. But those emotions can be hard to deal with, especially without the support of friends. It took me a while to get over it, but some men never do — instead they develop a deep hatred of women. They might keep that hatred hidden, or instead become incels, and wear it as a badge of pride. 

After lunch we bumped into Dr Em and had a quick chat. Then people went to attend their workshops, and QB and I went for a walk to a local bookshop to browse. We returned in time for tea, biscuits and the closing plenary. After that were the regional meetings, and then drinks! We got chatting to various women (sorry but I didn’t get your names). I expressed some of my thoughts about men, and how we too are harmed by the idea that we can identify as women. We talked about the female vibe. I think I complained at one point about men who just parrot the thoughts of women. That seems pointless to me — since men can’t be feminists, we might as well think for ourselves. Our experience is different from that of women, so why not draw on it? Can we discuss our own experiences, and come to better understand masculinity? I guess we can try.

The story of the ‘cuck’ can go another way. I haven’t experienced this myself, but I can imagine it: suppose this man becomes sexually fixated on the female vibe itself. Now he is aroused by his mere presence within female circles, and relieves himself privately. That female energy comes to play a major role in his sexual fantasies. He feels guilty, for he knows this is a betrayal of trust — but that sense of transgression turns him on even more. 

Soon, the status of ‘honorary woman’ is not enough for him; for sexual reasons, he wants more; he wants to drown in that female vibe. He wants to be accepted as a woman not only by his female friends, but by everyone else as well. 

This man has developed interpersonal autogynephilia — or something like it. And when he learns all about trans identities, he convinces himself he has ‘gender dysphoria’, and declares himself a woman. 

If his female friends reject this, or give any hint that they don’t see him as a real woman — not just an honorary one — he will become enraged. After all he’s done for them, why won’t they participate in his sexual fantasies? It’s not as though he’s asking them to actually do anything! He’s not asking them for sex, just acceptance! They said he was a woman, but they were lying all along! In truth, they see him as a man — a pervert, even! He thought they were his friends, but it turns out they’re evil terfs who want him dead! Oh, the injustice! 

 If his friends reject his newfound womanhood, this man will leave them, and look for a new group of women who can ‘validate his identity’. When he finds some who are prepared to play along, he will make ever-increasing demands. Soon, these ’trans-positive’ women will be working for him full-time to spread the gospel that transwomen are women. They will point to their friend — a once kind and gentle man — as an example of a harmless transwoman, unfairly oppressed by bigots. They will lie to his face, and call it kindness. 

He knows they are lying, and hates them for it. These women have no self-respect, he thinks; they’re just dickpandering! But this also turns him on. At last, his transition is complete: a once decent man has transformed into an arsehole. And if he ever realises what he’s become, he can blame it on those nasty women. He has betrayed his female friends completely — and they have betrayed him. 

When it really matters, a real friend will call you out on your bullshit. Real friendship is rare, particularly between people of different sexes. What is rare is also valuable. For men to ignore the possibility of finding real friendship with women is foolish in the extreme.

If an increasing number of men take this path through life and end up identifying as ‘women’ (perhaps due to our ‘new understanding’ of gender) it will increase the proportion of male people entering female spaces. This will cause the female energy to be swamped by the male — and the space itself will feel different. 

It may be that many young women have simply never experienced that female vibe. They don’t know it, they don’t miss it, and they do not understand its importance to women — and of not allowing its disruption by males. 

Perhaps in the past, transwomen could enter women’s spaces with only minor effects on the energy — due to their tiny numbers. But as the numbers increase, so do the disruptive effects — the tipping point is reached quickly, and the energy becomes masculine. Something important has been lost, and the women do not feel safe. When they object, they are expected to explain the problem logically. But what if it goes deeper than logic; what if it’s something animal — like pheromones? What if it’s just how nature works, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it? What if female-dominated spaces are key to a healthy society? Is it bigotry to defend them, or just wisdom? And do men also need single-sex spaces, where they can discuss masculinity — free from judgement, and free from the distractions of women? Is this something men want? Maybe not. The idea of it scares me. I am not good with men. I suspect a lot of us feel the same way. We don’t want to talk about masculinity — and certainly not with men! Men are weird. I fear they would not understand. 

Some fears seem too hard to face. Perhaps facing them is necessary.

By eight o’clock, after a few drinks and plenty of conversation, we were exhausted. It had been a long day, full of emotions, and despite the wonderful vibes we were in need of escape from the crowd, and a return to introversion. There were many more people I could (and perhaps should) have spoken to, but I was burned out on social contact, and getting twitchy. I’m no good when I’m twitchy.  Filled with love for women, and determined to keep fighting for their rights, we said our goodbyes and left to catch the train.

Since that meeting, several Labour leadership candidates have repeatedly endorsed the idea that WPUK is a hate group, dedicated to harming the rights of trans people. Nothing could be further from the truth. WPUK campaigns for the rights of women and girls. Where there is tension between those rights and the rights of trans people, WPUK seeks dialogue with a view to resolving the difficulties. By opposing women’s rights, the Party undermines the very principles it claims to uphold, and ensures its own destruction. They are making a terrible, stupid mistake. I will never forgive them.

Twitter and Thought Reform

I’ve written about thought reform before, focusing on the ‘woke left’ and ‘transgenderist’ subcultures:

 https://www.critorix.co.uk/essays/cults-deception-and-the-woke-left/

Now I want to talk about how Twitter itself promotes the formation of subcultures, each of which has many characteristics of a thought reform environment.

 On Twitter, several feedback mechanisms are available for tweets. For example, likes and retweets tends to signal approval. When one receives many likes, retweets, and positive replies, one knows one has said ‘the right thing’. The tweets that tend to get most approval are short, pithy, easy to understand, and resonate strongly with the emotions or opinions of the group. Tweets that contradict those opinions, or which go against the dominant emotions, tend to be met with forceful, angry replies, few likes and retweets, and / or blocking. These negative responses then receive the approval of the group. The most emotionally charged tweets tend to receive the most attention, whether negative, positive, or mixed. If there is little response, one feels irrelevant. 

When a tweet ‘goes viral’, the volume of responses can be overwhelming. When strong disapproval is encountered, one may feel attacked (‘swarmed’ or dogpiled’), which can make one wary of expressing similar views again. If there is strong approval, one feels validated (or ‘lovebombed’) — this motivates one to re-express those views. In both cases, onlookers are similarly affected.

Now, consider Margaret Singer’s 6 Conditions for a Thought Reform Environment, and how they relate to the dynamics of Twitter subcultures. NB: these conditions are a sort of ‘weaponisation’ of normal social processes.

What Is A Cult and How Does It Work?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bRBFhMEQFk

1) Deception – Keep the subject unaware of the hidden agenda: 

The (potential) anonymity afforded by Twitter makes it relatively easy for groups or individuals with a hidden agenda to operate, and to exert coercive influence on others.

2) Destabilisation – Control the subject’s physical environment and ‘thinking time’:

Twitter is addictive — in order to maximise profits, it is designed that way. So, although heavy use of Twitter may not promote control of one’s physical environment, it can certainly take control of one’s ‘thinking time’.

3) Dependency and Dread – Create a sense of powerlessness, anxiety and fear:

Twitter mechanisms promote the easy formation of like-minded groups. One can become dependent on membership of these groups for social validation, especially if one feels isolated from ‘normal society’.

4) Disconnection – Suppress the old behaviour and attitudes:

In these groups, there tend to be certain dos and don’ts — some behaviours are punished, while others are rewarded. Therefore, one avoids expressing the ‘wrong’ thoughts for fear of reprisals. In time, one may come to suppress even the thinking of such thoughts.

5) Developing the Cult Pseudopersonality – Elicit new behaviour and attitudes:

In order to get in with the group, one tends to express the approved views. This creates an online image that may be at odds with one’s ‘true’ (or perhaps, former) personality.

6) Denial and Dedication – Maintain a closed system of logic and restrict criticism:

Twitter mechanisms and social pressures promote the blocking and marginalisation of those who express opinions at odds with those of the group. This can lead to significant changes in one’s own core beliefs and behaviour.

Now, consider Steven Hassan’s BITE model, which is essentially another way of describing the same conditions of thought reform. 

https://freedomofmind.com/bite-model/

Here, the group controls one’s Behaviour, Information, Thoughts, and Emotions. It’s easier to consider these in a different order:

1) Control of Information:

The more time one spends on Twitter, the less time one has to seek out alternative sources of information. If one is a member of a relatively closed group, the information one does see tends to reinforce the dominant narratives of the group. Conflicting information tends to be suppressed.

2) Control of Emotions:

When one reinforces the group’s dominant narrative, one receives approval. When one contradicts it, one receives disapproval. Since Twitter mechanisms reward the most emotionally charged tweets, responses can have a strong effect on the emotions.

3) Control of Thoughts:

The influences on one’s emotions, combined with the limited access to information, lead to changes in one’s thinking that make it more compatible with that of the group.

4) Control of Behaviour:

One stops expressing unpopular opinions in favour of those that meet with the group’s approval.

These processes operate in all Twitter subcultures, and are clearly visible: We can think of the Corbynistas, Trumpists, transgenderists (or TRAs), the gender critical movement (or GCs), the alt-right, and many more. In all of these subcultures, the conditions for thought reform exist (to a greater or lesser extent) purely by virtue of the medium itself. 

These various Twitter subcultures are not cults per se, but they operate in much the same way. Many people within these subcultures have noticed this cult-like pattern within other groups, but rarely notice it within their own. They are quick to label others as ‘cultists’, but there is little understanding of what a cult is, and how it works. Instead, the word is used as a slur — it serves only to reinforce one’s own group identity. Thus, this behaviour itself operates as a mechanism of thought reform.

Recently, a number of individuals have broken away from the gender critical movement, to form their own group, which spends its time railing against the cult-like tendencies of both GCs and TRAs. They assure themselves that they alone are seeing things clearly — they think for themselves, and express their opinions without regard to what others may think of them. But this is nonsense. All they have done is swap one social group for another, in which the same social factors are operative, by virtue of the medium itself as well as their own habits of mind.

There is no escape. The fact is that nobody is immune to these influences, no matter how intelligent, well-educated, erudite, or stupid one may be. Human beings are fundamentally social creatures, and we are all susceptible to the toxic influences of our peers. 

So, how can human beings, communicating via social media, guard against thought reform and the creation of cult-like subcultures? It’s not easy. But I recommend we all learn about thought-reform, and actively work to counter it within our own communities. 

http://www.prem-rawat-bio.org/academic/singer.html

Do not allow yourself to be controlled by your emotions. Stop punishing those who go against the grain, and instead reward them with likes and retweets. When you receive likes and retweets, refrain from repeating yourself — think of something new to say, and say that instead. If people attack you, do not retaliate; simply ignore them, or respond with polite neutrality.

When someone makes a comment you’ve heard a thousand times before, recognise its worthlessness, and ignore it. Limit your time on social media. Seek out alternative sources of information, and opinions that differ from your own. Try, at all times, to prove yourself wrong. Do not measure your own value by the perceptions of like-minded individuals, or confuse social status with virtue. 

Don’t let anybody else tell you what to think. And most importantly, stay calm. 

Kinesis, TransRational, and The Hero’s Journey

[Update, April 2020: I note that since I wrote this, Kinesis seems to have taken down his website ‘walkingnaked.weebly.com’. I’ve therefore uploaded pdf versions of the posts referenced here. He’s also renamed his Twitter account to @Kinysis.]

Kinesis has recently returned to Twitter in the guise of @StygianSnow. Several people have written eloquently about their bad experiences with this person (and his organisation TransRational), as a warning to others — especially women — who may be drawn into his orbit. 

https://medium.com/@hatpinwoman/what-to-do-if-someone-is-being-abusive-in-your-online-community-71928758fd18

https://lonelyts.blog/2019/11/23/trust/

https://www.critorix.co.uk/essays/tipping-point/

My own experiences are similar. Until now I’ve not spoken about them in detail, but with Kinesis on the loose again, I feel I must.

The saga of TransRational is long and convoluted. Kinesis describes much of it as ‘drama’, and he is correct. What he does not say is that he himself was the driving force behind that. 

Kinesis is fond of drama, and skilled at painting himself as a Hero locked in battle with dark forces; a perpetual underdog, pure and stout of heart, who will one day surely triumph! His audience roots for him instinctively, and Kinesis takes full advantage. He’s clever with words; he likes to play on our sympathies, and slowly draw us in. He makes drama wherever he goes.

Since Kinesis likes drama so much, I will tell his story in mythic form.

I will draw partly on the work of Joseph Campbell, who describes what he calls ‘the monomyth’ in his famous book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. There he examines legends and folktales from many different cultures to show the underlying structure common to all — the Hero’s Journey — which, from a Jungian perspective, has deep psychological significance. The structure is infinitely flexible; all its stages can be repeated, omitted, shuffled, or elaborated to produce an endless variety of stories. This flexibility can be seen as a weakness — but still, the theory is useful.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero%27s_journey

I will also draw from Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, which describes the monomyth in a format more suited for writers. These ideas are extremely influential in Hollywood, where they’re used often to construct formulaic adventure stories that play well at the box-office. The Lord of the Rings is an obvious example. But the idea of the Hero’s Journey need not be taken so literally — from this perspective Legally Blonde and Pulp Fiction are variations of the same basic story, along with The Lion King, Ratatouille, and The Saga of Caveman Hom. 

Many other stories can be thought of as a Hero’s Journey gone wrong — with disastrous results. The tale of Kinesis is an example of just such a failure.

The Trans Hero’s Journey

There’s a ‘standard narrative’ of transition which can also be thought of as a Hero’s Journey. Perhaps that’s one reason this narrative is so popular — it’s appealing to imagine oneself as a Hero, rather than a misguided fool whose hubris will lead to disaster.

The narrative goes roughly like this:

1. The Ordinary World / A Special Birth

The Hero is born Special due to a mismatch between their Gender Identity (a mystical property of the soul) and the physical characteristics of their sexed body. This causes the Hero great suffering throughout their life.

2. The Call To Adventure

One day, the Hero realises they are Special — not truly of the sex ‘assigned’ at birth.

3. Reluctance / Refusal of the Call

The Hero knows that being Special is a terrible burden, and comes with great responsibilities. The Hero wants to be normal, not Special, and so refuses the burden.

4. Encouraged by a Mentor

The Hero meets others of the same kind, who recognise both the Hero’s Specialness as well as the desire to escape the foul clutches of destiny. They teach the Hero how to shoulder the burden of being a Special person, who is not of the sex ‘assigned’ at birth.

5. Crossing of the First Threshold to Enter the Special World

Despite fierce opposition from family and friends (in the mythic role of Threshold Guardians) the Hero at last accepts the Call to Adventure, and sets out on the arduous quest to change their sexed body to match their Gender Identity, and to be accepted by society as a Valid Person.

6. Tests, Allies and Enemies / The Road of Trials

Family, friends, psychologists and terfs all try to hamper the Hero’s quest, by attempting to discourage and / or  destroy the Hero. These Enemies are motivated by hatred for Heroes, who threaten to upset the established order of the Ordinary World — which (as any successful Hero will discover) is built on lies. Allies appear, and lend aid to the Hero. But beware! Allies and Enemies are not always what they seem, and may Shapeshift from one to the other and back again. 

7. Approaching the Inmost Cave 

The Hero awaits and attends a series of appointments with the gender clinic, all the while battling the evil forces of the terfs, as well as concerned parents and other Enemies. The Hero must remain resolute in the face of danger and multiple setbacks.

8. Crossing the Second Threshold to Face The Ordeal 

The Hero struggles to overcome another group of Threshold Guardians — yet more terfs, bigots, and ignorant medical professionals. If successful, the Hero may begin the process of transition.

9. Reward

Transition is complete — the Ordeal is over! Exhausted, the Hero emerges changed from the Belly of the Beast, blinking in the light.

10. The Road Home to the Ordinary World, Pursued by Enemies

The Hero attempts to gain acceptance by society as a Valid Person. Terfs, family, friends, and the mainstream culture of the Ordinary World conspire to make this extremely difficult. Bigotry against Heroes is rife!

11. Crossing of the Third Threshold / Resurrection

At last, bigotry is defeated, and the Hero is accepted by the society of the Ordinary World. The Hero gains a different identity, and is reborn as a real, Valid Person. 

12. Return with the Boon

During the journey, the Hero has gained deep knowledge of the true nature of gender. The Hero works tirelessly to impart this hard-won knowledge to the denizens of the Ordinary World. Often the Hero will act as a Mentor (or Ally) to another struggling Hero of the same kind, dispensing wisdom and regaling the youngster with glorious tales of the Hero’s past adventures.

Kinesis the Hero – Part One: Transition / The Backstory

Now we come to Kinesis’s personal version of the Transition Myth. It is a highly elaborated variation of the typical such tale, and forms the backstory to the Saga of TransRational. I have no idea how much of this story is true — perhaps none of it — but my information comes chiefly from Kinesis himself. Much of it is available to read on his blog, or has appeared on his Twitter feed at one time or another. There are also a few important details gleaned from private conversations. 

I see this as a story about the development of Kinesis’s sexuality, which is both complex and mysterious. But my purpose is not to shame or ridicule Kinesis for this. Instead, I will ridicule other elements of his story — in which the Hero becomes a fool. 

I regard this entire narrative not as biography, but myth. 

1. The Ordinary World

Kinesis is born into an abusive Calvinist Cult. At first he pays little attention to his penis, which is hidden from view by a diaper. Then potty training begins. At first, Kinesis is aided in his quest to use the potty by his mother. But the day comes when he feels like a Big Boy, and decides to use the potty on his own. This leads to a disturbing confrontation with his own penis, which Kinesis imagines to be a parasitic worm that has laid eggs inside his body. Kinesis is overcome with terror. In order to avoid further trouble with the worm, he decides to continue wearing diapers. For this, he is severely punished by his father, who ties a dirty diaper around his son’s neck and makes him stand in a corner for hours.

(Note: This period — like others — has the (partial) mythic structure of a Hero’s Journey in its own right. The stages of the Journey supposedly reflect the psychological structure of human experience — not just an entire human life from birth to death, but also its constituent adventures.)

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2. First Call To Adventure

At the age of three, Kinesis’s father announces that it is time for Kinesis to become a man — just like him.

3. Reluctance / Refusal of the First Call

Kinesis refuses to become a man like his father. How can he become a man at the age of three? The Call cannot yet be answered, but in the long run, there is no choice. Sooner or later, Kinesis must grow up — and then, surely, he will be a man. The thought of this terrifies him, because he knows that a man must come to terms with the existence of his penis.

4. Encouraged by a Mentor

Kinesis’s father (a sort of ‘Dark Mentor’ figure) continues to inflict cruel punishments upon his son for refusing to become a man. He threatens to put Kinesis in diapers and place him on a blanket in front of the church, unless he stops crying like a baby. Although this is framed as a punishment, Kinesis secretly longs for his father to carry out his threat. But he is never ‘man enough’ to stand up to his father and thus obtain the longed-for punishment / reward. Instead, he stops crying and does his best to fake ‘being a man’. (In part, this is because Kinesis is already unpopular with the other boys, who tease him mercilessly and accuse him of being gay.) 

At other times, Kinesis is forced to eat the same mushy, disgusting broccoli over and over again. (To this day, broccoli upsets him tremendously.) Though he remains uncomfortable with his own penis, his primal terror of the worm begins to fade. 

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4.1. Second Call to Adventure / A Herald

At the age of eight, Kinesis encounters his Aunt, a diaper-wearing transwoman, who is viewed with contempt and disgust by his parents, particularly his father. Kinesis witnesses a scene in which this Aunt, wearing a diaper, is cradled in Kinesis’s mother’s lap and fed with a baby bottle. 

At this time, Kinesis is still wearing diapers in secret whenever possible; this allows him to feel safe, and helps minimise awareness of his dreaded penis. Now, to his horror, he recognises something of himself in his Aunt; he too longs to be babied, to escape the awful consequences of becoming a man. 

This encounter with his Aunt suggests an alternative path for him — could this be his future? His destiny? He is both attracted and repelled by the possibility. His parents view this Aunt as a vile, mutilated creature — an abomination in the eyes of God. Since Kinesis desires to become like his Aunt, is he an abomination too? 

4.2. Reluctance / Refusal of the Second Call.

Overcome with guilt, shame and self-disgust, Kinesis represses his desire to become like his Aunt.

4.3 Third Call to Adventure / Another Herald

Kinesis has a bizarre encounter with a paedophile, in which he learns about semen for the first time. He is oddly excited by the encounter, and perhaps feels the first stirrings of his own sexuality. He is too young and innocent to understand that what happened was sexual abuse. The paedophile’s kindly manner during the encounter stands in direct contrast to the appalling cruelty of Kinesis’s father (who by this time has warned Kinesis that thinking about girls is the same as raping them).

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4.4 Acceptance of the Third Call

This Call cannot be refused, and Kinesis allows himself to become a sexual being. He finds a special way to masturbate without the need to handle his penis, thus incorporating the use of diapers into his burgeoning sexuality. 

5. Crossing of the First Threshold to Enter the Special World

When he is fourteen years old, Kinesis’s parents separate. His mother leaves the Cult, taking him and his siblings with her. The children share their time between both parents, thus repeatedly crossing the Threshold between the two worlds. Gradually, the Ordinary World of the Cult comes to seem strange, and the Special World of the Outsiders grows more familiar. 

6. Tests, Allies and Enemies: The Road of Trials

Kinesis, now a young adult, must learn how to live in the mysterious Special World of the Outsiders. He finds he is hampered by his upbringing in the Ordinary World of the Cult, which has left him with extreme anxiety, and crippled by guilt and self-disgust. He alleviates the anxiety by continuing to wear diapers, which still bring great comfort. Without them, he is unable to function — sexually or otherwise. 

He is extremely confused and conflicted about his sexuality. He performs numerous sex-acts on men, but for him this does not count as homosexuality — which he still believes to be sinful. At the same time he frequents the local fetish scene and embarks on a string of dysfunctional relationships with women. He is subjected to further emotional and sexual abuse — sometimes perpetrated by women who find his diaper fetish an attractive feature. But he has no sexual attraction to these women, and is unable to satisfy their most basic erotic desires. 

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6.1 Encouragement from a Second Mentor

Kinesis encounters a mysterious Old Man who will, over the course of years, school him in the ancient spiritual traditions of the East. This will provide him with Magical Knowledge that will aid him greatly in future adventures.

(Somewhere along the journey, Kinesis has become a musician, a writer, a sculptor and a painter. These are significant accomplishments, but little is known about this part of his story. Eventually, under the Old Man’s tutelage, he will round out his skill-set by becoming a Shaman.)

6.2 Continuation of the Road of Trials / Apotheosis

Following an incident with a male friend in which Kinesis is overcome with lust for the young fellow, Kinesis’s girlfriend concludes that he is a repressed homosexual man. Kinesis denies this, and claims to be bisexual — but the girlfriend is unconvinced. 

Towards the end of this period, Kinesis has a great spiritual revelation which causes him to lose his fear of death. That night he finds himself sporting a sturdy erection, and is overcome by the need for sexual release — he must fuck something, anything! Fortunately his girlfriend is nearby, and he avails himself of her vagina. For the first time he is able to satisfy her sexually, despite feeling no sexual attraction for her whatsoever — at that moment, all she is to him is a convenient hole. Afterwards, he feels utterly disgusted with himself for using her in this way. The relationship ends not long after.

But miraculously, Kinesis is free at last from his compulsion. Once, he allowed the fetish to control him, but now he is the master! 

7. Approaching the Inmost Cave / Woman As Temptress

Now free of the fetish, Kinesis begins to entertain the possibility that he may be homosexual after all. He finds this difficult, as he has been brought up to believe homosexuality is a sin. Nevertheless he makes several brave but unsuccessful forays into the gay scene. 

Kinesis is then pursued by a woman (The Temptress) who will not take no for an answer. Hoping to discourage her, he tells her about his diaper fetish, but this stratagem backfires — it only makes her want him more! Eventually, Kinesis gives in. This Temptress will become an important Ally in the Great Ordeal soon to come.

(Note: Here, I feel our Hero has made a Wrong Turn. He has only recently brought the fetish under control, and has begun to explore his homosexuality. Under these circumstances it is unwise for him to begin a relationship with any woman, let alone one who enjoys the very fetish he has fought so long and hard to conquer. But the Hero has succumbed to Temptation.)

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8. Crossing the Second Threshold to face The Ordeal 

Kinesis develops crippling ME, which leaves him completely unable to function in the Special World of the Outsiders. It becomes absolutely necessary for him to sit around the house all day wearing diapers and playing computer games. The Temptress — who masquerades as his greatest, most beloved Ally — helps facilitate this. 

While educating himself on matters of gender and sexuality, Kinesis stumbles across the work of Zinnia Jones, and comes up with the idea that his ME is caused by a hormonal imbalance that could — perhaps — be alleviated by oestrogen. He approaches medical professionals with his theory, but all are dismissive. Finally, he is able to obtain the oestrogen for himself — the results are immediate, and remarkable! 

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9. Reward

Suddenly, Kinesis has lost all interest in the fetish. And at last, he feels able to function — to a degree — in the Special World of the Outsiders. Indeed, by this time it is more familiar to him than the Ordinary World of the Cult. The Special World of the Outsiders and the Ordinary World of the Cult have swapped places. What was Special has become Ordinary, and what was Ordinary is now Special. (This shapeshifting is very common in myth.) 

But has Kinesis willingly answered the Second Call, and set off on the long journey towards becoming a transwoman, just like his Aunt? No. Not willingly.

Still less has he answered the First Call, to become a man. For Kinesis, to become a man would be a fate worse than death, and he refuses to face it. But neither is Kinesis like his Aunt — to him a disgusting, mutilated freak unworthy even of God’s love. Kinesis is something different — he is a victim of circumstance, who accepts the Second Call only grudgingly, for the sake of his own survival. 

Kinesis does not seek to become a transwoman — instead, he is forced to transition by strange forces beyond his control. He must embark on this uncertain quest with nothing to rely on but belief in his own genius, and the gritty determination that he will never become a man, like his father. He refuses to become such a monster, and the consequences of refusal cannot possibly be his fault.

 10. The Road Home to the Ordinary World, Pursued by Enemies / The Second Road of Trials

Kinesis finally recalls the suppressed memory of that first terrible confrontation with his penis, which led, ultimately, to the development of his diaper fetish. He comes to believe that the fetish developed as a coping mechanism for gender dysphoria. 

Pressed by mysterious forces, Kinesis reluctantly accepts his fate, and continues with his transition. He attempts to gain acceptance by mainstream society as a transwoman, but of a special kind that is not a nasty abomination like his Aunt. Terfs, family, friends, and the mainstream society of the Newly Ordinary World conspire to make this difficult. At times, Kinesis joins forces with his Enemies, the better to conspire against himself! 

Bigotry against transwomen is rife. But armed with a dog-eared copy of the ‘Gita’, flanked by the dynamic duo of Don Juan the Yaqui mystic and the ghost of Gurdjieff, Kinesis bravely battles his Enemies with love, logic, and mysterious remarks about samsara. 

(Note: This is Kinesis’s current stage of the Journey, and by now he is hopelessly off-track. In the overarching narrative of his Transition Myth, Kinesis has yet to move beyond this point, for his Enemies are numerous and cunning.)

 This stage can be be seen as a Second Road of Trials, and contains innumerable adventures which can be viewed as Hero’s Journeys in their own right. (Many are very similar — perhaps our Hero is going round in circles?) 

I’ll explore one of these capers in detail in just a moment. But first, what would be the next two stages of Kinesis’s Transition Myth, when at last he defeats his enemies? How will we know when our Hero has reached his ultimate goal?

11. Crossing of the Third Threshold / Resurrection

(Speculative): At last, Kinesis is accepted as a transwoman (but not a mutilated abomination like his Aunt!) by the society of the Ordinary World. Thus, he gains a different identity, and is reborn as an Important Person; neither man nor monster, but a very stable genius.

12. Return with the Boon

(Speculative): During his journey, Kinesis has gained deep knowledge of the true nature of gender and sexuality. With his own transition complete, he works tirelessly to etch his name into history. He establishes a Special Monastic Order of Transsexual Porno-Shaman to provide relationship counselling and sexual services to the denizens of the Ordinary World. Kinesis then acts as a Mentor to other struggling trans people, providing the youngsters with all the deep wisdom gained from the crazy adventures of his past.

(Note: It may sound outlandish, but this is not a joke.)

Kinesis the Hero – Part Two: The Saga of TransRational

Much of the following is based on my own recollection. It is not my intent to mislead, but many details are omitted, and parts of it may be disputed by the Hero himself. Again, I have presented the story as though it were myth.

1. The Ordinary World

We join Kinesis on the Second Road of Trials following his Great Ordeal, as, fortified by oestrogen, he battles terrible Enemies in his brave quest to be accepted by mainstream society as a special kind of transwoman. 

At this time, Kinesis is working feverishly to understand all the issues in the ongoing debate about ‘gender identity’. He knows that if he is to complete his quest, he must study the upcoming terrain carefully. 

2. The Call To Adventure

After extensive study of the gender identity problem, and having heard many points of view (including those of both Zinnia Jones and Jordan Peterson) Kinesis concludes that something very important is missing from the debate: his own wisdom. This is something that he, Kinesis, would be only too happy to provide! Perhaps he holds the special key that will solve the riddle of gender? Of this he is not yet certain; he knows only that his opinion is very important. He must do all he can to ensure people hear it. 

3. Reluctance / Refusal of the Call

Kinesis knows he must become an influencer! But how? He has no public platform, and few resources. He lacks confidence in his own emotional strength and stability — does he really have what it takes to see the task through? Does he dare try? Perhaps instead he should concentrate on his artistic endeavours? As he vacillates, he continues his study of the social media battlefield, and becomes increasingly convinced that he has no choice but to involve himself in the conflict. For better or worse, he is becoming a transwoman, and the outcome of the gender wars will decide his fate!

4. Encouraged by a Mentor

We have already mentioned a few mentor figures — not only the Mysterious Old Man, but Zinnia Jones and Jordan Peterson, who aid the Hero by means of their writings and YouTube videos. Through social media, he finds others — as yet unknown — who enlighten him further with their wisdom; unwittingly, in some cases.

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5. Crossing of the First Threshold to Enter the Special World

By now, Kinesis has formed a Vision of the future in which trans people are seen as valued members of society, and live happily side by side with those whom they currently see as their enemies — family, friends and terfs alike! In his Vision, a Special Monastic Order of Transsexual Porno-Shaman will provide erotic and spiritual services to the wider community. If time permits, the sex-monks could also help save the environment. He knows this is a crazy plan — but it might just work!

(Note: Our Hero’s belief in this Vision strikes me as another Wrong Turn.)

The first phase of Kinesis’s plan is to put forward a ‘centrist position’ between the two extremes of radical terfism and transgender cultism — both of which he regards as misguided, if not evil. By this time he has gained a deep understanding of both ideological positions, and is confident he can argue the case both for and against either side.

 Kinesis creates a Twitter account, and begins commenting. At last, he has entered the arena of public debate.

6. Allies and Enemies Part 1: The Shapeshifters

Through his social media activities, Kinesis identifies several people who could be of use to him during the first phase of his plan. Later, perhaps, he will recruit others he can use to help achieve his Vision — but for now, these people will have to do, for there is no time to waste. He gathers these Allies around him, and creates a Discord server to facilitate their collaboration.

The Allies are a motley crew indeed — among many others, they include a young Practitioner of Voodoo, a Sheep, a Squid, and the Queen of Bitches. Unbeknownst to Kinesis, all four of these characters are Shapeshifters; they will betray him one by one, and become his Enemies. But the Squid (that’s me) and the Queen (my girlfriend) are particularly deadly; they are fiction writers, and highly skilled in the arts of deception. Both are Trickster figures, who shift shape with ease; they are fools, mentors, and makers of mischief, all at the same time. Both homme and femme fatale, they will lead our Hero a merry dance — to the edge of his own destruction!

6.1. Allies and Enemies Part 2: Perverts and Weirdos

The Allies begin life together as a chat group, consisting mostly of trans people who are viewed by Kinesis as ‘rational’. (Most of these are transwomen, but there are also a few transmen.) Before long, this discussion group will be given a name: TransRational.

At first, the chat consists chiefly of sexual innuendo, plus the merciless ridicule of other trans people who are considered ‘crazy’ by the more ‘rational’ ones. The Squid is taken aback by what he takes to be the obsessive focus on sexual matters, but reflects that this is only to be expected — he has read the work of Blanchard and Lawrence, which suggests that transsexualism is intimately connected with sexuality. The majority of transwomen in the group are aware (if not always familiar) with Blanchard’s work, and consider themselves to be the HSTS type, as they are attracted to men. The main targets of ridicule are non-passing transwomen, who are assumed to be AGP. This type is attracted to women, and the group views them mostly as delusional perverts and troublemakers. 

At this stage, the major Enemies of TransRational are these non-passing AGP ‘perverts’ who are thought to be causing all the trouble, as well as a few ‘extremist’ GC women who lump all transwomen together, and are thought to be unnecessarily mean. These are also the chief Enemies of Kinesis, our Hero. He has chosen his Allies well — or so it appears.

6.2. The Road of Trials Part 1: Misunderstandings?

The Queen of Bitches is at first reluctant to join TransRational, but at the urging of her friend Kinesis (as well as her boyfriend the Squid) eventually does so. She is there to represent a GC woman’s perspective on the debate, which Kinesis says is very important. At this stage, the Queen is the only woman in the group. (The Squid is also gender critical, but he cannot speak for women because he is a man.)

As soon as the Queen appears, a discussion ensues in which it becomes apparent that most of the Allies are very dubious about feminism. They do not accept that women are oppressed by men, and give numerous examples of the problems faced by men, as well as the perks of being a woman. Tempers flare, and the discussion soon comes to resemble a pile-on, with the Queen of Bitches as the target. 

The Squid also defends the feminist position, but being a man, he prefers to let the Queen of Bitches speak for herself — which she is more than capable of doing. Kinesis himself mostly stays out of the argument. Both Queen and Squid are taken aback by the apparent hostility of these ‘rational’ trans people towards the feminist movement. It appears to the Squid that the hostility is rooted in a misunderstanding of the feminist position — particularly an inability to distinguish between radical and liberal feminism. Later, he attempts to ‘educate’ the transwomen about the difference, but it does no good. 

6.3. The Road of Trials Part 2: Mutiny

At this stage, TransRational is just a chat group, with no clear leader. After many discussions, some common ground is established between the various members, who form an uneasy alliance. Attempts are made to create a manifesto which will outline the group’s ‘centrist’ position. The discussion is extensive, but little progress is made. 

Major arguments break out on many subjects — Trump, the Left, Blanchard, kink, paedophiles, and the question of whether Kinesis should lead TransRational — and if not, who else? The arguments over leadership grow ever more heated, and culminate in mutiny against Kinesis, who the Sheep and the Voodoo Practitioner have already come to regard as a madman and pervert. By this time the Squid and the Queen of Bitches have formed a close friendship with Kinesis, and take his side. The Squid (in the guise of Warrior-Fool) is particularly strenuous in his defence of our Hero. With a great roar, he chases away both the Sheep and the Voodoo Practitioner, who subsequently form their own group. 

When the dust settles, TransRational consists of the leader Kinesis, advised by the Squid and the Queen of Bitches — plus a handful of minor characters. Together, the Three Amigos soldier bravely on. 

6.4. The Road of Trials Part 3: Shamanism and Womanhood / The Woman as Temptress 

In dribs and drabs more members are recruited, and make valuable contributions. On several occasions, Kinesis disappears from the chat and takes to Twitter, where he writes long threads based on ideas that have just that moment been expressed by other members of TransRational. Our Hero presents these ideas as his own, and nobody bothers to complain.

Cautiously Kinesis discusses his long-term plans with the Squid. He says it is necessary to change the societal narrative about trans people. The Squid points out that the best way to alter any social narrative is by means of religion, not reason. He outlines his own crazy idea — inspired by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — of a new religion for the modern age. This would have science and reason at its core, while making room also for spiritual practice by promoting the idea of a conscious, divine universe. He is not sure such a thing would be possible, nor even wise — but it is fun to think about.

Kinesis is sufficiently emboldened by the Squid’s nonsense to mention his own idea of setting up a kind of monastery for trans people. He refers to Jordan Peterson’s complaint about those who demand something from society, but offer nothing in return. Kinesis feels that trans people have a great deal to offer. Many, he says, are very sexual by nature; others are good with children; others again are highly intelligent and technically skilled. However, many of these strengths remain undiscovered, unused, and unappreciated, in part due to the difficulties of transition. 

So why not create a monastery, in which trans people can develop their various skills while preparing for transition? The monks could then provide services to society — for example, they might engage in shamanism, child-rearing, prostitution, sexual therapy and relationship counselling, or environmental clean up. This will help remove the stigma around trans people and prove their value to society. It will also generate funds which can be used to pay for their transition. 

The Squid takes this as a crazy blue-sky idea, and runs with it — after all, he is a writer of weird science fiction with a comedy twist; crazy ideas are his bread and butter! He loves to bat crazy ideas back and forth! The Squid first thinks of reasons why the concept might work, but then shifts gears. He points out that feminists — to whom TransRational is supposed to be allied — are unlikely to support any form of sex-work, and in any case this line of work may conflict with the goal of child-rearing. He suggests it would therefore be better to focus on environmental cleanup, which is more necessary, and far less controversial. 

Little does he know his comments strike at the very heart of our Hero’s long-term plans to found a Special Monastic Order of Transsexual Porno-Shaman! Kinesis chooses not to discuss his plan in further detail — at least, not with the Squid — but despite his friend’s criticism, he continues to believe in it. Soon after this, our Hero recruits a Sidekick, who turns out to be a loudmouth and an idiot — but crucially, not a Shapeshifter. No matter what, the Sidekick will stay loyal to his master.

 Serious work begins on the TransRational website, manifesto, and scripts for YouTube videos. Discussions continue, but the few feminists in the group increasingly come to feel that their opinions are undervalued, and at times feel shouted down. The Squid, a man who expresses similar views to the feminists, appears to be taken more seriously — at least by Kinesis. 

Towards the end of the year, Kinesis is flown to New York to attend a secret meeting with a prominent academic feminist, who Kinesis claims would like to collaborate with him on a research paper. The hoped-for collaboration never takes place. Shortly after this, Kinesis has an orchiectomy, and promptly loses his mind.

During the writing of the manifesto, Kinesis clashes repeatedly with the Queen of Bitches, particularly on the subject of child transition, to which she is completely opposed. One such discussion is particularly heated, and leads to a major argument between the Three Amigos. On Twitter, our Hero has numerous fights with women on the same subject, as well as on the question of whether or not an inverted penis is functionally equivalent to a vagina. Words like ‘mutilation’, ‘unnatural’ and ‘abuse’ are particularly triggering for Kinesis — who is haunted by the memory of his diaper-wearing Aunt, and by the trauma of his abusive childhood. 

During this difficult time, the Squid and the Queen of Bitches support Kinesis — when they are not arguing — with conversation, laughter and encouragement. This happens often, for unbeknownst to them our Hero has gradually begun to think of himself as a woman. (Again, he has succumbed to Temptation!) He knows that neither the Squid nor the Queen of Bitches see him in this way, and most likely never will. They continue to think of Kinesis as male, and refer to him with the appropriate pronouns. For our Hero, this situation is the source of huge pain and internal conflict. 

At last — with great fanfare — the website is launched, and the manifesto published. The questions of childhood transition, sports, and several others are ducked for the time-being while differences of opinion are worked out behind the scenes. 

6.5. The Road of Trials Part 4 : Uterus Implants and the Terf Tour

Kinesis continues to get into fierce but silly arguments with GC women on Twitter. The Queen and the Squid advise him repeatedly to stop doing this, but he continues. The relationship becomes increasingly strained, and is soon dominated by conflict between Kinesis and the Queen. For the most part the Squid leaves them to work it out between themselves, while becoming increasingly irritated at what he sees as Kinesis’s irrational behaviour. He expresses this irritation at first privately, but as Kinesis’s antics become ever more annoying, he begins to do so in public.

Around this time, Kinesis outlines his Theory of Feminism to the Squid. He says that many women enjoy femininity, but there are two kinds of women who do not, and therefore become feminists. The first type are unfeminine, and therefore disadvantaged by the gender system as they are unable to conform. Their reasons for wanting to abolish gender are obvious. The second type (of which the Queen of Bitches is an example) are feminine, but are suffering the effects of trauma due to physical or emotional abuse at the hands of men. This type wish to remake the gender system to produce in large numbers the sort of men they prefer: soft, gentle and kind — just like the Hero himself! 

Kinesis says this is self-serving and narrow minded, because many ordinary women enjoy femininity, and like men just as they are: masculine. These women like Real Men; they do not want them to be soft, gentle or kind. (And neither does our Hero — he is attracted only to Real Men, despite the childhood abuse he suffered at the hands of his father, who was himself a Real Man with no time for sissy-boys like Kinesis.)

The Squid is annoyed by this theory and says it is utter bollocks. He advises the Hero not to spread it around as it is sure to enrage the feminists. By now he has grown concerned about Kinesis’s attitude towards women. He writes an essay for the TransRational website about the group’s unconditional support for feminism, including aspects which have nothing to do with trans issues. With Kinesis’s agreement — and without argument — this essay is published, and seems generally well-received.

Meanwhile, Kinesis has started a crowd funder on Twitter in the hope of coming to the UK to attend the wedding of a dying friend. He decides to make use of the trip to meet and interview several prominent gender-critical feminists, as well as Queen and Squid. In the end, sufficient funds are raised, and our Hero books his trip — jokingly known as the Terf Tour.

When Kinesis and the Queen of Bitches discuss the matter of uterus implants, she is horrified to discover that our Hero would like a uterus himself, and cannot understand her sense of visceral horror at the idea. He believes this is a sign of her extremism and transphobia. He even compares the Queen of Bitches to Posie Parker — that terrible fiend! (This comparison has no effect, but for Queen and Squid it provides much fodder for comedy.)

Finally — just days before the start of the Terf Tour — our Hero writes a letter in which he outlines his feelings about becoming a woman. The Squid reads it, and is horrified to discover that Kinesis has gone completely batshit. He gently asks Kinesis if he has thought any more about whether or not he is AGP. This is a subject to which Kinesis repeatedly returns, and has been discussed many times before in a civil manner. But this time, Kinesis takes great offence and starts ranting about perverts. The Squid offers his apologies, but in truth he is taken aback by this unexpected development.

Nevertheless he is sympathetic to the Hero’s plight — clearly, Kinesis is in terrible pain. The Squid tells Kinesis that the Queen too should read what he has to say. He prepares the Queen for a great shock, then shows her the letter. In a subsequent conversation, Kinesis demands that for the sake of their friendship, the Queen of Bitches must accept him as a woman. But this she cannot do — and Kinesis knows it.

Our Hero then puts his friendship with the Queen ‘on hold’. This enrages both the Squid and the Queen, who finally recognise that this relationship with Kinesis — whether intentionally or not — has become emotionally abusive. For the Queen of Bitches, the friendship is now over. But the Squid still cares deeply for the Hero, and cannot yet bear to let go. But at last, Queen and Squid leave TransRational completely. They will not meet Kinesis on the Terf Tour. 

During that tour, Kinesis does a livestream with Miranda Yardley. Miranda attempts to seem less scary by not wearing his fearsome hat, but to no avail. Kinesis is terrified. The resulting video is viewed by the Squid and the Queen of Bitches, and enrages them both. Kinesis comes across as shifty, and unable to answer such simple questions as ‘What is the purpose of TransRational?’ The video is incredibly painful for them to watch, and by the end of it they have come to believe that Kinesis is a con-artist and madman, and they were wrong to lend him their support.

Kinesis is terribly hurt by this development. He too feels betrayed, tricked, and gaslit. He reminds himself that the Queen of Bitches is an evil transphobe who has yet to recover from damage done by an abusive past relationship. The Squid is even worse, for he has Magic Powers. He wields the power of the Shadow, which represents all the Hero’s repressed guilt and self-disgust. He has knowledge of dark secrets which threaten to destroy the Hero — or to redeem him. 

In the mind of the Hero, the Squid has become his Nemesis! To the Squid, Kinesis is a twat.

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6.6. The Road of Trials Part 5: The Battlefield

Kinesis returns from the Terf Tour. Evil Squid, who built the TransRational website, now archives the contents, transfers the domain to Kinesis, and provides him with instructions on how to restore the archive to an alternative server. He asks Kinesis never to contact him again. A few weeks later, he shuts down the server. 

Our Hero decides to build a new website rather than restore the archive provided by his tentacled Nemesis. He recruits several new members. In addition to some arse-kissing Chamchas, these include a golden-haired Siren, a Man, and a Penguin — whose experiences within TransRational will be similar to those of Evil Squid and the Queen. Unfortunately, they have no way of knowing this, for Kinesis has warned them against contacting that evil duo. Within the group, it is forbidden even to speak their names! 

Kinesis gets into further fights with women on Twitter. These culminate in a massive battle sparked by our Hero’s support for prostitution, which is at odds with the views of most of the GC community. The fighting is brutal; Kinesis is wounded early on, but with stunning bravery he continues the fight. He is able to maim several of his attackers, and to piss off hundreds more. But he is unable to defeat them, and at last retreats from the battlefield to fight another day. 

As the Allies tend his wounds, our Hero rails against his Enemies, spitting venom and bile. The Siren sings a soft and soothing song and the Chamchas kiss his arse until at last the Hero falls into a deep sleep. But there he finds no solace, for he is haunted by darkness and doubts — what if he’s been wrong all along? What if the Special Monastic Order of Transsexual Porno-Shaman cannot be established? What then? Has all his work been for naught? Does his life have no meaning at all?

Kinesis will fight this same battle repeatedly, but he will never win; each time he steps into the fray, he finds his Enemies have grown more numerous, and yet more deadly! Each time, he is forced to retreat to the safe haven of TransRational, where his wounds will be healed, and he can rant and rave with impunity.

But all is not well. As this cycle repeats, a few Allies grow increasingly uncomfortable with Kinesis’s behaviour, and concerned for his mental health. 

6.7. The Road of Trials Part 6: Conspiracy 

Remembering the Hero’s warnings never to contact the Evil Squid, the Siren decides to do so. She is quickly introduced to the Queen of Bitches. The evil duo are surprisingly friendly. They wish the Siren and TransRational well, but warn her of Kinesis’s mental instability and his tendency to engage in abusive behaviour, particularly towards women. 

Meanwhile, the Hero continues his battle against those who would thwart his plans — but his enemies are indefatigable! As his anger and frustration intensifies, Kinesis is beset by wave upon wave of doubts and self-hatred, with which he fortifies himself for the next attack. 

His venom grows stronger, and spews ever more frequently from his lips, until the Allies themselves become targets, and begin to fear him. Together with the Sidekick, the Chamchas kiss the Hero’s arse with great vigour. But the Siren remembers her conversation with the Queen and Evil Squid, and decides to leave TransRational.

She contacts the Queen and the Squid again, and this time they talk in more detail. When the Siren tells her story, Queen and Squid are horrified. Since they parted ways, Kinesis has got much, much worse. They begin to regret their relative silence about their split with Kinesis — if they had spoken out, would it have prevented others from being abused? Perhaps they are partly responsible? Perhaps they are not. But they begin to speak more openly of their experiences.

Soon after this, Squid and Queen are contacted by the Penguin, and tell her the same thing they told the Siren: Kinesis displays a pattern of abusive behaviour, particularly towards women, and is mentally unstable. The Penguin listens with interest, then returns to TransRational. 

7. Approaching the Inmost Cave

A couple of weeks later, the Queen of Bitches thinks of the Penguin and contacts her to ask how things are going. She soon learns that all is not well. Before long, Queen and Squid will be introduced to the Man.

Within TransRational, a major argument has erupted over the true identity of the Man. Kinesis has grown suspicious, because the Man is a transwoman who calls himself a man. This is very upsetting to the Hero, the Sidekick, and all the Chamchas, who insist that transwomen are not men. They interrogate the Man about the reasons for his transition, as well as about his childhood and sexual history. Kinesis considers his answers unsatisfactory, and labels him a liar and a pervert. The Chamchas denounce him, then kiss the Hero’s arse. But the Penguin defends the Man vigorously. This enrages the Hero and his Chamchas.

The fight spills out onto Twitter, where it gets nasty. Squid and the Queen of Bitches look on with horror and bemusement, while receiving scattered reports from the front line. They hear of doxxing and sock puppets, and pervy interrogations conducted by the Hero himself. Many of these claims are evidenced. Queen and Squid are disgusted by these revelations about their former friend Kinesis. They now believe him to be dangerous. And the Squid feels like an idiot.

The Man leaves TransRational along with the Penguin, and the fighting escalates further. Now the Squid joins in, as do the Sheep, the Practitioner of Voodoo, and many others. 

Kinesis writes a bizarre thread about Dark Forces conspiring to destroy TransRational, but this is met with pure ridicule. Finally, our Hero succumbs to the Enemy onslaught, and deactivates his Twitter account.

8. Escape from the Special World to Face The Ordeal 

Away from Twitter, the Hero licks his wounds. Perhaps the Chamchas lick his arse? The facts are uncertain, but we do know that Kinesis is beset by a terrible fever, and stays away from Twitter for several weeks — until his account is deleted. We can be sure that during this time he suffers terribly, and puts a great deal of thought into how to proceed. Must he renounce his glorious dream to found a Special Monastic Order of Transsexual Porno-Shaman? Has it finally come to this? The thought of it torments him. The dream infuses his life with meaning — it feels so right! It cannot be wrong; Kinesis himself forbids it. He must think his way out of the problem.

9. Reward / Apotheosis: A New Strategy

All that thinking pays off when Kinesis realises that the GCs are not only wrong, but stupid! Suddenly, he feels much better. He is not to blame for what happened to the women in TransRational. They may believe they were subjected to abuse, but they are wrong. What they were subjected to was simply reason, plus the timeless wisdom of the Orient. Those women are silly. It is not their fault, for they lack the Hero’s spiritual training and extraordinary powers of empathy. When faced with the transcendent genius of Kinesis, their minds were unable to cope! Threatened by his intellect, and unable to refute his logic, they resorted inevitably to bigotry and name-calling. 

This is typical of women. Not all women, of course — just those who know the Hero well. Those women, he now realises, are part of a GC cult. Cults are bad, and Kinesis knows all about it because he grew up in one. 

Sadly, the Hero shakes his head. There is nothing more he can do for those women. And anyway, hasn’t he done enough? He’s done plenty, but received not the merest scrap of gratitude! Clearly, women is bitches, and they do not deserve him.

But perhaps Kinesis can reason with those who oppose the GC bigots? After all, they too are wrong, and could benefit greatly from his wisdom. Perhaps he can join their group? Perhaps they will recognise the Hero’s brilliance, and grant him a seat at the Big Table of Clever People, along with Castaneda, Peterson, and Jones.

10. Crossing the Second Threshold to Return to the Special World, Evading his Enemies

Kinesis returns to Twitter with a new account. He tries several different handles before finally settling on @StygianSnow. At first he boldly asserts he is in favour of sex-work, and that he is no longer GC — this soon disappears from his profile, but to no avail! He has been spotted by a handful of evil women, who have been awaiting his return. These women attack, but Kinesis is ready, and swiftly blocks them! His Chamchas maintain a low profile, but the Sidekick, ever loyal, scouts the terrain and reports back to the Hero. Scattered bands of women still roam the land, but aside from a few dark mutterings, they have mostly forgotten him. Our Hero chuckles at this foolishness — the women have left him for dead! But now he is risen — and stronger now than ever before!

Our Hero slips through dense forest, blocking as he goes, until he finds himself upon a well-trodden path that leads him, inexorably, to the Village of the Unicorns. 

11. Crossing of the Third Threshold / Resurrection 

The Village of the Unicorns is guarded by fierce transactivists, who remember Kinesis from Before, when he fought side by side with their sworn enemies the GCs. They are mistrustful of him, and assault our Hero with sharp sticks! But Kinesis is unfazed; again, he deploys the block button, and the attack is repelled.

Our Hero arrives in the Village, and begins to hold court. The Unicorns, who are curious by nature, emerge one by one from their gingerbread cottages. They stare at Kinesis in slack-jawed amazement — who is this person, and what is he doing here? He is talking, yes — but what is he on about? The Unicorns swish their tales in confusion; the words make no sense, but they can’t stop listening! And they cannot look away — for already, they are hypnotised. And at last, Kinesis is reborn!

12. Return with the Boon

(Speculative): During the journey, the Hero has gained deep knowledge of the true nature of gender. He works tirelessly to recruit the Unicorns as Allies by dispensing his wisdom and regaling them with glorious tales of his past adventures. 

With new Allies recruited and trained, Kinesis leads them from the Unicorn Village to return to the Road of Trials and complete his greater Journey of Transition. The Unicorns will aid the Hero in his plan to create a Special Monastic Order of Transsexual Porno-Shaman, and thus make his mark on history.

The Moral

Not all stories have morals, but perhaps there are some lessons to be learned from this one?

First of all this business of the Special Monastic Order of Transsexual Porno-Shaman. It sounds like something I’ve made up to discredit Kinesis, but I’m afraid it’s not — and I’m not the only person he talked to about this.  Perhaps by now he’s given up on the idea? I don’t know. Somehow, I doubt it.

But in any case it makes no sense. It doesn’t solve the problem of how to balance trans rights against the rights of women and other groups. All it does is normalise sex-work, and assign it to a special caste. Even if you remove sex-work from the equation, you’re still placing trans people apart from the rest of humanity. And I see no reason to believe that trans people are more spiritual, or would make better shaman than anyone else. To make it work would require a massive cultural shift. If the goal is for transpeople to be fully accepted by society, there must be easier ways. It’s a nice idea for a satirical novel, but that’s all.

Next, Kinesis — is he a villain? Not necessarily. I think he’s struggling with the effects of childhood trauma. He needs support, but has nowhere to turn but social media. He uses Twitter as a psychotherapist, and it’s not working. It can’t work, because Kinesis is an emotional vampire whose thirst can never be satisfied. People on Twitter are not trained in psychotherapy; we’re not paid for our time. When we offer support, we do it out of friendship. We get emotionally involved, and make mistakes. Kinesis does the same. But in my experience, the support only goes one way. I never shared with him my own life story, or my troubles. Perhaps he thinks they do not exist. Perhaps he doesn’t care. But I stopped being his psychotherapist when I realised I couldn’t help him, that I was doing more harm than good. That broke my heart, but tough shit. And now he regards me as a monster. 

Just like his father. 

But never mind me and my feelings. We hurt one another terribly, but to me it’s water under the bridge. The only reason I’m writing this is because Kinesis is back on Twitter, and up to his old tricks. This time his targets are not women, but trans people and sex-workers. If he is not a villain, then at least he behaves like one. What he’s doing here is triangulation — he hopes to gain influence, and move the needle of public opinion towards his supposed ’centrist’ position. 

He has read Castaneda, and the Bhagavad Gita. He has been trained by a Shaman, and thinks of himself as a great spiritual being — but it’s all bullshit. His position is not an honest one because it is based not on reality, but a mistaken belief in his own myth — the true meaning of which he continually evades. 

Atonement with the Father

There is a stage of the Hero’s Journey which is missing from the story of Kinesis, and which could be the key to understanding why he is the way he is. It comes back to that First Call to Adventure, when his father made an impossible demand of his three-year-old son. He told the child he must now be a man, and then punished him for his inevitable failure. That was an extraordinarily cruel thing to do. 

Kinesis had no choice but to refuse that Call. Since then, he has refused it again repeatedly — and with good reason. His father was an ogre, a cruel and abusive man. What decent human being would ever want to emulate him? 

Campbell writes: 

‘[T]he ogre aspect of the father is a reflex of the victim’s own ego — [and] is itself the fault that keeps one steeped in a sense of sin, sealing the potentially adult spirit from a better balanced, more realistic view of the father, and therewith of the world. Atonement (at-one-ment) consists in no more than the abandonment of that self-generated double monster — the dragon thought to be God (superego) and the dragon thought to be sin (repressed id) […]

‘The problem of the hero going to meet the father is to open his soul beyond terror to such a degree that he will be ripe to understand how the sickening and inane tragedies of this vast and ruthless cosmos are completely validated in the majesty of Being. The hero transcends life with its peculiar blind spot and for a moment rises to a glimpse of the source. He beholds the face of the father, understands — and the two are atoned.’

Here, Campbell is not talking about anyone’s actual father; he’s talking about an Archetype — a sort of psychological template, through which humans can understand themselves, the world, and the meaning of life. It is this Archetype Kinesis must confront if he wishes to find peace within himself. This, and nothing more, is the Ultimate Boon.

The child may refuse the Call of his father, but there is no escape from the demands of Father Time. Our Hero must overcome all his shame and self-disgust to accept himself fully as a Valid Person — a transwoman, a sexual being, and finally, a man.

Blood Stain Snow

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 19)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

When Tra stop talking, all women stand with open mouth. Me look Henn and Schmenn, they smiling. They have willy, so they special! They think they clever, with great beauty! Me know they stupid, but this ridiculous.

At last, Fem begin laugh. Rest of tribe join in. 

‘What this?’ say Tra. ‘Me not make joke! It science!’

Soon, we howling! Many women drop weapon for roll on ground, kick legs in air! Snow fly. Men also laugh, but careful. Maybe this clever trick of Tra, for injure women with laughter? We keep eyes open, spear ready. It good trick, but still not work. 

When Fem stop laugh, she say, ‘So, you tribe of willy-women. You brave and stunning, but you scared of not-willy-women. You also scared of men. But still you cross mountain in deep snow for find nasty tribe of oppressor! This not make sense. So me ask again — why you come?’

‘That good question,’ say Tra. ‘Answer simple. It all because willy-women not have boobies. It surprise, but some willy women not like sex other willy-women. They want sex not-willy-women with big boobies. This important for make baby. For make baby, it take not-willy-woman. If woman have willy, she not grow baby. Instead she plant seed like man.’ Tra shrug. ‘Me not know why. This great mystery of Nature Spirit.’

‘So,’ say Fem. ‘It all about sex.’

Tra pull face. ‘It friendship also.’

‘But you say we evil oppressor!’

’That true. But it not your fault — only ignorance. Soon you learn friendship. We all women same — we oppressed by evil men. It no good argue among women! We need come together, for defeat men! Me believe in power of women! Together we strong! Together, we free!’

‘He crazy,’ mutter Nizzi. ’Surely this not normal?’

‘It not,’ me reply. ‘He special.’

‘So,’ say Fem. ‘You want join tribe? Make two tribe one again?’

‘No, no!’ say Tra. ‘Me not want join. It no need worry — you still Chief of oppressor tribe. Me not overthrow. Me reasonable! Me allow you stay Chief. All me ask is not oppress willy-women. Instead, it friendship! Me make good offer — you not refuse!’

‘What offer?’

‘You allow visit. When willy-women come, we bring present. We talk not-willy-women, for make friends. Then it time for sex! But no pressure. Maybe willy-woman plant seed, and baby grow. This good both tribe.’

‘Me knew it!’ say Nizzi. ‘It always same.’

Fem ignore her, say Tra, ‘Who keep baby?’

‘Baby no business of willy-women. We not interfere.’

‘You not want baby?’

‘What we do baby? We not have boobies! Baby starve.’

‘This true,’ say Fem. Then she think. ‘Visit need rule,’ she say.

‘That no problem! Rule is decide by Fem.’

Fem nod. ‘That good. Me need think about this more. Me promise nothing. But for now, you go. When moon new, it time for visit. You send two men only, no weapon. When men arrive, me give order. Men obey.’

‘It not men,’ say Tra. ‘It willy-women.’

‘Visitor obey rule, or no more visit,’ say Fem. ‘Ever.’

‘Me agree.’

‘If visitor make trouble, we kill.’

‘Me not want trouble,’ say Tra. ‘Only friendship.’

’This not friendship. It sex.’

‘That good offer!’ say Tra. ‘Me agree. Me big thank for Chief Fem! Me so happy!’ He give wide smile. ‘Now me have surprise! Me bring present for seal agreement, make strong friendship!’ Tra turn Schmenn, he raise voice. ‘You, Schmenn! Fetch pigskin bag!’

Schmenn nod, then walk to small cave of stick. He rummage.

‘Me not want present,’ say Fem.

‘Me insist! It special. Me bring long way over mountain, just for give Fem!’

‘Me flattered.’

‘Schmenn! Where bag?’

Schmenn hand over pigskin bag. ‘Here bag,’ he say.

Tra take bag. ‘Why you move so slow?’ he say. Schmenn begin answer, but Tra interrupt. ‘Shut mouth. Me not care excuse!’ He open pigskin bag for look inside. He smile. “This good present,’ he say. ‘Me hope you like!’ Then he pass bag to Chief Fem.

Fem look bag. She frown. She reach in hand for rummage. Then she find contents. When she see, she shock! She make loud gasp. 

‘No,’ she say. ‘No!’ Then she drop bag. Contents of bag spill out on snowy ground. Me see — it head of Fooella! Now blood stain snow in big drop. Women tribe look, all see, all shock! 

‘Me not believe,’ say Gai. ‘Tra kill Fooella!’ 

’That right,’ say Tra. ‘He bad man! He try oppress women, but he fail! So me punish! Me torture with fire, then me cut off head for present! You like? Maybe now it time for sex!’ Then he point at small cave of stick.

Fem turn green. She bend over for throw sick. It splatter snow. Steam rise. Fem cough more sick, then wipe mouth. Women tribe still shock — we not know what do, only watch event unfold.

Fem stand. She not speak, but me see eyes — she rage! She look Tra. He stand, he smile. ‘Fem have nice boobies,’ he say. ‘Me want—’

Chief Fem punch Tra full in face. Me hear crunch of broken bone. Tra scream — hand go fast to nose. Blood squirt through finger. 

‘Me not under—’

Then Fem grab Tra arm, she pull forward fast. Same time she lift leg, then bring down hard on knee of Tra. Again me hear crunch, this time louder. Me wince. Tra scream again, then fall to ground. There he writhe in pain.

Henn and Schmenn make angry noise, begin rush forward for attack Fem. Me hear whoosh, and something move fast through air. Henn scream, Schmenn gasp. More blood squirt on snow. Me look Henn and Schmenn. Henn have arrow in face — it pierce both cheek! Eyes bulge. Schmenn have blood on nose — it graze from same arrow.

Voice come from tree; it Arca. ‘Me sorry,’ she say. ‘Me try miss, but it mistake. Me not try miss again.’

Tra still lie on ground screaming. Blood run down face, and leg have wrong angle. Henn grab arrow, try pull from face. Schmenn help pull. Henn scream again, and arrow come out. More blood drip red on snow.

Fem bend for pick up bag. She find head of Fooella, then put inside. ‘We bury,’ she say. ‘Full honour.’ Then she kick Tra in rib. ‘You monster!’ she say. She spit. Then she kick again, but harder, and this time nuts. Then she remember spear. 

But me move fast — me grab. ‘No,’ me say. ‘That enough.’

‘Let go spear!’ she yell. ‘That order!’

‘No,’ me say. ‘Me not allow.’

‘But he… he…’

‘Me know. But murder still wrong.’

Fem scream, she flail fist at chest of Hom. Me grab, hug tight. Fem continue hit. It hurt, but me ignore. Me speak quiet in ear. ’You good Chief,’ me say. ‘Me loyal.’ At last Fem stop hit for hug back. She begin cry.

Me look Schmenn. ‘Meeting finish,’ me say. ‘You go.’

Schmenn open mouth for speak, but me give fierce look, and mouth close. He bend over, for pick Tra from ground. Then he carry to cave of stick for put inside. Henn help. Then Pal, Ang, Kwi and Yin take hold stick for ready lift cave again.

Fem lift head from chest of Hom. She wipe tears, stand straight. Then she turn to men for shout. ‘When moon new, you visit. Two men only, no weapon. No coconut. And not send Tra. If see again, it no mercy — we kill.’

Schmenn raise hand for wave. Carrier lift cave of stick, and men begin long journey home.

Nizzi turn to Chief Fem. ‘Why you ask men tribe visit?’

Fem shrug. ‘Tribe still need babies.’

‘But how we trust Tra? He take revenge.’

‘Me not think so. Me think he no more power.’ She sigh. ‘Maybe now men tribe remember what is woman.’

‘Me not know how they forget,’ me say. ‘It crazy!’

‘It madness of King Tra. But now reign finish, and soon it election. Me have big hope for future. Soon sanity return.’ 

Drum Sound

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 18)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

Pevette right. It only few days later when drum sound. It bang three times loud — this alarm signal! Everybody jump to feet, grab weapon. Then drum bang soft, for count men. Me follow on fingers — it five and one more. This few. Maybe we lucky. Or maybe it trick. It not matter. We have plan. 

Arca and Cheri, Ruti and Cal all take bow and plenty arrow. They run through forest for take position in tree. Men take spear and club, then follow rocky mountain path. After come women — some bring bow, other spear. Older children also come, but most stay behind in cave. Ali have two spear and plenty rope, he follow last with son Cul, who bring many stone good for throw. Tribe armed, and we many, but still scared. We not want war. Fighting bad.

Soon we see men in distance, far from cave. They move slow down path. When we see, tribe ready bow and arrow, but still move forward. We not know what expect. Men closer now — me see five and one more, like drum say. But also me see strange thing — they bring small cave of stick! It same like one for smooching, but smaller. It rest on platform, like Bivi make for carry injured Pevette. It look heavy — me count four men carry on long stick. Maybe this why men move slow. 

When closer, me recognise men. Me see Henn in front. He carry big spear. Behind come Pal, Ang, Kwi, and Yin — they hold long stick for carry cave. Last come Schmenn. He also have spear. This surprise. It only two spear total! Maybe in cave is more weapon? But that stupid idea. If attack come, weapon in cave useless! In fight what matter is weapon in hand. Everybody know this — so where weapon?

Me turn Chief Fem for whisper, ‘Maybe they not attack.’

‘That possible,’ say Fem. ‘But what if it trick?’

Now Henn hold up hand. All men tribe stop. Women tribe stop too. Henn point us, he turn look others for speak. It too far for hear, but me see Schmenn reply. Pal, Ang, Kwi, and Yin lower small cave to ground. Then Henn face front again. He wave us. 

Me look Fem. She nod, so me return greeting. 

Meanwhile me see Schmenn walk from back of men tribe. He pass Kwi and Yin, then poke head into cave. Me watch careful, but he not take weapon. Instead he talking. It someone in cave.

‘It Tra,’ me say. ‘He hide in cave! Maybe he injured.’

‘Maybe he lazy,’ say Fem. ‘And men stupid.’

Me shrug. ‘Scared also possible.’

‘If scared, why he come?’

‘Maybe it no choice,’ me say.

‘It always choice. It no need make trouble.’

’Maybe he not make trouble.’

Fem laugh. ‘That nonsense,’ she say. ‘Tra always make trouble.’

Now we see head poke from cave and look around. Me think it Tra. He see us! He wave hand at Schmenn. Me see lips move. Then he hide back in cave. Schmenn return to rear. Four carrier take hold long stick, again lift. Again Henn hold up hand. He shout, and men tribe move forward. So we also continue move.

Two tribe come closer. When women tribe reach special tree, we stop, wait men  tribe arrive. Gai and Fab stay front with spear. Me just behind with Fem and Nizzi. We also carry spear. Mat here too — he have big stick. Behind us come bow, more spear, and plenty club. Then come older children. Ali and Cul catch up, then Cul hand out stone. Now women tribe ready for win fight.

When men tribe close, Henn raise hand again for stop. Pal, Ang, Kwi, and Yin put cave on ground gentle. They groan, they stretch, rub muscles. Then Schmenn shout, and all carrier stand straight, look forward. Schmenn shout more, but me not understand words. Me think it nonsense, but he shout loud! Schmenn crazy. He shout close in face! But carrier not blink, only stare ahead, stand straight. They terrified!

Me know Schmenn. He bully. Me remember one day he try bully Hom, so me kick nuts. After that, me not have trouble from Schmenn. That long ago, when both children. Now he grow big and strong, but still same. It no wonder he follow Tra. He stupid. Me also know Henn, but me not know well. Maybe he clever one? But me doubt. Me think he stupid too.

When finish shout, Schmenn come forward for join Henn at front. They hold spear at side, keep distance from women tribe. They scowl for try scare. It work only little. Me look Fem and Nizzi — it not easy, but they manage not laugh. 

Then Tra emerge from small cave of stick. He wear many flower in hair. He wear big coconut on chest. It decorate with paint of many colour. He wear long loincloth, and around waist he have many dry flower on string. He have big feet, but he shave toe and paint nail red. He dress like woman on night of wedding, but he fool no-one. It obvious he man. Now Tra walk slow to front of men tribe. He walk with wiggle — he flounce! When he reach Henn and Schmenn, he stop. He try give sweet smile, but he only make leer.

‘Where Fem?’ he say.

‘That Chief Fem,’ say Fab.

‘Chief Fem,’ agree Tra. Again he leer. 

Fab shudder.

Fem step forward. ‘Me here.’

Tra hold out hand for shake. ‘Me greet Chief Fem with all honour.’

Fem approach cautious. Gai and Fab watch close, spear ready, while Fem shake hand. ‘Me greet Tra,’ she say. 

Me see Henn frown. Spear twitch. He not like Fem disrespect King Tra. Schmenn same. Me poise for fight.

But Tra only laugh. He nudge Henn and Schmenn with elbow. ‘Relax,’ he say. Then he say Fem, ’Weather cold. Me thank Chief for warm welcome.’

Fem point Tra feet. ‘Why you wear open shoe?’

‘Feet pretty.’ Tra lift feet, he show nails. ‘See?’

‘It good colour,’ admit Fem. ‘But soon toe freeze and fall off.’

Again Tra laugh. ‘Me not stay long in snow. Feet survive.’

Fem nod. Then she say, ‘Why you come? You want fight?’

‘Fight?’ say Tra. He pretend shock. ‘Of course me not want fight!’

‘That good. Men tribe weak. If fight, you lose.’

‘Men tribe?’ say Tra. He look around. ‘Who that?’

‘That you.’

‘But we all women!’ say Tra. ‘It no men in tribe of Tra! Only women. But tribe of Fem have plenty men. Men very dangerous for women — always oppress! How Chief keep control?’

Fem shrug. ‘These men good,’ she say. ‘It no trouble.’

‘Oh!’ exclaim Tra. ‘Me see! They good men!’ He laugh. ‘Chief Fem have mind full of nonsense. Me warn — these men play trick. They bad, same like all other. One day, me think you learn hard way. Me lucky it only women in tribe of Tra. It no need worry.’

‘That good,’ say Fem. ‘But again me ask, why you come? Why men cross mountain in snow?’

‘You forget,’ say Henn. ‘We not men.’

‘You have willy. You man.’

‘Tra right,’ say Schmenn. ‘Fem stupid. She think women not have willy.’

‘She not stupid,’ say Tra. ‘She only confuse.’

‘Me not confuse.’

‘Of course you confuse. You not know science of women! But not worry, me explain.’

‘Wait,’ say Fem. ‘Me want everybody hear.’ She turn women tribe, speak loud. ‘Come close,’ she say. ‘For listen Tra talk. He want speak truth of women — me not want tribe miss good education!’ Women tribe laugh, then bunch up closer for hear. Then Fem say Tra, ’Now you teach. And not forget speak up!’

‘Me happy oblige,’ say Tra. Then he clear throat. ‘Everybody know it two kind human — men and women. But maybe you not know this — it two kind women also!’

‘Two kind?’ say Nizzi. ‘What that? Big bum, small bum?’

‘No, that sexist!’ say Tra. 

‘Long leg, short leg?’

‘That silly. Leg not make difference, and not bum. Both kind have big and small, long and short. What most important is willy.’

Women tribe laugh, but Tra ignore. He continue, ‘Most women not have willy — that true! But some women extra special. They born with magic gift of willy! These women most beautiful kind. They stunning! They also more clever, with plenty charm. But willy cause big problem! They never safe from men! Willy-women more desirable than other kind; they very good for sex, so men always chase. If refuse, men hit with stick! This no surprise. Men always same, always oppress! 

‘But for willy-women, it worse! Not-willy women jealous — they want sex men too! They think other kind steal all men, so they fear, they hate! They tell lie, say real women not have willy, only men have willy. If woman have willy, they laugh. They try hit with stick. They oppress, same like men! So willy-women suffer more than not-willy kind. They not only stunning, but brave! Not-willy women always scary, always mean.

‘For long time, not-willy-women play trick, so tribe think woman with willy just man who go crazy. But now, thanks Tra it different — tribe use science for regain ancient knowledge. Now we know it two kind women. This progress! Now me lead glorious tribe of willy-women. You, Fem, lead nasty tribe — it not-willy-women and few men. That bad. You evil oppressor of willy-women! But me know you ignorant, so me not blame. Me kind, so me not want punish. Me want only teach fact!’ Tra grin wide. ‘This make better world for all!’ 

[Next Episode]

Wound Heal Slow

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 17)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

Pevette not die. After many days in cave of sticks, wound heal enough for move to big cave. Pevette still weak and much pain, but we careful — we tie leg to big rock, and guard watch close. Gel continue treatment, and he gain strength. But when tribe make plan we not discuss detail in big cave. We not trust. We not let him hear. 

 Sentry keep watch over mountain pass. Every day we test drum when sun rise, and again when fall. It big drum, made from hide of goat, stretch tight on frame of stick. It have good sound loud or soft. Sometimes we make strong beat, tribe dance. But we not dance long — it too cold, and alarm important. We not want surprise attack. So we make other drum for dance. 

Soon come snow. Tribe wrap warm, huddle in cave. Hunting continue, but success grow rare. We lucky for dried meat and mushroom for add to catch. In evening we make weapon, we make rope. 

Mat teach counting to rest of tribe. He give name to fingers of hand. Each name same like number. He make tribe hold up finger, say name. He say this counting, but it easy! We repeat many time til boring. Then Mat make few mark on ground. He ask tribe count mark same like finger. At first we confuse, but in end everybody learn count mark with finger. 

Then Mat begin other hand — he try teach more number for finger there! But this too much counting for tribe. Only Tix have patience for understand. Mat not mind. He say tribe learn much counting already. In future tribe not think counting special. Instead it come easy, like walk in meadow. Then it big help for tribe. Everybody laugh — he crazy! But Mat not mind. He have good sense of humour. He laugh too. But me think he right.

Wound heal slow but steady, and soon Pevette better enough for help tribe. He make shoe, he make tool for scrape hide. He scrape. He work slow, but careful. He still tied, but he not make trouble. He cheerful. 

Once night after eat, Fem say, ‘You, Pevette. Soon you better enough for walk. When snow melt, you return men tribe.’

Suddenly Pevette stop smiling. He stop stitch shoe for look up. ‘Men tribe?’ he say. ‘Why me want that?’

‘Why you not want?’

‘It many reason,’ say Pevette. ‘For start, it no boobies there. Only coconut.’

‘What wrong coconut?’ ask Nizzi.

Pevette shrug. ‘It nothing wrong. It good for eat, or make bowl for soup. Hair of coconut also good for make string. And milk tasty. But it never replace boobies.’ He smile. ‘Me like woman tribe.’

‘It plenty boobies here,’ say Fem. ‘Me admit.’

‘Boobies nice,’ say Pevette. ‘But it more.’

‘It also punani,’ say Min.

‘That true. But it more again.’

‘What more?’

Pevette think for while. Then he say, ’Woman tribe have good Chief. Also dog. Me always like dog. He friend. When he go over mountain, me sad. Me very happy see dog again. He remember! When he see Pevette, he happy! He woof. He lick face! Me happy too.’

‘So,’ say Fem, ‘you want stay women tribe?’

‘Me want.’

‘You stay for dog, and big dream of boobies?’

‘No,’ say Pevette. ‘That not it. Now me have bigger dream.’ He sigh. ‘Me want family. This good place. To me it feel like home.’

‘What really happen men tribe?’ ask Min. ‘Why pretend you woman?’

Now Pevette continue work on shoe. ‘It strange thing,’ he say. ‘But we scared of Tra. He rule with strength. He give stick to Henn and Schmenn. He say all men bad, need hit with stick. They hit! Men not like, so we decide we women, same like Tra. Now Henn and Schmenn not hit. This good — we think we solve problem. 

‘Then Tra say he woman who like sex only woman. We also like sex woman, so say again we same like Tra. But this big mistake! Now Tra want plenty sex everyone. We not want sex Tra, but we afraid Henn and Schmenn. So Tra get plenty sex. He very happy. But most men miserable. Sex Tra not same like sex woman. Me know it not wrong, but for me it feel wrong. It go against Nature Spirit in heart. And worse — when first me have sex Tra, he look eyes. Me know he see truth — it feel wrong. Me not want. But this only make him happy. Because me not want, he want sex more. 

‘This scare me deep. And after sex, me throw sick. When Tra see, he hit many times with stick, he shout, he scream insult in ear. He make me clean sick. He spit face. Then he kick ribs and throw out. 

‘After that, me careful. Me pretend me like sex Tra. Me close eyes, make picture of woman in mind. Me imagine big boobies, soft skin. Me imagine me have other body, and this life only dream. Me imagine me pig in forest — hunter chase, but me escape! Or me small cat asleep on warm rock. Sometimes me imagine me woman. Me imagine many things, for try enjoy. Sometimes it work. But after sex Tra, me always throw sick.’

Tribe silent. We not know what say. 

‘Me know you not believe,’ say Pevette. ‘But me know truth. This better place.’ He point at rope on ankle. ‘Me know me prisoner. Me not belong woman tribe. But that not matter,’ he say. ‘Me safe.’

Again, tribe silent. It magic in air.

‘And plenty boobies,’ add Pevette. Then he laugh.

Tribe laugh too.

‘It many men unhappy in men tribe,’ say Pevette. ‘They not like rules — it too many. Tra make bad Chief. With him, it no escape! If man, you bad, you evil oppressor of women. He hit with stick. If woman, you need always good smell and flower in hair. If not smile, not walk with wiggle, you not sexy — maybe you man! It need follow order, or you bad woman — he hit with stick! With Tra, it no between!’

‘What between?’ ask Nizzi. ‘It man or woman. It no between.’

‘Me not mean that.’ Pevette quiet for moment, only stitch shoe. Then he say, ‘Me mean this — it no need man evil oppressor; if not, he still man. It no need woman wear flower — she stay woman! Why not man wear flower? 

‘But Tra think all men same way. Me know some men bad, but he blame all — he hate just for exist! He know he man, so he hate himself! That why he say he woman. When he see man, he not see human, only monster. He think only monster is real man.’ Pevette shake head. ‘It not true! Men mostly good. Me know me bad — but me not monster! Me criminal, grab boobies without permission. Me regret. Me obsessed with boobies. Me see boobies, me lose control. So now it need punish for bad actions. Maybe you hit with stick? That fair. Me bad man. It true. But that not same like monster!’

‘Pah!’ say Ruti. ‘Of course not all men monster! But look what happen when Tra come along! He say he woman. He wear coconut for pretend boobies, but he man. He say he King of Women. This crazy — women not have king! This obvious, but it not matter men. They not listen women, but they happy listen Tra. They very impressed. They like idea hit bad women with stick. So now Tra have followers. And soon he Chief, but worse — he king! He say he woman, but he monster. Maybe he King of Monsters!’

’He monster,’ say Pevette. ‘But same time he only man. And maybe he Chief, but he no longer king. He not secure. Without boobies, men always unhappy. So Tra have big problem.’ He stop make shoe, for look Chief Fem in eye. ‘Me think men come soon.’

[Next Episode]

Plenty Grass

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 16)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

Me sulk long time. Me find small stone and twig for throw in water. Me talk quiet to Hom in head, who also me. Me have little cry. Then me see many grey mouse at riverbank, all scurry. Mouse ignore Hom, live own life. But always he nervous. He fear small cat. Maybe cat hiding? Mouse not know. But fear not stop him — mouse continue. Me smile. Mouse wise. 

Then me hear footstep. Me turn. It Fem. She smile, but she sad. Me smile back, also sad. Then Fem sit by river with Hom. She say nothing, only pick up twig for throw. Maybe she sulk too. 

After while she put arm round shoulder, she squeeze. ‘You good man,’ she say.

‘Me not know,’ me say. ‘Maybe Nizzi have point.’

‘What mean?’

‘Me always talking. Maybe it too much.’

‘That nonsense,’ say Fem. ‘Everybody talk. It not Hom only.’

‘Maybe me need shut mouth.’

‘Me not want Hom shut mouth. Me think you good king.’

‘What?’ me cry. ‘Me not king!’

Fem laugh. ‘Maybe you not know. But you king.’

‘Me not king. Tribe not have king, only Chief. That you! But now you say me king. So maybe now me king? But me not want. Me confuse.’

‘Me Chief,’ say Fem. ‘But you King of Men.’

‘Now me confuse more.’

‘King not same like Chief. Chief lead tribe. Tribe democracy. So Chief come from election. King different — it man who have respect all other men. That not need election. It work of Nature Spirit.’

‘What mean?’

‘Men like follow order. It same like dog. Men think if no order, it chaos. That bad. So long ago, men have idea — why not one man give order, other follow? But all man want give order, not follow. So how decide who give order? That difficult. Long ago, it always fight. That bad. So tribe invent democracy. That better. Now election decide Chief. But who win election? Most time it king — it man with most respect. So most time, Chief also king. Respect make him king, then election make him Chief. Everybody happy. When Chief lose respect, he no longer king. Other man now king, and Chief weak. This bad. When Chief weak, it time for election.’

‘This true,’ me say. ‘This same like Boz.’

‘That right,’ say Fem. ‘But it more. What happen when woman win election? Many men not want take order woman. So when woman win, it problem. She need respect of men, but she not king. So how she get respect? It only one way — she need king. If king follow Chief, men also follow. If king not follow, there big fight. She not stay Chief long.’ Fem smile. ‘But me lucky. Me have Hom.’

‘Me have wife,’ me say. ‘Name Gel. Me loyal!’

Fem laugh. ‘Me know. Me not mean that! It no need worry. Me respect married life. And Gel is good friend.’

‘That relief,’ me say. ‘But Nizzi say—’

Fem frown. ’Nizzi have big mouth.’

’Me no comment,’ me say. But me think she right.

Again Fem laugh. ‘You good king,’ she say. ‘You wise.’

Me think quiet for while. Then me say, ‘Maybe me king. But me not want.’

’That good. But it no choice for Hom, only Nature Spirit.’

Me sigh. ‘Nature Spirit crazy.’

Fem smile. ‘It no need worry. Me have idea.’

‘What that?’

‘You king, but we not make official. Instead it secret.’

Me think about this. Then me laugh. ‘You crazy too,’ me say. ‘But me like.’

Soon we return big cave. When arrive, everybody smile. Me not know how, but argument finish. Now it half tribe in cave, all busy make string. Me see big pile grass in middle. Me watch Garda, she take grass, she twist in finger. She add grass to new string, she twist more, then roll in palm. String grow. Then me see Cheri. She take two new string, and one more. That three string. She weave three string together for make thicker string. Now me understand: they make rope. Soon rest of tribe return. They bring deer and plenty grass. Then hunter leave again for fetch more. Me stay cave. First, me finish spear. It not take long. Then me help make rope.

We make rope long time — it last all day, til sun go down and time for eat. Hunter lucky. They catch other deer and two squirrel! They bring huge load grass — now many big piles in cave, but away from fire. Grass soft, it make good place for sleeping. It many insect in grass, but no problem. Soon grass dry, and insect run away. Or maybe he fly. That depend. It many kind insect. Everybody different, but most insect harmless. Sometimes he annoy. But few insect dangerous, and usually he run away too! So we not worry insect, only snake. But hunter not stupid. They already make sure it no snake in grass.

After eat, Mat and Tix count rope.

‘This good,’ say Mat. ‘But it need more.’

‘We make rope tomorrow,’ say Fem. ‘And next day again. We make rope til enough. Then still we make more. But life not stop for rope. So same time, we make bow. We make many arrow. We make spear.’ Fem smile. ‘Most important, we make plan.’

Many days pass, and rope grow long. Mat count, and always he want more. So rope grow longer. At same time, we find good tree. When we find, Bivi examine. She look branches. She scratch head. Sometime she say no. Sometimes she shrug — this also mean no. 

But sometimes she say yes. Then we climb tree. Bivi choose big branch for scrape off bark, and smear with grease of pig. We hang short piece rope over branch. We pull both end for make sure rope slip easy, then tie in place. Then Garda hug tree. When hug finish, we find next tree. 

When rope long enough, we use for tie short piece together. Now rope stretch from tree to tree! We check rope still slip. Sometimes Bivi need climb tree for find problem. Sometimes it need cut twig and leaf, or scrape bark more. Sometimes it need add grease. Few times it no way fix — she pick wrong tree first time, so need find other. All this take many days. But in end, work finish! Now all rope joined. It slip easy through forest. It high in branches. It hidden.

We tie stone on end near cave. We tie other end far, in tree above mountain pass. Arca climb tree. She pull rope tight; stone twitch at other end! She pull more, and stone lift — it work! Then Arca cut rope. Stone fall on other stone. It make noise, but not loud. This big disappointment.

Me scratch head. It good alarm, but not enough. It something missing, for make better one. Then Nizzi speak up.

‘It no need cut rope,’ she say. ‘It need only pull for lift stone. If let go rope, stone fall. Again pull rope for lift stone. Let go, again stone fall.’

‘Maybe that true,’ me say. ‘But what point?’

‘Me have idea,’ say Nizzi. ‘We make stone beat drum.’

[Next Episode]