“Working class kids were told they had no future before it was cool”,
The Soviets used to award an honorary title of Mother Heroine to mothers who raised a large family. The award stopped existing in 1991 when the Union fell. In post-Soviet Lithuania, the award still exists, although is now known as the award “For outstanding contribution to Lithuania” and is given to mothers who brought up five or more children. They have to have brought them up “well” – it is the criterion.
My mother once received “The Best Mother” award – organised by a famous TV show host from National Television. It was a bit like X factor or Eurovision in that people were shown clips of the families and could vote, by text, for their favourite mother. Mother heroine, mother sacrificial, mother exalted.
This award, a televised continuation of the Soviet “Mother Heroine”, was established to dispel the myth of large families as antisocial families. But really, it was more like seducing the big, often poor families into the fold of middle-class sociality. Look, you can be viewed as respectable – and the viewers will vote on this. Everyone we knew asked about the prize money. There was no prize money, only a medal. The hunger games will continue.
Big families are a drain on society, you see. Especially if they take benefits – the suspicion is that maybe the parents are only having the kids for the money? Why are you stealing from society by birthing? There is always this patronising concern for the kids of the poor but it is actually a concern that these kids, the sheer number of them, are actually making the concerned party poorer. The resources are limited, you see. There is an unwritten rule, a quota of how many offspring it is okay to bring into society, before they become a burden, instead of joy. Children who grow up being perceived as a burden make interesting adults.
I used to hitchhike a lot when I was a teenager and you wouldn’t believe how many times the drivers made comments about my parents’ sex life and implied I must have been very sexually active too. Mister lorry driver, I am 14 and I have six siblings. Also, I have the kind of sex you know nothing about – the non-reproductive kind of sex. It produces many things but not babies. And my mother is “Mother of the Year” – have some respect here.
Everyone’s obsessed with reproduction. Children are the future, but not working class kids. These kids are a drain and they don’t have a future. We’re going to try very hard to make sure they don’t. Huh, a self-fulfilling prophecy or smth.
i don’t want to be that kind of person
who goes to frieze every year
settles for traditions
proofs of status
following the crowds
from artist to object
the same way i hate christmas
its dull predictability of steps
one must take
when it doesn’t even snow here
and look, i also get it – the comfort of cyclical existence
in the chaos that is ageing, a holiday to tame death a little
but i want every occasion to be different
only a few things can be repeated more than once or twice
things never come full circle
let things come in halves and semis – open
and traditions are so complete
in a way that they leave no space
for anything to emerge
apart from a new articulation of old hurts
i hate reading instructions and following recipes
the shock the horror the violence in your words
they’re only words, words only here, please
the chronology of word-events
from an impulse to emotion
to articulation to cementation of it as belief
from ether to head
from your father to your head
from your village to your head
it took a village to raise you,
it took a village to tear you down
from head to toe
from mouth to mouth
you violently push yourself from the tip of my tongue down my throat
through my asshole you exit
you piece of shit
i say, you recoil
it’s only words, i say
from my chest to my head
to a thought, articulation, a cycle of world making
now with the breath, spittle and hot air
it’s nothing but hot air
sure, nothing really matters
as long as it’s not you who’s nothing
notes on trans,
I was afraid that if I started taking T, the future will not hold a space for me. Then I realised that I was living out somebody else’s future in my head. It was not mine already. This future was not holding me already. It was holding the cis phantom of me but not me.
Not complying with cisheteronormative impositions of gender was always going to be risky to some extent. But complying with them was riskier still, just in a different way. A diminished and compromised version of myself. Some compromises I am willing to make but only the compromises that serve the trans euphoric future, and not those that erase it.
When I say “trans euphoric future”, I don’t mean that it is only euphoric for trans people. I don’t trade in such hierarchies. When I say “future” I mean everything that’s to come – from the next moment to the next century.
We were tricked into buying into cisheteropatriarchy for long enough, and we now have some debts imposed on us too. We’ve been paying with the erasure of our worlds, of our very bodies – we are people whose language has been stolen from them. We compromised to the point of no self-recognition.
I am here living my many truths, with the tools that are at my disposal: the tools of medicine, of language, of philosophy, of perception and of representation.
I was once afraid that taking T meant making a permanent irreversible decision, until it occurred to me that not taking it was just as permanent. Permanence is only there for as long as something lasts.
diaspora X: first babes of the post-soviet block,
a country is people
do you want to live in lithuania
or maybe spain
or do you want to stay in london
i want night time swims in the lake
and friends’ naked bodies
marking the end of heteromatrix
drunk on wine, where nobody watches
and registers us as intruders
we only watch each other with tender love
the sound of creaking leather
in perfect harmony with the the smell of pine trees
the smell of leather, the sound of pine trees
when are you going back to the uk?
we sought knowledge all over the world
and picked up lessons in multiple tongues
the first babes of the post-soviet block
our histories personal, and yet so communal
mi casa tu casa, one blood
we come from the same psychic realm
run away to each other
not to shelter, but find the force of life
exploding in the dark waters of this lake
a storm about to leap out from the glass
the roots, the roots of pine trees
we’re trying not to trip over
through new memories I bring this place back to life
this corner of the world that tried to claim us as its own
we wrestle with that bloody claim
gargle with salt water
salt to the wound
in the past, this country has been the past for so long
a country is people
and people are sometimes painful connections
a country is people
and some people would rather we didn’t exist
so we cross the boundary, semi-legal
did you know uk offered 2000 pounds to each european who’d be willing to leave
a country is people
is an island that no one apparently is