Today’s piece looks at gatekeeping and the way Tumblr’s ban on adult content directly affected marginalised users including those who are LGBTQ+ and/or women and posited women’s bodies as sexual as compared to men’s.
A coffee shop, December 2018
“Female presenting nipples?” Josh laughed, leaning back in the booth with his coffee in one hand. “It sounds like a really weird conference. Or modern art piece. Or a one hit wonder pop band.”
Rachel nodded. “It’s ridiculous.”
“Look I only do Instagram and barely that these days. You’ll have to explain this Tumblr thing a bit more. They’re banning porn?”
This month’s theme is ‘gatekeeping’. Today’s piece looks at gatekeeping and harassment in online spaces.
John deletes his Instagram, his DeviantArt; he’s already deleted his tumblr and other sites linked to his J05draws username and set up a twitter under a new psuedonym. He’s relieved he never put his real name on those sites. Ten years ago he was enjoying being a fanartist. He was recently starting to use his popularity to highlight his original works and planning on taking commissions.
George knelt on the sofa, staring out of the window, his toy train forgotten about at the first splash of raindrops.
“Lot lot rain,” he announced.
Fiona nodded, ruffling her nephew’s hair. “Yes. Lots of rain.”
There was a rumble of thunder. George’s eyes grew wide. “What that noise?”
“Thunder.” Fiona got his attention and made the sign for thunder. Their family had been using Baby Sign alongside verbal language for almost as long as it had been invented, a simplified version of sign language with a small core vocabulary and some signs modified to make it easier for children’s hands to copy. “You remember thunder.”
George nodded. “Storm.”
They watched the rain for a while until it began to ease.
“Mama wet?” George asked. His mother had taken his older brother to a birthday party and so Fiona shook her head.
“They’ll be inside now, with the birthday boy.”
“When my birthday?”
Fiona smiled. “Not until April.”
“I have birthday party,” George said in a tone suggested this was inevitable.
“If mum and dad say you can.” Fiona was not about to take the blame for agreeing to a party for a bunch of under-fours and the associated cost and chaos. “I think the rain’s stopping.”
George nodded and slid off the sofa. He ran out to the hallway and came back with his Wellington boots. “Feefee, I want play in puddles!”
Fiona nodded, having expected this the moment the sky had darkened. “We need to put our coats on but yes, we can go outside.”
“Hoo-ray,” George cheered, the way he always did, two distinct syllables. “Puddles!” He jumped up and down as if he was already splashing about in the wet.
As she watched George jump all around the garden, laughing and playing, Fiona almost wished she’d bought her own boots so she could join in. She settled for the vicarious pleasure of enjoying George being carefree, revelling in the aftermath of the rain.
Double drabble (200 words). On a wet night a man approaches the meeting point. For this month’s prompt ‘rain’.
The rain hammered against his black umbrella as he walked toward the streetlight, the collar of his jacket pulled up, his footfalls splashing rainwater onto his polished oxford shoes.
He slowed his pace; it wouldn’t do to hang about too long on a night like this, far from a pub or café, taxi rank or bus stop. It would draw suspicion. Thankfully he spotted his contact approaching, a tall man in blue baseball cap with a green puffer jacket left unzipped, and they reached the designated meeting point together.
The handover was smooth, the small brown envelope passed into his free hand without either man breaking stride. He tucked the envelope into his pocket and continued on his way, taking a convoluted route back to his car, parked half a mile away.
There was a low rumble of thunder and he thought of his half-brother’s cosy suburban home and mundane but well-paid office job. Not the life he’d chosen nor would want for himself but sometimes the waiting, the cold or the heat, the snow or the rain, made the idea of such domesticity desirable and he pondered the wisdom of his profession.
An exact drabble (100 words) for #writingwednesday.
The rain didn’t come on Monday. He filled the watering can and watered the flowers, herbs, and vegetables.
The rain didn’t come on Tuesday. After watering, he filled up the bird bath. A sparrow soon came for a tiny sip.
The rain didn’t come on Wednesday. The south-easterly wind pushed the clouds away, leaving only sweltering heat. The grass was turning brown, and even the hardy wildflowers in the wild corner of the garden were beginning to wilt.
The rain came on Friday, finally, just as he began filling the watering can.