A story about a man in space, sure, but not just a story about a man in space. Rather, Ad Astra is an existential thrill ride about what it means to be a man in space.

And what does it mean really? For Brad Pitt’s Roy McBride, directed by James Gray, it means a life of striving and seeking, of searching for something. Ostensibly, Roy is searching for his absent father, a man who left Earth and his family to conquer space. Which brings us to the question; what was McBride Senior seeking? We can make a good guess that it’s about legacy and fame, but largely it’s the ambition to discover life outside Earth. McBride Junior never knew his father but the world knows the old man as a hero, as someone who sacrificed his life for the greater good of humanity. 

However, is a hero really a hero if he leaves his son and his wife? Ad Astra explores this dynamic through the character of Roy McBride's maybe-girlfriend. On Earth, Roy is of a singular mind, focused on the job. He doesn’t see those around him; he lives as if in a dream. That his girlfriend is of no consequence to Roy is shown by the camera’s refusal to shift focus, so that even to the audience, she is no more than a blurry image. Still, we and our protagonist venture forward; there is no time to waste on human endeavours and human emotion.

As the film develops, we loop around and begin to see the likeness between son and father; we notice the equal discontent that shrouds their dual perceptions under the guise of rationalism. Pitt’s character’s desire to find answers take him to the darkest reaches of space and to the brink of human technology. While there, he sees truth through lies. His father is not the hero he thought; the people he works for have their own fierce agenda; and, his life is just an inconsequential blip in darkness, ungrounded by any human connection.

A cinematic darkness seeps into our souls and residual fear remains, expressing its presence through rage. An encounter with a vengeful lab ape is the first instance of overt anger in the film and it jolts the audience to its core. We are suddenly confronted with the first relatable sign of emotion and it comes from a terrified animal who has no idea of where he is and what he’s doing. In a brief moment of honesty, Roy relates.

At this point it must be said that Ad Astra is a movie about fathers and sons exclusively, it’s about concepts of masculinity and ego, written as it is by James Gray and Ethan Gross. Our trip to space is a metaphor for a trip through the male psyche. Until this moment, Roy has not once addressed his feelings and his heart rate has never once risen above its baseline. The bloodthirsty ape makes our lead character confront this. Recording his mental health log after the incident, Roy admits; ‘I’ve seen that rage,’ he says, ‘I understand it’. He’s concerned that his internalised fear (of what, it’s not certain) has in fact morphed into anger, exactly like his father.

From this moment on Roy seems to become more and more aware of his own father’s flawed mortality and, as a result, his own. We enter deep space, a place where there is nothing to distract the wandering mind. Roy heads deeper into the void, in one instance pulling futilely on a rope – deeper into darkness, with no foreseeable end. We wonder why he continues but then we realise it’s not fear that leads him onwards; it’s hope, love for his father and a desire to see him again. Despite difficulty weighing down on him, Roy maintains a desire to live and in that desire we find beauty and truth.

In an Interview with The Verge, director and co-writer James Gray puts it simply. "What we're trying to say is, there's nothing out there. Nothing is going to save us. And if this is all we've got, what does that mean? If those answers are not out there for us, then human connection is everything." Instead of being a depressing thought, I think Gray means it to be hopeful. In searching for connection with extra-terrestrial life and his estranged father, ironically Roy isolates himself from reality. The answers he seeks are simpler and purer than he wants to allow. Futile or not, human connection and the will to live is all we’ve got so it’s best to embrace it.
If you’re not someone totally shut off to the idea that animals aren’t so different from humans, and that primates in particular can tell us a lot about humans’ own evolutionary process, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore is a book you must read.

The novel, written as a memoir narrated by the world’s first English-speaking chimpanzee, centres around the life of said chimpanzee, from his childhood in Lincoln Park Zoo where he lived with several other chimps, including his dim-witted, frog-fucking father, right up until the present day as an old, bald, upright, university educated chimp who is both an acclaimed artist and theatre director, locked up in a research facility for a misdemeanour against his human captors.

The story takes us from chimp childhood to manhood with some of the greatest prose I’ve ever read. Bruno, it becomes evident, is a great lover of the English language and he uses it as eloquently and as wittily as any human could as he tells his story of love, loss and evolution. From zoo to research centre, on to the home of his first and only love, Lydia, who plays mother, teacher and, eventually, um, lover, to young Bruno, the tale focuses on both Bruno’s acquisition of language as much as his growing understanding of the human world, which both overwhelms and confuses him as well as spellbinds him with beauty, art and Sesame Street.

In seeing humanity from an outside perspective, Bruno asks important and philosophical questions about the sometimes evil and sometimes worrying nature of mankind, why it is that humans are the only creatures to kill their own kind for personal gain and why science when studying biology will often overlook the irrationality of the human brain in favour of rational answers. Why, he asks, are humans so adamant they are so different from all other animals? All that is separating him from them is language, he explains, and once he gains this ability, the ability to put his thoughts into words and so cement his own desires, memories and thoughts into reality, so he too becomes human.

Eloquent as he is, Bruno tells of a number of instances in his life when he has failed to stifle his most primal of urges. But his acts of violence and bursts of unstoppable animality, like the time he bit the finger off Lydia’s lesbian lover because he didn’t want a damn raison – or the time he went crazy during his own art exhibition, or, regrettably, the time he killed a man – are narrated with such insight and such honesty that we can’t help but root for him throughout, hating the humans for imprisoning him and for treating him as nothing more than an object of science.

We follow Bruno through the New York subway, performing Shakespeare with a morbidly obese down-and-out actor, to the waiting room of an illegal Brazilian plastic surgery clinic where he awaits a new human nose. And throughout we wonder, what is it to be human? What is language, what is love? And what is the world without a means to express ourselves? It is at once witty, smart emotive and thought provoking, a book that forces us to look with more curiosity and a whole lot more empathy at the animals around us. Especially those chimps.

Do yourself a favour and read this book.

As a cultural overnight trip from your Bangkok base or as part of a longer journey up towards Chiang Mai, Sukhothai is a must-see for history geeks and culture vultures alike. A kingdom once ruled over by the Khmer empire, Sukhothai is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to a series of impressive 12th century ruins spanning seventy kilometres. Temples, Chedis and Buddha statues galore, the site hosts over 190 ruins, 20 Buddhist temples and the remains of the royal palace. While Cambodia’s Angkor Wat reigns supreme as far as great civilisation ruins go, within Thailand, Sukhothai is undoubtedly the place to go!

Known as the cradle of Thai civilisation and first capital of Siam, Sukhothai is said to have been the birthplace of Thai art, language and architecture. Literally translated as ‘The Dawn of Happiness’, Sukhothai briefly enjoyed prosperity in the 13th century before being annexed by the Ayyuthaya Kingdom. Owing to extensive renovations, visitors to Sukhothai are able to step into the past and experience the re-erected grandiosity of the original kingdom. This is quite unlike Ayutthaya, the most touristy of historical sites in Thailand, which, although more authentically preserved and conveniently located, truly pales in comparison to Sukhothai!

So you’re here: what now?

Sukhothai’s central zone is a lush park surrounded by verdant trees, ponds and, of course, vast numbers of ruins. This is where most of the largest ruins are located, in particular the grand Wat Mahathat which once sat at the epicentre of the entire kingdom, as well as Wat Si Sawai and Phra Achana, famed for its long-fingered Buddha. You won’t want to miss taking time to explore the concentric square pathways that ripple out across this site, stepping over crumbling walls and getting up close and personal with the grand structures.

Off to the north, you’ll find the sitting Buddha at Wat Si Chum as well as the original foundation site Wat Phra Pai Luang, an ancient ceramics production site which was once a key commodity for trade with the Chinese. Follow a steep slate pathway up a small hill to the west and you’ll discover Wat Saphan Hin where an impressive 12 metre tall Buddha looks out over the kingdom (not a bad view either!) Other notable areas include Wat Chetapon and Wat Trapong Thonglang, both intricately covered in various reliefs of Buddha. The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum is also an option for more site artefacts and information.

Delve into the architectural history

Once sharing the belief system of the Khmer empire, early Sukhothai temples were built with a key central structure and corn-shaped prangs. It was only after Theravada Buddhism entered the kingdom, at the behest of Sukhothai’s founding monarchy, that bell-shaped chedis replaced the existing ‘corny’ style. In addition, local craftsmen also developed their own style, creating lotus-bud’ chedis, stucco-over-brick construction and graceful depictions of Buddha. The intriguing thing about Sukhothai is that all of these architectural quirks can be seen in the aesthetic of a single temple, revealing the many layers of history to those who know what to look out for!
Tips for your visit to Sukhothai

If you’ve spent any time in South East Asia you’ll be well aware that the heat should be taken very seriously! With that in mind, you’ll want to arrive early to the park in order to enjoy the less potent morning sun. Even so, wear sunscreen, drink plenty of water and wear light clothes and comfortable shoes. If you get scared off by the midday heat, don’t forget to come back in the early evening to see the sun set over the site; the deep reds and oranges make it the perfect spot for photographers, both amateur and professional.

How to get to Sukhothai

Sukhothai’s closest train station is in Phitsanulok, about an hour’s bus journey away from the ruins. Alternatively, to go direct, hop on a tour bus from Ayutthaya (6 hours) or from Bangkok (7 hours 30 minutes). Not only is it more than worth it (at less than 500 baht – US$16), it is one of the shorter bus journeys you’ll likely embark on in Thailand! Once there, instead of shelling out on a number of tuk-tuk or songtaew rides to and from your accommodation, consider hiring a motorbike for convenience. This is one of the best ways to explore the site, at around 250 baht ($5) for the day, allowing you to glimpse not only the central temples but also the hidden gems based outside of the main square, some of which require a bumpy ride and a short trek to get to.

Within the park itself, another option is renting a bicycle for just 20 baht (less than $1). However with temperature often above 35 degrees in summer, the guided tram tour may seem more tempting (also priced at 20 baht). Separate tickets are required for different areas of the park and while some areas remain free, you will likely have to pay more than one entrance fee for you and your vehicle. The price of the central park stands at 100 baht ($3) for foreigners and 30 baht ($1) for Thai nationals. Although the site is officially open from 6am – 4 pm, it seems this rule is not strictly enforced, allowing you to join the locals in a sunset stroll through the grounds.

A colonial city with a history of British White Rajahs befriending Sultans to fight pirates, Kuching has a bunch of epic stories to tell and a number of very friendly locals  to tell them. Located as it is on the North West Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo, at the bottom reaches of the South China Sea, the region has a long history of homing immigrants from an array of Asian countries. This means that native Malays from diverse tribes mingle with Chinese and Indian immigrants, mixing culture, language and cuisine. Curried Laksa is served next to Dim Sum at Hawker stands around the corner from western style bars selling everything from local Tuak rice wine to Korean soju.

Eavesdrop on any conversation and you’ll hear first-hand the intertwining of cultures, as locals change seamlessly from Malay to Chinese to English in single sentences. A faux-annoyed ‘laa’ serves as a cheeky reminder of the way locals appropriate and connect through humour in their shared languages.

Kuching is a place where everyone and no one belongs and it’s this unique identity that shapes the local’s cheery attitudes towards tourists. So although you might come for the food and the wildlife, you’ll stay for the charm of the local people and their easy-going attitudes. Many come here expecting Orangutans but they leave having discovered that Borneo offers so much more.

Source: BTA

Sarawak’s Monkey-filled National Parks 

While, sadly, large portions of Borneo’s rainforests have been sold off to make way for sleazy palm oil plantations, the rainforest still seems as abundant as ever thanks to numerous conservation projects and wildlife rehabilitation centres in the region, with as many as nine national parks within a day trip from the city, the most notable being Kubah, Santubong and Bako National Parks.

If you like primates, you’ll love what these parks have to offer; in addition to the proliferation of those cheeky, thieving long-tailed Macaques you’ll have long learnt to avoid if you’ve ever spent any time in South East Asia, there are a number of other more benign species. Various types and shades of langur monkey are also out and about across the region, including in Batang Ai National Park, a wildlife-lover’s paradise so big that it spreads its reach across the Indonesian border. While slightly further afield, Batang Ai is truly worthy of an overnight trip, being one of the few places in the world you might spot wild Orangutans.

In Bako meanwhile, a short bus and boat ride from Kuching, alongside the langurs, you’ll also find the indigenous proboscis monkey, famed for its 7-inch nose and domed belly. What the proboscis monkey lacks in accepted standards of beauty, it rather makes up for in charm and intrigue. Thankfully, they are also shy and wouldn’t dream of stealing your GoPro (unlike those infamous macaques). Some estimates say there may only be 1,000 proboscis monkeys left in the wild but in Bako, stealthy hikers can catch sight of tens of them during dusk outings, noses quivering in the breeze.

It’s not all monkey business either. Borneo bursts with life of all kinds, including myriad species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Some harmless; some best kept at a distance. Expect to lock eyes with bearded pigs, catch glimpses of mouse deer, gaze up at hornbills and curse the existence of the mosquito.

Breakfast with Orangutans at Semenggoh National Reserve

While wild orangutans still wander the vast forests solitarily, in Batang Ai mainly, for a more sure sighting, your best bet is to head to Semenggoh National Reserve, an easy Grab ride from the center, where ‘semi-wild’ orangutans appear almost daily expecting to be served up their regular smorgasbord of fruits and veg by the friendly rangers who howl hopefully into the forest at breakfast and dinner each day.

For the tiny entrance fee and the heady anticipation, the visit is more than worth it. Make sure to arrive early and expect to be kept waiting, listening to the alien, unknowable noises from deep inside the forest, before maybe being honoured with the sight of a peckish orangutan descend into the clearing, scoop up freebies and clamber off without ceremony. While short, the experience is a humbling one, allowing you to step into the world of these beautiful, intelligent creatures on the brink of extinction.

Source: Bamboo Travel

Iban and proud: Sarawak’s largest ethic group 

The Iban tribe are the largest ethnic group in Sarawak. They travel widely and while most now live modern lifestyles, many still live without much technology in longhouses under the same roof as up to twenty other families. While Christianity and other Abrahamic religions have filtered in to the culture, Ibans come from an animist background. Animism being the belief that places, objects and all creature possess a distinct essential spirit. This connection to the world around them allowed them to traverse the rainforest, sense danger from afar and hunt with skill. In more modern environments it allows them to connect with each other with deep emotion and understanding.

Judging from their sunny, welcoming demeanour you might never guess that the Ibans were historically a head-hunting tribe, with the bloody tradition of chopping off their enemy’s heads. Happily, the tribes have modernized and are now not much different than the rest of Kuching’s misfit society. The tribe’s warrior heritage is still noticeable however, most obviously on the skin of the men who are covered in various tattoos with distinct meaning. For the Iban tribe,  tattooing is a way for men not only to convey status and experience but also as a way to be seen and protected by the gods.

When an Iban male comes of age he will receive the ‘Bungai Terung’ tattoo, one on each shoulder, made using the traditional hand-tapping method. Known as ‘bejalai’, this tattoo is given before the young man makes his coming-of-age journey into the woods and symbolises strength to carry, protection and transformation into adulthood.


Header img source: Flashpack at 40

Ever increasing amounts of carbon from our atmosphere and storing it, slowing the inevitable ruin of our ozone, our ocean life, our climate and modern life as we know it. But, hold up… we’re burning them down? The rainforests are ON OUR SIDE and we’re setting them alight! For what? Cheap junk food and bad coffee. Not wanting to depress anyone too much, I won’t even touch on destruction caused by oil rigging, fracking and other fossil fuel purification operations today, but trust that it’s not good news.

Despite the sneaky, Earth-harming methods many businesses employ to make profit, we can’t place the blame wholly on them. After all, they are just giving us what we appear to want; classic supply and demand. If we as consumers stopped buying unsustainably sourced products, companies would be forced to change their methods of money-making. Increased business transparency would do a lot to help us make sustainable decisions, but for now it’s up to us to do the digging.

Why we need a global ‘carbon tax’

The idea of a ‘carbon tax’, a fee to be paid on any activity which produces carbon emissions, is not a popular one. Laughed out of congress in the US and sniffed at by the average Joe (likely already in debt), the carbon tax will be hard won. But it would be a win. Here’s why:

I’m not one to give an economics lesson, so I’ll tell you what Harvard University professor Robert M Beren told Leo DiCaprio on Nat Geo’s Before the Flood; raise the price of something and people will consume less of it. And if — says me —  people are consuming less carbon-emitting products, humanity will survive longer and dare I say thrive. Hooray for humanity!

On the business side then, the importance of the carbon tax is significant. If the company is not already thinking of its environmental footprint, a tax will cut dramatically into profits, making their carbon emissions and earth-harming activities impossible to ignore. It’s this incentive that will lead some of the world’s biggest companies in energy, manufacturing and agriculture to invest in sustainable, earth-friendly business strategies and future development. It’s this investment from big business that could make all the difference in reversing the damage of the past and ensuring our climate doesn’t warm to apocalyptic levels within the next century. Lobbyists however, will do anything to avoid the implementation of a climate tax. This leads me to my next point…

Lobbyists: humanities biggest threat

The solution to our global problem then, doesn’t rely on consumers buying a new light bulb, it relies on government taking action to ensure that industry and the public alike are all working towards a sustainable, low-carbon future. It’s up to our richest nations to lead the way, investing in renewable energy ahead of cheap, quick methods of fueling society and lining their pockets.

The flies in the ointment lie in our old, corrupt systems of power, which allow government officials and policy makers to be bought by big business and their interest groups, all who serve to halt environmental progress and keep the law favorable to the richest industries in the world.

You’d be in good company thinking that your government works in your interest, but, if you’re American at least, you’d be wrong. In 2017, over $3.3 billion was spent on lobbying , 100 million of that in Agribusiness alone (you might also wanna take a look at the mouth-watering spending within big Pharma, but that’s a problem for another day). Analyses, from the Center of American Progress (CAP), show that over a third of US Congress — the very people who should be putting through progressive carbon tax laws (as well as everything else to stop the free market from self-destruction) — are firm climate change deniers. That’s 144 politicians in the house and 38 in the senate who believe, through pure idiocy or good, old fashioned bribes, that climate change is one big hoax.

While you can ponder all day on the madness of a system that allows said people to govern a nation and make key societal decisions, the most pertinent issue I want you to focus on, is how million-dollar payoffs are made to officials, essentially turning them into industry mouthpieces. Likewise, it’s the big business-backed lobbyists, interest groups and other wealthy influencers who seize any official debate about trade restrictions and policy changes proposed to help the Earth, in order to stop environmental sustainability and keep on profiting. The question becomes; who’s in charge here? Is our democracy actually a plutocracy?

Congress: obstructing progress for profit

In straight numbers, from the people at CAP, you’ll see that a total of US$73,294,380 has been received by climate deniers in current congress by the energy sector. This is nothing but dirty money and is something we should be livid about. Instead, we’re confused. These lobbyists pose as scientists of ‘prestigious’ institutions and the deniers are often in positions of authority, published, and very, very rich.

But who cares about Earth’s tomorrow when you’re a billionaire today? Why would you allow your future profits to be heavily taxed when you have the money and connections to stop the tax in the first place, and the legal loopholes to get away with it?

Why do we trust our governments and media establishments to inform us, when those very institutions are joeys in the pockets of big business? The only reason we feel so helpless to stop climate change is because the problem is bigger than us, the problem is systemic. It’s the commercial view of trade and profit as more important than the planet we live on; and it is that view — sold to us by our government, figures of authority and the media — which we must fight.

So who’s messing with our planet?

Of the companies named and shamed by Greenpeace in a recent report on dirty palm oil are Unilever, Reckitt Benkiser, PZ Cussons, Proctor & Gamble, Pepsico, Nestle Mars, L’Oreal, Kellogg’s, Kraft, Heinz, Johnson & Johnson, Hershey, General Mills, Colgate-Palmolive and Mondelez. These guys are the big dogs. Pull any item off a supermarket shelf and I’ll bet you a fiver one of these fellas is listed on the back. That should give you some indicator into the kind of conglomerate clusterfuck we are currently witnessing. These people almost have enough money to pay off every government official worldwide — it’s time we push back and tell them it’s unacceptable. There are some things more important then profit. Our planet being one of them.

What can I do to stop deforestation?

  • Boycott companies. Consume less. Drink water (soda gives you acne anyway). Eat fresh produce, avoid processed foods.
  • Check what you buy is palm-oil free — Read the ingredients, stay woke!
  • Spam message companies on social media, they hate that. It’s ‘bad for the brand’. Currently you can jump on the bandwagon and attack Oreo for doing business with Mondelez.
  • Tell your friends, online and off. Get angry together.
  • Sign and share climate change petitions and promote global action to stop deforestation on 350.org. While there are many petitioning sites, 360 operates internationally aiming to push the environmental sustainability worldwide. To petition against palm oil deforestation, head to Rainforest Rescue.
  • Read up on the Paris Climate Agreement and hold future policy makers in your country to account.
  • See the full list of threats to our forests and natural habitats over at Greenpeace. Accept that this bunch of hippies might actually have a point. 

Think I’m overreacting? Go watch Before the Flood — a brilliant (if terrifying) 2016 National Geographic documentary on the effects of climate change along with optimistic solutions, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. Available for free somewhere online because there are some things more important than profit! 

Or, to get the facts on climate change and our impending doom from actual scientists, head over to NASA.
Post-spiritual awakening Jim Carrey is Carrey at his best. It’s further than you ever thought he could get from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and yet Jeff Pickles, the central character of Kidding, still holds a similar sort of intrigue. Distant from anyone we know, yet relatable and painfully human.

Deeply troubled about the death of his eldest son and the break-up of his marriage, Mr Pickles, host of an iconic children’s puppet show, must continue to record his show or risk harsh judgement of his father and manager, Mr. Pickles senior.

Struggling to crush the anger and trauma he feels, Mr Pickles spirals, acting out against his producers’ wishes; performing songs about depression to a studio audience of 5-year-olds; shaving half his head and moving in next door to his ex-wife. Slowly losing his sanity as the people around him drift further from him, Mr Pickles continues to live the motto of his show “Be True to Yourself”. Even if this means showing his cracks.

Much in the style of Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor, Kidding is much more than its main character; it’s about the lives of the people in the blast area, and how their family lives and experiences have shaped each of them differently.

Pickles’ sister and puppet costume designer, Deirdre, played by Catherine Keener, is remarkable. She herself nearing divorce, largely due to finding out her husband gave the neighbour a handjob in the driveway, Deirdre echoes a different kind of pain, a pain of always being overlooked, of never being enough. When Mr. Pickles San – the Japanese version of Mr Pickles – comes to town in order to learn from the master, so begins a mute affair between Deirdre and him, communicating only through puppets.

Directed by Michael Gondry who worked with Carrey on Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind, Kidding is an exploration of mental health and dealing with the grim realness of the everyday. At a time when many of us feel alienated from the world around us and are grasping wildly for any semblance of truth, Kidding gives us exactly that. It’s heartfelt, real and, despite everything, hopeful.

Comments sections are bitter lands. They run by different laws where no one’s safe and everyone’s a prisoner of their own poor grammar. An opinion, it seems, needs to be caps-locked in order for it to be valid. Bandying insults of nationality and lowered intelligence has become like signing off. People are judged blue or red by how accepting they are of immigrants. In comments kingdom there is no nuance, only you’re right, I’m wrong, here’s why. And whoever shouts loudest inevitably wins.

How dare those libtards have kneejerk reactions against Brett Kavanaugh's alleged assault of Dr Blasey Ford. Who are hell are they to judge the judge before he’s been properly judged? The repetitive typed cry of Innocent until proven guilty is the only true argument conservatives and woman-haters alike have. All of a sudden they’re siding with the law, as if they never smoked crack or voted to drain the swamp.

But what we’re essentially arguing about is the background check of a job interview; he’s not going to jail and public opinion doesn’t have to wait until the ruling is made before it casts its own decision. The public cannot be guilty of unfair trial. It has never held back from judging someone and it shouldn’t start now. Pardon us for having an opinion that isn’t supported by a verdict from a board of people I don’t know and who have other agendas throwing shade on their ethics – conservative and otherwise. 

Ford vs Kavanaugh - trust our guts

We should trust our instincts. We are not rational calculating machines, we are animals led by the combined forces of biology, psychology and culture and we damn well need our imperfect modes of judgement. They’re what allow us to run from the jaws of lions and to decide who to trust. I’m not saying lynch the guy, nor am I saying don’t make him Supreme Judge – that’s for the law to decide, sure. What I’m saying is, if you believe he is guilty then say it; load and clear. In caps if you must, but prepare to have a conversation about why you think this. Don’t let other people bully you into withholding judgement. If he’s one day allowed to make supreme, world-changing judgements, then you go for it and tell your buddies that, in your opinion, he’s definitely an entitled prick. It just might make you feel better when he’s busy ripping your reproductive rights out from under you.

I for one am almost certain that he did it. He was a drunk student at a party and it doesn’t take a lawyer to point out (even if they should probably mention it) he was also likely horny AF. We all know people who struggle to hide their biological instincts after a few beers – and it’s almost always men who cause the most damage; with stupid violence, sexual violence and sometimes just not knowing – or caring – about women’s limits.

Kavanaugh Assault #metoo 

The #metoo movement, while seeming like another excuse for narcissistic women to make a social media post, actually allowed us to see for the first time the full extent of how men overstep the mark all the time. Even if they don’t know it, even if it doesn’t affect them and even boys, even, if there were mitigating circumstances.

The sheer number of women who hold stories of men abusing power or taking advantage (not to mention more serious allegations) is staggering. I would pull up statistics of sexual assault but sceptics rarely believe these anyway. Of course, men are also victims of sexual assault but I defy anyone to say it’s a level playing field (although in this case we aren’t seeking equality, you’ll be pleased to hear). There are more male abusers for the same reason there are more male murderers. As a species you have an aggression problem – women, meanwhile, do not (although you might know a few individuals who do).

Both parties can rationalise an assault – we drank too much, I wasn’t wearing enough, she went to my room – but at the end of it all, only one person is fucked up by it. More than often it is women because men, for some seemingly biological reason, tend to struggle to control their sexual instincts more than women. Women throughout history have suffered from this and today still.

When you begin to appreciate the commonplace nature of sexual assault and stop seeing all women as lying manipulators (might it be because one denied you sex?), you realise it’s not that far out for Brett Kavanaugh to have done what he did. It’s almost conventional.

Dr Blasey Ford as a Political Pawn

So why the partisan divide? Why are conservatives defending the drunk penis-wielding sexual fury of the past and present and why are liberals now standing up against it?

I’d be an idiot if I said it wasn’t political; of course a little bit of sexual deviation is exactly what the democratic party needed to fight the conservative stronghold of the courts. Enrage the public and make sure the world is watching. Lacking any other ideas, it’s a good plan. Throw Dr Ford to the lions. What rational-minded, aggressive forum posters are worried about is that it’s all a ruse! It’s a democratic grab for power, a lie, a conspiracy against a good man!

If it is a lie, then it’s a fairly fucking stupid one. An irrational woman with literally nothing but her word and her residual trauma.  Since when has anyone listened to the unsubstantiated emotional pain of women? The democratic party needs to do better than that, it’s barely worth lying about. A better lie would’ve been tax fraud, or ties with Russia, or literally anything that could be proved with a little planted evidence.

The Kavanaugh vs Dr Ford trial came at a good time for democrats and literally no one else. Ford herself surely won’t be any better off for it – if not scarred further by the whole regretful ordeal – and the public suffer too. For as long as we argue amongst ourselves over the cold, hard factual evidence (of which there is none) we do no justice. We only make a bigger divide.

So let’s drop the pointless argument of whether she’s lying or telling the truth and have a different conversation. A conversation about why we need male politicians who don’t assault women, another about how we measure emotional trauma and another about how wealthy, educated men might better use their privilege and power.

At the forefront of my mind is the conversation about how males have dominated this planet for thousands of years, both politically and socially – and sexually – and now, as women find their voices (bloody women’s rights for you) the conversation is changing – sometimes not in the way you’d expect or want. Rational, moral people should allow for views that differ from the norm, views that cause us to question our own motives, desires and treatment of others – and possibly as we start to recognise our flawed animal nature, our shared unequal history and our own bad choices, we might just have a chance of bettering society. Just so long as we can have the conversation.