How could this possibly happen? The answer lies in why you forgot it

WARNING: This article contains distressing and triggering content.

It’s late November, 2009. The temperature hovers at 5°C as you make your way home from work. You’ve got your headphones on, and the treble rattles off into the dark. You’ve always walked back this way, down the main roads to the big converted Victorian factories, red brick illuminated in the yellow of the lamp posts. Young women in cheap coats lined in faux fur crowd at the traffic lights, armed with the weekly shop. An older man, thin and unshaven, leans forward and grabs at the buttocks of one of the…


Traditional political definitions have created a tribalist myth

We all know who I’m talking about, even if it isn’t ‘okay’ to say it, right? The bad people, with their evil ways, their uneducated ideologies, persecutory mindsets, and their ridiculous world views. You know, the Republicans. Or the Democrats. Or the Foreigners. Or the White People. Depending on who you are, we all have a group we define as deeply, unforgivably ‘Ungood’.

Traditional labels are making us create monsters out of moles

Since graduating college, I’ve come to the realization that most people are not extremely angry about queer theory or imperial colonial theory. People who aren’t incredibly clued up on white privilege are rarely the nazi monsters we created in our heads, and Uncle Max who works in credit management isn’t a greedy capitalist intent on enslaving Libya for oil profits. My mother called this newfound understanding Growing Up. Unfortunately, like that childhood fear of the dressing gown in the dark, tropes still die hard, even for me. But why?

I was reading a Facebook thread today on transgender rights (a…


Uncomfortable as it may be, we have to confront those who normalize abuse, taboos and fetishes

Sexuality, like all things, comes with the good, the bad, and the ugly. It can mean incredible closeness, intimacy and affection between you and your partner. It can mean a slightly embarrassing crush at college. And it can mean having an attraction that is so monstrously warped that an individual ends up causing serious harm, or even death. As the big media platforms and mediums rightly take aim at sexual abuse and violence, it does however raise an interesting question: how should we, as as a society, navigate harmful and dangerous elements of sexuality?

I, like many adults, find Arianna Grande deeply uncomfortable

A friend of mine, a hockey dad with three boisterous athletic daughters, discusses his latest worry at navigating a safe path for them in a world where girls as young as three or four are routinely sexualized and endangered through increasingly ugly pop culture. “I get that they want to be like their friends,” he says, anxiously, “But it really creeps me out when I see them copying sucking on their fingers, lollipops and a cutesy Lolita aesthetic. I’ve had to ban Arianna Grande in my house.”

It’s not really hard to see why. Queen of Lolita Pop, Arianna Grande…


I can’t stress this enough: branding and communication is vital

I’m used to people treating me like a stupid bimbo when they hear I ‘work in PR’. The expectation of extraordinary stupidity and a vacuous grin. The unnecessary attempts to simplify everything down to what they assume a stupid, boring woman who can probably look pretty at a shareholder meeting could understand. The problem is that real PR, PR at a level that actually saves you millions, requires a whole lot more thought and research than what you’d probably thought. As AZ found out, the hard way.

I could go off in a rant here about the number of (predominantly male) clients who have suggested that I research their sector, or insist on explaining ‘profit’ to me, but that’s not why I’m writing this. PR isn’t, contrary to popular imagination, calling boring board members ‘babes’ at conferences as you hand around useless leaflets saying actualize and optimize. We don’t really do press releases anymore. Conferences are more egofests than any genuine attempt at learning or releasing anything. A lot of PR is gritty research, networking, getting information from hardcore academia and investor documents into an understandable format…


And why your pick-up artist is making it harder for you

I’ve been on this planet for twenty-four long, drawn out years. Sometimes it seems like a lot longer, if I’ve spent too long going through my message requests. Throughout it all, from training bras to conference calls with Madrid, I’ve endured both the brilliant and beastly of male attention. I’ve seen success, and I’ve seen failure. I’ve been repulsed, and I’ve been overwhelmed.

And I don’t hate you, incels. In fact, I hope I can help.

Surprisingly for some, although definitely not for others, I haven’t always been the girl in the bright red lipstick rolling her eyes at frightened men in Players. In fact, if you knew me at all before I turned twenty, I think you’d find it surprising that I’d even be let into a club, let alone one where I’d have the dubious honour of having a Lord pin me against a vodka stained piano surrounded by hollow-hearted civil servants bellowing Mr Brightside. So, let that be a lesson to the bitter hearted among you: I was unattractive, too.

I was an…


Learning to let go of a pre-COVID world

Can I share a memory with you? It’s 2019, and I’m twenty-three. The air is bitingly cold as we laugh in a faceless group of strangers, on our way to a dreary bar in the catacombs beneath the train station. There’s someone’s hand on my waist, and a friend kisses me on the cheek as we sing out into the darkness and mutter about a new decade ahead. Human touch. Laughter. It seems so far away, so impossible, like a dream where we could fly.

I think, by now, we all know we’re never going to regain what we have lost. A few short weeks to flatten the curve became a few months to get ourselves comfortably into the summer, before that evolved into a few seasons to get ourselves vaccinated by Easter, before that too merged into a few years to get COVID-19 in hand. This is never going to be over. Scientists, with their impeccable tactlessness, have promised lockdowns, masks, restrictions and international travel bans for at least another decade. I’ll be 35 then. Maybe I’ll be a mother, telling my disbelieving daughters…


Short continuation of 1984

If there was one thing sure in this world, it was that Minidisea loved you. The poster was simple to ensure people understood, the white letters on red paper jarring against the concrete. The ASL were holding a rally at 14 o-clock to remind everyone how important it was to remember that in everything you did. There was no space where it was acceptable not to show your appreciation and trust for what Minidisea had done to keep you safe.

Sarah had been in the Anti-Sex League since 2022, one of the most fastidious supporters of the ministry. Some of the other young women were eager to get their sex passports renewed each week for their government approved partners, but thankfully their numbers were going down. The thought sickened her, the selfishness of the touching, the unnecessary risk of bodily contact without intentional procreation. There were rumors that Minidisea were planning on making physical contact illegal for couples who were not attempting procreation, something that could not be passed fast enough in the minds of the ASL. So far, they’d…


How being nice ended in trafficking vulnerable children

You’re a parent in rural Guatemala, earning $2 a day. Your son is seven, your daughter is nine. There’s a strained sense of uncertainty over the village, the soil quality declining as local agricultural laborers fight to keep their ever-decreasing wages. Your hands are scarred with lines from picking all day, your legs weakened after decades of hard labor. Your children have two roles in life mapped out to them: become field workers like mom and dad, harvesting sugar or coffee, or move to the cities where they are likely to be caught up in a hard, unforgiving life between…


Short fiction

There wasn’t much to say about 34 Faircroft Road. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms. Sold for £245,000 in 2003. That’s all the estate agents would tell you anyway, between staggered smiles and a polite wave of the clipboard to the next room. It hadn’t sold since, though. “They should just pull the whole thing down,” one woman muttered as she staggered back to the car, her hands tight on her stomach. Her husband had said nothing, although he drove home faster than usual that night.

34 Faircroft Road had been heavily redeveloped by the council in 2011, after it had happened…


Futurist short fiction

The May air is thick like syrup this side of the grasslands. It clings to you as you walk, swarming with the hum of dying mosquitoes and crickets. This is deadland, the local folks call it, everything the color of hunger and bone. Nothing to eat but the long dry grass and the hot red dust that burns into your tongue when you speak. That’s why we moved here, David had told them back in twenty two. No one bothers you in the land of the dead.

After the first pandemic, everyone had left the cities. Not because they feared another disease, particularly one as mild as that, but because they feared the hysteria. They longed for a place where they weren’t being watched, shut up, guarded and controlled. Open land, long walks and neighbors too far away to go calling the police from behind net curtains. As the carcasses of cities drained of the blood of their people, the price of land rocketed. The good lands, up around New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, were the first to go. Billionaires bought up 200 miles of forest and…

Madelaine Lucy Hanson

Anthropologist with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually. madelaine@madelainehanson.co.uk

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