Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Being inspired by Roxane Gay

The 'Bad Feminist' author was in town for the Sydney Writer's Festival and I was lucky to attend with a friend. She spoke about the need for white women to 'get their shit together' in terms acknowledging there's a problem in the West with race (she referred to a whole subgroup of white people who refused to acknowledge that the primary factor behind Trump's election was racial hatred towards people of colour, blaming economic anxiety amongst disenfranchised working class people instead), before they can get on the same page as people of colour who are already all too aware of the detrimental effects of white supremacy. Gay's goal is for us all to work together, but she's realistic about the fact that white people need to acknowledge their own complicity in the structures that empower them at the expense of people of colour. It's in recognising our privilege and investment in systems of oppression that we can start working against said oppression.

I was also pleased to hear Roxane imply that she was fighting for the rights of trans people. She mentioned this within the context of resisting 'allyship': she felt that to claim to be an ally was detaching yourself from a vital cause, and advocated for taking on each cause you deem important enough to fight for as your own. 'Your issues are my issues,' so to speak. It's about empathy. It's about respect. I agree whole-heartedly. Bring it on.

Roxane finds resistance where she finds it: Melania Trump shunning her husband's attempt to hold her hand, for example. She was at pains to point out that this was a rare moment of inspiration from a woman she considers 'evil'.

Also discussed was how many feminist cultural commentators focus on the most misogynistic aspects of society (e.g. Trump, Kyle Sandilands, Tony Abbott, etc), but work also needs to be done in recognising subtler misogyny all around us. The example given was of the opera 'Carmen', which was at first read as a gender-neutral classic by the feminist who spoke of her experience, but, on multiple viewings, revealed itself to contain domestic violence and what not.

On that note, I'd like to bring up my own recent experiences listening to Ariana Grande's song Moonlight. It's my favourite song on Ariana's Dangerous Woman CD, with a beautiful melody. I want to enjoy it wholeheartedly, but then there are lyrics such as 'Every look / Every touch / Makes me want to give him my body' which hark back to sexist stereotypes of women bestowing upon men the ultimate gift of their sexuality, which was previously unattainable. This is a harmful stigmatisation of a woman's supposed purity, perpetuating the idea that 'giving it away' diminishes her worth.

Ariana Grande is actually one of the more empowered pop stars out there. She wrote a piece on recognising her individual worth as a woman, and not being defined by her romantic relationships with men. She wrote that she was Ariana Grande, not somebody's girlfriend. It is precisely because she is considered a semi-feminist icon that it's important we recognise and challenge regressive attitudes within her work, because we will surely find similar attitudes all over the pop culture landscape, and they remain the more insidious for being unarticulated as harmful.

No one person can single-handedly carry the torch for all of women's empowerment, and it's important to appreciate the pop star to the extent that she does work that can be considered helpful to the feminist cause. Her collaboration with Nicki Minaj, Get on your knees has more attitude than Beyonce's Blow. (Not that I'm pitting these songs against each other...) We all know we need as many songs about women expecting cunnilingus as possible. There are frightfully few of them as it is. And that's just one example.

If you want to create your own feminist revolution, it's important to surround yourself with feminists who inspire you - that will help you raise your own voice. That's what I did today; will you join me?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Danger Zone

I have but disentangled myself
From the compulsion to embark
Upon a lifestyle change. I didn't know
Where to turn, and I still don't know the way
But at least with guidance I have
Solved the problem of
What not to do

Options explored, convictions eroded
A fitting mindbend for a tortured spirit

Monday, May 15, 2017

Can I do it?

How do I move to Spain?
A woman of my level of independent thinking might conclude that becoming an author is the most satisfying way to make money, if she weren't itching for a quick fix such as only English teaching can provide.
Neither option is certain. There is no guarantee even a critically successful book will translate into the kind of sales figures needed to become financially independent. Nor is it unlikely that I'll find teaching difficult students too stressful. I have more questions than answers.
What I do know is that I can't ask anyone else to help me. I need to do this on my own.
I've always considered myself brave when it comes to taking on a new culture, but I'm scared at this juncture. Having to make friends all over again will not be easy. I feel anxious and out of control in a lot of areas of life as it is. The certainty of having to spend a lot of time alone, and the further pressure of dealing with "real life stuff" such as bills is disconcerting.
Can I do it?

Monday, May 8, 2017

The many hues of contradiction

With more options, choice becomes more difficult. When I started learning German, a world of interesting opportunities opened itself up: I could, if I persisted, live in Zurich, Vienna or Berlin! But I already had some knowledge of French (who could say no to Lyon?) and even more of Spanish (Barcelona is perhaps the most exciting possibility, though the bilingualism poses further challenges), so, in the end, how am I to decide?

When I started learning German, my main motivation was to learn my partner's language. I am now newly single, and as tempting as it is to leave my German aspirations behind, I have to admit that I can see myself working with my present connections to the country and deepening them over time, if I so chose. German is the most difficult European language I have tried to learn, but it has its fair share of fun. I am kind of intrigued by the country, and would like to visit again. There are so many layers of contradictions within the interactions between ethnic Germans and 'New' Germans alone... there are more positive stories about multiculturalism here than in many other spots of the continent.

As an immigrant, I need to consider how welcoming my potential host nation will be, and out of the three nations listed, Germany is clearly in the lead. Pity, then, that I find Spanish and French easier and more palatable languages. But perhaps I ought to eschew aesthetics in favour of the most practical option?

Choosing between Spain and France/Belgium poses its own difficulties. Spain has the easier language; France is more progressive. Catalan would bring more headaches; the fervour with which French is demanded leaves something to be desired. Yet both populaces feel more easily accessible than the Germans, so famous for being unexpressive in comparison.

I am now reminded of my friend Willa, who would advise me to spend time living in each location (at least three months in one place) before making my choice. All very well, but I can't afford to do so at present. Maybe I should learn all three, just to be safe? It feels like betrayal to let any of them go. I've developed attachments to each one.


If I move on from questions of 'Where?' I am left with a further question: 'What occupation?'
Language and writing continues to emerge the natural default point. I wonder if I ought not distinguish myself from the other Europeans by taking up Japanese, but my motivation for Nihongo isn't as high as the desire to take up Swedish. But that's assuming that I can become fluent in at least one new language, something that would surely involve long hours of immersion and careful attention to detail.

So I guess I'm looking at translating and interpreting. Or maybe just writing articles in my new language.

Considering all the work I have to do, I think I'd better stop writing this blog post and commence some of that learning!


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Noticing, just noticing

I can't help but notice how much it suddenly matters to the people in my family that I meet some nice guy, get married and have kids. I am not chasing any of these popular life goals, seeing as I mainly date women, feel marriage is irrelevant at best and destructively heteronormative at worst, and having kids is nightmarish.
I am at the intersections of many minorities - homoflexible, anti-marriage, childfree. Many same-sex attracted women choose to have kids, and we are *this close* to having marriage rights. I am unusual enough to note this unusualness. However, when left alone to enjoy my intuitive logic, I don't feel at odds with society, but rather, that I've picked and chosen the best of the options my current life has to offer. I am surfing the choicest wave. All of the arguments for living a heterosexual lifestyle do not resonate, and I sincerely hope I will never reach the point where I am insecure enough to want to tune in to the hysteria that is compulsory heterosexuality. I've written several times about why the childfree life is the best life for me, and I feel like so much has been written about marriage (same-sex or otherwise) that I'm loath to spill more metaphorical ink on this subject.
I sometimes feel pressure from women who identify as exclusively lesbian to be more like them also, which leads me to believe that everyone is insecure about their life journey and wants to justify themselves repeatedly.
Why can't we all just get on with it?
My parents think my life will be better if I do exactly what they did, and conform. They are not able to understand why I've found something much more interesting and wonderful. This is no fault of my own. I just wish they *did* make the effort to relate, because it can get lonely out here on my cutting edge platform.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Change is allowed (poem)

Silently I go over lyrics that resonate
Imprinting their charming patterns
In my mind. When my dominant
Sense of censorship goes to sleep
In full bloom, wonderment seeps
Out from the rigid outlines of what has been
Inventing new spaces to thrive in, to need

Alas, the soundscape alters
I'm exposed to a harsher culture
You've journeyed with a fragile mindset
This is the curse
Of being so open to influence
Yet this poet cannot do without
The range between the whispers and the shouts
And all the heaven and hell
Must be duly felt
Must be fully experienced
- Change is allowed

Monday, February 27, 2017

In between

Vibrations of machinery
Proof of the toil
Of modern-day people
Earning their living in the world
It seeps in through my window
Threatening to move over the sound
Caused by the inhabitants
Of these four walls
I don't know whether that
Would be a good thing or a bad
I'm forever seeking comfort
In a duo of hostile hums
Yet when I expect discord
Affinity somehow awakens