Monday, June 19, 2017

Pulling back (poetry)

I've softened
Looking for the keys
To the room of contemplation

The special space for igniting enquiry
It's to be waded into at all cost
And enjoyed

I've missed the kaleidoscopic clutter
Swirling about my soul
The way I mould it into the finest figure

Dramatic news must be embraced
As earthly as the world's rotation
Balance is an ever-shifting concept

Can't always be
The personification of calm
There are windows to erase

When pre-arranged vistas won't fit
The compulsion to explore
It's time to explode old frameworks

You'll find me pulling back
It's not a role I cherish
In recent times it's been restricting

But I've found a way 
In which pulling back works
In the way I alienate the hysteria

Find me impulsive in new and welcome ways
I'll chase the fireworks until they make good haste
Again restore equanimity to my days

Monday, June 12, 2017

Shifting identities

When I'm around women, I tend to be more assertive than I am with men. I am more likely to make a bold point, demonstrate leadership skills, and generally be more in touch with and exercise my sense of agency. Around men, it is a struggle to perform just a fraction of the same self-assuredness, because they operate on the assumption that they will be taking the lead.
This is one reason why I prefer talking with women.
I believe a same-sex high school education has led me to appreciate the company of women from an early stage. I learnt that there are greater possibilities for personality development if I'm in the company of other females, free from the pressure to reproduce the structural inequalities deeply entrenched in our society. We are still to be found working within limitations of what is socially acceptable, but there is less of a male presence to worry about appeasing. When the guys have left the room, we are left on equal footing. And I like being in the company of equals. I value it a lot.
In a very practical sense, I am gay. I identify as bisexual officially, however it's mostly in theory that men remain viable alternatives. To be woman-focused is to prioritise my own self-development, to fiercely guard my ability to actualise parts of my personalities scathingly regarded amongst mainstream masculinities.
To live in 2017 Australia is a kind of social hell, which only medication and the company of feminists helps me survive. This is why I make very clear on my (OKCupid) dating profile that I'm only interested in dating feminists. And even amongst feminists, there is a lot of appeasing the patriarchy going on. I am looking for one in a million.
I'm not perfect either; a reading of Bad Feminist, or Roxane Gay's statements on how impossible it is to be a perfect feminist, will enlighten as to how we hold feminists to an almost impossible standard, which I'm sure contributes to a lot of insecurity amongst those who internalise the need to be immaculate in their personification of the role.
What kind of feminist am I? I'm doing my best. I'm soothing myself as needed. I'm being as genderqueer as I'll allow myself to be. Sometimes I cower. Sometimes I'm proud of my bravery. It's quite gray and messy, often ingenious and sometimes daft. This is not definitive. Nothing I write about anything is intended to be definitive. I reinvent postmodern feminism as I dare.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Out there

Been told my grasp on reality
Can't withstand scrutiny
But have you looked within today?
To busy judging, judging
Not trying to understand

I've been sitting by the mirror
Recognising within myself
Respectable qualities
Gathering them up

Have I looked within today?
Can I bear the sun today?
I've a date with dismay
And it simply won't end

Look within
The yellow curtains
Tremble at my touch
An apt presence, metaphorical
Shaky, shaky, but so strong
Delicate but powerful
And I've known it all along

Something new every day

I had an interesting exchange some weeks ago. The acquaintance had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, and mentioned that his 'fluid memory' was pretty bad. It was one of the reasons he wasn't studying mathematics at university. Immediately this deterioration of memory thing struck a chord. My mind isn't the same when it comes to holding multiple concepts in my head in one go, and informed by complex states of most recent histories. I often wake up feeling like my mind is blank, and the meaning that I was making the day before doesn't linger in the way it used to do.

Obviously the drugs I have been forced to take are changing the way I function, and there's nothing I can do about it. I asked my Twitter followers and Facebook friends if anyone knew anything about applying for asylum in the nations that practiced Open Dialogue - Finland and Norway. Not much feedback eventuated, but my Finnish Facebook friend pointed out that in most of Finland mental health users were handled in the same way they are in Australia. I feel like the world is punishing me for trying to change it in accordance with my values.

Apathy? Is that what I feel? Underneath the drug haze I really do care, but the drug haze is powerful. Somewhere in there is such hurt, such anger, such fear, that I don't know what to do with myself. I cannot function in this society in any meaningful way, except to keep my distance. For the last five or so years I've made an effort to sleep during the night and be awake during the day. But for what? Engaging with this society is killing me. In the comforts of my bedroom late at night, I can create a space for less anxiety. I have time for myself. I am not butting heads with the Busy People of the World who couldn't care less about my wellbeing.

It's just a pain when something of interest or necessity is placed in time slots prior to 2pm.

My dad pops his head back into the living room, where I'm currently perched, but doesn't stick around.

With the birth of Japanese on Duolingo, I have been indulging in nostalgia with tinges of frustration in reviving my language skills. I add the J study before or after espanol, and find I still have time to do everything I want to do... now if only I could revive my French without having it f up my Spanish.

Because I still see the point in learning something new everyday. It gives me some of that meaning that I'm finding so elusive. It means I can travel to places like Chile this October and not be totally illiterate. 

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?