Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Lost Generation"

I was reading the comments on a Guardian article, when something a female commenter wrote resonated with me. She said something to the effect that gender inequality was such that it was creating a 'lost generation' of modern adults who were suffering from its impact and couldn't claw their way out. We are imprisoned in our gender stereotypes and our resistance is minimal. We could be challenging 100% of oppressive gender norms, and we can barely manage 5%.

I walk around the Eastern suburbs and I see people who are too set in their ways to change, even if they wanted to. And most of us don't. We've been conditioned to accept some level of change due to the discourse of being in a world of rapid change, but we also accept most of the toxic conventions which have been around for millenia and create with them in mind. Carving out our niche while constrained by the past the people before us were too scared to change. We're not updating our perceptions of who we can be nearly fast enough.

I'm supposed to have this dazzling array of people to date, being that I'm bisexual, but the more I commit myself to feminism, the more of a dearth of options there is. I'm hardly ever interested in anyone, and I've been single for years. No long-term relationships, no casual sex - it seems no one can stimulate me intellectually enough to make me seek out another human being beyond friendship. My standards are high, and are getting higher. This is a good thing from most perspectives I can bother to forumlate on the topic, but it does mean that I often find myself alone. (I love being alone, but there is more room for connection in my life.)

So what can we do to be the change we want to see in the world? Read more feminist articles, books and texts. I am most recently inspired by Mona Eltahawy at the All About Women Festival. Enjoy -



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Crazy ideas

Sometimes I have the craziest ideas. Today I was seized with a sudden desire to enrol in a course in a Bulgarian university, something to do with development, so I could help out people in my country of origin (if not birth).
Of course, crazy ideas don't exist in a vacuum. I just saw 'Love Marriage in Kabul', a documentary by an Iranian filmmaker, in which one of the main personalities is a woman called Mahboba who runs a charity which manages multiple orphanages in Afghanistan. She spends her time between Sydney and Kabul and her work looks very satisfying.
When I'm not overwhelmed with cynicism at the ways of the (occupational) world, I take an interest in charity work. I would probably need a degree to get a placement in some already existing organisation, but then again I could simply ask them for the experience of being part of their team for a while, and that could lead to a job opportunity. It's really up to me.
I don't know if I have had too much Bulgaria, or not enough. I know there are plenty of good people there, and I'm interested in finding a few of them next time I venture over to that part of the world. Maybe they'll help to restore my faith in the place.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Friend

If we were friends, you'd have another
There'd be no need to always be smiling
You would confide in me your sorrows
And feel better for a while

I want you to talk to me
Like you do you friends
Describe your thoughts and feelings
In vivid detail
So that I can give counsel
Or simply listen and sympathise

With these resources at your disposal
You choose not to seek out connection
Reproduce the hierarchy that dictates
That you must be my higher-up
And I feel that much is lost
Because you hold back

We can never really be friends
You'll always act as my superior
Guardian, parent and protector
Somehow magically surviving
Even though there are times
You don't think you can make it
Always a barrier between us,
Even at the highest level of intimacy

What can I do?
I can't buy into the makeshift silence
So I will speak up
And make do

Saturday, June 7, 2014

White privilege in Sydney

"Is Melbourne a racist city?" asked Suneal.

I had just met Suneal in the city. We had discovered a mutual affinity for poetry, music and the arts, and were now chatting over coffee.

I didn't know how to answer this question. I assumed he had the beating up of an Indian student some years ago in mind. Suneal was originally from Mumbai. I thought about two possible replies. The first was to say that Melbourne was only as racist as Sydney, comparing the incident of violence against the student with the Cronulla riots. The other was to say that as far as incidents go the Melbourne one was pretty isolated, and that we were living in one of the least racist countries in the world. I couldn't answer the question in black and white way, which is what he wanted.

In the end I said "I don't know." Maybe Suneal knew something I didn't. But then he went to express approval for Brisbane, which I had no reason to believe was any less racist than Sydney or Melbourne. We changed topics.

*

There's a new cafe on Clovelly Road, a minute's walk from my place. Bus Stop cafe, as it's called, is run by a man with a Chilean background, who says that when he was growing up in Woollongong he was a very angry young man. People didn't know much about Chile so they assumed everyone who had dark skin could be lumped together as Aboriginal. He says things are much better now that things have moved to Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.

*

Things don't seem to be sparkling if you're Asian, either. Talking to a nurse from the NSW Prince of Wales hospital, he said that he found things were a bit better at his workplace because of the nearby UNSW, which has a lot of Asian students, but that generally he experiences a lot of discouragingly racist attitudes. He didn't look like a happy chappy while he was discussing this, leading me to believe that prejudice against Asians was well and truly alive.

My friend Matt summed it up with this thought on how white people saw Asians: "There's another one." This implies that people didn't differentiate between different Asian individuals, merely seeing them all as 'part of the crowd'. I encouraged Matt to spend some time in Canada, which I've identified as the least racist country in the world, as opposed to the more racist USA and UK. It's sad to know that even in the place I'm obsessed with, Sweden, is far less welcoming to non-whites than it is to me. But I do believe that things are changing, slowly but surely. There are limitations to how far minds will open within my generation, but places with a lot of immigration can expect to become more and more welcoming as time goes on. We won't have the problems we have now in the future, and that's encouraging. In the meantime, we need to keep educating people about the similarities behind our differences, and encouraging them to think outside their racial boxes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

To Spill

I used to really let loose when I wrote here... I incorporated into my work some elements of the stream of consciousness, hoping to be as personal as possible. These days I feel more guarded. Sharing my every thought with anyone who might be reading seems less liberating and more vulnerable-making. I guess, while in some ways I'm feeling more in tune with the world than ever, I'm also holding more back in my personal narratives. I'd like to feel as carefree as I did before. It may or may not happen.

I have a feeling I was too harsh on Bulgaria. The majority of my negative experiences had to do with two family members who shall not be named. When one of them dies, I will have the opportunity to live in Sofia... if I want. Could that be part of a positive journey for me? I'll never know unless I try.

Bulgaria is a kind of rough place, but also a dignified one. It would be interesting to spend more time there and learn about the Bulgarian perspective of the modern-day world. I would have opportunities to make new friends and pick up more of the language.

*

I've decided to stop studying Mandarin and go back to either French or Spanish... I'm really not sure which. I've already made some progress with French on DuoLingo, but I've discovered that I'm disinclined to continue using their website. It depresses me, for some reason.

*

My family moved into a new apartment about a year ago, and we've only now resumed cable TV. It's fun to leave the screen on Channel V and have 'Chandelier' by Sia soar into the living room.