Thursday, 30 October 2014

Feminist Poem

Speak up, be spoken over
But there will be a pause and
You will be heard for a while
Before they mobilise to make your motions
Undermined by shrill emotions
They can't have you challenge the status quo
They wouldn't know where to go
With their long-brewing sexist potions

Monday, 13 October 2014

Comparative anxiety in Bulgaria and Australia

The Mall of Sofia was welcomingly bright and shiny, and I strolled about with no particular purpose, enjoying the respite from the Bulgarian winter. All of a sudden I spotted a chocolate shop, and, lured by the advertising of Belgian treats, I wandered inside. Waiting for me to approach her was a thin girl with long hair and no trace of a smile. I hovered near the counter, wanting to ask for assistance, but anticipating the rude indifference common to many customer service personnel in this part of the world. In the end I pointed to something behind the counter with more confidence than I felt. "I'll have -- that!"

My boldness had an interesting and unfortunate effect on this girl. She felt unable to relate to my assertiveness, and I could sense a strong bout of self-critique from the way she moved her body. It became painful to watch her torturing herself so I was glad to leave, but she reminded me of the kind of anxieties I was brought up to entertain in my early childhood.

Australians are comparatively assured in comparison. They have a lot of social, political and economic systems to fall back on. They're part of the Western tradition of capitalist democracy, considered to be the least imperfect political system by many. Meanwhile, Bulgaria has a system of corrupt politicians with high levels of poverty and widespread discontent. Grumbling is a way of life, even a civic responsibility. 

Having lived in Sydney since the age of seven, I have learned to be more relaxed and less anxious than the average Bulgarian I meet. I am probably more self-critical than the average Australian, and can relate more to other immigrants and their own watered-down anxieties. Not a lot of people share my cultural mix (mostly due to there being so few Bulgarians), so I sometimes have to make room for it. A space like this one is good for such purposes.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Same old, same old

bell hooks made two interesting assertions in her talk with Gloria Steinem yesterday: The patriarchy has no gender, and also that the patriarchy is present in all the men she is aware of, that she could possibly seek a relationship with. bell hooks is a brilliant woman - what follows the second statement is a questioning of her own interest in starting a [heteronormative] relationship.
The more men I meet, the more I am convinced that men are not for me. I still hold up hope (never say never, right?), but in practical terms I am looking for a woman to have a relationship with. But is the patriarchy, similarly, present in all women? ... Is it present in me?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Making it personal

I've always been a fan of the first-person narrative. It feels more honest to acknowledge my subjectivity than to try to pretend I have a universal point of view. Attempts at objectivity, in my view, are simply attempts to match that dubious gold standard set by countless generations of writers before me, themselves misguided. It's an unpopular view I hold, and I'm aware that by regularly highlighting my postmodern stance I alienate a lot of people who might otherwise enjoy my writing, but it wouldn't be me to neglect this feature of my work.

I wouldn't be the same person if I didn't know that one of my favourite authors values the view that postmodernism is to blame for many a modern ill. I would be a more popular one, and perhaps a less humble one. Recently a friend of mine wished me a good night by expressing relief that I 'shared her thoughts.' I don't believe it's possible for two people to have the same mental processes, since my present-day thoughts are a result of everything that's ever gone through my mind in the past - a unique series of events which no-one is able to replicate (let alone fathom).

Yet we persist with the 'objectivity' lens. It's the hallmark of choice for much quality journalism, the primary narrative tool of scientific discourse, and unlikely to go out of fashion anytime soon. This post addresses it because it keeps popping up here, there and everywhere, preventing me from fully enjoying a piece, and robbing its readers of vital insights that can only arise when one admits to being beautifully limited to this funny thing called being a human being. Instead, countless talented writers struggle to erase the signs of their uniqueness. Isn't the reliance on cliches a testament to the mentality that believes in a universal truth? Objectivity is a disingenuous thing, the concern with it eating away at a writer's belief in the power of their own voice. It's much braver to lose the fake consciousness and learn how to celebrate the first-person perspective as the key to the deepest truth you can tell - the truth of yourself.