Friday, 4 November 2016

Safe space within

I was once in the same Facebook group as an African American woman who told us that she didn't feel safe being alone in her car one night. It resonated. I don't drive a car or live in the United States as an racial minority, but I have plenty experience in not feeling safe in my body. I hate having a vagina, because it has the capacity to experience excrutiating pain. I am so sensitive to micro-aggressions towards me that I maintain an overweight physique to make myself invisible to the heterosexual cis male gaze.
Anyway, I know on some level that I will be okay, even if I am raped again. I will get physical and psychological help. I will report it as soon as possible. I will do everything I can to make them pay.
I am capable of infinite reinvention, my sensitivity allows me to bask in loving touch. I'm going to be okay.


The above was hard to write. Being vulnerable is hard. But reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay has reminded me of the need to share my experience. We live in times when nobody can guarantee me that I won't be targeted for abuse by a certain hateful minority group within the English speaking world. But I'm taking that risk, because we women intend to win the battle for gender equality. And we won't wait quietly as incremental change occurs. We will push where it's needed.

I tired of the English language world in many ways, a long time ago. Part of my learning Spanish had to do with wanting to escape its limitations. The more I learn, the more I am running to, not running away. It's gratifying to pick up on nuances of culture that were previously inaccessible. For example, I overheard a Spanish speaker describe something as 'para mi gusto' (for my pleasure). The way she said it was spirited and emphatic in ways the English phrase rarely conveys. This was a love affair with pleasure.

I want to learn more, but I am paralysed by indecision (deepen Spanish or pick up more German?), held back by multiple stressors (making the kind of embarrassing mistakes you have no way to avoid is quite stressful for this introverted perfectionist), and easily distracted. Somehow I managed to understand around half of the written word in Spanish, and I have insights into numerous other languages which have been the result of hours and hours of practice. Perhaps I don't celebrate my achievements enough. *takes a moment to do that*

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