That last thing I reblogged reminds me of a conversation we had in english class last friday. It was on “strong female characters” and how there’s a misconception that to be a strong female character one had to be a sword-wielding, head-bashing angry misandrist. Which (while those characters are totally amazing) is not true. Just, hey, a little complexity to female characters please?
But the conversation moved to what we though made a “strong” woman. The general recurring theme was some form of the financially independent “liberated” women, which, if I may say so, went too close along the ideal rich white woman. The trope that completely ignores other women, or women who intersect somewhere; women of colour, poor women, women who were or are rape or abuse victims/survivors. These are the women I know, have grown up around, the ones that have proven their strength over and over, despite their less-than-ideal conditions.
The conversation turned ugly, most of my classmates- who happen to be women- insisted that women in abusive relationships can’t be strong, “or they would left”. This makes me angry. Because there’s a lot of reasons women in abusive relationships don’t leave- one being what is essentially sacrificing themselves to maintain the safety of others, like their children. I know women who told me their mothers stay(ed) with their abusive partner because if they left they would not be able to support them and their children, couldn’t possibly leave their children to the mercy of their abusers- and stayed with their abusers knowing that their abuse would still maintain their child’s safety. No, this is not true of all instances. But I just. A woman sacrifices herself for the safety of the people she cares about and you call her weak?!
Even disregarding that, I can’t begin to fathom people’s notion that a woman enduring abuse in any form in not strong, considering the physical and/or emotional toll that takes. Considering the amount of hurt that women endure in this society, it’s completely ridiculous to insist that only a woman that in some way prevents getting hurt, as if that’s something she’s responsible for, is strong. This reeks of victim blaming and completely ignores the structures that put women in vulnerable places. I wish all woman were safe and happy and independent financially and otherwise. But you have all these women that have endured years of hurt and pain and you’re saying they’re not strong?
This just really makes me angry.
Hey, I know I haven’t been around much. Just a lot going on. Besides which, I’ve been doing Productive Work, the kind that would never happen on tumblr. Don’t kid yourselves. Petitions? The chances of them being affective for the right reasons are slim to none on serious issues. I suppose I learned that after people started a petition on Burma on an issue they knew nothing about.
Sorry. Still bitter about that. But militarization of the country, seriously? Goodness gracious.
In better news, the environmental club might possibly actually get the students to use reusable water bottles, and get hydration stations for the bottles, and maybe, very-maybe, solar panels!
You all know how much I love glaring at the school administration to get things I want. (On to battle!)
Shout out to ACE for all their help and their presentation at the school for the freshmen and sophomore class. That was really helpful, and I think we’ve got ourselves more students that are actually going to do something.
The other bits of my life involve five page papers due in less than 36 hours. Among other things. And headaches. And snow storms. And sisters that come back on friday that DISAPPEAR OFF THE ENDS OF THE EARTH AND DON’T REPLY TO THINGS, ahem.
Yeah, okay, goodnight. Be well, you’re all lovely, and I’ll be back properly soon!
When we first moved to the US four years ago, my mother showed me an article she’d read about how people in the US have general health that’s worse than people elsewere. Not talking about treatment (though, well) I’m talking about people getting sick and tired and such. About how they’d studied people who moved to the US and had found their general health declined the longer they stayed. I’d thought that was interesting, and had forgotten soon after, filed away somewhere in the back of my mind. Until now, at least, because I’ve been thinking about it again, and it’s been proved right. I’m thinking back to my childhood, and I’ve gotten sick in these past four years more often than I did in my entire childhood, I think. Just this year I’ve been sick more times than I usually am. I’m tired more. I get less sleep. Sometimes I substitute eating or sleeping for getting work done, and that’s not helped either. (That’s something I’m working on).
I’m more tired. My head feels like a fog, or like there’s a dust storm, and I can’t think. All the stories and ideas that used to crowd my head and beg to be let out seem to have disappeared somewhere in the fog.I have backaches all the mine, as well as headaches, to the point that I’ve actually come to accept them as normal, which shouldn’t be the way it is.
But by this point my motivation has become to get out of here as soon as I can. I need to get out of this whole environment. This place is depressing.
I’m actually really frustrated that post has 65,000+ notes and this one has so much fewer. And how obvious it is that people love taking entire countries and cultures out of context wholly and completely versus what the reality is. Even when the reality is more badass. I don’t know, it makes me feel like people only appreciate culture when they can see it in oversimplified terms of “modern” and “old” that separate people, because the concept of tradition being capable of modernity is too difficult for white people to grasp.
I can’t count the number of times I’m asked why I wear a hijab, and then someone wants me to justify wearing it, or sometimes, even insists on how it’s oppressive- and some some days it gets irritating. Because whatever, I just like wearing it. Why do you wear the jeans you do? Your shirt? Those shoes? Because my scarf’s comfortable, and I like feeling comfortable. Wearing what I feel like wearing isn’t whoa, oppression. It’s a piece of cloth on my head. That I wear. Just like I wear like I wear my other clothes. It doesn’t need some great political or emotionally deep or religious reason on any kind either, no, really. I don’t need to, no Muslim woman needs to, justify wearing a scarf to anyone. How many times have I heard the argument given to (Christian) women, that it’s the same as nuns wearing headscarves, or the Virgin Mary, she wore a scarf, we’re allowed to express our piety in the same way!
My scarf is not an expression of any piety. I’m tired of that argument, I know Muslim women use it, I get the concept, but it’s old, and it’s flawed. My scarf’s not a symbol of my piety. And it unfairly treats women who don’t wear a scarf as not being pious. The generalization is anti-woman, plain and simple. I’m not, none of us are, a representative of Muslims or of Muslim piousness. Did not sign up for that ever, nope. Can it be for religious reasons? For political reasons? For another reason from the infinite ones women who wear the hijab have? For a combination of them? Yeah, sure. Those of us who wear a hijab do so for various reasons, I can’t speak for all of those women, and neither can anyone else. If one individual woman wears hers because she believes her religion requires her, that still doesn’t make it a religious symbol for people to dissect. A Jewish friend wears long skirts for religious reasons as per her own choice, and I don’t see anyone politicizing long skirts and analysing them, because that would be silly. I wear long skirts too, for completely different reasons.
Really, we all have better things to do. All of us. The ones who wear a hijab, the ones who don’t, none of us has to justify ourselves, move on, it’s a piece of cloth.
I’m writing that paper on women in YA fantasy and this book is one of the ones I’m using. I’m upset because I can’t choose if I want to talk about Sandry challenging her being used as a pawn and being reduced to an object, or if I want to talk about the class difference and her leaving the country and giving her cousin (who’s managing her lands) ownership to her estate. Since she’s confronting that without her being there the other women will be attacked and kidnapped and forced into marriage and only the liege lord can settle those matters or break up bride-kidnapping marriages. And she’s not going to be there. So she swallows her pride and does what’s best for them. And there’s the bit about she’s not giving up power, since she’s probably going to inherit her uncle in Emelan’s lands herself (since she pretty much manages those for him). And it was right of her to give up Namornese land because it was symbolically a rejection of a place that wanted to control her and she has no obligation to keep herself attached to a place that doesn’t grant her equal status as a man of her power.
I wrote this out because I was trying to sort out my thoughts and then I decided to write all of it and was happy until I realized it might be too much to fit on the paper and now I’m upset again.
Just looking at my own family, it occurs to me there’s no definites to love. You can’t, for example, say that a person who loves you will always want to keep you close to them, because there could be instances where it would be safer or better in some way to be away, and people who love you will want you safe. Which is also not always true, some people who love want to spend their lives doing reckless things with the people they love and building their form of unforgettable memories that way. Or you can love someone for the sake of someone else, in a “the friend of my friend is a friend” way. Or you can love people even when you’re angry at them, or despite their hurting you. Or how sometimes you can’t tell people you love them and don’t know how to show it, but you do anyway.
I expect I’m supposed to write something wonderfully poetic and insightful on the last year and what I learned since it’s New Year’s Day and all, but all I have for myself is a little smile sharp like a scimitar- and a quiet sigh of relief that got stolen by wind. You’ll not hear what else the sigh carried. It’s lost now. Here’s what’s not lost: the last 366 individual days (it was a leap year!) that you came through. They’re not lost, because you went through them. Maybe you soared through them, or maybe it was a roller coaster ride of emotions, perhaps you fought through it tooth and nail, or not, or maybe you crawled through it, but it stands that you’re through. You’re still here. That’s an accomplishment. Well done.
And thank you. I know I matter very little, if at all, in the scope of your life, but thank you, for coming through. Regardless of if you’re someone I’m close to, someone I’ve drifted away from, or someone I’ve never met.
I hope I can see you again this time next year. Until then, I wish you the best of luck and all sorts of happinesses.
I was thinking about how whenever I’m not in all-white districts, when I’m in some fort of PoC-majority place, I’ve always felt a little bit safer. And there was just a whole series of events that just happened over a period of time I was thinking about; how, for example, growing up in Burma, being a desi Muslim meant my community made up the ghettos, and so that meant that community support came from people in the ghettos. And it’s always been bewildering when people would hate ghettos that were made up of people of colour because I’ve always connected them as places that looked horrible, and were desperate, and yes, the people who live there are hungry and tired but they’re also really caring and they’ll look out for you. I remember that. Those weren’t unsafe, they were probably some of the safest places I know. If for no reason other than that no one outside the community ever comes in, everyone knows each other, and everyone depends on each other to survive.
Juxtapose that with lower-class white areas (in my case, it was lower-class ethnic Bamar places) that are also not well off, and those are actually really, really horrible places. You have the bitter supremacists with their racism that aren’t in a good place and hate you for your existence; even more so if you look like you’re well off and someone they consider “racially inferior”. Like, as a desi hijabi woman I knew if I wandered into a “wrong” part of the city I’d probably be killed and no one would find out what happened to me.
Not so much in our gettos, despite how much we get bad credit for being “violent”. Most violence is actually just done by, say, the police when they raid our homes and kill us. If we’re lucky, the story makes it’s way to the papers and people care for a while.
That said, middle-class, upper-class white places always threw me off because they don’t have the same bad reputations of “violence” but they’re very, very emotionally violent. In some ways, that’s worse. There, you don’t get stabbed and get a quick death, there you are slowly, slowly poisoned and you endure all that pain. Rich white people are just better at hiding their racism than poor white people. They’re not safer. In fact, they’re not safe at all. And they lead to things like shooting sprees and everyone is shocked and I can’t understand why they are because these are just really, horribly messed up places with glitter all over to make it look shiny and nice when they’re not.
It messes you up really bad when people keep insisting that the people you’ve known all your life who’ve taken care of you are “violent criminals” while they inflict minor and major injuries on you themselves everyday.
There’s people saying that talking about the media, violence, gun control, racism, the politics behind this shooting is “society being desensitized”. I disagree. Seeing an atrocity happen and ignoring it is being desensitized. Not talking about the incident, not acknowledging that it happened and why- that is being desensitized; it means even after this whole horrible tragedy, no one cares enough to change so it doesn’t happen again. Acknowledging that there’s a societal environment that causes the violence and insisting in discourse so that they don’t happen again is as far from being desensitized as one can possibly get.
Politics doesn’t exist in a bubble. Politics affect personal lives. Not only of those that die, but the ones that knew them, love them. The carelessness of the government and people and the culture of violence and abuse is what caused the shooting, it created it. Until people acknowledge that and change the culture, you will not be able to get justice for those that are hurt. Letting that culture continue is the biggest insult you can give to those who are hurt and who die, because it says you don’t care.
And there are different ways of grieving. Not everyone grieves with vigils and moments of silence. Not everyone grieves by talking, either. Not everyone grieves by crying. Not everyone grieves through simple, numb, shock. And there is no right or wrong way to grieve. The only wrong is if you ignore a tragedy.