Europe is far more fragmented than North America. Movements do not sweep the continent like they do over the pond because the cultures and languages are different. Europe has no common culture and no common language.
It is the balance of power which determines whether an action crosses the line from hurtful to abusive. When the power dynamic is out of balance and the person with the power inflicts harm on the person with less–even when it is unconscious–it reinforces their position of power and becomes abusive.
But there is no victorious ‘democratic’ ending to this story. In Syria the civil uprising has gradually been transformed into a full scale civil war. Sayid and his colleagues have all lost loved ones to this war and their political is personal. Sayid’s own crime–and why he is here–was to film government violence and put it up on YouTube, after which he was put on the list of wanted terrorists.
Consent is not true consent where there is a power imbalance. You cannot make a free and retractable agreement about something, if that agreement is made in fear of losing your access to income, and resources–financial, emotional or otherwise.
Are you crying because you’ve discovered our present world is far shittier and more abusive than you thought? Are you crying because YOU are far shittier and more abusive than you thought? Ouch, that’s gotta hurt. So cry away but not in the company of people of colour–they know the truth already. Don’t beg them for forgiveness, after all you have albeit unwittingly, been part of a system which abused them.
What we find funny is indicative of our beliefs, attitudes, judgements and opinions. It is a useful barometer. When we mock those who by birth or circumstance are less fortunate, we become persecutors and make others our victims. We have no less duty of care for verbal abuse even through humour, than we do for physical abuse.
Gone are the days when I positively affirmed every day in the shower, and shared uplifting memes. Now I see these past behaviours as tragic extent of mine and others’ unawareness. I thought if I changed my mindset and concentrated on dismissing the negative and amplifying positive activism, that the world I wanted would resettle itself with my aligned actions.
Privileged white woman pain is more gradual and less dramatic than that experienced by intersectional minorities. It is insidious. Kind of like bonsai trees, white women have the innate capacity to grow to a normal size but our roots and branches are cut so that we grow far smaller. Stunted or trained along a trellis in such a way that few see, sometimes not even us.
Like Mithridates, the ancient Greek King who–legend has it–ingested small amounts of poison to create immunity, it is the art of swallowing what we hate little by little, of being formed by it, developing an immunity to it and even learning to appreciate the rush it gives us so we can make it in this sick world. If it is no longer poisonous to us, it is easier to dish it out as we deny that it’s poison. It’s still poison though.
Thus a racist, classist and hierarchical society which favours the few over the masses cannot be truly democratic because power is unequally distributed among and through many channels. And where there is a power differential, this compromises the ability of the marginalized groups to consent.
The powerful emotional link that binds families who grow up together often manifests itself in curious ways when adult adoptees meet their biological families. Yet as common as it is, few want to touch it because–well–incest. But this issue needs more awareness, and not only because according to recent reports it’s on the rise. Also because I believe that it’s a fertile ground for a particular type of abuse.
The very notion that whiteness is a social construct rather than a descriptor of skin tone, is difficult for white folk to understand.