The Matriarch Sees
In the online world, protecting your reputation and your voice is survival; so much so, that if someone has made an fool of themselves in public and been proven wrong, they will – nine times out of ten – leave the forum and choose to eradicate their presence; in other words, they commit a sort of social suicide.
Because the non-violent lessons I have taught her meant that I neglected the most important one. The one about respecting your own boundaries and protecting your own body. Instead I apparently encouraged my daughter to be a good cog in the kindergarten system, to report it to an adult and in doing so taught her to go against her instincts and passively accept violence on her body. She became a victim, because I taught her it was the right thing to do.
Through this work, an advance reader copy of Turn This World Inside Out, The Emergence of Nurturance Culture by Nora Samaran found its way into my hands. And although at 140 pages it’s only little, its impact on me has been disproportionately large. It has helped me find compassion; it has helped me connect fragments of ideas which existed in my brain already, but floated untethered in abstract (where they were of no use at all).
There are some conversations I didn’t expect to be having with my daughter. Not now (when she’s three). And actually not ever (before I became a mother and a feminist). ‘What’s that a picture of Mummy?’ My daughter said looking at my Google image search results. ‘Well darling that’s a picture inside a very poorly vagina. It’s a grown up … Read More
My way, would be natural I’d decided (with not a little smirk of superiority). A water birth, maybe with a kick of gas and air to get me laughing like Uncle Benny in Lethal Weapon.
Power is the capacity to influence others which–notwithstanding systemic privilege–fluctuates, sometimes on a daily basis according to self esteem, personality, age, maturity and in every unique relationship dynamic. How can power be measured or compared, when there is no absolute, and perception of power is also a form of power?
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.
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.
Britain has never taken responsibility for the bloodshed and exploitation which built the empire. This is evidenced by Theresa May’s hardline on Brexit. We want to take without giving anything in return. We make no apologies for our xenophobic attitudes; our comedy ridicules ‘those bloody foreigners’, our narrow-minded and disrespectful behaviour often shames us in the countries we visit.
To learn on one hand that I have perpetuated systemic oppressive behaviours, and on the other having to face those who have been oppressed and who are angry at me for doing so makes me want to shield myself from the onslaught which risks triggering the terror I felt as a child.
But if I truly want to be an ally, I cannot ignore it.
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.