Biopolymer looks & feels like high quality glass, but has the weight of plastic. Above all of course, it’s not plastic.
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).
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?
World building, as Marvel has proven it can pull off over the last decade, is a skill I admire, it’s an escapist’s ultimate playground–yet my aversion to imperialism and the influence of a feminist education on how I perceive fictional heroes and supervillains ate holes in the fabric of my appreciation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There could be many potential reasons not least that to become a overseas voter is a bureaucratic nightmare, especially for those like me who left before voting age. When I eventually found the energy to jump through all the hoops, I was turned away. The electoral commission had only been formed in 2001 and when I discovered the website several years later, my rights had already expired.
For people of colour, white ethics do not promote their survival–it only promotes white people’s survival and usually at the expense of theirs. People of colour have not been allowed voice, still today have less voice and any choice of an ethical framework–even by me, a white person–is ill-informed if it does not take this into account because our reality is weighted privilege.
We have always been in a post-truth era because our interpretation of truth can only ever be subjective. Today the difference is that Trump doesn’t pretend to be objective. As a narcissist, it is impossible for him to be anyone other than who he is. I’d wager he believes his own stories, no matter what facts might say.
Like the flare up of an allergy, and since the shock of the midsummer brexit, I am now in hypervigilance. I see potential harm long before it turns into active threat. And when the red rage comes, I fight or flee to remove that potential from my environment, from my children’s environment. With the Trump presidency, I cannot. It is everywhere. I see it everywhere. Threat is everywhere.
We attach to those of our ilk, beyond rationality. And few of us have enough self-awareness to overcome it. The law and our systems were designed to counteract this; ‘the law is reason free from passion’. The very concept of the American electoral system is based on a fundamental belief that some people are able to be more objective than others and will vote for the benefit of all. And yet because of the strength of their own self-interest, the strength of their own reptilian instincts, they will naturally fail to do so.
So white folk, we have a task in front of us which might seem huge, but really it isn’t. It is to face our own prejudice when the most obvious and comfortable way to survive is to stay in our bubble. It is to step up and be accountable for our ignorance, even if ignorance is part of our humanity. I will hold your hand as we overcome our fragility and cultivate empathy and battle our minds which tell us that it’s not our problem.
One reason why this immigration was considered successful had nothing to do with Sweden’s ability to integrate immigrants; only that the type of immigrants arriving were more easily ‘integrate-able’ as is still the case today for me. At first sight therefore, when immigrants are able to fit into Swedish culture at a level which allows them to peaceably live and work within the system, we do not see backlashes against immigration.
If you are not at the centre then don’t shit on the person whose been hurt – your job is to support them. If you yourself need support in order to do that, bitch to people who are less affected by it; comfort in, dump out… On a macro scale don’t give more burdens to those who have been oppressed. Don’t expect compassion from those who have been dumped on. It is not their job to show it.
But when people are dear to me, I feel they deserve more than ghosting. They deserve at least an attempt to explain why our relationship will be changing. The choice is not binary of course, we could simply be less in each other’s lives. I could reduce contact, fobbing them off with excuses until I achieved my desired effect. But that reduces their power of consent. If they knew how I truly felt about their values and/or consequent actions, then they may choose to cut contact altogether.
Burning Women–as an archetype in our psyche, not a prescribed gender–are rising in the form of intersectional feminists, queer activists and angry people of colour. We are the rule breakers and we demand that our voices be heard. And as we get stronger, so the forces which suppressed us wage an ever more fierce war. But they cannot stop us.
I’m not laughing anymore. I’m crying because what this farce of an election has done, is to uncover evil in my own home, in my own friends and yes, also in myself. It has torn the veil off those relationships I believed were rock solid. Not because my world or social circle are anything like as extreme as Trump, but because extreme or not, his vile behaviours–like the objectification of women–are so commonplace.
But when you dig down into the voting statistics, some very obvious truths surface. Those like me–generation X,Y or post Y and/or many with immigrant heritage–voted remain. Almost half of us. The baby boomers voted leave. Was it their fear of change?
Experience inadequacy and confusion when you go out, try to grapple with vastly different public transport systems, inadvertently miss bill payments because the sheer volume of foreign administrative mail takes literally days to wade through. Be misunderstood for your communication and have people shout louder at you thereby triggering your childhood trauma. And then spend even more years trying to learn the language starting with ‘Lesson 1: how to buy an apple’ instead of the more useful topic ‘Lesson 367: dealing with online banking and tax declarations.’
I know what a fucking apple is and how to buy it, since apples and currency work the same in pretty much every language.
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.