between you and me - bloggers and gender politics
my earlier post was on the right to space. now id like to raise some issues with regard to bloggers and gender politics.
in fairness to them, most folks who uphold these politics dont really do so deliberately or consciously - i find most dont see these angles at all. but ignorance isnt much of an excuse, and whether we well-meaningly or misogynistically uphold the patriarchal structure, we are responsible in varying degrees for the damage it causes.
as i see it, these are some of the politics involved:
its part of pecking order privileges that the ones in a superior position may demand things of the ones beneath them. as far as i'm concerned, i can be requested to tell someone my name, my phone number, where i live or what i do; but i am not beholden in anyway to necessarily comply with that request. im not a subordinate in the army to jump to obey commands.
women are made to account for themselves all the time in our society. we are expected to justify our actions. not everyone needs, or merits, an explanation. we are entitled to independence without having to keep anxiously and pre-emptively patting egos to make sure that our bid for non-dependency doesnt wound some male who considers himself in authority. its part of the same mentality that demands an activity report from an adult woman who goes out in the evening, while not concerning itself with a teenage boy who stays out all night.
ive had both men and women write to me, and while there were some men who were very decent about respecting the space i politely asked for, the women were a much easier lot to deal with: only one has so far even asked me for personal details, let alone demanded it.
the deep need to defend my space like this is because i can often say and discuss things here that i cannot in real life. i also hate explaining obvious things like "feminism isn't about male bashing" ad nauseam; something i find i have to do all too often if i start these discussions with people in real life. there's a limit to which im ready to shake people around me from their conditioning. i respect their need to set their own pace to work on beliefs and ideas that they were raised with. but i need to give voice to some things that are important to me. since a lot of these are issues that concern me as a woman, doing that is very difficult in a strongly patriarchal society. look around you: how many seriously political indian blogs do you see? how many of these by women? a truly free political arena is hard to come by especially for women.
safety is another of my concerns. a very real one. as soon as i was abused, one of the threats used was that the abuser knew where i lived. i have a mother and sister who mean the world to me. those three months weren't exactly fun to live through.
the world of men told me that it could get this sick. ive written earlier about trust. no, i dont think every man i meet is that horrible, but rather than get defensive and feel hurt that i dont trust you implicitly like i should because you're decent, how about honestly admitting that its the other men who have been creeps who are to blame, and not the women who are suspicious with good reason! im not a schizophrenic or an amnesiac to walk away from my lived experience. i will use all my knowledge of the world to protect myself.
and finally, if you really want to know who i am, you learn more from what i write here or in my mails than by just knowing my name. when i call myself a feminist, anti-technocrat, or anti-establishmentarian, you know more about me than if i just said i were malavika. i could be one of a million malavikas. (and no that isnt my name!) possibly the only unique identification by name would be if i gave a whole name. even then, it doesnt tell you who i am, it just insists on information that would serve only to make me traceable. why wouldnt i be wary!
it may all seem very paranoid at first, but look at the statistics of the violence committed against women: we do live in that unsafe a world.
im so glad that ive managed to stay angry for long enough to say all this! i'm happy that i've managed to keep the resolve to not be manipulated into feeling bad, into tripping over myself to be the pacifist and soothing hurt pride - its time we all grew up. i thought and read a lot about this subject before finding the resolution to be able to speak up: i mainly found clarity reading things that mr schwyzer and the happy feminist had to say. its terrific to come across people who are as clear and precise in word as in thought.
feminist issues, my life