June 26, 2014

Girls Girls Girls

It's been a week or so since I started working on the patriarchy workshop, and I can feel myself getting lost in it. Are the materials interesting? Am I involving the youth enough in this segment? Is this too complex? How can I make it more interactive? Is this going to take too long?

A few days ago, my host mom from Nepal, the amazing badass woman who has taken care of refugees and me and my classmate, who hosts a radio talk show about sex and the raunchy things, shared a blog post from her friend, Jemima, who is an amazing country coordinator, an insightful and heartwarming woman.

I first read Jemima's writings when the avalanche happened on Mt. Everest, an unfortunate event that hit close to home for her since she is a Sherpa. Jemima's writings were a breath of fresh air, full of sensory details but not in an overdone way, full of dignity and conviction but not in a bitter way that sours the reading experience.

This time, Jemima wrote about what it is like to live as a woman in Kathmandu. Specifically, as an upper-middle class girl, a privilege that she so consciously writes from and reflects on. Chronicling scenarios as a young girl, a teenager, a young woman, a friend, a lover, a victim, Jemima so accurately portrayed what it may be like to experience gender-based violence or witness it. More broadly, it is life as a girl living in patriarchy, in a fucked up world.

Jemima concludes by going back to what privilege means to a girl growing up in a fucked up world, despite having some.
"And you know, always, always, that you have just been lucky; that these men that surround the many unlucky women in the newspapers and the far-too-many others whose stories never make the pages, these are the same men that surround you too."
Read her post here

The ending reminded me of something else. The other day I remembered a spoken word piece I watched a while ago. I decided to rewatch it, and I ended up listening to it a couple more times. The words captured me and inspired me.

The video opens and your typical young white male is reading off a piece of paper in a dark room, directly into the mic in front of him. It begins as a quirky and witty poem about a young awkward boy's experience with girls growing up. Then the infamous Generation Y term of "friendzone" comes up, and the audience continues laughing, knowing this is going to get goooood. But what I didn't predict is that Dylan became a voice of clarity and solidarity. He quickly debunks the crazy idea that is friendzone, because it is rooted in patriarchy and oppression that men are entitled to women's bodies. It means that the "nice guys" are also oppressive, and oppressors are everywhere. The "nice guys" who play victim and distance themselves from rapists are not so unlike them. They all exercise and internalize power over women.

Just like Jemima, Dylan concludes by talking about how pervasive the problem is, and how anyone can be a perpetrator, and it takes all of us to actively take a stand:

"We all know the statistics.
Your rapist is more likely to be someone you know.
The boogie man, the stranger in the alley, is real,
but not as real as we are.
We all know the statistics.
but we don't know how to accept
how easily we become part of the problem.
You cannot kill a monster
until you are willing to see it in the mirror.
Until you recognize its shape in your own skin."

If you are interested, watch the entire thing here

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