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26 May 2009 @ 10:06 pm
If I were a different person, it wouldn't have been funny.

If I weren't white, if English wasn't my native language, if I was genuinely poor.

It was funny, hilarious even--but that humour is predicated upon the ridiculousness of her claim.

To explain:

At work today, a woman (Irish, white, probably from a rural town) came up to me while I was just finished washing some dishes at work. I had seen her ask Mari, my co-worker (who is Welsh), about birthday parties a few minutes earlier. She asked me a question, and I started to answer. I could not have had more than two or three words out of my mouth before she interrupted me.

"I don't want to speak to you. Your English is very broken."

And then, without a further glance is my direction, she turned and re-directed her question to Mari.

I retreated back to the dishwashing area, shocked speechless. Utterly flabbergasted, I must have then looked the part she had cast for me--that of a foreign service-worker. Me? Broken English? In all probability, mine is better* than hers.

Her attitudes prejudices about class, about race**, and about language coalesced in that moment of condescension. They judged me unworthy of even an attempt at communication.

Now, I'm tempted to call her a racist, classist bitch, but as Jay Smooth points out, that's the wrong direction for this kind of communication. What she said was definitely racist, and classist. Whether she is racist, classist, and/or a bitch is not relevant.

How did I react?

Well, I retreated to my corner and I laughed. Repeatedly. I didn't say anything both out of shock and out of the habit of deferring to the customer's wishes. I wish now, in retrospect, I had overridden that particular habit by directly asking her why she thought my English was inadequate or, more importantly, why that gave her the right to dismiss me. It was an opportunity to challenge her prejudices, and I failed to engage. As she was trying to leave--I say trying because she was standing by the exit gate looking extremely confused, like so many of our customers do--I told her in loud, clear, unbroken, unaccented American English, "Just press the first button up here on the left to open the gate. Have a good day." I revelled a bit in having gotten to not only acknowledge her looking stupid but also to have corrected her, and inwardly I hoped she had noted my English skills and felt even more stupid.

* Ok, I recognise that 'better' is a problematic term, since it assumes a hierarchy, assumes that there are purer versions of English than others. It also assumes that hybridity and fluidity in language is undesirable. I don't mean to promote this attitude towards language, but nevertheless, adopting her standards of evaluation, the irony is that I would 'rank' higher. Even if I think ranking at all is stupid.

** I say race because (1) 'white' is constructed differently here than in the U.S., with Eastern Europeans definitely not being treated 'white' and (2) as my boss pointed out, because I am rather tan (my sun-lovin' Californian skin, even when sun-deprived, is way too dark for Irish people) it's quite likely she may have thought I was Spanish.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: "Seven Day Mile" -The Frames
09 January 2009 @ 06:27 pm

If you've
never heard
                    ever questioned
                                               not understood

the term
rape culture

or if you know anyone who has

never heard
                    ever questioned
                                               not understood

the term
rape culture

this is what it refers to.

It resonates. How could it not? The stories. Oh, the stories. They add up.

D, walking to the Village in Claremont in the middle of a weekend day, who had a guy follow her, come up behind her and wrap his arms around her. Who told P, who thought nothing of it.

H, who stills bravely works to come to terms with being molested as a child.

To S, whose boyfriend had sex with her (read: raped her) when she didn't want to.

To M, whose story I don't know but know there was a story, many stories.

To the young woman who was harassed by a drunk man in the street in Cork on a weekend afternoon, around the corner from the Sexual Violence Centre, terrified and upset to the point of tears, who ran to take cover with the pedestrians in front of her (myself, Arad, and another woman) as the man chased her down the street. Never mind the pedestrians on the street who ignored her, or the workers in the hair salon outside of which she had been standing when the man began his verbal assault.

To thinking that being felt up in a bar by a man heading towards the exit is ok: by him, by me, by most people. That the violation of one's bodily autonomy is so routine, so normalised, that it becomes acceptable. And that that which is acceptable becomes dismissable, ignorable. And thus invisible.

What would happen if all the stories just came out of the woodwork? If we each individually didn't ignore these little things that happen all the time, or the big things that happen but we've also learned to ignore--because we don't know the language to articulate it, because we know it doesn't matter, because we know it's just more of the same? What would happen? What would our world look like, in the aftermath?

Current Mood: confusedreflective
25 December 2008 @ 02:50 pm

Current Mood: amusedamused
"How you see life depends on how much money you're seeing it with."
-Jennifer Kesler, 12 Aug 2008, http://blindprivilege.com/

The inspiration for this post began a week ago, but I got caught up in mundane things and never got around to addressing these half-developed thoughts until just now. They're still not really as developed as they should be; they're more like linked observations rather than a coherent argument or body of thought. In any case, this post centers around money and finances.
- Thank you, "Personal Finance": That class was not a pleasant or enjoyable experience by any means--in fact, it was far more painful than was necessary (ggrrrrr at the professor for being doddery)--but it managed to pry open the "No god! Not the numbers! Not the practical!" part of my brain enough. I thrive on the theoretical more than is good for me, and I possess an aversion to dealing with numbers that I consciously recognise is both self-destructive and irrational (hah! bad pun!) but still cannot shake. This class forced me to confront my discomfort, and as a result it has lessened. I was financially retarded, and this class radically restructured/built my approach to money. Thank god.

- In Global News: Simultaneous with my own financial awakening, the world's financial state goes to hell in a handbasket. And by the world, I mean the world's privileged (i.e. the upper and middle classes of the US, Western Europe, etc.). And I keep hearing stories of people (read: white privileged U.S. males) theorising about how maybe this is what people need. That maybe this will be good for people, because it will make them re-evaluate their lifestyles (this assumes that other people weren't already aware of their lifestyles, and that they had the ability to alter the economic realities of their lifestyle in the first place). To me, when I hear them talk, what I'm really hearing is how shuttered their own perspective is--that omg, because they can't ignore it any longer, because their lifestyles might be affected, it must be good for everyone. This line of reasoning sounds remarkably similar to
A) British government's laissez faire politics during the Irish Famine from 1845-1848. Kid's version: it's good for them! It will weed out the weak! It will shake out the problems in Irish politics! What really happened: lots and lots of people starved to death and/or emigrated, Irish as a native language was nearly eradicated, etc.
B) The religious response to poverty that maintains that there is suffering in the world because it makes us stronger, better people and the world a richer, better place. In my own experience, this has usually been used to defend (read: protect) the existence of an omnibenevolent god. My ultimate feeling is, who wants to worship a god who created the parameters of the universe such that the "best possible world" was one where the vast majority of humanity has led miserable, insignificant lives full of pain?
- Life Basically Sucks: At the same time, let's think about the world's majority, who already exist in a state of reprehensible poverty. For just one example, families in Haiti are subsisting off of dirt, literally, as both a source of income and as their main diet. For a touching, disturbing, and illuminating look into where, how, and why poverty is existing as it does, please, go here. For a short video on how women are disproportionately affected by poverty, go here. If stories aren't your thing, here are some images.

- A Healthy Dose of Financial Perspective: For the first time in my life, I'm trying to stand on my own two legs financially. It hurts. A lot. Constantly. And still, I know that I am far (infinitely) luckier and more privileged to be in the financial position I am in. My lot is pretty f-ing high on the spectrum.

And with that, I'm going to return to what I should (in a more immediate sense) be working on, which is reading articles on feminist methodology for my essay that has to be handed in in two weeks.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: "Castles and Factories" - Raining Jane
07 June 2008 @ 12:42 pm
Philosophy Exam – First Year

Answer two questions

Two hours

1. Patch together some things you have heard in lectures, in no particular order.

2. Has this question vexed philosophers for centuries?

3. Create an impression of original thought by impassioned scribbling (your answer may be ungrammatical, illegible, or both).

4. Does the answer to this question depend on what you believe?

5. How much irrelevant historical background can you give before addressing this question?

6. Describe two opposing views, then say what you personally feel.

7. Rise above the fumbling efforts of others and speculate freely on an issue of your choice.


(a) Answer this question by announcing that it really means something different (and much easier to answer).


(b) Write out your answer to last year’s question on this topic.

9. Protest your convictions in the teeth of obvious and overwhelming objections.

10. Keep your reader guessing about what you think until the end. Then don’t tell them.

From Crooked Timber. Hilarious, but also creepily accurate!
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: "Secret Life" -The Corrs
Even from inside, through the door to the lanai, I can hear the waves pounding.

At the same time, I'm reading about the slow erosion of the Wexford coast in Colm Tóibín's The Heather Blazing. It's odd to read this here in Hawaii, over 7,000 miles from that place that I miss so much. Here, there is no grey, steely weather or perpetually cold water. Water and air are warm at every hour of the day.

Yet the two are still not dissimilar. Clouds do not necessarily last all day, rain is usual for any time of the year. And, of course, there is the distortion in time, the stretching of moments that leads to a sort of melancholy.

You can feel it in his writing. I don't mind that so much; I can appreciate the stillness of mind. I like less the heartlessness that seems to accompany it, the way his protagonists lack feeling. There is a disconnect between their heads and their hearts. There is a disconnect between them and their families, a seemingly insurmountable separation. They each seem more attached to the land--the Wexford coast--than the people that fill their lives. The Blackwater Lightship. The Heather Blazing. Both are a bit foreign to me, much as I appreciate the rich inner life of thought that each possesses.

So here I sit, in the quiet moments suspended between one day and the next, in a place where I am at my leisure to sleep or eat or swim. I am ever so slowly uncoiling, working free the anxieties I have forgotten how not to carry.
Current Location: Maui
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: "New Partner" -The Frames
I am, as of yesterday, officially a college graduate. More to come later, when I've slept more.

(FYI, I'm also back in PA--but only until Thursday morning so if you want to see me act fast!)
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: "What Do You Do With a B.A. in English" -Avenue Q
16 April 2008 @ 10:43 pm
I am reaching a whole new level of stress and anxiety. So if I don't answer your emails, your phone calls, your facebook messages, etc., etc., realise it's all I can do to hold myself together.

T minus 9 days and counting!
Current Mood: stressedstressed
Dumbass. From the Premiere Radio Networks" The Rush Limbaugh Show (April 1, 2008)...Collapse )

Because that's exactly what feminism is. Getting married multiple times, having abortions, hating on men, becoming career-obsessed, and worshiping Hillary Clinton.

I could go on an angry rant. Instead, I answer with this:

(Note the Allison Janney. Woot!)
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Emails have been sent! One chapter down!

I'm rewarding myself with yoga. A painful yay!

At some point, I'm going to compile a list of all the fabulous, interesting things I've found with which to procrastinate....
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: "Little Victories" -Matt Nathanson