Sunday, 24 August 2014

My World

I live in a world where people like me - queer, woman - get killed for being like me: queer, woman. Where people who aren't like me - people who aren't white, or cis - get killed for not being like me. There are places I dare not venture for fear of my identity being my death sentence. There are places I can go that others cannot for fear that their identity may be their death sentence. I live in a world in which I am implicated in others' fear as much as I experience my own fear, and unless I am actively working to dismantle the fear I am implicated in, than I am no better than those who strike fear in me.

I live in a world where twenty percent of all the women I come in contact with are likely to have been victims of sexual assault in some form. Where domestic violence is considered a normal part of life. Where I walk down the street at dusk, or at night, with my keys clenched between my knuckles, repeating in my head the moves from the self-defense class I took six years ago. Where my friend is choked by a stranger on the dance floor, and then again after she's said NO. Where I feel more relieved that she got home safe than surprised that such a thing could happen, because of course that is something that happens. This is a world where these things are not surprises. Where my male partners are as likely, statistically, to be my attackers as any stranger on the street. Moreso. Where I am made to feel guilty or ashamed for fearing for my life in situations where women are often robbed of their lives, and then made to feel stupid if I do not behave as though I am fearful for my life.

I live in a world where every time I look at the news, there is genocide and hate and terror and cruelty being enacted against people who are simply trying to exist, simply because they are trying to exist. Where my heart aches and breaks constantly and I simply cannot do enough to fix it, where none of us can do enough to fix it. Where those who are trying are fighting against a current a thousand times stronger, that saps us of our energy to stay afloat long enough to fight another current. Where the current we fight against comes at us in the form of our neighbours and families and employers and politicians and teachers and religious leaders and everyone who can control us in some way, who can affect our lives for the worse.

I live in a world where some people are thought to be less than other people, because of who they are, and the fact that who they are is different than those in charge. Where everything hurts all the time, everywhere.
I live in a world where a mother would tell her fifteen year old daughter coming out of the closet that she is lucky she didn't beat her, and that bisexuals spread diseases. Where my straight, cis, white "best friend" of fourteen years will dump me because all I talk about it LGBTQ feminist "propaganda". Where caring about my safety and happiness, the safety and happiness of others, is "propaganda". Where telling people that they are being unnecessarily cruel or hurtful is "propaganda". Where compassion is a weakness and an annoyance. Or a terrorist act.

I live in a terrible world. A world I am scared of and scared for. A world I can't save because I am just one small queer woman. A world that needs so much help that it cannot ask for, and that will not be offered.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Books! Canadian Books!

I set a very measly goal for myself this year, reading-wise. While I was an avid reader up until university, I fell off the reading-for-pleasure wagon when the textbooks started getting heavier. I followed university up with a long-term depression that left me not wanting to do much of anything, let alone read.

So this year, I set a little goal on goodreads to read 12 books in 12 months. I blew past it. Okay, some of them were comics, so they were fast to get through, but whatever. I'm reading again. It's great.

So I want to set a more challenging goal for myself, and I've made up my mind.

The CBC sort-of-recently posted a list of "100 Novels that Make You Proud to be Canadian". The page allows you to select the books you have read so you can measure up. I've read all of seven, which is disappointing, because I adore Canadiana. Part of me doesn't understand exactly why I love Canadian media as much as I do, because I am decidedly anti-nationalist, politically. But there's just something about Canadian television and writing that makes me feel at home.

Anyway. I feel like this is the challenge for me. A lot of the "classic" novels that everyone says you should read are books that either bored me to tears/sleep or that I really don't enjoy reading, but this list is full of books that I think I'll actually enjoy, and it will give me an excuse to keep reading after I start school again in a few weeks.

The seven books that I have read are:

Brown Girl in the Ring - Nalo Hopkinson (fantastic book)
Green Grass, Running Water - Thomas King (also fantastic)
Life of Pi - Yann Martel (loved it until the last chapter)
Neuromancer - William Gibson (some classic sci-fi, always a good choice)
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood (amazing, of course)
The Jade Peony - Wayson Choy (heartbreaking)
What We All Long For - Dionne Brand (breathtaking)

I won't be rereading or reviewing them, since I read most of them a while back, but I will be reading/reviewing the rest of the list in alphabetical order because that seems to be as good a system as any other.

Wish me luck!