A Hesitant but Accurate Definition of Feminism

14 Oct

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.”

-Rebecca West

 

 

Advertisements

36

9 Aug

For my 36th birthday (which was two weeks ago) I´ve given myself the permission to revise the list I made up last year and alter a few things, since we´re supposed to not only grow older, but also wiser every year.

Here are the things I so far accomplished:

These things will stay on the list:

  • Do a photoshoot with my daughter
  • Write a book
  • Paint a mural
  • Pass the Valencià Mitja exam
  • Read 100 books

That leaves me with 6 goals I feel I should change for more realistic ones.

Going to a music festival seemed like a really fun idea, but I´m afraid I´m simply not made for it. The older I get, the more difficult it becomes for me to feel at ease in a crowd. Instead, I´d like to change this one for two different things that combine certain aspects of the festival experience: one, go camping with my husband and daughter, and two, sing in a bar or out in the street.

To become politically involved in my community I´d have to master the language a lot better than I do now, and I´d have to learn a lot of stuff that´s simply not my cup of tea. Now that we have a new (very young) mayor, I have a slightly better feeling about how things are going here, and I think I should leave the political stuff to the people who know more about it.

Sponsoring a child in another country and working 100 hours as a volunteer seemed like very beautiful and altruistic things to do, but far from realistic for someone who, as a sufferer from aura migraines, keeps losing her job and that way doesn´t even have an income of her own. I should substitute these goals for working out a migraine treatment plan for myself (with the help of this fantastic book). Because you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.

I have been sending birthday cards, and I still think it´s a nice thing to do. But apparently nobody cares about birthday cards anymore, and it´s becoming rather expensive, now that the prices have gone up again. Instead, I was thinking of making photo-albums of my daughter´s pictures. I have my photos mostly on the computer, but it´s so much nicer and safer to have them actually printed out.

Having my hair like Jennifer Aniston was a goal that was actually supposed to motivate me to deal with trichotillomania. (Don´t worry, it was never as bad as in that picture.) But I think I made a lot of progress in that field and it doesn´t necessarily have to result in Aniston´s hairdo, because I think I look better with my hair a bit shorter than hers. Instead, I want to focus on another one of my childhood heroines: I´d like to dress up as The Little Mermaid at the local carnival. I already have my daughter´s full support.

That leaves me with 13 goals instead of 14. So I´ll add one more: in addition to reading 100 books, I feel I should brush up on my French and work a bit harder on my Spanish, so of those 100 books, at least 5 should be in French and 5 in Spanish. (Man, we Belgians are very good at giving ourselves homework, aren´t we. Not hard to see where the trichotillomania comes from.)

So this is the new list of things I want to do before I turn 40:

  • Sing at a wedding – check
  • Pass the Cambridge Proficiency in English exam – check
  • Sew a dress for myself – check
  • Do a photoshoot with my daughter
  • Write a book
  • Paint a mural
  • Pass the Valencià Mitja exam
  • Read 100 books
  • Read 5 books in French and 5 in Spanish
  • Go camping with my husband and daughter
  • Sing in a bar or out in the street
  • Work out a migraine treatment plan for myself
  • Making photoalbums for my daughter
  • Dress up as The Little Mermaid at the local carnival

 

Here we go.

Sew A Dress For Myself: Check

26 Jul

Number 12 on the list. Cost me blood, sweat and tears, and a lot of creative adjusting, because simply following the instructions in the magazine (for as far as I understood them, because they were in Spanish) didn´t do the Bippety-Boppety-Boo-trick of magicking up a dress that actually looked good on me.

So I changed it into something quite different, and now I think it´s alright. A bit bohemian maybe, or rather giving a bit of a Caribbean touch to this Spanish summer, but if you can´t do that here, well, where can you?

DSC_0518

What The Orlando Shootings Are Really About (In My Opinion)

14 Jun

So you can call this an act of terror, homophobia or blame it on islam. You can restrict the selling of guns (which I´m totally in favour of, don´t get me wrong), close the gates to foreigners (but mind you, this was a US citizen) or tell gay people to hide a little better (which is insane).

But wouldn´t it be a lot more effective to find a way to prevent people from feeling like killing others? A dramatic explosion of violence like this doesn´t just come out of the blue. Imagine all the anger and frustration that has been boiling under (and apparently above) the surface for years. Reading the papers, I get the idea that this man was someone completely out of touch with his own emotions. Someone who was immensely frustrated (I don´t know in what way, but it isn´t hard to guess, since it always comes down to the same),  but so completely unable to deal with all the negative emotions provoked by that frustration, that he became entirely engulfed by them.

So he projected all that anger and hate onto gay people. And he´s not the only one. Others project that anger onto foreigners, coloured people, women,… You know the stories.

Honestly, the root of the problem is not about gays or islam. It´s about frustrated, emotionally illiterate men who lack empathy and become a danger to society. In some societies they´re kept in check, but given half a chance, they´ll let slip the dogs of war, especially when they´re in a group. In other communities it´s them who rule, hence the institutionalised violence.

If we start teaching children today to become aware of their emotions and how to deal with them effectively, then within two generations this world will be the most peaceful place you´ve ever seen. Because someone who is aware of his frustrations and who tries to find constructive ways to deal with them, someone who is aware of his anger building up and who knows effective, peaceful ways to defuse it, will not grab a gun to make other people pay for his own rage.

But we can only teach our children and youngsters this when we know how to do it ourselves.

 

 

 

 

Reflection

22 May

Like a shy child

covering its red cheeks

he tries to hold back the love

that radiates from his face.

 

But she´s seen it

and beams it back.

Oh, to find your moon

in this infinite space.

 

 

Borgen vs House of Cards

3 May

When I first started watching House of Cards, I was quite impressed. The political intrigues and manipulations that got Frank Underwood, a power-crazed psychopath, into the White House were fascinating to follow.

 

But apart from fascinating, they were also disturbing. Watching this series, it doesn´t seem hard to believe that this is how things work in the real world. And you might even take this line of thoughts one dangerous step further and conclude that this is how things inevitably work, due to the character of the profession. That there is no place for kindness in politics, and that every demonstration of humaneness is a tactical move.

 

Gradually I started to realise that after an episode of House of Cards, I would feel uneasy, skeptical and with my faith in the world at a lower level than it was before.

 

Then I started watching Borgen, a Danish tv-series about a Danish Prime Minister.

 

The main character here is Brigitte Nyborg, a woman with good intentions and high moral standards, who simply wants to do her job well. The series starts when she becomes Prime Minister and shows us the many challenges the job implies: the assertion of her role as a leader, the juggling of different party-lines in her government, the media-strategies, the vultures out to get her.

We are also made witness of the heavy demands that her holding office has on her private life and the many difficulties she has to face while trying to balance work and family.

 

After an hour of Borgen, I feel like I´ve learned something about human life, and that slowly but surely the human race is making progress. (*)

 

I think that´s a nicer effect to have on your viewers and a better message to send into the world, don´t you agree? Because the world will eventually become the way we picture it. I´d rather have the politicians of tomorrow follow the example of Borgen, and not that of House of Cards.

 

And there are more reasons why, in my opinion, Borgen beats House of Cards.

 

The photographical perfection of House of Cards lends the show something so cool and clean that it becomes almost sterile, whereas Borgen shows us a more realistic setting, where we can imagine actual people living an actual life.

 

When it comes to dialogues, half of the time I can´t follow what on earth they´re talking about in that White House, and I honestly believe that has nothing to do with my understanding of English. It is a lot less tiring to watch Borgen in original version (I actually pay attention to the Danish -what a peachy language) and simultaneously read the English subtitles.

 

On a psychological level both scripts have their merit, but here too, Borgen wins. Let me explain why.

 

House of Cards grant us a look inside the mind of a psychopath, which is interesting. But the psychopath becomes boring. An egocentric person only thinks about himself, and all he wants is power. Not much more can be told about that. This series misses one of the most important tools in story-telling, which is character development. In the end it´s just about tactics. Like watching a game of chess.

 

Borgen on the other hand has a lot of psychological nuances. Nyborg has to keep testing her actions against her values, and correct herself when she gets carried away by political game-playing. She has to harmonize the needs of her country, her family and herself. This is a tricky balancing act, that doesn´t become boring at all.

 

So thank you, Denmark, for this gem you have given us.

 

 

(*) I have to admit I haven´t seen Borgen´s season 3 yet, but I can´t imagine them suddenly turning the whole thing around.

 

 

 

The Bad Parenting Prerogative

30 Apr

All my daughter has done today is watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And the only time she´s been out of the house, is when I took her to the supermarket. There we bought popcorn, which we had for dinner.

 

In my world, that counts as some pretty bad parenting: no museum visits, no theatre plays, no park, no nutricious three-course meals.

Of course I am not raising my child solely on ninja turtles and popcorn. But today was just one of those days, you know, where you use 15 minute naps to muster up the energy for half an hour of administrative chores.

 

And you know what, I think that´s totally okay. We don´t need to be Super Parents all the time.

 

Besides, on the bright side:

* she spontaneously asked for a tomato after all that popcorn

* she has undoubtedly picked up a lot of (American) English today – and is there anything cuter than a Spanish five-year-old who knows the word “dude”?