It might sound odd to say that this blog, which is at least going to start out primarily as a forum for me to work through my thoughts on the intersections of gender, reproduction, politics, violence, and sexuality, owes its existence to Egypt.
See, I accidentally ended up in Egypt during 6 days of the protesting. The spirit of peaceful and responsible struggle in the name of a beloved nation were so strong and pervasive that I upset to not be Egyptian and have the opportunity to struggle that way. Egypt kicked my democracy and revolution bones and kicked them hard.
My engagement with politics since I turned 18 was mostly voting in big elections, reading the occasional news article, and watching the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Being an expat further complicates my situation – the internet is great, but face to face activism just feels more satisfying. But the Twitter account I had created in order to keep tabs on developments in Egypt suddenly collided with a link someone had posted on Facebook (oh god, I am a social media robot!) to Tiger Beatdown, where Sady Doyle wrote about a new Twitter campaign (#dearjohn) against the horrific abortion laws trying to wade through the House of Representatives, not to mention the anti-Planned Parenthood budget manoeuvering. And suddenly I was intensely interested in all of these blogs about the Issues Disproportionately Facing Lady Humans* (and I write “disproportionately facing” because transmen with uteruses must also worry about many of these issues, rape and sexual violence do happen to non-women, etc.). I followed links, joined discussion threads, and began to get seriously pissed off at our government, not just about the IDFLH. The feminist blogs led to other feminist blogs that also talked about gender-neutral political issues, which led to political blogs, which led to social movement blogs, and on and on in the daisy-chain of the digital world.
So Egypt made me realize that, although I don’t love my country as much as the demonstrating Egyptians do, I can grow to love it in struggle, if I engage with it and bring about even small positive change. It might not be as grand or effective as literal millions demonstrating in Midaan Tahrir (which is round, so not much of a square, really), but it is my right and obligation as a citizen of a government that is hypothetically representative. Voting for someone else isn’t enough. I am required to tell that representative what I think. And I’m also obligated to listen to my fellow citizens and dialogue with them, to not make them enemies and to not abusively try to legislate my views over their own, to build consensus on where we would like to see our country go and how to get there. Further, as a citizen of the world, there is a lot I can do to educate, help, and empower people all over the world and support their own struggles for their own visions of their futures, and to come together with them to build a vision of a global future to work towards.
I feel like an idiot and dupe for having been so apathetic for so very long. Egyptians were sleeping and they have woken up – and they were my alarm clock too. So thanks, Egypt. It’s all because of you.
This is why I’m here, and this is my mission: to make all spaces (or at least the ones around me) a safe place for any human being, of any race, creed, sexuality, gender, economic status, nationality, etc., to raise their concerns, and call one another out on any -isms or manifestations of privilege. A place to reexamine oneself always and help one another rid the community of prejudices and injustices, whether consciously or unconsciously committed. A place for radical compassion to take the place of constant judgment, and a place where any and all criticism takes place in service of that compassion, in a respectful tone.
I am far, far from perfect when it comes to inoffensive statements. And sometimes my compassion for one group gets expressed as hostility for another. I am doing my best, and I hope anyone who reads this will help me be better by flagging those places where I fail and guiding me further down the road of being an ally and an advocate for those identities I do not inhabit.
For the record, I am: philosophically Buddhist, 24 years old, female, female-presenting, cisgendered, hetero-leaningly bisexual, raised upper-middle class, currently middle class, white, college educated (anthropology major), daughter of two physicians, 1/5 siblings, well-traveled, and I have studied 6 languages other than my native English, 3 of which I studied in a country where it was spoken. I am not a survivor of physical sexual violence of any kind, nor have I ever been physically attacked due to any part of my identity. These are my privileges (and not-so-privileges).
*I love the designation “lady human,” although I’ve been through so many blogs in the past week that I can’t remember where I first read it and give proper credit, but kudos whoever came up with it*