What’s going on in the world? When I browse through my twitter feed, which mostly consists of literature and academic tweets, and other online feeds like facebook, blog, and news, I see so many angry women about men. (I will not talk about angry men about women, cos I’m not doing the ‘what about them?’ kind of logic here!) It’s not just the #metoo. If I can simplify this wave of overwhelming amount of testimonies against men, it’s either that so many women were victimised by men or gender sensitivity has become the mainstream all over the place. And I wondered, why I am not angry enough.
1) I haven’t been a victim of sexual violence.
Not true. I have experienced mildly traumatising sexual violence in public places where someone tried to touch certain part of my body which happened twice. It at the same time puzzled me a little because both cases happened in winter when I’m covered in thick a winter jacket and the fact that I’m a tiny person, I do not have the conventionally desired body as it appears on magazine covers or perfume advertisement. It only assured me that it’s not about the body, it’s really about the fact that I’m a woman and they were men. Nevertheless, it affected my life and I naturally tried to look “big,” like angry cats do, when I’m in a subway train or a bus.
2) I don’t think it’s a big deal.
I do think it’s important for women and men to express what’s right or wrong and do something about it. Not being able to express one’s feelings and opinion is toxic for the society and for human. And I’m not only including those who are more progressive. Those who are frustrated by immigrants, or things around you that you can’t seem to talk about without being politically incorrect, express (but don’t insult). So that we could talk and make sense of things together. It’s ridiculous to think that only those who can accept changes are allowed to talk about their feelings. I can talk about my experience. Once I went to Paris with my boyfriend to meet my sister who was on trip to Paris. I told her that we would arrive at the north station by thalys and stay at Montmartre. She asked why I chose the north station because according to her Korean website research, it’s rather a dangerous area. She warned me to take care of my valuable belongings so that they won’t be stolen. At first I didn’t take it that seriously. We arrived in Paris and looked around the city. It was slightly getting dark and we headed to our hotel in Montmartre through the north station area. There I felt an extreme stress in my body. At one point, white people disappeared. I walked faster, hoping to spot a white or asian person. I don’t remember seeing white people though. If I did, I would’ve remembered to this day. I guess I was looking for a sense of safety that I can mingle(in theory) and I’m not a “different” person. Of course my sister’s warning which labelled the area as a dangerous place sure helped generating the fear. Then according to google map we were near Montmartre. What I saw was all kinds of sexually provocative show places including Moulin Rouge. I was quite scared at this point. I thought I was going to sleep between these places. Fortunately Montmartre was a bit more artsy and distanced from these places. Seriously, Paris didn’t warn me about this. Anyway, this frustrating experience might sound like I prefer white people somehow and am scared of black and Arab people. I lived in some parts of Africa and it’s ridiculous to think that black and Arab people are in any way different from me. To be honest, it was the labelling that was attached to them which I was more scared of, not the colour. The fear was real and I’m not going to let anyone think my feeling was wrong. With this kind of frustration though, what we need to do is to make sense of where the fear comes from and think what we can do about it.
Back to the angry twitter.
I guess I fail to relate completely with the current discourse over gender discrimination (mind me, I used sexual violence and gender discrimination in the same meaning for the convenience). What I find is that it is often subtle and ambiguous to know if it’s gender discrimination or just me–or just the person. I do believe I was treated rather unfairly here and there at work. But it’s hard for me to just “conclude” that it was because of my gender. What happened to me was more likely that the person just hated my guts and the way I worked. There were moments that I could’ve considered gender discrimination but just the fact that it’s so subtle and complex makes it difficult to determine that it was all about gender. Definitely, though, I don’t deny the possibility that it could happen so frequently. What I want to argue is that this kind of discourse where things are black and white might just give the wrong idea that things are black and white. There are social structures, education, religion, and relations that shape the society in a certain way. The social fibre is interweaved to each other. It’s nothing like black and white.
When I’m online, I see the world is collapsing and all men are bad without any good reason. It might be simply the problem of mainstreaming. Though I acknowledge the huge benefit of making social issues as a mainstream, really understanding where it comes from is far more important than to make men feel guilty. After all, a considerable number of them might just be the victims of socialisation.