M recently remarked that I haven’t been posting anything other than art and poetry (and korean dramas), so here is a rant.
No editing. 💕💕💕 Lots of redundancies. Lots of sense.
Privilege protects me from the consequences of my liberalism.
The opportunities and resources available to me mean that I can apply the “idealism and naivete of the youth” and live to tell the tale. When I feel persecuted, ostracized or silenced, I have the luxury to opine, to rally, or, in the worst case, to relocate avenues of discourse. I have never needed to suffer for what I believed in.
But I am slowly realizing that my luxuries are not infinite. I will not always be protected.
Here’s where I stood before: with a clear vision of my future. I will live in a world unencumbered by what would become obsolete cultural dichotomies. Freedom of choice would be at a premium, my irreligiosity a non-issue. Questions of sexuality, reproductive health, race, marriage, and even science would become matters of fact in the world I hoped to live in.
Abstractly I realize that reality isn’t perfect in most its incarnations, and this is where I thought my privilege (and personality, I suppose) would protect me. I have no need or desire for bigots and idiots in my life; if people insist on judging me based on the nuances of my sexuality, or indiscretions made in the name of youth, then they are people I need not interact with. It doesn’t matter if they’re the President of the Free World or the richest person on earth. No one is indispensable, and everyone can be surgically excised. I believed in the capacity of excellence and sheer stubbornness to forge new and more accepting environments for me.
I did say I was idealistic.
In principle I still think that my stance should stand as it is; I put self-preservation over any value of pandering or conforming. I am sincerely unapologetic (and that brings back the old days of this blog) and in some cases I can concede to being insincerely apologetic. But in no scenario can I imagine that I will censor myself for the sake of my safety, for my reputation, and for others’ acceptance –the only approval I need is my own.
But that’s apparently not how the world works. In a recent discussion, my mother painted me a chilling figure: one where parents-in-law will irrationally judge me on the basis of my outspoken liberalism, one where future relationships will be measured by the acceptability of the ramblings I’ve made in the past (in this blog, even).
It was difficult not to rally against these phantom harms. If it happens in the future, I can already see my response in the ways I discussed earlier –e.g. If I do marry, I will never marry into a family who would rather silence me than listen. If I do enter relationships, I would do so with rational people. People can and do evolve (to fit my needs).
Funnily enough, my mother said she once thought the exact same things in her youth. She felt the same invulnerability –but it was lost under real pressures. I think in some ways she conceded the principle and practice of self-interest to be true. My privilege will protect me and my independence against the structures of society.
But –as the title of this post suggests– that’s not (just) the issue, is it?
We live in a society where people are not just individuals. We belong to families, to friendships, to organisations. We exist as a reflection of our singular selves and of other peoples’ reality. I loath to use a realistic sense of society, but I know what this means. I may be free from the consequences of my actions (by the fact that I can personally care less about others, that no one is too important to lose, that I am, by many regards, heartless).
My family won’t be as free.
Being unfairly judged by peers and society may be things I can willingly and easily bear, but they are a burden that I will also be placing on my family. And my family shouldn’t have to suffer through the embarrassment of intrigue and prejudice on my behalf, and yet that will happen. In fact, it may even mean judgement from my more conservative extended family. How could I expect my 85 year old grandmother to understand my sexuality? Does she even need to know– does anyone need to know– must I remain outspoken, when I am not even defined by that one, “regrettable” identity? I fear the day when my aunts and uncles will turn to my mother and tell her how poorly she raised her youngest daughter.
I have no doubt that they can survive the public scrutiny, and I have no doubt they will do it for me. But they should not have to, if there is no need to.
My independence compels me to shout my freedoms. My love for my family keeps me more silent.
EDIT 03.19.2016: I corrected my spelling errors.