I feel aggrieved about where my genderqueer, androgynous, female-masculine Chinese diasporic body, although simultaneously middle class, able-bodied, colonisation-privileged body, is placed within a White, colonial, racist, sexist, homo/transphobic and monolingual amongst other things, is a place where I need to struggle to remain whole, and to love and accept myself.
Saying that, I also feel sorry for White people and Straight bio men at times.
“Why?!!!” you might ask.
Because, when I ponder things within my body, and within the Va/Wa/Ma (relational concept of space from Samoan, Maori and Japanese frameworks), I realise that I can be a real horrible meany when things get me real down, and I’m feeling insecure and triggered. I’m liable to take it out on my partner, grump at my flatmates, boss my brother and sisters around, be short-tempered with my parents, intolerant of my youth group youths, just generally be unpleasant, when I’m feeling threatened, under-nourished spiritually and emotionally.
So I’m thinking that trauma and insecurity, can play out from past to present, intergenerationally, migrationally, and within a culture. Especially colonial culture. My sketchy understanding of history in the region known as the UK, is like colonial, invasion-y puff pastry. Layer upon layer upon layer of invasion, colonisation and violence from various groups of conquering armies; Angles, Saxons, Romans, Vikings etc etc. The crushing of language, custom and pagan ways of living, internal colonisation, playing off one group against the other, against the Picts and Celts, the Welsh, Irish, Scottish. The royal taking of the commons, serious class violence, inter-religious violence, exiling and splitting up families for mean and flimsy reasons.
If that was my ancestral, cultural hurts and trauma, I know I would have to struggle hard to not perpetuate the violence and wrongs done to my body and my peoples. I have my own stuff, and own ancestral cultural stuff to deal with of course. And while there are no excuses for oppression, observing why dominant culture might do the things it does, could be a useful tool in addressing how to remedy, challenge and call its oppressive behaviour and power tripping tendencies. And failing that, it’s a good exercise in compassion, so we don’t become crushed under the Otherness hating society we live within, and rendered heartless and unfeeling.
This is how I try to find a common place when I do homo/transphobia education stuff in secondary schools with teenage people, and more often than not, the male bodied people do macho silly posturing. We talk quite a bit about what pressures, and what is assumed that Boys should be like, and what Girls should be like. Out of these conversations, amongst many things, it also becomes clear the violence that patriarchy and male stereotypes and aspirations have on young men who aren’t allowed to cry, show emotion, or acknowledge, let alone explore their femininity. (and must police each other)
So this is why I sometimes feel sorry for white people and Straight bio male people. Because, it seems their identities are so fragile and insecure and so scary, they cannot explore themselves to heal and become self-determining. Their identities require constant defining against the scary-uncivilised-dark-soft-vulnerable-expansive-boundary-less-Other, so that they are reactive and other-defined, rather than self-defined. That their identities require so much posturing, heaty blowy words and rhetoric, so much violence to maintain so much fear.
In trying to wound and crush us, they erode, wound and diminish themselves. So it is for these reasons also, that I sometimes feel sorry for White people and the white supremacies they need to create, assimilate into, and maintain to cope with themselves, sorry for the bio men and the patriarchies they create, aspire to and maintain to cope with their collective selves. The Walking Wounded, as my Dad would say. Or as I would say, the Marching Wounded, because it is our bodies they hurt first in this unacknowledged (sometimes acknowledged) war.
I also feel sorry for them, because I need to understand how they can create, perpetuate such oppressive violent structures and mechanisms, yet appear so unaware of how much those dynamics hurt me, us. The constant struggle I have underlying, to accept my yellow skin, my gender expression, my genitals, the shape of my eyes, my ancestors journeys, my height, my desire.
I feel sorry for them because I know that it is also, forgiveness that I seek when some of my multiple identities occupy oppressive spaces such as classism, ableism, colonial benefits and many more I won’t even have thought to feel.
I feel sorry for them because we are lost without compassion. Because when this world becomes a place where everyone’s bodies and gifts are celebrated, they will be there too. Because I don’t want oppression to diminish me, and make me too closed to be weak, vulnerable, open, expansive, and whole.