Sunday, 3 June 2007


I want to draw out something that keeps coming up for me in my posts and other's comments.
I agree with Maia that "conversations with people who are as (or more) secure than me can be really frustrating, unless they first acknowledge their security." But I don't think we have to choose between being aware of our security and being aware of our vulnerability.

In fact i think we desperately need both. In the comments on Visibility, Jen is talking about the experience of being exoticised as a white person while travelling. It would've sucked if she hadn't acknowledge that being exoticised is different when you have power to go with it, but she did. I think it also would've sucked if she'd thought, 'no I am not at all vulnerable, because I'm white' and missed the opportunity to learn a little bit about what it feels like and what other people have to go through in a much more full-on way.

I agree too that, "some listening, and some imagination goes a long way." And the closer we get to someone's pain, oppression and vulnerability in our own experience, the easier that imagination becomes. When I stop to think that I'm actually living week to week on the benefit, that i can only afford to do that because I've got a council flat, that what with childcare and gender ambiguity my job prospects are not so hot, that things with WINZ are unlikely to get any easier in the current political climate and that climate change (among other things) is endangering global food supply; i get an inkling of the fear that many families in south Auckland might be facing.

And when I have the space to consider all this, to feel sorry for myself, and to remember that I deserve more, I am able to listen to other people's stories. I have the generosity and the clarity to assure them that they too deserve much, much more. And to stand up for their rights. Our rights.

Which brings me back to who it's ok to whinge to, since I've gotta work through this stuff, but starving families don't gotta listen to me.

Which is an interesting question on the interweb, cause how do I know who I'm whinging to?

1 comment:

Maia said...

I think it was the word 'fears' I was reacting too in your previous post. I think there's a difference between experience and fears. I'm up to listen to most people's experiences, and there's often a political purpose tot hat discussion. But fears only have relevance, or political purpose to the extent that they have some resemblance to the material reality we live in. There are scenarios which would lead me to be economically vulnerable, they're not inconceivable, but their unlikely enough to be irrelevant. I don't think taking those fears seriously is relevant for me or anyone else, and I'm not interested in other people's fears which are just unlikely as mine.

I don't think your fears are particularly unlikely (although personally I'm much more interested in talking about current reality than fears).

Obviously you're heaps more more vulnerable than me at the moment, and I don't think you should be restrained from talking about that. But to me, talking about the ways which we are vulnerable, is very different to talking about the ways we might be vulnerable in the future. I've got a lot less time for the second than the first, and no time at all for the second unless it's talking about the most likely scenarios. Which isn't to say I've got a problem with other people doing it, as long as I don't have to be there. If they say that it helps their political understanding then I won't argue with them (but I'm not necessarily convinced).