I attended the second Marriage Equality Rally of my life in Australia, second year for me supporting a cause which exists only because some powerful people many many years ago decided how other people should conduct their lives. Yes, there are a lot of benefits of leaving everything upto one or a set of people- but without the set of powerful people representing a wide spectrum of ideas, some community or another will always be oppressed.
This rant in Youtuber Lilly Singh’s Vlog (start at minute 4:00ish-11:05ish) summed up a lot of issues I wish people would understand without her having to rant about it. I am often called a spoil-sport, for being able to pick out and be appalled at casually sexist jokes and quips about race or sexual assault or gay issues. Again, I think a lot of people complaining about the cause hold on to a time when communities were homogenous and ignorant about another society- because there was no mingling. Say a majorly ‘White’ America. When let’s say Indians (Not Native Americans- they were there before America was “white”) first went there, they would have 2 options as I see it. Adopt the ways of the majority or stick together. In the first instance, since you are alone and so intent on gelling in. Even if quips and wrong ideas about your culture bother you, you are too chicken to correct them without any support. In the other case, you have surrounded yourself with people similar to you and isolated yourself from those who make the jokes about you. And you probably have misconceptions about them as well.
BUT THAT IS IT!!!!! That was a scenario in the 60s- OR SHOULD HAVE BEEN. We are living in a day and age where knowledge is freely available so we can no longer continue to be insensitive with the excuse of ignorance. So WHAT is the EXCUSE NOW? Is that what you are defending in your joke? ENTITLEMENT? You feel that you are no longer in power. So let us blame the ‘feminazis’, the youth, the poor, the ‘immigrants’, the homeless. And defend the jokes feeding into the pervasive culture of toxic masculinity and rape culture.
I, a vocal and passionate and mostly unrelenting advocate of many things like science, women empowerment and LGBTQI+ rights, am often asked to not engage older people in discussion because “they are l, they won’t understand, they are from a different time, no one thinks that way in this generation”. And against my better judgement, I believe it. But what about the fact that those illogical, unfounded ideas somehow manage to transcend the generational divide seeping into the younger generation, who by virtue of being energetic are more likely to take it too far with disastrous and violent effects. Because adopting the regressive, ‘tried and tested’ ideas are perhaps a safe haven from a tumultuous adolescence or young adulthood.
Amidst the loud noises of the Brexit-ers, those most supportive of staying IN the EU were the younger people though. People whose lives are most affected by the economic turmoil. PEOPLE WITH LESSER POWER and SOCIAL STANDING. And yet again, ignorance stuck out its ugly head when the people googled what the EU was right after voting on whether to leave the EU. HO HUM! Why are we dumb??(John Oliver summarises– warning-strong language)
It is Federal election day in Australia tomorrow and I was given a sneak peek into the ‘manifesto’ of some of the candidates. A phrase used most often by many candidates is “preserving the ‘Australian’ way of life”. It is funny how a phrase doing the rounds in the United States and UK- just with the name of the country changed. In India too actually. AND the irony is apparent to everyone. WHAT after all IS the ‘Australian way of life’ anyway. Didn’t Australia once consist of Aboriginals only? And then ‘convicts’- mostly belonging to marginalized communities, usually lower class people in Britain? And then things took a turn and the ‘convicts’ along with other White settlers from Britain spruced up and Australia at one point adopted a ‘White Australia’ policy when there was a growing influx of mostly Chinese and Melanesian migrants. This was in 1901- a dark past which will hopefully be decried as racist. The point is- the ‘Australian way of life’ much like the ‘American way’ and the ‘British way of life’ is subjective and has changed over time as has the society. We are no longer silly isolated landmasses and should not be treating some people and their idea of ‘living’ as superior. The “way of life” preservation is a great strategy to appeal to older (mostly straight, better placed along the social ladder) people who are respected in society and feel NOSTALGIA which is usually wrongly attributed to a ‘lack of immigrants or stronger influence of religion’. And the younger people- well, they haven’t seen the bad times, only been told that “those were the good old days”. And like me- they too, despite some skepticism are willing to believe it.
P.S- Yes this is a rant. And it would have been longer if I were to go into the details dissecting the issues in various countries depending on the context. I understand exclusion as a strategy- but think it unneccessary and defending it in the name of ‘religion’ or an archaic idea of ‘way of life’ to be a miserable excuse for ignorance.