I saw the Hunger Games Catching Fire today, watched Shock Doctrine the other day and now my brain’s all swimming with how similar it all is, but not just that swimming with how violent the system is; but it’s violence that goes beyond physical. I am starting to move beyond pacifism, I am not a violent person and I don’t want to be, but when you are under attack, maybe you need to be sometimes? Also thoughts on intersectionality and all sorts. It’s a rambling stream of consciousness mess tbh.
Content note: violence incl sexual violence. Mental Health stuff.
Physical violence is just the tip of the iceberg, the stuff we see, the stuff you notice, the other stuff that goes on is deeper, insidious but just as damaging. I realise the other day that it’s primarily because of twitter and the amazing, supportive people I’ve ‘met’ there and shared experiences with and talked that I’m not as afraid as I was before to admit to being ill and y’know use the word ‘disabled’. As I have invisible disabilities I can fake it as abled and I have done for ages. I still do. But what’s starting to unravel a bit more is why; because it’s still seen as something wrong, something to be fixed, something to be ashamed of to be ill, to be disabled. I’ve been scared to admit it because I’ve grown up in society that has made me feel ashamed of being disabled. It actually hurts to type that, I’m holding back tears typing this, but it’s true. For most of my life (well all my life, hello patriarchy!) I have been made to feel ashamed of who I am. It has always been reinforced that I am at the bottom of the pyramid, that I’m not ‘at the top’, that I’m defective and wrong, that I’m not ‘one of them’. I say ‘made’ because I don’t feel I have much choice in it. I am growing up now, I’m older, maybe wiser and I know this stuff is bullshit and not the truth, not my truth; but when you are exposed to these ideas constantly when they are everywhere, it seeps in. I can’t live in isolation. The psychological wounds of being exposed to all this shit? They are deep. For a lot of my life hating myself has been ‘normal’ and it’s taken a great deal of courage or something to be able to look in the mirror and not feel ashamed of what I see. Physically and mentally, not just the way I look but who I am, what I am. People say ‘don’t take it too personally’ or ‘it’s not about YOU just y know all the other people in the group you identify with that I hate’ or other such crap, but when I read streams of hate about how people just like me are scroungers, faking it, how we are a drain on resources, when I turn on the TV and it’s all ‘shop a scrounger’, when I’m reminded this society makes it pretty much impossible for me to support myself without benefits yet is always reminded me I’m scum because I claim, it HURTS. It makes me feel a little less than human, that my right to exist is up for debate. Of course I’m taking it personally because it’s ABOUT ME. I can’t magically become not ill when i see disablist shit or not a woman whenever I see misogyny can I? Yet we’re always told to ‘top being so sensitive’ or ‘stop taking ti so personally’ etc etc etc. Yet the moment you say anything about white supremacist capitalist patriarchy as a SYSTEM it’s all “You can’t say all white men are like that! you’re hurting my poor menz feelings! you’re the REAL sexists and racists! OMG WHITE MEN ARE SO OPPRESSED THESE DAYS!!!”. And they wonder why we get angry and roll our eyes…
I’ve been ill more than half my life and I am pretty damn sure many of my mental health problems stem form living in this world that is not accepting of difference, that actively persecutes people for being ‘The Other’. I’m supposed to fight against my disabilities as if they are something to ‘overcome’ instead of accepting them and the limitations they impose as just part of me. Yes I hate the pain, the fatigue, the depression all the symptoms; living with chronic illness is shitty. I WISH I could magic it all away. But there isn’t a cure, I can’t just go ‘tada!’ and make myself better, so why should I live in limbo for years always waiting for some magical point where I might become ‘normal’? Maybe I don’t want to be ‘normal’? Who decides what’s ‘normal’ anyway?
The more I live, the more I read, the more I just exist the more I am convinced intersectionality is onto something. Away from all the media bullshit about ‘checking your privilege’ and the debates in the media that miss the point by a mile. It’s in how it asks us to look at the system, the ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’ , that thrives on multiple oppressions and they are linked. bell hooks is right on the money with this. It’s all linked, all oppressions stem from this whole thing, this kyriarchy, the ‘interlocking systems of domination’ as hooks terms it. I’ve seen people accuse intersectionality of being too focused on the individual and being like a game of privilege top trumps, but this fails to grasp one of they key points of intersectionality; that it’s not just how oppression affects people’s everyday lives but how this oppression is part of a system, how ultimately all oppressions stem from the same ideology. It’s about everything. I think, I’m not an expert, I’m just learning but things are starting to ‘click’ somewhere.
This system IS violent. If you are an ‘other’ (which is most of us, all this talk of ‘minorities’ is bullshit when you realise white men, especially white, straight, cis gendered, non disabled higher social class white men are a miniscule proportion of the world’s population) not only do you live under the threat of physical violence – from the more extreme end such as police brutality, death in custody, racist attacks, homophobic attacks, rape, sexual violence, war to the lower end of the scale such as stop and search, racial profiling at airports, sexual harassment, street harassment, verbal abuse. But psychological abuse, the conditioning that we should accept this violence, from the ‘anti terror’ and ‘crime prevention’ excuses for police brutality to victim blaming attitudes which are especially prevalent in cases of sexual assault, to ‘advice’ that to stop this happening we should effectively change ourselves to be more like the oppressors. Advice that same sex couples shouldn’t hold hands in public, that people of colour should act more ‘white’, that women should ‘dress modestly’ and not drink if they don’t want to be raped or that they should ‘act more like men’ if they want equal pay, that you should just expect to be shot if you’re in the ‘wrong’ neighbourhood whilst Black or that flying with a Muslim sounding name is justification for interrogation at airports. The ‘well what did you expect’ excuse. That you shouldn’t expect to be able to access a building or service if you’re disabled. All this stuff , these micro-agressions, these ‘memes’, these tropes are reinforced by our media, by popular culture and you can’t escape them no matter how hard you try. That phrase ‘micro aggression’ is key, this stuff is aggressive, it is an attack, it is violent. If we resist, if we snap under the pressure we are subject to more violence. This is what I was thinking about during ‘Catching Fire’. How the inequality the districts live under is a form of violence, the psychological as well as physical abuse of the Hunger Games; a reminder that they must pay a price in blood for their rebellion, that they must starve whilst the Capitol has so much food they are sick, that the Capitol can change the rules to suit itself at any time. Living under this, is it any wonder the people rebel? They are punished for their REACTION to violence by more violence and told that it’s their fault because well they were violent and how dare they? The same rhetoric is used by our society, we keep people down, subject them to attacks on their identity everyday and then when they lash out in anger and are met with an often disproportionate display of force told that ‘well if only you weren’t so ANGRY we wouldn’t have been forced to use violence’. Again this is part of the psychological violence, I think it can be seen as a form of gas lighting on a mass scale. It’s a form of the tone argument on a mass scale too.
It sounds like some amazing conspiracy theory, in some ways it is. But the real danger is very few deliberately and acitvely conspire, most are just swept along by assertions that this is ‘just the way things are’ or by the blindness of privilege they assume life for everyone else is like it is for them. It is this passive acceptance and compliance without a full, conscious awareness of what one is REALLY doing that is terrifying.
This post is unstructured, a bit of a mess. I’m not exactly sure how to express half the stuff I’m thinking, I’m sort of thinking it without words, I can feel it but I can’t put it into any real comprehensible form.