Blog post @ Volume 3, published on 19 March 2011
I was going to write an account on why we should all join the national demonstration of the 26th of March. In all likeliness I will still do, tomorrow or so, but for now, something else seems to want to transpire.
I am not sure if it is the sweet lazy Saturday feeling or the first great sunny day of 2011 peeping in from my window or the pleasure of knowing I am feeling myself again, but I ended up reading Miranda Kennedy’s account of her days in India to the Guardian and thought: “Gosh – this woman did all I ever want to do”.
True, she did eventually marry and seems to have settled in all sorts of bourgeois paradigms, but those are her latest years, of which I won’t tell, for they don’t mesmerise me at all. It is her one way ticket to India, her escape out of love for others as well as herself, her embracing of her own irrationality, that made me understand what I am myself all about. What is more, she embodied what I envision feminism to be and, hence, what I aspire to accomplish fully one day (soon).
For, you see, my idea (and certainly ideal) of feminism does not cease with female emancipation. It primordially acknowledges that to acquire any type of parity amongst sexes it needs to struggle for universal equality and, correspondingly, for the independence of the subject. In other words, one needs aspire and battle for social emancipation (i.e.: the dictatorship of the proletariat) and in consequence or in parallel, for personal deliverance, not as a man or a woman, but as a being.
Now, many will argue the latter can only occur totally after the former, but, vis a vis one’s short life-spectrum versus permanent revolution, I personally cannot see the crime in striving for both at the same time (provided we know that the formula still stands).
It is, I guess, a conciliation with my (and many greater thinkers than me) mammoth internal conflict: happiness or revolution.
So, when I heard Miranda’s story, it became the more apparent to me that my Grito de Dolores is bound with travelling to far away places, go off the beaten track and exceed the barriers not only established by society to members of my gender, but created by my very own, gender-unrelated, fears. Why else would I so often cruise SkyScanner.Com with no other purpose but find out if, like in my day-dreams, I could tomorrow head to Timbuktu?
Miranda left New York for India, without a plan, without a clue. Left a man she loved and the comfort of the things she knew for the challenge of discovering everything else that is to be discover. On the way she became the best she had to become: a correspondent on the Afghanistan war, the Tamil Tigers struggle in Sri Lanka, the insurgencies in Kashmir, the conflicts in Pakistan…
The only problem with Miranda is that, despite all these incredible achievements, despite surpassing many of her professional and, dare I say, personal peers, she lives still within the constructs of a bourgeois society, aspiring for the sense of companionship based on a nuclear family, dreading loneliness as a result of solitude. Her young self and her relationship with a fellow journalist at the time she left for India were based on similarities and a lot of comradery.
“(…) we insisted issues such as timing, life goals and even monogamy were pedestrian, when it was obvious to everyone else that there was no sensible reason for us to stay together. In fact, we had probably undermined our relationship with our very idealism – our hope and expectation that we’d be able to outlast affairs and a separation of thousands of miles over a period of years.”
If her initial premise was right – the realization that monogamy and timing were products of false-consciousness – her later, content self, embedded with personal compromises, recalls such ambitions as idealistic. Indeed, she is right. They are idealisms if lived within a society that does not accommodate for such tenets. Capitalism and bourgeois liberalism might co-opt emancipation, but enable and indeed encourage co-dependence. The social system we live in, no matter if in Pakistan or the United Kingdom, New Delhi or New York, does not allow for players to live outside the game. It is an oppressive regime under which the subliminal threat is constantly muttered in our minds: if you don’t want to end up old and alone, you have to commodify yourself and your relationships, blend in.
The woman who went to India on her own, creating her destiny, ended up alienated from everything, estranged from her friends who manically complied to the rules of the game, jumping from partner to partner in the search of “the one”. She reversed the searching process, regressing to a planned, quasi-businesslike affair, which inevitably lead to marriage.
None of the approaches is correct, but more often than not only the two are available today. And so we are left with one option: to pursuit personal emancipatory endeavours in parallel with the struggle for socialist revolution. It might well end in a heart which is often broken – only the strongest survive the test of time when it comes to avoiding settling down and only a few encounter someone who is not only well-suited but willing to live under alternative canons – and in the unending frustration of swimming against the tide. Yet, only as such can you truly say you’ve freed yourself from indoctrination and lived positively emancipated.
Only as such can you (man or woman or whatever else you see yourself as) reach, with a little help of fortune, the opportunity to be great.