Courage to Speak
I was a real shy kid. One time my teacher asked whether I would like to publish in the student newspaper an essay I had written for class. I was about the pain of my parents' divorce as seen through my eyes after reading a piece of classic literature. Looking back, my teacher probably felt that the piece would speak to other students, but I was afraid to share my feelings with my school community, afraid others wouldn't understand.
When my husband and I decided to move to New Delhi for some time, I started blogging (http:://beinginplace.me). It's been a wonderful opportunity to receive feedback and encouragement first from those who know me best. I like that those who read it are doing so by choice rather than because it comes to them as an edited selection as in traditional media. I hope it serves as inspiration to people to broaden their cultural understanding and pursue the life they desire to lead. I have also been tweeting for the last 9 months or so (@RealPeaceAustin) which as been a great opportunity to create an online presence and see whether people are interested in what I have to say. I like the ability to share ideas and receive feedback online, which was why I joined the Voices of Our Future project.
We should encourage people to examine the sources they turn to and to that end build relationships with the writers in order to get to know the source. I think it's tempting to think that traditional media and digital media too are objective. Neither one is.
I recently was honored to listen to the Dalai Lama of Tibet speak and to read some of his writing. Drawing from his emphasis on compassion, feminism in my view means being willing to dialogue with the men in our lives about their concerns. I think the only way change can happen is to bring the “oppressors” along with us, point out their violence and make them see that they are hurt by it as much as we are. One example is the placing of gender expectations on both women and men. I would like to think these things can be changed overnight but I think it's small, strategic steps carried out with compassion, in our personal and political lives.
Unfortunately, just exposing women and men to the idea that women don't have to do all the kitchen work at home doesn't mean there won't be conflict in the process of liberation. The most minute and personal decisions in your home life have the same repercussions and considerations as social movement involving protests and other non-violent tactics. My approach I take to using digital media to express my voice includes sharing these moments of compassion and change so that other women and men might find something they can relate to and thus be encouraged.