13 – Empathy > Political Division [Let’s Talk About It]

     This is not my usual kind of post, but I guess there’s a first time for everything… 

     Prior last weekend, I relatively kept quiet about my political views. Inevitably, there where a few times I expressed my opinions and stuck by them (like I still do now) – but I like to see myself as someone who listens to everyone and tries to understand their perspective, rather than instantly labelling them as nagħaġ għomja and injoranti (Blind Sheep and Ignorant People for the non-Maltese speakers).

     Without a doubt, this has been one of the most controversial campaigns Malta has witnessed – after a snap election came out of the blue, the electorate had to choose who could lead the party between practically one of two parties in a span of 32 days (they are respectively called Majority and Minority for this post). The Majority won the General Election for the second consecutive time: and surprisingly, by another landslide of around 34,000 votes!

     Siding with the Minority, the result shook me: particularly because differently to what I thought, the race was not a close call at all! It left me emotionally drained throughout the whole day – and together with the loud celebrations following the result announcement, it definitely did not help me revise or an exam the next day. I couldn’t understand how this happened: how the Majority couldn’t see the things the same way I and several others saw them. Are we stupid? Are we ignorant? Should we be humiliated for being in the Minority? Does this make our reasoning to being in this position any less valid?  

I expressed my shock on Facebook and people who voted for the Majority didn’t hold back from commenting (as it is their right to do so). This included one of my good friends: who like me was a first time voter but unlike most people, he was not biased or affiliated with any party: he solely weighed out the pros and cons of the two sides and voted accordingly. After commenting and replying back to others perceiving the political situation differently, I spoke to him, telling him I hope we’re on good terms despite not agreeing, to which he replied:

Of course, why would you think otherwise?

     Feeling slightly relieved, I went on expressing myself: telling him about how I felt disheartened at how some Majority supporters were humiliating the Minority after a second landslide win; how I took this loss badly, and how I didn’t want to lose our friendship. The next 30 minutes were spent talking politics in spite of the different lenses we might be wearing. We disagreed on some aspects, but we also agreed that both Majority and Minority are wrong in others. I did not disregard his views, and he didn’t humiliate mine. I allowed him to vent out as much as he gave me permission to express my concerns about the country’s future: and we both shared valid points. Towards the end of the conversation, he thanked me for allowing him to discuss such a thing with me, as he hadn’t had the chance to do so with any of his friends. 

    This lifted a weight off my shoulder, and made me feel a bit more hopeful about people. I rarely see individuals of different opinions discuss such issues as delicate as politics in a civilised manner: unfortunately colourful words like Chicken and Giddieba (liars) and Falluti (failures) are still used by people when someone disagrees completely with them. But the conversation didn’t include any of this vocabulary. We didn’t offend the opposing political leaders despite opposing values, and we didn’t even dare dismiss each other’s opinion or cut each other’s statement off. Instead, we both took a step back, and tried to understand each other’s point of view without making our responses feel any less invalid. 

  At the end of the day, we all end up living together: if not on the same island, on the same planet – and in this apparent hell we live in, we need each other more than ever! Everyone voted according to what they thought was best: and Democracy requires to respect the electorate result, whether it is something one likes or is disgusted by. It’s time for people to reach out for their friends who might see things from the other side, and acknowledge their feelings about this election, no matter what they are, even if you can’t fully understand why they’re feeling so. And I first step back and apologise to anyone who I might have hurt through expressing my opinion negatively, or through disregarding their own. It’s also time that both winning and losing politicians seek out to those who might not disagree with them: the only way I believe that a country can truly unite is through talking and understanding the people’s concerns and viewpoints, and feeling comfortable at first hand (I know it’s muuuch easier said than done, but I doubt it’s impossible).

     Elections come and go, and even though one might consider the two consecutive losses suffered by the Minority as tragic, there’s nothing worse than losing a friendship after not adequately listening to their opinion well, and not putting oneself in their shoes. And to the friend I had the conversation with: thank you for restoring a bit of my faith in humanity – you are a friend to keep!


10 – It’s a Man (and a Woman)’s World [an open letter to boys]

Before reading on:
This is not addressed to all who classify themselves as males, and I know men who take such issues seriously and have joined the conversation of gender equality and I am grateful that this is happening! This is my opinion, and yes if you share a different side you may share your arguments with me. I wanted to write this to clarify the reasons why days like International Women’s Day exist in the first place, and I hope I managed to convey that through this post. 

Dear boys: we meet again!

     This time round I did not prepare another rant about your doings like I did last November. Instead, I thought it would be best to talk to you about things which I personally think concern you as much as they concern women, even though they might not appear so at first glance!

     It may appear ironic to address this to you on International Women’s Day: I should pay tribute the women who overcame obstacles to arrive at where they want to be. I should mention how women received backlash or were judged because of what they say or do is a “man’s job”. I should celebrate the accomplishments we as women achieved to reduce gender inequality, particularly within in the working sector.  However, I still do believe that more needs to be done to improve women’s issues in different domains of life, especially in everyday interactions between both sexes: and hence, that’s where I’d like you to join the picture!

     Women are passionate when it comes to being vocal and standing up for their own rights, and not only because they had to do so in order to be taken seriously! Most women feel comfortable in expressing their feelings, especially when such matters are significant to them. However, some boys may perceive this as being too self-centred, attention-seeking, or too selfish to acknowledge the other sex’s needs or concerns about problems they encounter on a daily basis. Some boys might also look at women being vocal as their pass-time to shoot down  their emotions and shift the blame onto them. Although I do not deny the possibility that some women do voice out women’s issues to make men feel inferior, I – a 19 year old girl who does take women issues seriously – don’t and would never identify with such women who aim at making you feel inferior. 

      I genuinely do like hanging out with you boys ( and not due to the obvious fact that I tend to be attracted to men) It’s because you can be great people to talk to and to befriend: from the laissez faire quality you possess, to the chilled aura you give off, apart from the pretty amusing things your mouths blurt out from time to time which crack me up – Such qualities are a recipe for fun and drama free company. And at times, an anxious girl like me appreciates qualities like that, because it means that you don’t care about other’s opinions whilst having fun. Yes, there are things you do which I despise and irritate me a lot, but I feel that the worst thing is that sometimes, it’s as though you’re taken aback or choose to take this piss whenever I mention such matters to you: and I don’t know why – perhaps because you think it’s funny or I’m exaggerating? Or maybe you actually feel intimidated when confronting you? 

     The only reason why I address you on such things is not because I have the pleasure in making you look bad, or that I love making you feel inferior: I believe that you can do more to improve the present situation us women are in. This also applies to why we are constantly vocal about such issues: it’s because we believe that such things could be better for everyone to live without prejudice, and men are able to contribute in minimising this gender gap. Do know that you TOO have every right to voice your struggles on problems, particularly about gender equality, especially if us women are not aware of the – NO GENDER should refrain from voicing their concerns about any VALID issue or problem they are facing, irrespective of which gonads they end up developing when they grow up. As a young woman, I want you too to join this conversation and speak up for your problems, and to express your opinions whenever you feel like too, without feeling as though you’re being threatened.

     I know this might seem like a far-fetched Utopian dream which can never come true, and probably there are still going to be some of you who think that women thrive for a constant battle of the sexes so that we could eventually destroy you and take the podium of authority. I want future generations to live in a world where personal traits aren’t classified by sex and where abilities are fairly praised not based on who managed to grow a pair of balls or breasts. And I believe this could only happen if both men and women start engaging in an honest and open discussion about what could be done to improve the world for the benefit of BOTH genders. Yes, there might be differences still persisting between us and they may never diminish even if we discuss such gender issues, but at least it would give us a chance to understand each other’s positions instead of growing a rivalry out of pointless chauvinism!

     If you hold a view different from this, don’t hesitate to share your arguments with me. I am still learning new things everyday, and there’s nothing wrong in discussing such issues!

 

sincerely, a girl.


	

7 – 2016 [a nutshell… almost]

It’s here again: that time of year where as usual, the mind of yours truly enters a phase of reminiscing and finds a way to join all the dots between every single event which happened throughout 2016 – even if such connections aren’t meant to be there 😀 Because let’s face it: there’s nothing like being a naive girl who loves to wander off into the abyss of what was to recollect every memory that was created throughout a long yet ever-changing period of time. But guess what: that girl is me *insert sarcastic shocking face* (although I do hope I became a bit less naive than I was at the beginning of the year ><).

For the last few years or so, life has been an emotional roller coaster ride, which at times – if not most of the time – was a bit too overwhelming for me to handle. However, unlike previous years, 2016 didn’t go to plan as my 2015 self ingenuously envisioned it to be . In fact, most of the things I set out to do this year didn’t go as I planned, or  didn’t happen at all! This is strange to say the least: because people tell you to draw a mind map of what you want to be, what goals you want to achieve, where would you rather see yourself a year (or twenty) from now. And because of this apparent must, I tend to fall into the overthinking trap of anxiously guessing what will happen in the coming months or where will I end up being in the next decade, as though I’m some sort of fortune teller – and I failed miserably. Not only did I engulf my brain with self sabotaging thoughts and useless worry, I realised that the greatest moments in my life during 2016 weren’t even thought of in the first place – they just happened unexpectedly, in an organic manner. And for a girl who constantly wrecks herself in doubting what the future has in store for her, this is such a relieving reminder that I shouldn’t live in my head obsessing over what might happen if I do something: I should go out there and (like Shia LaBeouf says) just do it, if that’s what I truly want to do – in that moment: because I also need to remember that goals and desires, whilst at times being an important motivator in stressful situations, are never fixed. I can change my mind over what I want to eat for lunch within five minutes – so there’s a high probability that my mind map of where I want to be in a year from now will perhaps undergo some few (or a lot) of revisions along the way 😛 

2016 was a turning point on so many levels.  It was a year in which I’ve experienced every single human emotion possible to the maximum. That’s because it was a year of many firsts for me.

I can now say that I dressed up as Ursula for a Carnival weekender, and that I ended up in a bitch fight even though I usually avoid drama. I auditioned for a main role on two occasions but didn’t get the part. I became drunk with 3 glasses of white wine in front of my crush. I anxiously and abruptly confessed my feelings to that crush, not anticipating that I would end up falling for a completely different human being who also happened to see me get drunk with 3 glasses of white wine. I felt calm for the first time in a very long while. I wasn’t overthinking it too much. I ended up experiencing the most serene yet intoxicating infatuation during a stressful period of exams . I allowed myself to open up to someone: to feel beautiful, fearless, and confident. I shared; I laughed; I kissed. In a span of two weeks I ended up travelling on my own for the first time to Belgium. I managed to get lost by turning the wrong way whilst trying to get to a foreign town. I became friends with people from across Europe, a few of whom I still talk to today. I made children smile, drank good cherry beer and took Speculoos home with me. I came back to Malta only to get heartbroken. I wrote about it. I cried, I got worried, I became scared, I was hurt. I became bitter, hopeless and negative in a split second. I began healing but I still thought I had to put a person who hurt me on a pedestal because of the good they had given me. I thought people are who they appear to be. I learnt that such people aren’t who they appear to be. I got angry, I lost hope, I cried again. I whined and nagged about all things which appeared horrible. I felt ugly, useless and helpless. I felt alone. I took part in my first acting production and got to work with and share a stage with talented women I look up to dearly. I began healing again, and I moved on. I created this blog to express myself. I slowly began to trust God again. I became closer to friends, I drifted apart from others. I met new people and I’m getting to know them better. I learned not to feel guilty for cutting negative people out of my life. I spoke and wrote my mind out more often. I doubted myself and my abilities. I cried again, I worried again. I prayed more. I relapsed into grieving for irrelevant people. I got to speak to influential people. I danced and sang my heart out at gigs and at clubs. I ate good food. I saw great theatre shows and films. I got inspired. I shared again, I laughed again, I smiled again. I started to feel better about myself.

Certainly, there are other things which I haven’t mentioned that happened over the past year. It was not easy, life is still not easy. I still struggle with my mind to stop worrying about unsolvable hypothetical problems. I still can be pessimistic. But I am grateful for every single moment within 2016, and I still wrap my mind around such moments. I am fortunate to have a family which supports me, friends who stuck by my side even when they’ve seen me in my worst, when I least deserved it. I still keep dear the memories I shared with people I’m no longer close to nor talk to as much. I am thankful for this blog, for having the ability not to refrain to share what I truly think and feel and I owe it to those who have influenced me enough to write about such experiences. I am thankful to God for always being a shoulder to lean on, even when I didn’t deserve His mercy. I am grateful to 2016 for being another fruitful lesson.

I don’t know what 2017 has up its sleeves for me, but I’m happy to say I’m a little more hopeful and a little less worried to what’s coming up next! When the clock strikes midnight and dives into a new year, I will not become a new me, but I hope it will be the continuation of becoming a better me 🙂 Bring on 2017 ^.^


4 – Aren’t Boys Sluts (too)? [It’s Rant Time]

Before reading on:
I’m actually scared to be posting this, even though I’ve been wanting to share this for a long time. This is not going to be a cheery post – it’s more about a controversial yet delicate, complex and grey situation – one which I can’t fully understand myself (and something which I’m preparing myself to receive backlash for). But after recent events in my life and coincidentally having girl friends of mine debating about this too, I thought it’s best to share my view in my own way. This post is directed mainly to a small but prevalent percentage of [heterosexual] boys (it can also be directed to any person, despite their gender or orientation, who does what’s listed below). To any boy reading this: no, I am not a radical feminist ready to slice 
your head off or tear you up in pieces through this post. I do not want you to assume that I hate your gender and that all of you do what is written below. This is MY humble opinion: yes, I may be wrong and if you do disagree, you are more than welcome to share your side of the argument with me. I am truly grateful for men who were a shoulder to lean on through hard times, and I’m even thankful for those who have hurt me or picked on me for what I do, say or look like – they made me grow a tougher skin. Onto the actual rant!

Dear Boys,

You have always been told to respect women as much as possible –  yes, you might be fed up of hearing this rant over and over because it might make you think that you’re never doing anything right. It might imply that you don’t do enough for us women, or that you’re stupid enough not to realise the mistakes you’re always doing. I get it, those few words of advice have been used way too many times, and you might think that women expect something grand or extra effort from your part to make us feel comfortable around you. It might have made you feel that respecting women involves doing something spectacular and unattainable which is out of this world, but I guess you tend to forget that respecting women is also about not doing.

I think it’s safe to say that there are things which I dislike about you (in the same way you might dislike things about women) – or rather, things which I dislike about your doings. There are studies which clearly indicate sex differences in brain morphology, which in turn might explain why the female sex and the male sex act and react differently to the same situation. However, the one seemingly petty thing I cannot grasp my mind around is your ways of expressing your provocativeness. It’s not that women aren’t provocative – evolutionary speaking, it is crucial for both men and women to be provocative if we intend to continue the Homo sapiens legacy. Nevertheless, it’s crystal clear that women tend to be provocative in different ways to you guys (that is, if society doesn’t label them).

I shall explain myself better by referring to a famous scenario – the classic Paceville Night Out : the land where the booze flows and the beats drop (or the place where Hugo managed to make it his own, but we don’t need to delve into that). Looking at one side of the coin, you see women flaunting their curves through sleek dresses and strutting their way in high heels – whether they do this for attention or for a confidence boost, you can’t help but notice them. But all hell breaks if she’s seen being provocative with random guys, and society erases her name and writes SLUT in black marker on a sticky note to label her. Now flip to the other side of the coin – and it seems accepting and awesome for you boys to express your provocativeness openly, particularly in such a clubbing scene: and it starts with young bachelors sitting in a bar, eyes beaming towards a woman with attractive big (or small) assets. It’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with looking at a woman and stating the fact that she’s hot: girls including myself are guilty of stating such facts – for both men AND women. But the cherry starts tasting sour when the night ends up being a hunters’ gathering – or worse, when it’s revealed that the night was meant to be a hunters’ gathering after all!

In a blink of an eye, a group of single men become a pack of lions, assuming they are rulers of a supposed animal kingdom as they prepare themselves to attract mates. They put on pride so efficiently and this makes them secure that they will conquer at all costs. They pounce as they enter every possible territory, sneaking and sniffing at every corner to snare the lucky catch to spend the night with them. A potential candidate is spotted: and their engine is turned on faster than the speed of light and the search suddenly becomes a race! And the lions can’t contain their drives because they are now in it to win it and if they don’t manage to achieve this goal it will be devastating! You can see them compete for the survival of the fittest: teasing each other and battling out to determine who has most potential to sweep their catch first and call it their own. And then one of the lions gets in the arena and scores his tongue through – AND THE PACK GOES WILD: and all the lions gather around, roaring and cheering as the now hero is winning for the whole team! There are those mammals appearing to emerge from other tribes (if not from the same winning pack) who glare enviously by the side wishing they weren’t losers whilst their urges to score continue to erupt in their bones and become more vigorous: it must suck not to be victorious – but the champions do not fret for a second because the pack’s aim has been reached! The night is complete!

In a perhaps exaggerated and detailed manner, the above paragraph may metaphorically describe perfectly what a minority of you boys do on a night out clubbing away whenever a girl catches your eye: You suddenly put on this pride and the night is yours to take over, and the source of pleasure doesn’t become the company you share with whoever you’re with: it is more a battle of who will get the girl first, or who will get as many girls as they possibly can. Do learn that there’s nothing cool about acting and doing such things, because it is disgusting! No, I do not see a strong and heroic pack of lions in such situations – I see an immature group of buffoons desperate to extract pleasure from sticking their tongue inside a girl’s throat to tame their sexual engine, hence in that way, have the best night ever. Instead of just appreciating a girl’s beauty, you decide to take the opportunity to ‘get in there’ instead of taking a step back. But it’s fine for boys like you to do this – it’s not like society degrades you and stamps SLUT on you when you buffoon around with girls, because society doesn’t care! Everyone else seems to brush it off – but why should I simply brush it off? Why should I define the above as ‘respect towards a woman’ when it clearly isn’t?

This may be such a futile argument coming from a girl like me: I shouldn’t whine about your doings if it has nothing to do with me, but it actually does: because I know boys who act like this and I also have [girl] friends who fall for such buffoons: so I will whine because although this argument may not have to do with me, it does have to do with the way you objectify women!

A girl isn’t the prey you fish for just so you could boast with everyone what your catch of the day is – She is not the snack you binge on to feed your sexual appetite – She is not the chill pill you take whenever you find yourself on the brink of bursting into hot fits – She is not the vitamin you chew on to boost up your self-esteem! You do not do these things just so you can satisfy your horniness! 

I don’t know why you behave in such a manner: whether if it’s out of choice, or  more of an instinct. What I do know is that I don’t want to spend my whole life perceiving you as buffoons just because a small (or large – it’s still debatable) percentage of you act like ones! I don’t want to let something like this overshadow who you truly are, because regardless of how you might treat women, you are not buffoons! You are humans encapsulating a heart which can be good and understanding. You experience hardships as much as us women do and there are girls who have also acted like buffoons towards you -which is not right because no gender should experience being objectified! But why are women still being slut-shamed for doing the same thing that you boys are glorified for?!

I can keep on venting out my feelings about this topic forever, but this shall be the end of my statement. I unfortunately don’t have the answers for what you can do to stop this, but at least I can make you aware that this behaviour irritates me a bit a lot – and I’m sure I am not the only one. So NO, dear boys: us women aren’t your objects of satisfaction, and we shouldn’t lose faith in you because of this – you can do and be so much better than this!

rant over.