feminism

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Who have I become?

I don't know how it ended up this way.
I have stamps in my passport I don't remember... I went to Seattle more than once? I am just a small town New Zealand girl; we are not supposed to go anywhere. We are supposed to marry some so and so from the fire service and have kids and work twice a week in the bowling club so that the eighty year old residents of the town have something to cling to during the winter.

I have a big backpack that sits in the corner of my room all year round staring me in the face. I don’t have an apron or the "what to expect when you are expecting" book. I don’t want to trade my stethoscope for a bib and a year’s supply of diapers. I don’t need to be in some meaningless marriage. I don’t need props for having dinner on the table when some husband comes home from work. I want to work. I want to burn stuff because I can't cook and I want to live on noodles and rum, as though I am 20 forever.

Isolation

Somewhere over the last couple of years I earned myself the nickname "gypsy". I get it, I can't stay in one place, I like the rush of visiting a new city, standing in a crowd of a million people with the knowledge that not one of them knows anything about me, I like being invisible there, at least during the day, but then in the early hours of the morning in some run down hostel I always end up laying awake wondering how I can stop the feeling of isolation from ripping me apart. I don't get it.

Being alone has been a norm for me since I was a kid, I was always the loner in my family, and it seems to me that the more I expressed myself, and stood up for myself, the more isolated I became, some of that I cherish and some of it I hate. Feminism is one of those things, it can be isolating, it can be hard to express for fear of isolation, for me anyway. Especially in a community which supports abuse against women and pretty much encourages silence. In lots of ways I love it because it is an instant separator between me and them. People who I don't want to know or befriend or even try to convince that I have a voice in this damn community and I should be able to use it when I want to, and how I want to.

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Given the floor

This morning was one of those mornings where I woke up in a really good mood, my mother was on the "up" last night (so I didnt have my usual monday of her crying on the floor and throwing things at me), but after about ten minutes in my first class I was feeling pretty damn down and out about living in this country. We were discussing how different people identify themselves in certain cultural groups, whether that is ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, whatever, and how we as nurses need to be aware of this in our practice. Awesome, that part is great and I understand, here was where it got a bit pear shaped for me....

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Don't start

One thing I learnt from travelling is that sometimes you meet people that are just not worth getting into it with. I usually (well these days, usually :P) don't have a problem with expressing disagreement on certain issues, particularly from a feminist perspective, but I have learnt something about myself, and that is that when I am not heard or allowed to speak up it REALLY annoys me, more than it should. I know that is ignorant, because everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I cant help but sometimes I am just not able to see where on earth they are coming from, and my inquisitiveness is often misinterpreted as me being very rude.

Can we play?

This last weekend marked the end (finally) of the Rugby season in my village. I look forward to that every year, as I work in the local bar, and do get tired of the drunken idiots from the rugby club pinching my butt as I work and urinating on our door. On Saturday night the local rugby club had their annual prize giving at our bar as we sponsor their club. I had to work, much to my disgrace, but cash is not exactly flying into my wallet these days, so of course I agreed.

About half way through the evening, most of the wives/girlfriends of the guys at the event had drifted away from the drunken crowd of men and were leaning on the bar chatting to the four of us who were working. We were all pretty unenthusiastic about the event and it was when one of the women mentioned that it might be nice if the women who attended the damn thing were actually included and spoken to, that I asked why we don’t actually have any Women’s sports teams in our village, other than one Netball team, and why don’t we have a women’s rugby team, soccer team, cricket team, when there were so many men’s sports teams playing for our village each week. Most of the Women sitting at the bar laughed loudly and wished me good luck with that one, as most of the time we are barely allowed to stand on the sidelines let alone participate and actually play. But a few of the younger gals expressed interest in being able to play some sort of sport.

A new understanding

Today is the first day of my new course. I have decided to study to be a nurse; I have decided that New Zealand really is not the place for me. I have family here, friends here, but I miss the brand new life which I carefully sculpted, spent a year doing so, a brand new family full of people who I adore as though we all have the same blood running through our veins, a happy life in Canada. I miss my life there, so much that at times since I have been back in New Zealand, I feel as though maybe I left my voice at Vancouver airport and I don’t know how to get it back without returning.

Upon returning I also discovered something about myself which I don’t think I ever would have if I had not escaped my life here for that whole year, if I had not had that year of safety. And that is that I am capable of changing my own life no matter what or who is standing right in the middle of my path. I was a feminist before I left New Zealand, I have read the books, I had very strong feelings and thoughts and opinions on such things, but I feel that now that I have really used my own strength as a woman to stand up and say enough. Walk out on everything I had ever known because I am better than that, I really truly understand what Feminism means to me, what it is.

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