Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sleep(less) in New England

These past few days I've had a triumphant and joyful reunion with an old friend, sleep. For the first time in a very long time, I was able to ignore my internal alarm clock's insistence to wake up *now* and instead burrow deeper into my warm comforter. Of course, "sleeping in" means waking up at 7 instead of 5 during the weekdays and at 8 or 9 during the weekend. But still. Sleep is sleep, and it is such a simple yet beautiful treasure.

I got all As in my classes and averaged about a 99% in all coursework. Although I'm proud of my grades, there's a little part of me that's a little bit disappointed in myself. I did work very hard, but was definitely not 100% charged. Optimum performance, it was not. My professors were absolutely brilliant and they deserved a 100% performance, nothing less. Two of my professors, Drs. JS and MM, were some of the best, and that is saying a lot because I've had some phenomenal professors in undergrad that to this day, I rave about and recommend people take classes from.

In both Dr. JS's and Dr. MM's classes, we studied about inequity and privilege and reflected upon their impact on personal, communal, and societal levels. As a woman of colour, I am well aware of inequities and disadvantages that stem from the -isms, chiefly among them sexism and racism. Representations of my races, ethnicities, and cultures will always be skewed or underrepresented. Young women of colour unarguably do not hold the most power in society; middle-aged White men traditionally do.

However, being a woman does come with privileges that men do not. One, in particular, remains very powerful and prevalent in society. I hesitate to use the word "privilege" because in this instance, the aforementioned privilege is something no person would like to have bestowed upon them. In cases of rape or domestic violence, even though women are for the most part believed and aren't blamed, the existence of both is accepted. Men who are victims/survivors of rape and domestic violence are often met with disbelief. "How can a woman rape a man? How can a man be a victim of domestic violence?" Societal belief is that because men are the physically stronger sex, they could easily overpower and/or avoid being victims of violence done by women. "Not a real man" or "sissy" are often the reactions people have when hearing about a man who was raped by a woman at gunpoint or beaten up by their girlfriend. It is a widely held belief that "real" mean fight back, and failing to do so is an incomprehensible concept to most people. In that regard, I suppose that men do not have the privilege of having their victimhood validated as easily as women do.

I am humbled and grateful to have had Drs. JS and MM as professors. Their classes have definitely made me examine privilege through more than just the lenses I have become accustomed with. They have challenged me to become not just a better scholar, but a kinder and better human being as well.

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We must never permit the voice of humanity
within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.

--Albert Schweitzer

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

--Viktor E. Frankl