Wednesday, December 9, 2015

On woman and authority

It's heartbreaking to know that there are at least three people/places/groups in the world who, if approached by me right now, will launch a barrage of hate speech. Not like the serious legal hate speech with rape and murder threats but the kind that can definitely ruin a whole day. I had a panic attack again today, after months of not having one. I couldn't breathe, things inside me were sinking fast. I tend to feel pressure more than other people do. Sometimes it is even a strength, it keeps me going twenty four hours a day. Stress is my coffee. Sometimes stressful circumstances overlap with PMS. But, even despite being aware of my relatively fragile mental health (I actually do think I fare better than others in terms of absorbing negative stuff and hitting back even), this time I just can't take it. Warm tears are rolling down as I write.
I can't deal or understand or change people who irresponsibly say mean things, abusive things, flippant and callous things in general or to me specifically. When I signed up to lead a student organization on campus, the worst I anticipated was fundraising ( I am terrified of raising funds) and maybe people not turning up for our events. I also knew it would mean a lot of visibility among the desi crowd on campus. I guess I just wasn't prepared for a random batch mate commenting on my dress and appearance to a group of fellow drunk engineering students (probably this is my price for leaving Humanities?). I wasn't going to let it go. I gave it back, good. He seemed to realize he had fucked up. He kept quiet, basically he knew this could be more trouble. The good or bad thing about dealing with non-American passport holding assholes (especially engineers aspiring to go to Silicon Valley) is that the threat of deportation keeps them polite, civil, tame. It just does. All our interactions are marked by the passport we constantly carry in our pockets. Fast forward to another drunk guy batch mate requesting to use my bathroom and locking himself in. I actually dialled 911 for the first time and it wasn't scary. I couldn't sleep that night obviously. Not just these, other micro-aggressions are daily business. Some guy likes you but if you don't reciprocate, all his friends won't stop speculating. He won't even talk to you anymore. Some other colleague whom I have seen being careless and irresponsible for a long time, has a very different response to me and some others.
I guess I reached my breaking point today (at least serious enough to write this) because of some guy screaming "I am not your servant" through a facebook window. I don't care if he reads this. I've blocked him everywhere. I am physically and mentally scared of him only because his stance in every conversation is "I am not about to be walked all over by a girl". He once actually said "Don't anger me". Imagine me saying that to someone :)
A few days ago (a friend and) I got amply abused and chastised on a group we run. We contemplated shutting the group down except one would manually have to remove 90,000 people to shut it. People called me an NRI (as if it should be an insult), told me I had no clue what this group (that I thought of and built 4 years ago) meant and stood for. I could have totally donned the researcher hat and been like, oh how interesting, users don't even know who started this but look at their ownership. I am rambling. Look at the last blog post I wrote and the comments on it. I didn't aspire to be publicly visible through what I do. I do what I do because I like it. Another friend (who I thought was an ally) sobered me last week. He said "all men actually do talk shit about women, some just disguise it well". He seemed to imply it's a biological or systemic thing. "It's just the way we are" I was so shocked someone could hold that as a worldview I didn't know what to say because I know men who categorically walk away from such stuff.
The point is, every time I tell myself that being a leader, initiating something and being the face of it is going to invite negative attention, hate, criticism but also immense satisfaction of having done things; I feel more drained than happy. And, I am not even doing this on a scale that many other women and men do. What of course hurts is that as a woman, a lot of that stuff also becomes about how I look, where I live, my public photos, emails etc. I hope this post doesn't get read by many people because the comment section is open to all.
Probably I just meet a lot of shitty people. How do you cope with them? All suggestions are welcome.