Democracy, freedom, apologies and rights

‘Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.’

What kind of image does that bring up for you? One where citizens have the right to choose what happens in their country, with themselves? That’s what I picture. It’s not one where other nations determine the rule of law, rights, freedoms; it’s not one governed with weapons, fear, or oppression.

It is also not grant one nation the right or ability to impose views or beliefs onto another person or nation; it does not reign superior over any other thoughts, actions, or systems of beliefs. It simply one option.

I believe that it is inherently un-democratic to enforce ‘democratic’ beliefs on other nations by force, economic sanctions, tied aid, or any other means. I believe it is inherently un-democratic to invade other nations for the ‘sake of democracy.’

Now, I understand that ‘military interventions’ have the unique ability to stimulate the economy; particularly the economy of such nations that have large investments in weaponry; but it halts and harms the economies of the nations that are invaded, devastated, and destroyed.

Now, does having these beliefs make me un-democratic? No. Does believing this make me anti-USA? No. Even if I chose to protest or partake in a protest? No, still in the clear.

Then why must singers, performers, actors, etc. apologize for doing this very thing and/or risk being banned from the country?? Isn’t it democratic for them to be able to voice their opinions and act on those opinions? Particularly if those voices and actions are causing no harm. Why must all ‘leaders’ and ‘role-models’ dissent to popular opinion? Aren’t they simply doing what the definition of ‘democracy’ encourages them to do: have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives?

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Entitlement and one bad xe om experience

Today I experienced something a little bit startling; it caught me off guard; it made me angry.

On my usual bus ride/walk to work I experience anywhere from 5-10 offers to use a ‘xe om’ or ‘motorcyle taxi’ and have perfected the response: smile, shake my head, say ‘khong’ or ‘no’, and wave my hands in the ‘enough’ motion. Today, in the last portion of my walk – and usually the portion with the least xe om offers – a man said xe om and gestured in the general direction of a motorbike. I responded in my usual manner and continued to walk by.

However it did not stop there. As I passed him – and stopped paying attention to what he was doing – he grabbed my arm, swinging me back and proceeded to try to drag me to his motorbike. Apparently saying ‘no’ politely did not suffice. After a few shouts that caught the attention of people around me (and there were many as it was rush hour) he let go and said a few things in Vietnamese to his friends that garnered a laugh.

Some people feel as though they are entitled to take or do what they want even if it requires the use of force, some people feel entitled to coerce others into following their will, often without guilt.

All I could think of was how frequently these things happen in pretty much every country around the world. Saying no is not enough, people are left with no choice but to fight for autonomy, independence, and rights – all of which should be guaranteed and in many cases are already granted through the law. Do not take your rights for granted, do not allow legislative changes or self-entitlement to take away your rights, do not become self-entitled and do anything to compromise the rights of others. Be respectful.

Vagina

Vagina.

Linking to the above post from my classmate and friend Kyla at A Day in the Life. I felt as though my best response is a quote from Eve Ensler, activist, playwright, and creator of The Vagina Monologues;  “If we ever knew deep in our hearts that the issue about abortion … was not really about fetuses and babies, but really men‘s terror of women’s sexuality and power, I think it’s fully evidenced here.”

I believe that the fear and stigma associated with using words like vagina come from a deep rooted belief that if people talk about it, they run the risk of losing their honour and self-worth, which is in itself a dangerous concept. But I also feel it important to note that the same people who are waging this war against vaginas are also those who are ‘against comprehensive sexual education that would teach young people age-appropriate information about their sexual and reproductive anatomy, including the correct medical and anatomical terms for body parts. Information on sexually-transmitted infections that would preserve and protect these body parts are also taboo.’

If we move past the fear and stigma associated with simply using a word then there wouldn’t be a need for invasive and demeaning discussions on the rights that a woman has over her own body: she would simply have rights.

For more information, I recommend checking out Vagina is not a dirty word.