Friday, August 17, 2012

Pussy Riot-ers in chains - the trouble with people with concrete feet (& hearts & minds?)

Cement feet? Ok, but hearts, you say, and minds too - cement?

What I'm talking about is the women who have been dealt with in a way that is very, 
very harsh. It tells us what people with concrete feet do, today, this day, whether they put on 
those concrete blocks as badges of political or religious affiliation 


The Pussy Riot women, and their words, translated so brutally on the radio into wordy English, their tenuous linking with past revolutionaries, the whole Russian thing - it shakes me.


Pussy Riot, so Russian it's
practically a design classic...
What they are protesting against is very much in keeping with 'stuff we think the Russians do'. Totalitarian and autocratic figures of authority? Check. The language used by the women (and I only know it in the radio translation) is also totally in sync with 'what we think Russians write' - as long as we base what we think on totally different Russians from a different time mainly, of course. The women are also gorgeous or striking or ordinary (they are a big band of women) - just like the Russian (or similar) women I can see in Grazia magazine every week, or in Vogue/Elle every month. The Pussy Riot story is, so far, in many ways as classic as the stories in Star Wars/religion/folk tales/Mother Goose/black-and-white WWII movies. There are the good guys and the bad guys, some of the bad guys might even be the good guys' fathers, there may or may not be children/little creatures/the environment/the future at stake and there is a moral at the end of each chunk of tale. So it is just as easy to drift along as the story unfolds on Radio 4, as it is to simply be shocked/amused by the name "pussy riot" and leave it at that.

I listen to the news most days, a lot of it seems to be salacious renditions of so-and-so murdering a few people and then topping themselves, or lurid descriptions of massacres small and large. Life is cheap in these news items, and if so much of it is going on, then the Bible and other holy works don't seem that far fetched in comparison. Good, Evil, Victims, Powerful Persecutors, Angels, Heroes, Barbaric folk or Barbaric practices, Wrath - God's or Man's ... or even Woman's ... it's all there. It's all a bit far removed and de-personalised from my own small existence with my child-and-husband-and-dog-and-cat in my little Cambridgeshire village.

I can't and I won't just leave it at that and drift along stirring cheese sauce for dinner while I listen to the news though. The girl I was years ago wouldn't be unmoved by what those Russian women are going through. The incarnation of me that got Jaan in the first place would not either, and neither will the current shell-like woman (I am now) ignore their plight. The women in Pussy Riot are being persecuted because their form of protest (provocative but peaceful) was pointedly speaking out against a hideous status quo. They despise the bad, filthy, ugliness that is allowed, all day every day, to dress up as legitimate government and orthodox religion and prey on anyone they can prey on. I never thought of skipping about protesting in that same way, dressed that way, being an exhibit that way, but if I were that kinda girl in that kinda situation, I'm certainly angry enough to do the same.

You can't MOVE some people. 
The offence taken by the 'religious' in this case is devoid of the humanity, the kindness, self awareness and compassion that fairy-tale/actual prophets like Jesus and Muhammad (pbuh) for starters preached and taught throughout their working lives. Sigh. It's all a bit hopeless. For the longest time I was a really religious person and the faith and beliefs have never just blown away, they've really just had to go into hiding. Being In The Club is harmful to staying faithful to the crucial message (I assume what I mean by 'club' could be the Muslim community I'm so uneasy in, or any random Christian, Jewish or anything else community). In order to keep the Club together, arbitrary meta-religious walls need to come up and stay unshakable. The 'religious' in this context have to have feet made of metaphorical cement blocks - hastily shaped, brutal, immovable in practical terms. Such a person can be assured of everlasting peace and heavenly access in the Afterlife or similar blessings, but must also have that same assured belief in the Rightness of their position. There can be no dialogue, there can only be the benevolent saving of the others: the irreligeous or harmful/whiny/spiteful/wicked/whatever, by getting them to change and be blessed in the ways of the Righteous Religious.

One could always accessorise one's concrete feet with some cement jodhpurs ..... 

Hmphh said the sulky girl from Google image 
search of 'sulky face' to herself, I'm NOT 
going to read that Rushdie rubbish, it's
pants for sure, I can tell in my 
presumptuous fictitious concrete heart ....
Looking back, for example with Rushdie's Satanic Verses, or those cartoons lampooning Muslims, or even cartoons insulting The Prophet (pbuh), I think my attitude and responses have been as I would ever want them to be. I never thought to myself "I'll never read that evil Rushdie book" ... but actually when it did come my way at a friend's house a decade or so ago, it turned out to be pretty odd and boring in the first few pages and I never read it at all in the end, not by specific design, just because it did not call to me as a book. If I HAD been hooked at the start and then found somewhere inside there were things written in it that were repulsive or sick to me, I know I would have closed the book and read something else instead, after all, I am a grown up, an adult responsible for what I read, just as I was responsible for what I read when I was a young girl and a teenager. There are no cement blocks for me to bury my feet, heart or mind in. I can't be like that. Doing violence or incarcerating someone who likes the book or whatever would be ludicrous and only show me to be an ugly individual.

So, naturally I'm quite pleased not to be an ugly individual :)

You can't move some people though. The jury's out, for me, on something as flimsy as a novel, one that I don't think is awesome to read ... and one in which the author was trying to entertain as well as making a point somewhere. Read it, or don't read it is my response. I am actually far more offended by graffiti and cartoons that blast all bearded Muslims as murderous villains, or take cheap shots at long-dead leaders, maybe drawing them with a bong, a joint, a male lover/victim, a pervy roving eye etc as well as the turban/beard/loincloth combo. The most completely, deeply offensive thing for me is how people often meet their deaths, without dignity, because they are Muslims or have been terrible rulers and happen to be Muslim. The really offensive thing is that everyone involved, killers plus the killed, for one reason or other behave, to my mind, dreadfully, without empathy and in doing so the justice-dealers shame us all, even more than the disgusting individuals (regardless of their religion) who warranted the heavy blows from the deadly arm of justice. In all those cases though, I can only look to myself and try and keep hold of my own dignity, and remember, after a bit of soul searching that if it were up to me, men who are put to death would meet their ends with dignity, and that therefore, barbarity is not inevitable. Taking a human life is not something that I think any person has a right to. There are times when it has to be done (I don't mean war or guerrilla warfare, I mean other situations that are more intellectually justifiable perhaps, and these would be just a handful of cases over the course of millennia), but the way lives are actually taken, ended, locked up, brutalised, tortured - urgh. Throughout the history of mankind - urgh, I say, URRGH.

The Pussy Riot women had something to say, still have something to say, and they have their own way of saying it. Blind offense at what they did without paying any attention to what they said is totally urgh. I do find making a mockery of religious custom and beliefs offensive as a broad rule. If the Pussy Riot women just wanted to poop hate all over some Church ceremony in the way some people put gross venom all over their cartoons of men who are bearded/turbaned/pot-smoking/sodomising/other-ways-of-showing-their-own-obnoxious-ignorant-bigotry - then I'd think the Pussy Riot women are just as pointlessly gross. They aren't, though, and they have been dealt with in a way that is very, very harsh, and it tells us all what the people with concrete feet do, today, this day. Whether they put those concrete blocks on as badges of political or religious affiliation, they are strong, and I am so angry that those women, rightly or wrongly, cannot say what they think and then go on to learn more about why the other people feel differently and so on and so on. We'll never have a better way to get along this way.

By definition, not being a bigot means I can't very well slam any of my more (or totally) bigoted acquaintances' heads against the wall to try and stop them from being so annoyingly concrete-footed. Not can I lock them up. Sadly, the whole Pussy Riot story so far reminds me that such people totally could slam-dunk chunks of heavy concrete bigotry all over me at any time with impunity - my counsellor will probably even insist that is just their way of dealing with things (oh how a BPD woman hates that phrase!).
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