Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Transgressions

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Culture is not static; it is not a given. As transgressive as this may sound to the unenlightened, culture is dynamic. Traditions, practices, and values do change and often should change -- especially those which reinforce (both subtly and overtly) feudalism, imperialism, patriarchy, commodification, and other forms of oppression.

However, to question, problematize, and dare to act differently from what the dominant in society expects is to risk more than just career and reputation. It's to risk being labeled and treated as a misfit and much worse. Even if one's views and actions are based on a rational and principled stance, too few will understand and many will cry out: "Why are you rocking the boat? Why don't you act in the proper way expected of you?"

Utterances based on solid evidence and honest assessment yet deviate from the cultural norm? Unacceptable. Assertions of one's agency and autonomy? That's not how things are done.

And to engage in critical discourse -- as you recently remarked -- is to "open up a can of worms no one wants to discuss". Women, in particular, are expected to be deferential and ever so compliant, for culture is clearly integral to social control. Still, to challenge this hegemony, whether openly or privately, can be liberating and refreshing, consequences be damned. But discourse is not enough. It is never enough.

Jo
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*Some photos taken recently at different museums

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