Archive for category Social

Southampton foster carer worked with over 200 children

In Southampton, Gillian White helped bring up generations of children, as a foster parent. Doing this for 36 years now, Gillian talks about her work and encourages other people to do the same for children in need.

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In her 36 years in service with Southampton City Council, Gillian has fostered over 200 children. Some of them have been with her for a longer time, some for respite. Some went into being adopted, some went back to their families.

Gillian and her husband also adopted 2 of the children they fostered, while having 2 of their own. Her biological daughter, Nikki, has followed into her mother’s footsteps. She has been a foster carer for 15 years as well.

Started as a foster carer in 1979

Her first foster child became her first adopted daughter. Sophie, now a young adult, has Down Syndrome and lives at home with her mother. Russel, who came into Gill’s care when he was 1 and stayed until he was 3, also got adopted.

Gillian remembers how it all started 36 years ago:

“I wanted to have more children and, because of my own health, I couldn’t. My husband had medical problems. We decided that we would go and look at fostering.”

She recalls that, in 1979, fostering was not so well paid or supported. She had to work so she could do it, but her other job was also child care related: she was a child minder. Nowadays she says the programme is a lot better supported, not only better paid, but with a lot of help for the families to stay in.

When Gill’s husband passed away years ago, she says she could stay due to the support she received from Southampton City Council.

Working with children’s families

The challenges which a foster carer faces are not necessarily coming from the children. At times it can be more difficult to work with their parents, Gill mentions. But work with their families is necessary, as she highlights:

“If the department can work with the families and they are willing to learn, the children will return home. It needs to be safe for them to be able to do that, obviously.”

“The best outcome for the children is to return home, to the family, if at all possible. If you can get parents on board, who are willing to change and work with you and the children, that is the best outcome.”

There are a few things to always keep in mind when working with the children’s families, as Gillian says:

  • Keep being open, professional and honest at all times
  • Do your best to get along with the parents, as this is in the interest of the child.
  • Don’t forget you look after their children, so the family they came from matters.

A life goal to care

At any time, Gillian White can accommodate up to 3 children. She says:

“I love having the little ones, I feel that I work best (with them) and I really really enjoy it”.

Watch Gill explain why she has been doing this for so many years:

Currently, there are 3 foster children in Gill’s house. Two of them are young children, 2 and 3 years old, and English is not their first language. The carer mentioned these children’s parents wanted them to eat food from their culture, which she accommodated, researching on the Internet for recipes.

The two young children are going to nursery in the morning, so, for the first time in 35 years, Gill has more time to herself now. To look after herself she goes to the gym. Also, being a foster carer does not mean she never gets holidays. Gill explains:

“With fostering we do get a chance to go away and the children will go to a respite carer. Usually I try for the children to go to someone whom they know.”

Neglected girl did house therapy

Julia*, 11 years old, has been with Gill since she was 5. The girl first came to Gill’s house on respite care, but she decided to take her on long time, and support her into adulthood. This decision was backed by the carer’s extended family.

Before being placed into care, Julia had been through difficult times. According to Gill, she had to feed herself at only 3, neglected by her birth mother. She then went through therapy and her foster carer continued with home therapy, by talking through the dolls to help Julia express her feelings.

Now, with encouragement from her foster mother, Julia is doing extremely well in school. Gill says:

“We push her all the time educationally, she is going to big school next year, but she will be in the top because we’ve worked with her at home. She does fantastically well. She’s got good friends, a good social network, better than mine!”

(*The girls real name is not disclosed, due to Data Protection and confidentiality)

They were confined to a flat

Amongst the many children Gill has supported, she mentions 2 who have been kept confined to a flat before they were placed into care. Gill says:

“Outside of the flat they did not really understand just going to the park, going to soft play areas, just doing the fun things day in, day out was very difficult for them. It’s quite sad to see how they were when they came in”

When children get adopted

Despite being one of the more difficult things a foster carer has to deal with, moving children on can also be very rewarding. In the last year Gillian moved 2 girls on to adoptive families, one was 18 months old and the other one 20 months old. She had the second girl since she was only one day old. The carer talks about the experience of giving a child to a family for adoption:

“These parents can’t have children and you are giving them this gift. It is fantastic to see their faces when they first come to meet. Especially when it’s a first child, you see how their whole world lights up!”

However, parting is not easy, and Gillian speaks about this from her 36 years of experience:

“It’s always difficult to part. If you love that child, which you always do, it is difficult to move them on. But actually it’s a piece of the work I do which I know I can’t keep. It’s about accepting.”

She also supports other foster carers into the process, to make it easier for them to part with the children.

Foster carers needed

Currently, there is a growing need for foster parents in Southampton. According to Gillian, there is also great support from the local authorities for prospective foster carers. They would not need to own the house or flat they live in. If it is not big enough for accommodating the child or children they would want to take in, the Council could even move them to a bigger accommodation.

Anybody can be foster carers, providing they meet the standards needed for a dedicated work with children. They get training and advice, they can be single or same sex couples. Gillian has also mentioned that there is a need for foster parents from different ethnic backgrounds to accommodate children who come from families of different ethnicities.

Watch Gillian talk about what people interested in fostering need to do:

For enquires on becoming a foster carer with in Southampton and the surrounding areas, the telephone number available is 0800 519 18 18.

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Abused women and children – too close to home

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After going through some of the most recent media coverage on rape and women abuse, I will talk today of what I know from my own experience or from other ladies. Following accounts which went through court, as well as statistics on women abuse, real life stories come as raw scraps of this gruesome reality many live through, are scared of and even too terrified to do anything about it.

Growing up in a family where no such abuse was present, I might have been inclined to thinks it doesn’t happen too often. But then, while a teenager, I was told by older girls to always stick with a group if I go to the local disco, to avoid the risk of being dragged somewhere and forced to have sex by older boys. A very good friend of mine in my High School years was raped when she was 14. Another Romanian lady I know left her house and lived in a shelter, while she filed for divorce from a drunken abusive husband who’d threatened to kill her.
And then there were the rumors whispered at corners about young girls being touched in inappropriate ways by older men. I heard them occasionally while growing up, and I can confess that I am no stranger to such an unpleasant experience.

Possibly one of the most disturbing such accounts I have overheard growing up was about a girl in our village, never knew whom exactly. A neighbour, an older man, apparently held her in his arms so she could reach and grab an apple from his tree. While doing this, though, apparently he started to touch her vagina through her panties. The girl wore a skirt. He must have done it long enough for her to wet herself, get scared and go home crying as she did not understand what was happening to her. She was of an age when urinating in her underwear was considered embarrassing.
Now I can say I was never intimately touched against my will by anybody so far. Well, that is if you take out that summer day, at 13, when I came back to my grandparents flat from the city and a foreign guy, seemingly a student (or of that age) followed me after I got off the bus and started to touch my breasts on the street, in full daylight. I cannot remember how I reacted on that occasion, my memories are completely blanked from that point on.

But I can say I was once kissed in the train by an elderly man at a younger age, and that a distant relative, then in his twenties, undressed and touched my bottom, then tried to persuade me to let him teach me how to French kiss. I did not allow him, so he gave up and left.
On the train I was with my grandad and my brother, whom both just went to the toilet at the end of the carriage. The elderly, seemingly a very nice person, having played with both of us earlier on the journey, caressed my calf and asked me if I liked playing like that. Then, shortly, he asked if he could kiss me. I took it as a sign of affection from an older person, and agreed. He then pressed his lips against mine and tried to stick his tongue in my mouth. Puzzled by all this, I left and stayed on the carriage hallway with my family. Not much later, when we got off the train, I started to realise what just happened and rage grew inside of me. However, I did not mention anything to my grandad or back home as I felt I was stupid, I should have known better and should not have allowed that horrible old man touch me in any way.

The male relative asked me, before leaving, not to tell anybody about our “game”, it was our secret. Unlucky for him, I was a very talkative and intelligent child, so right away as my mum got home from the neighbours’, I told her. He was never allowed to come again to our house or be in touch with me in any way. Possibly my parents did not report it as in communist Romania of the 80s the case would not have been taken too seriously.

I was 7, if I remember correctly, when the subject of the “secret game” suggested by the man in his twenties. My father was at home, but busy in the garden, I was playing in the lounge with the telly on, and the aggressor was sitting on the sofa, where he managed to drag me as well for a short while.
On the train, I was 8. Fact is I realised what had just happened because in my foggy memory laid that bit of “instruction” about French kissing using your tongue. Otherwise, I might have been confused, but oblivious to the fact I was being sexually kissed.

While in High School, I felt the floor breaking with the heaviness of the news just being dropped on me. My friend was telling me she’d just been raped, by a stranger. She, 14, went to meet her then first boyfriend, a few years older. Actually, I think he was at least 18. She did not see him in the pub where he was meant to be and asked around, so a benevolent stranger, possibly even older than 20, offered to show her to her boyfriend’s. She followed and was lured inside a house where the door was locked behind, and she was raped with a knife at her throat and the threat he’d bring another 5 young men if she didn’t submit to it.
True, my friend did not fight. She was too afraid, not necessarily of the knife used to assault her, but of being then beaten up and punished by her father, then an alcoholic. So there was no bruising or any other evidence she had been raped. When I encouraged her to however go with me and ask for advice personally from one of our neighbours, a policeman, in his off work time, she agreed. First, she was deterred by being told that, considering her age, her parents would have to know. Then, without physical evidence or witnesses on her side, unfortunately there wasn’t much to be done. At most, the man would be accused of sex with an underaged girl, but her parents would have to be present in any investigation.
She gave up on doing anything about it. Our neighbour, the policeman, said he felt like giving a good beating to the rapist himself, but that would not help, in the end.

Most of these stories I know closely have one element in common: the perpetrators were not strangers, but in fact people the victims knew. I am thinking of the lady who went to stay in a shelter, and I do not know how long the abuse was going on in her house. Did she wait for years so their child could grow up and go to University before she did anything decisively? All I know was the husband did not abuse the child. She did not give me much more detail and I did not press on to find out.
I am thinking of my friend who did not proceed with reporting it to the police because she was afraid of her father.

From information I have read last year in Glamour , statistics in the UK show as well that most women are raped or sexually assaulted by someone they know: friend, family member, husband, boyfriend, neighbour. It only makes abuse so much uglier and scaring. Being treated like an object of violent sexuality against your will by somebody you trusted can leave your life in pieces never to be picked up again completely.

At the same time, British media reported on how it has been suggested that a person accused of rape would need to show they had the consent of their sexual partner. It does make sense. True, on one to one accounts, without physical evidence or any witness, a new regulations like this introduced in the law would not make much difference. However, it could make the case if somebody was deliberately given alcohol or drugs so that they could not object later to whatever was done to them. And this would be a
step forward.

A small step, which would leave a lot of work to be done: acknowledgement, awareness, education, solidarity. Still a long way to go to make this world better for women and, unfortunately, even children.

 

 

 

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Rape IS a hate crime

Yesterday I read and left a comment to a post on Facebook about a woman being assaulted (touched without consent) in the Romanian subway and nobody intervening, but an old lady. Everybody else watched and did nothing. Today, I am reading an excellent opinion article on the same kind of topic: how rape is a hate crime against women.

VictimShutterstock

(photo: Shutterstock, via http://www.rawstory.com/)
Over the last month or so the Romanian Facebook caught on fire with #violulecrima, a hashtag initiated after a central newspaper uncovered and thoroughly reported on a case of rape by seven young men in a Romanian Eastern village (Valeni), against a High School girl (18 years old). They raped her for three hours, on a field, last November. They walked out of court first, and were only sentenced to “house arrest”, a joke, not a real consequence for sexual assault. The seven perpetrators’ families are well off, and the boys themselves are quite popular amongst the locals (four of them are football players in the village team). But all these do not explain or serve as excuses for the heavy support they got from the locals, who considered them victims and the girl just a slutty young female.

 
Apparently, as the case was uncovered and gained increasingly more media coverage, as well as wide support for the girl and more and more voices in society asking for the rapists to be sent to prison, the sympathy the seven of them gained became increasingly embarrassing. For the perpetrators, for their village, for that part of society which still cannot see the harm in such abuse against women.

According to reports in Adevarul newspaper and Realitatea TV, villagers in Valeni were saying things like:

– “Why should they go to prison for 5 years, for only 5 minutes of pleasure? This girl is ruining seven good families in our village, good people”

– “She did it on herself. She had it coming, why did she get in the car with seven young men? Had she been a good girl, nothing would have happened to her.”
She didn’t, according to media reports, she was picked up from the bus stop in the nearby city by one of the boys, whom she knew and who offered to give her a lift. On the way, he said he needed to pick up another friend. And then she was taken to this field, where others were waiting, was raped for three hours, sprinkled with alcohol when she fainted and threatened she’d be badly beaten up if she faked it again.

– The girl was not raped, but treated to a session of “surprise sex”.

After one month of Romania media roaring with information on this rape case, and after even the Romanian Prime Minister asked the Supreme Court to treat it with extreme seriousness, this Monday, the 17th of August, the seven young men, aged between 18 and 24, were finally sentenced to good years in prison, from 5 years and 5 month the shortest sentence, to 8 years the longest. They also have to pay the victim the equivalent of about £10000 moral damages, in Romanian currency.

On the day of the final trail session, expecting for the judge to reach the verdict, about 300 people gathered in front of the Court House in the city of Vaslui. Also, more than 400000 people have signed an online petition over the last month which asked for the seven to be re-trailed and condemned.
However, the court decision in not final this time either. The young men can still appeal for the case to be brought again to court. The first two judges decided, earlier this year, that, as the perpetrators partly admitted to the assault, they could be left to walk away and be “arrested” at home (meaning they could not freely walk around, but who would inforce this in a village with so many supporting them?).

As previously mentioned, the parents of these boys are mostly well off. The mother of one of them has, apparently, told other locals she had spent a lot of money to keep the boy out of prison. Probably, due to the media coverage being so high that the Prime Minister (himself actually on trial, but this is of no importance to the subject) felt he had to take action over the case, no matter what money their families would want to push as a bribe from now, it won’t work.

This outrageous story, with many dirty hands involved in it, reminds in a way of the Indian girl killed after being gruesomely attacked in 2012, in a bus, after going to an evening screening of Life of Pi. Similarities? The perpetrators “excuses”: a good girl would not be in that situation, and she should cooperate, not “ruin” the aggressors’ lives. To be honest, I clinched my fist after typing this.
Both stories got wide media coverage, as well as becoming the source of social protests. I must admit, however, that while the Romanian case was unfolding, I started to feel more outraged of the lack of serious civil action other than furious posting on Facebook. I sighed in relief when the petition and a few protests were announced. There are still so many cases of rape and women being abused in Romania that more civil action, ranging from peaceful protests to sustained long-term campaigns, are needed in order to start to make a difference.

To get back to where I started, today I come across that excellent piece of journalism exposing evidence from well-known cases, as well as personal experience of how women are still abused even as they are the victims or just rejecting men hitting on them. With all the social progress and the laws set to protect and deter perpetrators, this world still does not seem, many times, as a very happy place for women to be in.
Some women though find their way out of abuse and set an example  even in remote and economically disadvantaged places. A touching and motivating example, the story of the ladies living in the village of Umoja, Kenya, where men are banned, shines through all the grim pieces of news which can overwhelm you. These African women have all escaped either forced marriage, abuse in mariage or being raped by British soldiers and then beaten up by their own husbands, who considered them to blame. The village came to exist about 25 years ago, and the women here still meet men, have children (there are about 200 kids around), but live in an exclusive female community. They say they could never share their life again with a man. They support and empower each other, and life in Umoja can be easily described in a few sentences:
Mary shows me a handful of dried beans that she will be cooking soon for dinner. “We don’t have much, but in Umoja I have everything I need.”

So is women empowerment and independence, as well as good education all we need to change the most rotten strains of this society we live in? Does it all start with raising awareness?
I personally believe so, as I believe in what media can do in this respect. Looking at the Valeni rape case in Romania, as well as the Indian girl killed three years ago, I can say media reports played an important role. The facts could not be buried, there was no excuse for the rapists, for the criminals. And there is still a lot to know, to bring to attention, to act upon, until more people acknowledge that yes, rape is a hate crime.

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Hollywood goes stupid on BDSM

BDSM_collar_back

It has been a while since the whole internet (and not only) was buzzing with “Fifty Shades of Grey” frenzy. Unlike many, I did not run to the cinema to watch it, although I knew I would eventually have to. As somebody interested in alternative erotica and how it makes it into mainstream, watching it was a must.
Despite reading a couple of reviews and personal opinions on it, I went to the cinema with an open mind. Therefore, I can say there are some good scenes, which could have given the watcher a good sense of domination in sex and everything connected with BDSM eroticism. However, the sensuality of these scenes is suppressed and even shattered by all the unnecessary and abusive elements brought into the picture without any real consideration. After paying to see this movie, some of us may feel that it was nothing but a shallow use of controversy for the sake of box office success only and no further considerations.

(Photo: from wikipedia, featured picture of Lady Byron)

Yes, very Hollywood-like indeed, if we are to be very critical of the American movie industry. And as A., my partner, put it, those intimate moments between Dominant and Submissive which are not messed up in the movie might have actually been copied from whatever material available in the sex and porn movies industry. They somehow managed to give a glimpse on the erotic pact which is part of the BDSM game, but only to later aggravate everything and turn eroticism into abuse.

And this is the reason why I am writing now about “Fifty Shades of Grey” in English, after I have done it in Romanian. Not to talk extensively about the movie itself and to mainly criticise how they portrayed the Dominant as an abuser, exactly what alternative sexuality needed, but to debate how harmful it actually is.
To do this, I will present you the following plot: a very successful business man, who is also gay, gets very passionate about a young student, who is not very certain he really likes men or not. The successful guy does everything he can to seduce and convince the subject of his desires, but only to abuse his younger lover when he finally gives in. At the same time, you actually find out that the seducer has been raped himself by an older man when he was 15, which made him become gay, and now he just somehow propagates unto the others what happened to him, saying “this is how I am”. Nice, isn’t it?

I want to believe not many would accept today such a plot on homosexual eroticism, and for good reasons. Bringing into the mainstream the idea that somehow people with other ways of expressing their sexuality than the majority are deranged, have a problem, were traumatised and therefore became little monsters in their intimate lives does not seem clever at all. Society today is still tarred with misconceptions, fears and very judgemental views on the different, and yet another media product reinforcing such things is not what we miss.  

Speaking of homosexuality, I wonder how many people know that it used to be scientifically classed as a paraphilia, which meant a sexual deviation with not very favourable psychological implications. Doing a little research, we can read that homosexuality, although it was no longer considered a crime even in the interwar period (Poland 1932, Denmark 1933), was still officially seen a “disease” or “mental disorder” until 1973. That year, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), due to sustained civil protests and lobby from the gay community in the 70s.
Think of it: how intelligent can it be to judge a person as suffering of a disorder on the basis of his/her sexuality only, if it causes no harm to anybody, if it is consensual and a source of contentment and joy?

It is true that, despite the antidiscrimination laws being clear in most of the Western world today, they cannot make each and every person think. Nothing can really make people use their brain capacity if they prefer not to. But at least stigmatising others on grounds of their personal preferences cannot be tolerated in a society which respects human rights.

Going back to “Fifty Shades of Grey”, the main message it conveys is that whoever might call themselves a sexual Dominant is actually an abuser, while whoever sees themselves as sexually Submissive are actually victims. Is this really needed?
Back in Bucharest, in 2008 I have met a guy over the internet whom I became friends with. We never dated, it was instant friendship. We talked about photography, books and also about sexuality. When I came back from the hospital, after I had my appendix removed and nearly got peritonitis in the process, he brought me a big photography album by a renowned Japanese artist. He was, to my knowledge, the first Dominant I have ever met in real life. Had he not told me, I would have never known. This guy was very polite, very intelligent, loved paragliding and other challenging sports, he loved photography and apparently he liked tying women up when he had sex with them. One day I actually met an ex of his, they stayed friends, and they were both very relaxed in each other’s presence, joked a lot and laughed a lot.

My male Dominant friend never actually told me a lot on his personal sexual preferences. He was a discrete guy. But he did tell me some stories, and also that there are some idiots out there calling themselves Dominants who treat their Submissive so badly and just push them beyond their limits. He completely condemned those people, and apparently would always encourage and even help the abused submissives to get out of that type of a relation.

So what about Christian Grey? Is he a Dominant or an abuser? Unfortunately, I guess the first and only advice my friend would give to Anastasia would be: get away from him! He will not have a relation with you, he will just abuse you and demand you be happy for being abused. And this is just wrong.
Let’s take it step by step (in big steps, we do not have all day, actually). In the beginning, Christian says he will not touch Ana until she signs the contract. What does he do? Break his own word, right away! Would you trust this man to tie you up and use a whip on you for sexual arousing? I know I wouldn’t.

Next? He presses on, despite the fact he knows Ana does not have any solid sexual experience. Apparently, the movie wants us to believe that the attractive Mr. Grey actually wants Ana so much that he makes one mistake after another. Does he, really? Well, then theory confirmed: this guy is nothing but an idiot with a very well equipped playroom, but with a very poorly equipped brain. After 12 years of experience, all he can do is loose patience, not follow his own terms (having BDSM sex with Ana only after she is fully aware and fully consenting), and at the end truly abuse his new lover? This man does not deserve to be in any kind of a relation.
And what is his actual “excuse” for it? Well, poor thing, he was the son of a heroine prostitute, he was traumatised in early childhood, before ending up as adopted by a very wealthy family. Dare I say that this is the story, up to the being adopted and raised by a high class family, of so many criminals who never ever get out of trouble. But because this guy is attractive, rich and influential we should somehow feel sorry for him and hope that Ana comes back to and tames this wild beast, shouldn’t we?

I hope at this point it is quite clear why such a movie does not do any service to people who prefer to express their sexuality through Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism. While DSM-5, the current American Psychiatric Association manual (which is a benchmark for the whole world in matters of psychiatry and psychology), released in 2015, excludes BDSM practices from any clinical classification as long as they are consensual and do not cause harm or distress, a Hollywood product throws things back to where you might be considered demented if you prefer sexual arousal by means of kink toys (ropes, whips, crops, handcuffs, and other such gadgets which apparently can be fun).

Since I have learnt about the history of how different sexual orientations used to be criminalized and also about discrimination by law on basis of one’s sexuality, I admired the work of Charles Moser, a physician specialised on sexual medicine. Based in San Francisco (what a nice coincidence, isn’t it? the city of the Beat generation), he is very well known and respected in his field, a professor on sexuality studies, and also a specialist who has long advocated against diagnosing different sexual preferences as disorders. I have read some of his work, and one very strong argument he brought against what was stated in DSM-4 was the following: 1. BDSM practices were clinically diagnosed because they pose the risk of causing harm. Therefore, a Dominant or a Submissive suffers of a disorder. 2. Extreme sports such as mountain climbing pose the risk of causing serious harm and even death. Still, no respectable psychiatrist would think of diagnosing a mountain climber who reaches the Everest as suffering of a disorder.

With the changes made in the psychiatry manual, people such as Charles Moser can be finally happy that their life long work brought positive changes for society as a whole. People writing books and making movies such as “Fifty Shades of Grey” cannot. When society as a whole and many uninformed people do not know enough about something, you do not just give them a very negative view of the subject, in terms of “how not to”. You cannot start explaining and enlarging people’s views on something which is not known to them… by telling them what that particular thing is not meant to be. I do not know how it is presented in the book, but I did not hear anybody protesting too much that they have messed the story up with the movie.

So when you want to write on a controversial and very delicate subject such as what people might prefer in their intimacy, what arouses them and can be classified as unusual, you must be socially irresponsible to make it look like abuse, and not even criticize it enough.
Fortunately, in today’s society we have tools to get informed, read and educate ourselves, then write and give others the chance to consider and dismiss products which can only be but called stupid and misleading, and not much else.

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Ia mai lăsați-mă cu mândria voastră națională!

A venit și vara în Anglia, în sfârșit, iar țara asta e atât de frumoasă în zilele însorite, de nici nu-ți mai vine să faci altceva decât să te plimbi pe câte o faleză, într-o pădure de-asta molcomă și îmblânzită de-a lor, sau pe un chei cu multe bărci acostate la mal.
Dacă tot a venit vara în Anglia, și dacă tot am un job nou, și dacă tot mă pregătesc de concediu în țară (a mea de acasă) în curând, oare de ce să nu se încingă spiritele din nou pe interneți cu ceva foarte actual? Foarte actual și vechi de când durerea mea, România.

simona halep

Simona Halep a jucat, se pare, magnific în turneul de la Roland Garros, clasificându-se a treia în lume, după ce a pierdut în fața Mariei Sharapova. Cei care au văzut meciurile ei au numai cuvinte de laudă, povestesc cum au urmărit totul cu inima sărindu-le din piept o dată cu fiecare minge decisivă, cum Simona a jucat ”grandios”, ”incitant”, ”tulburător” și ”catarctic”, și a pierdut frumos. Eu îi cred, pentru că nu am urmărit meciurile, din câteva motive: nu am televizor de vreo 8 ani și nu mă prea uit la sport. Singurele sporturi pe care le pot urmări pe ecran sunt patinajul artistic și echitația (obstacole, nu curse).
Nu mă pricep la tenis, nu am gustul de a urmări sport la tv, dacă mi s-ar oferi ocazia să urmăresc live probabil aș accepta, doar pentru experiența în sine.

Dar în valul Halep care a trecut ca un mic tsunami pentru întreaga românitate am prins și eu ceva care m-a atins. Am găsit textul lui Andrei Vulpescu, Nai’gh’Ba de la Da Hood, un tip inteligent, ușor caustic, nu foarte cinic, un hip hoper calm, controlat, mai degrabă cuminte decât supărat. Nu știu dacă el se va regăsi în descrierea asta, dar așa l-am cunoscut eu la FânFest prin 2007, unde eram cu Ovia Herbert. Am stat într-o dimineață cu el la masă în tabăra invitaților, ne-am luat micul dejun într-o atmosferă umedă, posacă, de zi rece și cu ploaie la munte, am fumat și am vorbit despre câteva lucruri, printre care frontul comun de protest pe care ne aflam. Când am revenit în București i-am luat un interviu pentru pagina ”Pe val” a suplimentului de cultură al ziarului Cotidianul, un proiect excelent, dar pe care nu au vrut să-l finanțeze suficient, și a murit prematur. Pagina asta de interviu trebuia să aducă nume calde, tinere, de pe scena artistică, fie din muzică, literatură, sau arte vizuale.

Povestesc astea pentru că înjurătorii ultragiați ai lui Andrei, după articolul său Nu-ți mulțumesc, Simona Halep!, folosesc toată artileria grea a mahalalei internautice românești: omul e fie frustrat sexual, fie invidios, fie și-a făcut doar rating pe spatele tenismenei, fie denigrează (wtf??!!!) o valoare românească, etc etc etc. Mai s-a trezit și un ex-fan, cică, să spună că l-a avut ca model pe Naigh’ba, dar acum gata, s-a terminat, nu mai poate fi nimic între ei, fanul pleacă cu inima zdrobită.
După cum spune chiar în primul rând al postării, Andrei e conștient de risc, și-l asumă chiar. Probabil că mesajul pe care a avut să-l transmită a meritat riscul. Eu zic că a meritat, și uitați de ce.

Am crescut într-o Românie unde ni s-au împănat capetele cu faptele de vitejie ale strămoșilor noștri, strămoși care, culmea, așa viteji și grozavi cum au fost ei, n-au reușit niciodată să fie suverani. Teritoriul pe care azi îl numim România nu a avut niciodată unitate, și să o lăsăm mai moale cu Burebista și istoria comunistă.
Întreaga mea copilărie am fost cititoare pasionată de ”Cutezătorii” și de cărți de-alea mari cu povestiri istorice cu Mihai Viteazu și Ștefan cel Mare și alți iluștrii domnitori români (sic!). Nu zic, unii dintre ei au fost cu adevărat remarcabili. Vlad Țepeș, cel mult plâns și invocat astăzi, era fără doar și poate un sadic, explicabil, ținând cont de istoricul vieții sale. Toate poveștile astea cu care am crescut și în care cumva credeam s-au dovedit a fi, în bună parte, pompozități comuniste. O populație care împărțea aceeași limbă (mai mult sau mai puțin), același fond cultural, aceleași zbateri istorice, a avut câțiva conducători care au reușit să se opună dominației străine. Wow, ungurii, austriecii și rușii trebuie că se simt undeva pe niște mega-piedestaluri comparativ cu aceste mari realizări.  

Îmi mai aduc aminte de toată parada de calități atribuite românilor de regimul comunist, un nou popor ales sub soare, nu alta! Și harnici, și dedicați, pasionați, plini de entuziast, optimiști, loiali, veseli, primitori și iubitori de tradiție și cultură, oricând gata să-și pună viața pentru semenii lor și pentru patrie. Și toate astea ni se băgau în căpșoarele noastre de pionieri, cu atât mai mult celor care aveam ceva talent la scris și eram pregătiți asiduu de profesoarele de română să putem scrie la olimpiade povești despre patriotism și frumusețile țării, încât contradicția flagrantă cu realitatea nu avea cum să nu ne otrăvească.
În realitate, părinții, unchii și mătușile, vecinii noștri și părinții colegilor noștri de la școală furau cu toții de la serviciu și se ascundeau, că nu se știe cine te putea da în gât și ajungeai exemplu negativ. Așa a fost de prin anii 50, când oameni ca străbunicul, scăpați de la deportare, mai făceau câte o lună, două de pușcărie pentru o plasă de porumb luată din avutul CAP-ului ca să ducă acasă la păsări, și asta pentru că nu au acceptat ofertele făcute de a se alătura regimului. Restul CAP-iștilor furau fără probleme. Bine, alții au sfârșit și mai rău, dacă știu bine o rudă de-a lui Alex Potcoavă, amic și coleg scriitor din Timișoara, a plecat la Craiova să i se ofere post în sistemul comunist și s-a întors cu o gaură în cap.

Nu am scris o singură poezie/pagină dedicată conducătorului ilustru. Ca fată, nepoată și strănepoată de preot în Banat, o regiune întotdeauna periculoasă pentru regimul comunist, nu mă atingeau deloc căcaturile propagandistice de la tv, din școli, de pe toate fațadele. Știam că totul e minciună, știam bancuri cu Ceaușescu spuse la lumina lumânării când luau curentul, în perioada de economie, știam că mama, la fel ca majoritatea femeilor din sat, născocea metode ingenioase ca să ducă lenjerie și alte mărfuri căutate la sârbi, să le treacă ilegal granița, și să ne aducă ciocolată, Eurocrem, Cipiripi, caramele, muzică și blugi. Ascultam Europa Liberă cu bunicul la un radio vechi în bucătărie și ne întrebam dacă Securitatea ne ascultă prin gaura de aerisire din cămară.
Și totuși nu știam. Am crezut toate poveștile despre o istorie care nu e a noastră, toate născocirile cu poporul român cel care excelează la toate, minunea lumii, cei mai buni între cei mai buni. Asta am crezut și mi-a otrăvit sufletul. Cum să cazi din asta la ”românul e hoț”, spus cu necaz în anii 90 la o vorbă după slujba de duminică, în curtea bisericii? Tata obișnuia să atragă atenția oamenilor că ”te rog frumos, nea Vasile, și eu sunt român și nu sunt hoț”. Bineînțeles, veșnica, jalnica și ipocrita scuză ”persoanele de față se exclud”.

Am fost printre cei care credeam că vom putea schimba țara, pentru că am luat toate examenele pe merit, pentru că am avut cea mai mare notă de intrare la facultate și am încheiat prima din an, rămânând cu cea mai mare medie pe fiecare dintre cei patru ani de studiu. Asta mă gândeam că fac când am participat la studiile culturale ale Fundației ”A Treia Europă”, când am lucrat ca profesoară în liceu și încercam să-i fac pe puști să gândescă, să înțeleagă și să accepte că, fără să-și dezvolte mintea, toată șmecheria și descurcăreala din lume sunt nimic murdar și măturat sub preș. Am zis că eu nu voi pleca niciodată din țara aia.

Apoi am ajuns în UK. Am ales să venim aici pentru că nu mai credem într-o posibilitate de a face ceva, pentru noi sau pentru alții, stând în România cea care există doar printr-o minune geopolitică. Poate de aici reușim chiar să facem ceva, și ca dovadă eu una acum știu clar ce urăsc și ce iubesc la ceea ce am lăsat în urmă, m-am putut desprinde cumva de povestea românească, iubesc România ca moștenire culturală și urăsc România ca entitate socio-politică azi.
Aici am putut vedea, cu ochii mei, că tehnicile de manipulare sunt aceleași, că acel capitalism, opusul comunismului, nu este decât o altă mână a aceleiași puteri, că democrația este un fel de a încerca să-i împaci (prostești) pe cât mai mulți, în timp ce tu îți vezi de ale tale sau de fapt n-ai nici mai vagă idee ce dracu faci acolo unde cică ar trebui să fii leader. Urmărind de peste un an presa englească, cu nopți pierdute grămadă și cu taste tocite pe interneți, am văzut cum omul de rând, frustrat și prea comod să facă ceva pentru el însuși, se aruncă în brațele primul oportunist politic de cea mai joasă speță care promite că-l va scăpa de bau-bau (românii, bulgarii, imigranții în general, și bineînțeles că vorbesc de Farage și UKIP).

 

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  Și așa, după toate astea, am ajuns să cred că noțiunea de nație și cele derivate din ea, naționalism, mândrie națională, sunt niște chestiuni induse, care să ne facă mai proști, mai manipulabili, mai ușor de ținut în lesă, să ne facă masă de manevră pentru orice li se va năzări lor. Uitați-vă la succesul tuturor partidelor de extremă dreapta din Europa, TOATE NAȚIONALISTE. Vedeți ce promovează ei: MÂNDRIA NAȚIONALĂ. Acea mândrie națională de a face parte dintr-un popor special, care uite ce vârfuri dă, și toți ceilalți merită ce-i mai bun pe lumea asta, doar pentru că au părul și ochii de aceeași culoare cu Simona Halep, că vorbesc aceeași limbă și că în pașapoartele lor scrie România.
Da, ca un om iluzionat și deziluzionat de atâtea ori cu naționalismul ăsta gol de tinichea, copil care scriam despre sentimentele patriotice și eroismul unui popor care a înfruntat hoarde și hoarde de dușmani (”dușmanii îmi poartă pică, că n-au valoarea mea” – hai că ați auzit și voi versurile astea prin piețe, măcar), tânăr pregătit să pună umărul la saltul pe care țara lui avea să-l facă înainte, acum, acum, mai puțin, of, poate la anul, îmi vine să spun tuturor așa, lipsit de orice reținere și eleganță, cam ce să facă ei cu mândria aia a lor națională.
Ce? Ștreang, aia să-și facă, să poată muri mândri, liniștiți și împăcați. Poate ajung și ei în raiul românilor de pretutindeni, prezidat de sfânta adunare a conducătorilor iluștrii: Mihai Viteazu, Ștefan cel Mare, Vlad Țepeș, Mircea cel Bătrân (”eu îmi apăr sărăcia, și nevoile, și neamul” – se aude, da? nu MÂNDRIA NAȚIONALĂ), și, de ce nu, Vodă Împușcatu, că a făcut locuințe și a dat de muncă și biletele la mare la oameni.

Așa că să nu mai aud pe nimeni cu spoiala asta de mândrie națională atâta timp cât, ca nație, suntem nimeni, un popor adunat de pe drumuri, care s-a agregat și a fost capabil cu adevărat de ceva doar sub conducere străină. Să nu uitați că niște capete încoronate germane au făcut pentru țara aia mai mult decât toți conducătorii voștri locali laolaltă.
Până nu văd că vă lucrați voi pământurile, și nu americanii sau italienii care v-au cumpărat jumătate de terenuri agrare, până nu văd că vă mai scuturați de taxele care vi se îndeasă pe gât mai rău decât unei prostituate la un gang-bang, până nu văd că stațiunile românești sunt repuse în circuitul turistic internațional și începeți să scoateți țara din rahat cu veniturile aduse de turiștii străini (da, da, se poate, la ce resurse naturale și balneare avem, fir-ar ea să fie a naibii de treabă!), până atunci să mă lăsați cu mândria voastră națională.
Simona Halep a jucat bine, e tânără, poate ajunge numărul unu în lume. Voi între timp încercați să faceți și altceva decât ce face neamul ăla de când este el, nesigur, supus, oportunist, prietenos și gata să bată oricând în retragere.

Între timp, eu fac ceea ce fac eu mai bine: scriu, critic, supăr, stârnesc ceva ape, încerc să mișc ceva prin instrumentele cu care pot eu opera. Dacă fiecare își face treaba sa, vom ajunge undeva, poate altundeva decât în raiul românilor de pretutindeni.
Sau poate e nevoie ca întreaga lume să se schimbe înainte ca România să ajungă să însemne ceva. Dar, despre asta, altă dată.

 

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