speaking up and the fear of the slapdown

Saturday 20 February 2016

What is it about the criticism of others that holds so much weight for us long into our adult years, when we are big? My father was super critical and super cold when I was a child, but I think that even if I'd had the world's most loving and supportive dad, I'd still suffer from the plague of hypersensitivity. It's a drag, especially when another part of you is opinionated and is a writer putting your words out there to be criticised.

In recent weeks I've written two pieces for Independent Australia. One was about Bernie Sanders and the Iowa Caucus, which starts off the presidential election race. The more I read about that part of the election process, the quirkier it seemed, and kinda haphazard too. The second piece was about a TV show here in Australia, Q&A, and the frustration watching it causes for those of us who like our topics discussed from multi angles and in depth. It's also about the debate around free speech, and how we are unable to have any kind of a conversation about what that entails, because the instant reactionary accusations is that people concerned about it must be racist, misogynistic, etc, etc. This aggravates me no end. I'm sick of our public square being dominated by binary oppositions, by offence. Fuck your offence, it counts for nothing. Truly. Get past it, or else develop some emotional intelligence to enable thoughtful consideration, tolerance of opposing views, and paradox.

But just please don't yell and attack me while I'm in the process of yelling at you about this. Because I will crumple like a truck-hit bumper bar and will nervously break down into a million pieces that will be unable to be repaired, unlike your car when the truck reversed into it on your birthday. But you digress. And you have also changed tenses somehow from I to the royal you.

So will I crumple down into a sodden blob when you criticise me, like a wet paper bag in the rain? Will your differing opinion change my thoughtfully-concluded one? Well, maybe it will add another facet of understanding to it, but ultimately it probably won't.  My viewpoint will stay where it was before you criticised it. But I will feel your criticism in my super-sensy solar plexus. But so what? What happens then? I feel uncomfortable, the sky remains in its place, the little chickens a few doors down keep clucking.

(The frustration that people will misunderstand where you're coming from, will take your words and not consider them but just react to them from within their technologically-allotted eight-second attention span is another matter entirely, and any criticism that comes from there is easily dismissed as not worth your attention if people aren't going to bother bestowing theirs in you to begin with).

But isn't it weird how in order to protect ourselves from possible future discomfort we feel discomfort by bracing ourselves against it? As if resistance of that kind ever achieved anything except extra aortic plaque. Standing free in the flow and rolling with the changes is easier, is an exhilarating ride when we stop dragging our nails along the sides.



  1. So pleased to see you're still scribbling like a good'un, Sue. Power to you!:)

  2. Heh, the hypocrisy of the human condition. I often chuckle over it when I grump at the people who hoon in the street at our bottom corner... just the same as I did when much younger and stupider than I am now. Does it stop me grumping? Hell no! :D And yes Q&A has managed to keep me for about two minutes until I turn off. It is programme that advertises deep and interesting topics, but it is, in reality, shallow shallow shallow! Nobody has time to get their point across properly. As to speaking up about my concerns, I do try hard to work out if it is coming from a place of privilege, a place of reaction, or a genuine thing to be worried about. Until I am sure, I keep my gob shut. :)


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