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The exploration begins: first steps alone in Freetown

English below 🙂

Продължавам с още мъничко детайли за Неделята си, която само бегло описах в предишния пост. Сиералеонците, вече съм установила, въобще не признават времето, когато ти кажат, че ще се срещнете “след малко”, това може да бъде от 5 минути до няколко часа. Така половин ден чаках Арнолд уж да дойде да ме вземе за плаж и когато стана около 3 и нещо следобяд, реших, че нямам време за губене- тръгнах сама да обикалям. И понеже мама все ме съветва да не прекалявам със смелостта, реших да се разходя само из квартала. Добре, де, но стигам главния път, вървя мъничко по него и какво да видя: умряло куче по средата на тротоара, ама такова едно от най-страшно изглеждащите: с бяла пяна около устата. Ужасих се, започнах да се оглеждам, но няма връщане назад (пак ще стана за смях), но пък и ме е страх да мина покрай него, да не би само да се прави на умряло. Видя ме едно момче и мина пред мен, и много ми се чуди какво толкова ме е страх.

img_20170108_1551571 Continue reading

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Little, Big Things (Day 2 in Sierra Leone)

English Below 🙂15970280_10211556745265251_1052737214_n

Спане

Първата нощ, без да знам, че трябва да се изпъне мрежата за комарите, и изтощена от дългото пътуване се бях завила с нея като с одеало. На следващия ден май ме бяха усетили и като се прибрах, мрежата беше здраво изпъната, а аз се засрамих, че не ми беше хрумнало. (И в Тайланд съм спала с комарник, но там беше различно.)

Комари

От колежа ми ми предписаха и купиха Маларон за защита срещу малария (въпреки че предпазвал само в около 75% от случаите и имал много лоши старнични ефекти). В Сиера Леоне маларията е най-разпространена през дъждовния сезон юни-август, а през Януари няма толкова комари, което обаче не означава, че не може да се заразиш. При все това на мен ми се искаше да избегна маларона и реших да не почвам да го пия преди да ми стъпи крака тук и сама да видя как стоят нещата. С мрежа или не получих няколко ухапвания още от първата вечер и след като прогресивно ме завладя параноя, на втория ден реших, че ще се надявам на най-доброто и яе започна послушно да пия антималарийните лекарства. Continue reading

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First impressions from Sierra Leone

English below! 🙂

След дълги часове прекарани в чакане и път най-накрая се отзовах на летището Лунги в Сиера Леоне. Бързо си взех багажа и не след дълго ме заобиколиха група мъже, предлагащи ми най-учтиво различни възможности за превоз до Фрийтаун, столицата на Сиера Леоне. Мястото, където се намира летището е отделено от Фрийтаун със залив.

seabirdЧернор Бах- приятел от Сиера Леоне, който работи за съвета на населението към ООН (the UN Population Council)- ми беше дал инструкции, които аз очевидно съм запомнила погрешно, тъй като в последствие се оказа, че съм се качила на погрешното корабче. Още от първия момент започнах да се сблъсквам както с реалността, така и със своите погрешни представи за нея, изградени в следствие на прочетеното и чутото за държавата. Така например след като минахме покрай върволица от къщи подобни на бараки, пристигнахме на кея, където ни чакаше Sea Bird корабчето, което даже предлагаше wi-fi!  Continue reading

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Manufacturing Female Anxiety

mirror+mirror+on+the+wallI am 22 years old. I weight 52 kilograms. My height is 164cm (I’d like to think of myself as “petite”, although I’m perhaps too tall for it). I do think of myself as attractive. The size of my breasts is not ideal, but I’ve long ago come to terms with it. Of course, every once in a while I think of myself of a bit “chubby”, but I have never went out of my way to pursue thinness… The one major thing I have always disliked about myself is the gap between my front teeth. This is why my teeth never show up on photographs. I never managed to get myself braces and I’m probably too old for it now. Yet, as my mom happily noted: “There are many gap toothed models these days…” This should put my discomfort to rest.

Don’t let this confession give you a wrong impression: I like my body. Yet, every time I walk nearby a surface I see my reflection in, this inevitably produces a reaction and not a neutral one. No matter how well-looking I perceive myself to be, I still want to be a tiny bit better: “Goodbye, cellulite: Hello, perfection!”, as advertisements tell us. Thinking about my own experience as an “embodied Self” and as a woman, I am suddenly forced to ask: “How come anxiety regarding body image has become so naturalized, it does not even present itself as an issue? Where does it stem from?” In trying to answer these questions, I will look at a variety of contemporary feminist texts identifying the processes through which female body image anxiety is “manufactured”. Continue reading

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Desire and Pleasure of the (Un)Sexed Body

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The “sexing” of bodies is inevitably a social process whereby certain bodies are categorized as pertaining to men, while others- to women. The “in-between” remains invisible, concealed by the widely-accepted notion that there are only two “regular” ways of existing:  either being male, or female. Within this context, social power dictates not only the assignment to sex, but also an accompanying gender and with that a whole series of roles, expectations, preferences and life choices one is pressured to adopt in order to “fit”. While concepts such as “desire” and “pleasure” and their resulting behaviors and actions may rather be seen as a concern of  the individual’s “psychology”, social power circulating around both the sexed body and its sexually unclear counterpart dictates the characteristics of desire and pleasure and their respective perception as either “deviant” or “normal”. Within this paper I will explore how the subject of pleasure and desire is construed historically in relation to sex and gender. Simultaneously, I will focus on the ideas and narratives pertaining to sexual “appetite” and “enjoyment” situating them in the sociohistorical context that made them possible. Continue reading

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A Bulgarian “Guyland”

This is an academic research paper written for my class “Sociology of Gender” at Middlebury College. If you have any feedback, please, use the comments section under the article! Happy reading! M.

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From a sociological perspective masculinity is everything but “innate” and “ahistorical”. The definition of “manhood” is socially constructed by culture. In the words of sociologist Michael Kimmel, masculinity is “a constantly changing collection of meanings that we construct through our relationships with ourselves, with each other, and with the world” (Kimmel, 2000, p. 58). “Hegemonic masculinity” characterizes normative masculinity in opposition to sexual and racial minorities and particularly- women (Kimmel, 2000, p. 58). Its construction and enactment are grounded in the patriarchal social order and its resulting mechanisms, ideology and self-perpetuating tools. The acquisition of power, seen as a natural consequence of being perceived as “properly male”, together with the fear of being judged as “insufficiently masculine” and suffering stigma and ridicule, at best, and physical violence and life threat, at worst, prompt male-identifying individuals to constantly seek homosocial approval, attempt to behave in alignment with hegemonic masculinity and continuously reject and differentiate themselves from femininity.

In “Guyland: The Perilous world where boys become men” Michael Kimmel outlines his theory for “guyland” as a stage of life in between childhood and adulthood when “the struggle to prove manhood becomes even more intense, in part because it’s no longer as easy to differentiate between men and women as it was in the past” (Kimmel, 2008, p. 42). Inspired by Kimmel’s book and detailed (even if exaggerated and border-line extreme) depiction of college-aged American males’ problematic relationships with masculinity, I decided to conduct a survey to collect and analyze data about young men’s perceptions of masculinity in my home-country, Bulgaria. Continue reading

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Little Daily Insight: you WILL get hurt

The simple truth is that If you are a closed-off, fearful, unapproachable, reserved person, you will get hurt a few times in life. And even if you are the most open, brave, honest and loving person, you will still get hurt a few times in Life. So, as it seems, the fact that you’ll get hurt a number of times in your life is a given. But you can still choose what kind of a person to be.

This is something Stephen Kiernan told me recently that really stayed with me and that I turn to in moments of pain. I believe it has a soothing power.
I think it brings a great relief to just accept that getting hurt is a part of the game. It is not by default a punishment. You may get hurt and not have wronged in any way (think “collateral damage” or politics, being at the wrong place at the wrong time).
I’m now working on erasing the thought process that claims “I am a good person, so this shouldn’t be happening to me”. I am who I am because it’s impossible for me not to.