Dear Zimbabwe: “exposure” does not pay bills

I have been identifying very closely with the #fuckyoupayme movement because quite frankly I was tired of being screwed over by people who used my labour and refused to remunerate me for it. It seems to be a disease that the world is increasing being infected with but Zimbabweans have a special brand of this disease reserved for creatives and people within the creative industries. See, Zimbabweans only ever seem to want to pay creatives via “exposure”. I’m particularly livid as we don’t seem to understand that creative labour is labour and when someone labours they should be paid for it. This means that when you ask a rapper like my friend D-Blok Keislim to perform, offering to pay via “expensive t-shirt” just doesn’t cut it. An exception could potentially be made if it’s for a charity that’s not part of the non-profit industrial complex AND I have consented to donate my labour. Beyond that, refusing to properly pay is horrendously offensive and exploitative. It needs to stop. Zimbabwe: pay your creatives. Perhaps I need to break this down a little:


1. Say it with me: “Creative labour is labour”

We seem to think that creatives are at the disposal of people with “real jobs”. Let us get this point clear, just because you may consume our labour whilst you are at leisure does not mean we are at leisure. Creating is a force of both physical and mental energy. Crafting perfect sentences, moving rhythms or taking pictures that speak into people’s soul is labour. People are not entitled to consume it for free or for a pittance. Pay us what our work is worth. Simple.

2. Exposure does not pay bills

We are constantly complaining that our artists are not performing up to the standards we want them to but refuse to create the climate that will enable them to afford to focus solely on artistic endeavours. Whilst exposure might be a way to get your name out there when you’re getting started, the cold reality is that few can afford to labour for exposure. Exposure does not pay bills. It’s like how we’re constantly expected to volunteer and intern (often at corporations that operate for profit) on the odd chance that you may one day get a job out of it. Apparently eventually getting paid for labour makes the fact that you were exploited not that big a deal. Wrong. Yes attempting to consistently pay in “exposure” amounts to exploitation. Think on that.

3. Talent or enjoyment does not nullify labour

Also, can we please stop making the idea of loving what you do that stick with which we beat people who are trying to get their dues. Just because I happen to enjoy the work that I do does not mean that you get a free pass to said work. What is being paid for is work product, the experience, the poetry or the set that my travails have produced: the output that my labour has wrought. It’s not payment in exchange for suffering. One of the most ridiculous arguments I’ve heard presented for why artists are paid so little – if at all – is because work is a result of the innate talent of the artist. Yes, the artist is talented but they have opted to use said talent in order to produce a work that you are then consuming. Sounds a lot like they laboured and then you used their labour doesn’t it? So pay for it. Also, you don’t see us walking around asking doctors and lawyers for discounts or pro bono work on the basis that they happen to be inherently suited to their professions do we? Come now.

Now enough of this madness. Paying for labour really should be a given.

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Dear Zim Women’s Rights Organisations in Zim: Talk to us!

HAPPY FEBRUARY EVERYONE!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I spent January getting the revolutionary praxis of self love on. There’ll be more on that as we move past Valentine’s Day and talk about ways to love ourselves as we continue to work against oppressive narratives.

Today I’d like to make a public appeal to Zimbabwe women’s rights organisations centring around connecting more with the average person. I would love to see the start of a broad women’s rights and especially – feminist, movement that involves interested lay people who are not professional activists – people like me. In as much as the work you do is very important, many amongst us (again – me) aren’t really aware of what you get up to or how to get involved. In some circumstances we are also made to feel very unwelcome. Below are three things that I think will help turn this around, quick:

1. Tell us what you’re up to

Please tell us what you’re organising so we can show up and lend our support. I was very excited when information on the #miniskirtmarch came through because it meant that my sister and I could show our solidarity and lend our voices to a very important issue. Communication is key in building a movement up to the task of smashing the kyriarchy. We need participation of women from all walks of life and if there’s no chatting going on then this isn’t much of a possibility. Also consciousness raising and discussion is supposed to be a key part of any movement that claims to be attempting to work with a segment of society to end oppression. Basics.

Protestors and journalist gather around Talent of Katswe Sisterhood at the start of the #miniskirtmarch

Protestors gather around Talent of Katswe Sisterhood at the start of the #miniskirtmarch. Photo credit: Anthea Taderera

2. Invest in inter-generational organising

I’m a young woman and in going around trying to find out how to volunteer with different organisations there was a lot of talking down going on. I was less than amused at best, and entirely horrified at worst. It’s important to incorporate young women and our experiences of patriarchy as it is being applied in our various contexts, in any organising that takes place. This is certainly not to say that there isn’t much that young feminists can learn from those who have been at it for a while. In as much as patriarchal reasoning and values are passed on from generation to generation we need the practice of revolution and resistance to be passed on as a matter of course.

In general, change management has not been a forte in women’s rights movements the world over. In the same way our movement should not centre around women of a certain age, who are respectable and thus apparently worthy of being listened to. I have previously talked about how the movement is full of respectability politics which is highly problematic.

We need to have a situation of give and take where young women’s concerns are considered sufficiently valid to be deemed women’s concerns. On this point I have to say that the initial response in terms of solidarity with the minor who was stripped by touts (which triggered the #miniskirtmarch) was uniquely appalling. Safety in public spaces in relation to sexual harassment and freedom from sexual violence may be something that disproportionately affects young women, but everyone should have been there. It is a bread and butter issue for us. Frankly, all of the prioritised issues won’t matter if I’m raped and killed because someone hates the way I dress.

3. Be open to working with lay(ish) women

I really think that the goal needs to be to include the greater public in the smashing of patriarchy. Yes, not everyone is interested in getting involved with some of the day to day work but many people are. Perhaps it would be useful if when people showed up to your organisation, or gave you a call and asked if they could volunteer or intern you did not look upon them with suspicion. Yes, I am speaking from personal experience. One organisation takes the prize for least charming, for giving me an interrogation, asking who I am…really, and why I’d possibly want to do something like that. Erm – how about freedom and happiness for all? Seriously though, the chatting needs to extend beyond the NGO clique of those in the know. Yes, I said it. I feel much better now.

I’m not going to lie to you, I have been really uninspired with some of the antics I have witnessed in trying to find out how women’s organising in Zimbabwe has been getting on and there’s no reason for it. Organisations need to open themselves us to wider participation from the very people they claim to be trying to serve. Talk to us. Involve us. Care about the issues that affect our daily lives (no you will never be forgiven for dragging feet re harassment on public transportation).

It’s 2015. New Year new you, right?!

Why asking: “What if it were your mother/sister/daughter?” sucks

Happy Thursday everyone! It has been an exceedingly long time since I posted anything and we should all be very angry at my exams for that! Today I’d like to talk about why relational rhetoric is the absolute worst. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely understand the appeal: it’s an easy way to humanise and concretise issues that may seem really abstract and removed from people’s daily lives. It gets you through the door, and having a conversation about women’s rights in a way that people are receptive to. It’s great to be able to talk about women’s rights and feminism. However, my problem is this: when we employ patriarchal reasoning to legitimise our arguments we inadvertently reinforce patriarchal norms. Below I’ve listed three of the most irksome and yet basic tenets of patriarchy we reinforce when we engage people in this manner:

  1. Women are not really people: only men are people. This is the thing that really makes my heart bleed. We make it seem as though women only accede to the lofty office of human being when we a man can be found that cares about us, romantically or otherwise. Women are only embodied in the roles they assume for, or the services they provide to, men. Other than that nope. This also makes it easier to frame our rights as something other than human rights. They’re special interest – minority, rights because men are people. Women are just some grotesque deviation from the norm.
  1. Paternalism is okay. Paternalism is and has always been patriarchy’s go-to tactic when dealing with women. Patriarchy is constantly of the opinion that it, and by extension the men it artificially elevates, are in a position to make decisions on behalf of women. Paternalism actively excludes women from decision-making processes on issues that directly affect us because we are deemed to be incapable of reasoning. What is particularly key here is that patriarchy considers such intrusion into our lives to be a benign act, perhaps even a merciful one because “the poor dears don’t know any better.” Thus when we feminists/gender activists/ decent human beings ask people (usually men) to consider the plight of their female relatives, and make a decision on how they think their female relatives should be permitted to behave we are engaging paternalistic rhetoric. Indeed we are reinforcing the idea that patriarchy (and its intrusions) isn’t harmful, patriarchy is merely considerate. This place of paternalism and the “best interests” doctrine ultimately results in the exclusion of women from decision-making arenas. Furthermore, we’ve made explaining why patriarchy needs to get the heck out of women’s lives that much harder.
  1. Women are not capable of deciding what’s best for them. This is an idea that props up paternalism and triggers the “best interests” doctrine as applied by patriarchy and its institutions (e.g. the legal system). When we are asked to think in terms of the best interests of a certain group of people the implication is that these people are not in a position to think for themselves. Not only are these people incapable of making their own decisions but also any decisions they attempt to make will be harmful. Therefore, goes this reasoning, society has a vested interest in ensuring that this segment is denied any self-determination. What this segment wants simply doesn’t matter. This is how we usually deal with children and those the law considers to be incompetent. When we trigger paternalism we’re infantilising women and saying that patriarchy has been right all along. What we must be aware of is how deeply entrenched this type of reasoning already is – we need not aid it. It hasn’t really been that long since black women in Zimbabwe have been deemed capable of reaching adulthood (see The Legal Age of Majority Act passed in 1982). Furthermore the move to consider black women as capable of adulthood was greatly contentious; indeed at the time the drought the country experienced was blamed on the passage of the act.

So what can we use instead? Well my current tactic involves emphasising the humanity of women. I’m really trying to focus on the individual personhood of women and asking what gives society at large the standing to deny our right to be considered human beings with complete agency? I also try to remind everyone how we felt when the imperialist powers did the same thing to black people in general. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Why feminists should care that men are told to “man up”

Lately, there’s been a spate in adverts geared towards men that emphasises the need and desirability of ‘manliness’. As is usually the case with these things, there are certain activities that are deemed to not be manly, certain ways of being that need to be left behind if you are going to accede to the true state of male. This makes me mad. There’s one advert in particular that has really been getting on my nerves: Renault South Africa’s “It’s time for tough”. This advert serves to inform us all that it is time for men to stop doing a bunch of stuff that actually sound pretty fun, while the actors are all busy crying, because – weak. Oh and we’re to purchase a Renault. Yes, really.

Patriarchy as with all societal/ structural norms has to be disseminated or otherwise perpetuated. Patriarchal values and yardsticks should be known, accessible and applicable to all within a given society. One of the ways in which patriarchal values are disseminated is by ensuring that those who are slotted in for the position of the privileged oppressor know how to behave. Mass media and advertising is a great way to get this done. The “it’s time for tough” advert is one such example of intra privilege policing.

What is often overlooked when patriarchy is the topic of discussion is that whilst it is particularly oppressive towards women, patriarchy loves to hate and oppress many people, in complex ways, with these oppressions feeding off of each other. This is relevant in this particular instance as patriarchy isn’t fond of the irregular men. These are the ones that fail to meet its standards of masculinity and dominance. These men let the (patriarchal) side down by not being seen to sufficiently adhere to the system that will help keep women in their place. I emphasise the word “sufficiently” as these men don’t need to be feminist or womanist by any stretch of the imagination. They don’t need to have actively decided to be subversive, or to reject their patriarchal privileges, rather they are nearer to the bottom of the hierarchy of privilege that men regularly enjoy. What is problematic (to patriarchy) about their enjoyment of these privileges is that they fail to substantiate patriarchy’s claims to male superiority that is often rooted in gender essentialism. These men fail to correctly live up to the men are superior because they are X rhetoric, often the X stands for – tough. In short, these men are a lose end.

So why should this matter to feminists? Well, adverts choosing to focus on (inadequate) manhood utilise the time-tested rhetoric of patriarchy that posits that anything that is commonly associated with or could be recognised as feminine is weak, and that human beings must be stripped of all complexity so that they may adequately fit into its rigid dichotomy. That is: female-male; feminine-masculine; with female-feminine (and male-masculine) coinciding. This is a classic example of patriarchy’s internal policing in order to ensure it’s continued maintenance. Furthermore the fact that this reasoning can be used to sell products and that there hasn’t been a furore surrounding these adverts, nor have they been recalled, indicates the way in which this idealised masculine male continues to be the yardstick of manhood. This is the ideal to be aspired to.

Adverts such as “it’s time for tough” are problematic because they help mould men into patriarchal figures, and inform them on how to interact with other people. This particular advert reinforces the idea that emotions are something to be scorned and regarded with derision. There is no ambiguity in that message. People who act differently to the prescribed, who are different in any way, are therefore wrong. Simple. Men who consistently consume this and other patriarchal public service announcements will begin not only to apply this information to their daily lives but also to regard such application as good or correct, because the position is consistently affirmed in the public eye. This is all to the detriment of women and men alike. This situation serves to further emphasise the need to have everyone disengage with patriarchy. It’s not just a matter of having the privileged use their privilege for good, but also for them to recognise the instances and the ways in which they are misinformed by patriarchy, starting with the basic expectation that society will be patriarchal and anything else is anarchy(in the non-technical sense). It’s all well and good to have women reject the standards set for them by men and the patriarchy, but unless we can interrupt the ways in which the expectation of the values of patriarchy are disseminated we will hit a glass ceiling in our efforts. We need to get everyone to stop being complicit not only in patriarchy’s oppression of women but also its oppression of all other “irregulars”.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Respectability politics and Zimbabwean women’s organising

Happy Friday everyone! Today I would like to tackle respectability politics and how they continue to haunt Zimbabwean public life and public spaces, as I was so horrendously reminded last Friday. I realise that many people will most likely be familiar with respectability politics as they relate to black Americans or the LGBT movement. I’d like to add black Africans into the mix, which is a slightly different dynamic. We are not numerical minorities in our countries but we tend to be on the back foot in terms of power when dealing with transnational corporations and Western nations. Furthermore our very recent colonial and current neo-colonial experiences mean that we are still grappling with respectability politics in different aspects of our private and public spaces.

The basic ingredients of respectability politics are the following:

  1. A dominant group that considers a certain racial grouping to be inferior to them in mind, deed and morals. As such they declare that this segment of the population will not be entitled to the same basic rights or human dignity. Historically these are the values of the white middle classes.
  2.  The oppressed group is obviously not happy with the status quo. This group decides that it is going to prove the dominant group wrong, by not only upholding the same moral standards, but by meeting them and encouraging others within their segment to do the same. There are social sanctions for those who appear to be letting the side down. This way, it will become patently obvious that the dominant group has no reason to fear treating the oppressed group like people.

Respectability politics tend to hang out in the background of an overarching movement for civil rights and empowerment. It is one of the social mechanisms employed in order to gain public sympathy for a cause. The hope is that this public sympathy can be galvanised into public pressure, when combined with lobbying and agitating efforts. This desire to have a several-pronged approach to effecting change isn’t terrible and there is a lot to commend the use of existing structures to get what you want so as to not antagonise the powers that be. However, the concessions made to this form of self-advancement are great, and in the long-term harmful to members of that segment, particularly because they are not homogenous.

Respectability politics say that if you show up to a discussion less than the image of perfect virtue that the given society currently upholds, you are disqualified from claiming the benefits of human decency and safety. Respectability politics pose as quite revolutionary but really are just an internalisation of an inferiority complex coupled with an agreement to operate within the granted parameters, so as to not offend the sensibilities of the status quo. This strategy essentially leads to the reform of the bare minimum. This is compromise in the worst possible sense.

What I find particularly worrying is the way in which different kind of activists continue to rely on respectability politics to get ahead. I have in mind particularly, people involved in women’s empowerment. We tend to find ourselves in quite a precarious situation where we don’t want to disqualify our insight before we have been heard to speak. So, what do we do? Policies aside, there is a tendency to leverage our actual or perceived fulfilment of what our patriarchy considers to be the requirements of good virtuous womanhood. Our current respectability politics dictate that before we can bring up women’s rights we must be seen to be good wives who meet their wifely obligations, we must be good mothers, we must be sufficiently submissive and not be overly concerned with cultural reform. Indeed, we must be seen to walk the line of puritanism inserted into the African culture by colonialism really well and appear to be happy about it. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with being a wife or a mother, rather what is problematic is the continued implication that you fail at womanhood if you do not fulfil these roles. With the further implication that you are therefore not worth listening to. In order for our experience to be legitimised by patriarchy we must not only be virtuous, we must be seen to be exceedingly hardworking and must seem sufficiently grateful to be in public spaces. Preferably we are to pipe up and be vocal about (perceived) moral decay. There are several basic problems with this:

  1. There is a lack of stability in these rights. When we accept the idea that human rights are earned or need to be granted by a patriarchal institution, then we also accept that these same institutions have the right to take them back. We must always be on guard lest the powers that be decide that they don’t like how you’ve turned out and they would like to go back to the days of (your) glorious subjugation.
  2.  There is no space left for individual identity. When perceived virtue is leveraged in order to gain access to rights, the rights which are granted are perceived as being for that class of the wonderfully virtuous. A new conformity is required which is essentially a re-hash of oppressive patriarchal structures but with new varnish, namely holding up your end of the bargain and ensuring that society does not implode.
  3.  Encourages intra-communal policing. Rights that are earned through respectability politics essentially come with a good behaviour clause. Where there is a good behaviour clause read into the provision of basic human rights, people will become concerned that the rug will be pulled from under them for reasons beyond their control. Solution? Police each other, to ensure that no one is letting the side down. Impose on each other, offer unsolicited advice on the way to ensure that you maintain the appearance of virtue. Not just for your sake but for everyone’s. The way you live your life becomes a matter of public concern, as if you appear to be abusing the rights so magnanimously granted by patriarchy you will prove the old stalwarts of patriarchal hegemony correct.
  4. Victim blaming becomes not only acceptable but necessary. If the person who has been subject to a crime fails to meet the standards imposed by patriarchy, I mean, the demands respectability – then society becomes entitled to let themselves off the hook. Society can in good conscience say that the person brought the harm upon themselves as they were not following the recommended safety guidelines. Furthermore in order to ensure that in your complaining you’re not asking society to shoulder a burden that is yours and yours alone, the door is left open for intrusive, entirely irrelevant questions which seek to undermine the harm you have experienced. The classic example being – what were you wearing when you were raped?

These are some of the things that we really need to keep in mind when we attempt to further our causes on the basis of our being acceptable or recognisable to an oppressive society. There tends to be a very unequal trade off when we rely on respectability to provide dividends. I remain unconvinced that there are no other options.

When organising is…unorganised

I contemplated calling this article the road to hell is paved with good intentions but then I thought I’d tone down the dramatic tone just a bit. I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this article for the past two weeks, since the fateful day I attended the 263chat “tweetathon”/meeting/networking/what-even-is-this event that was on child “marriage”. (I put the marriage in quotes as a point was legitimately made that we are glorifying these abusive unions by associating them with unions that are considered to be happy things.) This was a very topical, erm, topic, given that the AU had decided to launch its campaign on the end of the practice. How wonderful that our nations are finally getting their act together, but I digress.

I did not enjoy the event. That is not to say that interesting or insightful things weren’t occasionally said. They were. Rather my problem was that the event was disorganised. Now, there weren’t any logistical issues (that I am aware of), it was fairly well attended and other people seemed to have a ball just tweeting away. I disliked many things about the event but today I will focus on one: the event lacked a clear direction or agenda. Why were we gathered there?

When I got my Eventbrite ticket with “#263chat tweetathon on Child Marriage” little did I expect that that was apparently as far as the topic had been narrowed down. What about child marriage were we supposed to discuss? Furthermore there seemed to be a lot of indecision as to whom the event was really pitched. Was this supposed to be a discussion for the average Zimbabwean about a practice that we very often hear about, tisk at, and do nothing about? Or was it supposed to be a strategising event, where Civil Society Organisations, Government Ministries, Academics, Legal Practitioners were to come together, exchange knowledge and come up with best practices to be implemented in their work be it lobbying, reform or daily legal practice? Who knows? The purpose was entirely unclear, instead the learned panel made rudimentary statements on an area they are very familiar with, giving the impression that they too had been inadequately briefed on the nature of the gathering. Some tweets were then read, which were generally along that lines of – “child marriage is bad”. Questions/comments from the floor were then asked for, these – when coherent were also generally along the lines of “child marriage is bad” with a side serving of “we/you/someone needs to do something about it.”

This event was like the poster child for ineffective engagement. It was on par with attending a business meeting, where nothing is decided but many people speak a lot – what’s the point? It is not enough to have events/meetings so you can feel as though you’re doing something. It’s an utter waste of time and energy. Because there are so many stakeholders at work in the area of child marriage, and because society at large has a vested interest in the practice’s eradication, we (the vested) need to be organised in tackling the issue. Properly organised. We really need to be aware of who we’re trying to reach, and when, and pitch the topic accordingly. It is important to be aware of our audience and ensure that the human capitol in play is properly engaged. There needs to be a clear agenda. We need to know what we need/want to say. What are we hoping to get out of this gathering of people? What are our objectives? This is not to discredit free flow conversations rather it is an assertion that we need to ensure that we are having constructive conversations. These conversations must be purposeful, not merely commiseration parties. Furthermore we must find a way to inform our actions by the lived experiences of children married off at a young age, and the communities that seem to condone such actions. We the privileged must not attempt to act alone. We will get it wrong. We must not be lulled into thinking that media platforms, social or otherwise are the only ways to engage this issue. That in and of itself would be deeply exclusionary.

The event was a hot mess, organised with good intentions. Perhaps, all my complaints do is to further emphasise my gaucheness. It is possible that I haven’t quite gotten the hang of these events. Maybe rudimentary statements being made on complex issues, followed by a comment/ question segment full of tautologies is all that activists, and concerned citizens really have to look forward to when it comes to discussions on social ills. Perhaps no one else felt as much at a loss. The foreign dignitaries in attendance got to go home with the knowledge that they’d discharged their duties. The NGO representatives were already aware of the work that they were or were not doing as regards child marriage. The Honourable Minister – who frankly, was very very nice about having her extremely valuable time be so unceremoniously wasted, also knows how her ministry is tackling the issue. So they all felt comfortable being good sports and sitting around for hours, occasionally saying tweetable things before returning to their very important work. They were then also able to ignore and or forgive a moderator insufficiently familiar with the topic on hand to be effective in his role.

I on the other hand – face-palmed.

It’s okay to have nothing to say

Happy Friday everyone! My pondering mind has been at it again but this time I am contemplating silence amongst people who would usually be labelled vocal advocates. I’m not talking about the dark type of silence that occurs where people don’t speak up in the face of some injustice, or even silencing (the mechanisms through which the status quo suppresses or ignores minority or subversive voices), I mean, just having nothing to say.

 

I like to refer to myself as a loud quiet person. This basically means that I’m quiet with a dose of goofiness, and have the ability to make myself heard – if need be. This means that I do have a tendency to really have at in voicing my opinion in the face of prejudice, injustice, bad television, poor customer service, the deliciousness of ice cream, enjoyable books, great rugby and the like. What I have found quite interesting however, is the continuous expectation that I must have something to say or a fully formulated opinion on virtually everything under the sun, partly because I am so willing to use my voice in other situations. When it transpires that actually, I have no particular opinion on, say, which side of the road it is better to drive on, I have noticed some people become taken aback. It’s almost as though by virtue of having been heard to shamelessly cackle in the middle of First Street, I have forfeited my right to have a complex personality – if I have often been loud I must always be loud. Thus any silence on my part should be perceived as being related to negative moods or negative emotions. I’m apparently not allowed to just have nothing to say.

 

There is nothing wrong with having a loud personality, or being loud on occasion, or anything in between. My fundamental issue lies in the need to categorise people, and strip them of any flexibility when it comes to how they go about performing their personality. I also have a problem with the fact that such categorisation denies the importance of context when considering a person’s personality and behaviour. This implies that not only are we often loud people incapable of being multi-faceted, we apparently also lack the powers of introspection and reflection or really – brain use, which would allow us to choose how to behave. There is also nothing wrong with asking after someone if they seem different or under the weather to you. What is annoying however, is when people refuse to accept a response that indicates that a personality is not what they thought it would be, as though they necessarily know you better than you know yourself.

 

The problem I have with the expectation of across-the-board opinionated-ness is the same one I have with people who are considered experts in one area being used as experts in another area that has absolutely nothing to do with their actual area of expertise. The problem is ignorance. I find it very odd to be expected to have an opinion on something that I am not particularly familiar with. (Given the breadth of knowledge in the universe, most things will fall under this category.) This unease is particularly apparent, after having had a few foot-in-mouth type gaffes of my own, and after having had my mind opened up to an intersectional world. The fact remains that there are some things that I am not going to know about or fully understand and sometimes I need to just keep my mouth shut and be taught some things or at least withhold judgment until I have more information to work with.

 

Availability of information aside, there are some things that simply fail to pique my interest – say, soccer that isn’t played at national level, or the technical aspects of cars. When such topics arise, I tend to opt to go to a lovely place in my head where I can ponder whatever I like, to my heart’s content. That should be considered a perfectly legitimate way to spend my time. Being outspoken in one area should not create an obligation to speak all the time.

 

Other times, I simply have nothing to say, and that’s okay.