Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I need to believe that it would be alright in the end.

Iban doggie
Originally uploaded by miss cayce.

It's a silly thing to be a bit proud about but right now, I'd take any kind of Random Kindness that I can get. The photo above was "favourited" by a couple of online flicker's. I don't know what their reason was for choosing the photo but it made me happy that they liked it enough to have it bookmarked. Ditto for the other photos in my flickr account that were favourited as well.

I was supposed to be heading to the field today but my boss (whom I've grown a greater appreciation for) gave me compassionate leave due to extenuating circumstances. Silly me for I had thought, well, if I can't go to the field, I'd just go to the office and do some work but as it is, I can't do anything but worry, worry, worry. I woke up early this morning at around 6 a.m. with a huge ache of a worry. It's the kind that just sits there in your stomach like a leaden balloon, and your throat is tight. I am not sure why I feel much worse today than I did the last couple of days..

I don't want to write about what I'm so worried about because often, the most important things to me, I don't share with my blog.

But I could write about the shame I feel for having to take leave. I don't know why I'm so hard at myself, especially when it comes to fieldwork but I just am, for some reason. So often, have I heard in the field for years, "you can't do this; you're just a girl" that automatically, I immediately want to do the opposite of what the men expect me to do. Even when it makes sense not to do it for other reasons, I just want to try because of the tone of derision in their voices. I want to prove them wrong. I also hate it when they don't want to do something or can't do something, they immediately make ME as an excuse, until I let them know that I am fully prepared to do it, and am all ready. Then they back down and confess the real reasons. It's a small victory but ultimately, it feels defeating to do this Every.Single.Time I go in. It's like they have short-span memories and can't remember what I have proven that I could do in the previous trip. That's what it feels like - a struggle to prove myself on every trip. So the shame I feel on postponing the trip, is because I know what they're thinking - that something happened, and she can't deal with it.

And it's not about not caring what they think, but rather, having to struggle again to prove that I am capable. It frustrates me that no man will ever know what I'm talking about, and it comforts me that at least my female colleagues know what I'm going through because they've gone through it themselves.

I am such a huge fan of local women having unconventional roles/jobs or even just not conforming to the local stereotype of how a woman should be, in this society. They inspire me. They encourage me.

Which leads me to my second part of my shame - I had discussed with my boss about the possibility of having a second team to help me out (it's at least six or seven times larger than the area I previously worked in last year) and unfortunately, whoever that second leader would be, it can't be a woman. The feminist part of me is highly indignant but the practical side of me won out. It can't be done at this stage, especially if we're considering rookies. There is a great danger of them being bullied by their team and the fieldwork is so arduous that it could break the most enthusiastic rookie. Unless of course, it was an experienced female researcher but see, this is what got me riled up - a rookie man is almost equivalent to an experienced female researcher, when it comes to managing an all-local men team. Because the former would immediately receive the respect that the woman had worked so hard for. After all, this is a man's job, isn't it? Working in the jungle? The woman should really stay in town, working in the office or at home like a good local woman should.

This is a familar sad frustration I feel and I don't think it would ever go away.

My boss is really kind. When I told him what happened on Saturday, his immediate response was, "why didn't you call me?" And he went on about how we wanted us to feel like we could call him anytime in the day when we are in trouble. It's really nice, and beyond the call of duty for an ordinary boss. He even insisted that I stay with him and his family that night but I assured him that my mom had just come back so I won't be alone in the house anymore. He then made me realize that it's just really not safe in this society anymore, especially for a woman. He recommended that I get a personal alarm "just in case". I hate the thought of living in slight fear and paranoia because of "just in case" but you know, it's not a safe world anymore. Or maybe it never really was... and it took an incident plus encounter with sleazy police to make me realize it.

Well, it's not like I've never had personal attacks by men but I think one of my faults is to not give past unpleasant incidents more weight than I should. But I just don't want to think about it, you know? I don't want to talk about it; I just want to move on.

Writing all this down was good. For one thing, I realize that I'm in no shape to embark on at least a six hour drive today. The leave would do me some good and I really need to be home right now.