Archive for the 'language' Category

08
Nov
18

So you wanted a Japanese speaking job

So you wanted a Japanese speaking job? Not the kind of job that you currently have where you speak Japanese 20% of the time as a teacher, using all your bilingual skills to translate well known Japanese nursery rhyme songs into English with kids so they don’t have to think twice about the fact that they’re actually learning translations and code switching without thinking about it, no, no, you wanted a Japanese job where they treat you like the lowest cog on the totem pole of the hierarchical system that teaches them to bow in the face of shit being thrown in their faces. You wanted a Japanese job where you didn’t understand all the commands being told to you, where you had to move in one direction but you didn’t know which direction or where to put the things where and how but you couldn’t ask them to repeat what they said or speak slower because they would be even more upset than they were before you entered the kitchen. I feel like I just got adopted into some foster home, but I wanted this. A 100% Japanese speaking job which truly tested my fluency, and demanded that I work on my feet for 6 hours with no break after a 4 hours of teaching. “Learning a language takes time.” said one of my online students,”I’ve been in Sweden for 3 years and my English and Swedish are still not so great!” he smiled at me. “Yes. I know that!” I reflected back at him an equal smile and we held each other in our lack of language ability in the countries that we were living in. “I’ve been studying Japanese on and off since I was 12 and living in Japan for over 2 years.” Every hard situation in Japan seems to just get harder because i ask for it to get harder. I take the hard road in hopes that I will accelerate my improvement, but it always seems like I’m never going anywhere fast. Maybe, just maybe I have. It’s really hard to tell when you are in the dark flurry of slaying things in the lion’s den because you are just swinging your sword, hoping for the best, trying to keep up. I do remember 2 years ago when I went to the ATM trying to deposit the rent that was due for my apartments first and last security deposit that it was so hard to figure out how to read all the different names of the screens that weren’t waiting for my literacy to catch up as they were flashing kanji and buttons to press and timing out and making me start over from the beginning. I remember that day being one of the hardest days of my Japan life, and now that I’ve leaped over that hurdle at least 50 times by now, it has indeed become easy to withdraw, transfer and make deposits at the Japanese ATM. And, no, you can’t use the English menu for banking, and I don’t want to anyway.  English only speakers, I just don’t know how they even survive because the English menu is often totally different than the Japanese one and you can’t even do the same functions that you need to survive in Japanese Japan. So, I finally got a Japanese job in Tokyo and I was originally hired with a lot of promise and a recommendation but it didn’t take the staff long to get really mad at me for being at the level that I was at. I didn’t know where things went, and I forgot them when I was told once. I didn’t speak Japanese fluently and my semi fluency just wasn’t cutting it for them because they didn’t have the patience to teach me both where to put the pots and pans, wash dishes fast enough and learn new words. I’ve already learned a lot in 3 weeks that I could never have learned unless I got this job. I’ve learned menus, and polite hospitality speak, how to work the dishwasher and coffee maker, how to stack glasses and how to not stack certain glasses, and most importantly that Japanese workers greet each other with Ohayogozaimasu in the evening when they FIRST see each other regardless of whether it is morning or not. Valuable inside information. And yeah, its hard and I’ve woken up sore, but I haven’t cried yet, even though I have been 75% fired, meaning 3 of the 4 days per week that I was originally scheduled were dropped because I just can’t do what they need. And, that’s just fine. I was exhausted every day and night anyway. I felt like I was making license plates in jail and people on Facebook were worried about me because the way I was talking about it sounded like I was crying for rescue. But there are very few outlets aside from my Facebook in which I can express these things. Aside from this blog.

12
Nov
17

The R word, The N Word and the V word: Verbal Ammunition hurts people, people don’t hurt people! Hurt People Hurt People!

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…The thing that has stood out to me most, the thing that I was also guilty of was that self determined sex workers HATE being called victims, unless it is them doing the victim name calling on their own situations.  It is really hard to think straight when you are recovering from trauma.  In fact, I know that PTSD is rearing its ugly head out of my wounds when my memory freezes in the same way my body does.  My sense of direction is worse than usual (which is normally not the best) and sometimes I find it hard to find the words and names of familiar places, I find it hard to find my keys or even the keyhole which the key fits in the door of my apartment.  This usually goes on for a few days after the incident and I thank my body for being the harbinger of consciousness around sexual violence in my life again and again so that my brain catches up to what my body knows as the truth.  

What I mean by the first statement is that once we are clear that sex work in and of itself is not a victimizing situation then we can explore the further depths of the trauma that occurs when one is doing work that is criminalized, stigmatized and often residing at many of the darker alleys of the sexual activities of the majority of men and women who participate in it.  Once you are not using the rescuing paradigm then we can talk about the lack of rights that people in the sex industry are afforded in both the legal and illegal sectors.  But it gets more complicated than that IF YOU ALLOW YOURSELF (and are ready) TO GO THERE.  It is easier to go with simple sound bites and hashtags and mantras such as “It’s not your fault” “theft of services equals rape” “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and my personal non favorite “MEN ARE TRASH” and so on that on the surface seem to be the solution, but the solution has a long trajectory.  The sex worker movement, like any other oppressed identity movement also has its own sound bites which I knew very well having been in the forefront of it on a global level for multiple years.  Soundbites and PR crafted responses are designed to take the emotion out of the incident,  but as Uma Thurman expressed so eloquently regarding the recent Harvey Weinstein allegations,”I don’t have a tidy soundbite for you…because… when I have spoken out of anger, I usually regret the way I express myself, so I’ve been waiting to feel less angry, and when I am ready, I will say what I have to say.”  

The whore revolutionary (the old me) often and fearless spoke out of anger and rage against the machine and rage against my perpetrators that I knew that I probably wouldn’t press charges against because there was no institutionalized structure in place to support such allegations.  We can witness how hard it is for established wealthy celebrity females to go up against a more established male counterpart in an industry as mainstream and accepted as Hollywood.  I used this blog as my bullhorn and way to heal and process out loud during and immediately after I’d faced sexual violence.  The more years that were removed from traumatic incidents and the way that I did my work allowed me to see that in sex work, when there is violence or non consensual sexual activity (such as stealthing removal of a condom or theft of services) it is always violence but whether or not it is RAPE is something I often did not take the time to ask myself.  And when my body is screaming the answer, when I am dropping my change clumsily on the floor at the cashier counter, I KNOW THE FUCKING ANSWER! Or…I know one answer, the one answer that helps me feel safe and soothed in my times of seemingly death defying moments of anxiety and anguish.

When the brain is settled, one’s decision to use the word RAPE has the same verbal ammunition potential as using the word N**GER in many situations so we must assess its use carefully.  I started to use the word sexual violence instead.  “I have experienced a continuum of sexual violence both in, out and before sex work.”  (my sound bite which has been consciously crafted to deliberately not sound like “I was raped continuously when I was doing prostitution.’ for various reasons mostly political but also encompassing my desire to NOT CHOOSE personally disempowering language.  And the DIFFERENT choices that I have made since then are what I want my current writings to focus on.  Does our verbal ammunition do more damage than was done in the original incident in question?  Are we or can we even be conscious of the effects our words have?  I thought calling any theft of service a RAPE was my path to empowerment, but personally it was my path to insanity and an endless cycle of violence mostly to myself; and unsurprisingly because Aileen Wuornos was indeed the mother of prostitute insanity and violence who died without ever getting any of her needs met.  




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