TED Talks are a fountain of post-modern weirdness. There’s a creepy feelies quality to these things. It really is Mercerism, just without the empathy boxes. This one has the bonus of transitive victim-hood. That’s where a beautiful person gets to wear the crown of victim-hood, without actually being a victim. They just feel for the victims enough that they can feel as if they are a victim too.
Now, I’ve spent the last 27 years of my life in India, lived in three small towns, two major cities, and I’ve had several experiences. When I was seven, a private tutor who used to come home to teach me mathematics molested me. He would put his hand up my skirt. He put his hand up my skirt and told me he knew how to make me feel good. At 17, a boy from my high school circulated an email detailing all the sexually aggressive things he could do to me because I didn’t pay attention to him. At 19, I helped a friend whose parents had forcefully married her to an older man escape an abusive marriage. At 21, when my friend and I were walking down the road one afternoon, a man pulled down his pants and masturbated in front of us. We called people for help, and nobody came. At 25, when I was walking home one evening, two men on a motorcycle attacked me. I spent two nights in the hospital recovering from trauma and injuries.
Other than her tutor coping a feel and getting mugged as an adult, this woman may as well have seen all of these things on YouTube. In a few cases, she just read about the events in question. Getting beat up is no fun, but hardly the end of the world. I was beaten with a bat once. I could not see for a week. Can I give a TED Talk?
So throughout my life, I’ve seen women — family, friends, colleagues — live through these experiences, and they seldom talk about it. So in simple words, life in India is not easy. But today I’m not going to talk to you about this fear. I’m going to talk to you about an interesting path of learning that this fear took me on.
My sense is these Ted Talk things are aimed at middle aged women. I have this image of matrons with dangle earrings and lots of scarves sitting enraptured as the speaker emotes about the topic. The word “experience” is popular with old hens. They also like “empower” and “learning.” I see those words a lot, usually not meaning what normal people think they mean. This sentence later in her pitch is a good example.
But I was soon to learn that this was not all. As empowered as I felt with the new liberty that this citizen journalism channel gave me, I found myself in an unfamiliar situation.
Towards the end, she delivers this sentence.
Don’t get me wrong, the challenges that women will face in telling their stories is real, but we need to start pursuing and trying to identify mediums to participate in our system and not just pursue the media blindly.
I now get the image of heads exploding in the audience. What in the hell does that mean? She may as well be speaking in tongues.
That’s the thing with the post-modern lingo in these speeches. The words are just there to titillate the listener. One of my favorite examples is the word passion. Women I know always have a passion for stuff. “I’m passionate for breast cancer.” “I’m a passionate advocate for woman’s rights.” The word “advocate” is another magic word. I once made the mistake of telling a female friend that Hitler was a passionate advocate too. I love that gag, but she’s still pissed at me for it.
The weird thing with this talk is that the woman giving it is getting all the credit for being a sympathetic victim, without actually being a victim. She’s blending gravity altering self-absorption with exploitation of the true victims to make herself rich and famous. When you strip away the gooey emotionalism, there’s a grubbiness to it. It’s a modern take on the old fashioned faith healer. The only thing missing here is the passing of the hat.