The last couple of weeks, I've witnessed so much hatred, and such a lack of sense and dignity. I thought - as a feminist - that I should blog about the issues raised by Stephen Fry's recent comments. Sexuality, social cost, and cultural oppression need to be discussed. But not like this. Not with this venom. Let's work towards harmonious resolution of inequality. No bullying.
I wanted to write about the dear, sweet, person that Stephen Fry is. I wanted to detail all the many ways he has gone above and beyond to help me, and others of my female friends. I wanted to scream out 'THIS IS NOT FAIR! HOW DARE YOU CALL THIS MAN A MISOGYNIST' and go into pages of explanation as to why this is not the case. It would fall on ears that are hungry for salacious gossip. It wouldn't be heard.
I've watched, as the right and left political wings of America tore each other new orifices: the personal attacks of the supporters every bit as gruesome as were the attacks in the run-up to our own recent elections. I watched, too, the added element of religious hatred, and intolerance.
The flip side? My father was dying, and people of all religions prayed for him. Services were held in the religious places of 'opposing' religious tribes. You know what? NOT ONCE did anyone try to convert me, or my family, to their faith. Not once. Atheists sent love, and kind thoughts. They did not lay into the religious people. The religious people did not lay into them. All the different notes of belief merged into one harmony: love. I didn't feel the need to pick out one note and say 'THIS IS THE PERFECT NOTE. ONLY PLAY THIS NOTE.' It was beautiful to hear all of these notes played so freely.
So. What has this to do with Stephen Fry? Sometimes, he hits a wrong note. Sometimes, we all do. We are not, however, creatures of a single note. Each of us contains an orchestra of instruments. Some are in tune with others. Some are not. This is WITHIN ourselves. We hold competing beliefs. We're a bunch of hypocrites. That's not a criticism. It's the nature of the human state. If you look at political questionnaires, it's blindingly obvious. We want free health care, and low taxes. We want governments that handle the big issues and take the tough decisions, yet we punish them when they do. The only way to handle this conflict is to see the bigger picture - hear the whole piece of music. If you focus too hard on just a single note, you miss the beauty of the whole. Aristotle said something about that, I believe. You need to step back. You need, sometimes, to let the music play without trying to control every last thing.
In time, I hope, Stephen Fry will be back. Maybe he will be moved by the extent of the reaction, to study the issues facing women. Maybe he will make a documentary, or series, on persecution faced by women around the world for expressing their sexuality. It says a lot about our own culture that some throw-away comment by him about female sexuality has got more coverage than the imminent execution of a woman (by being stoned to death) for adultery. The blood lust of certain journalists for the hide of someone who dares to be successful and wealthy is sickening in this context.
Before I go into too much detail - not my intention here - I'll end with this thought:
We are all different. We are all human. We all mess up. Religion, gender, sexuality, political beliefs... these are all areas of difference. For this reason, they are areas of battle. They need not be. If we respected difference, valued friendship and kindness over being 'right' the whole time, and looked at the bigger picture, they COULD be areas of harmony.