Musings on hostel living
Community living requires us to negotiate everyday to maintain a sense of privacy. This involves respecting people’s attempts to create their zones of comfort. Here it is essential to understand that women access spaces in ways much differently from men. And the crucial point is that women also access spaces differently from other women also. Therefore, women’s perceptions of what their private spaces are, vary widely. You can contest it, but you cannot expect a universal agreement on the issue of private spaces.
In a setup such as a hostel, public and private spaces are not exclusive. As people live out most of their everyday lives here, boundaries between public and private blur and spaces can be both public and private simultaneously. You could clearly demarcate what is public and private but that would involve bringing in the authorities to control our daily lives more than it is already done now. Thus arises a need to keep the demarcations of the private and the public fluid to suit the liberal individual and avert institutional over-control.
This brings us to a new kind of problem where we encounter a new threat of ‘forced liberation’. Often, an apprehension of loss of freedom has been used to justify a wrong understanding of liberalism and democracy and to impose it on women and cultural minorities. ‘Self-proclaimed liberators of the oppressed’ begin to threaten the private spaces of these groups. Their mission is not to conceive a democratic consensus on free culture but to enforce on others, what they think is right.
It is imperative upon us to revisit our lessons on democracy and liberalism. While it is fair to hold certain values, ideas and engage with a certain ideological politics, it is always productive to give people the space to negotiate with your framework. Judging others from a self-assumed moral high ground closes all spaces for interaction and discussion.
In sum, being liberal does not necessarily mean living life in the public gaze; there are private spaces that individuals have a right to reserve for themselves. A liberal environment is one where individuals are free to pursue their lives, unhindered by others. Liberals are liberals not because they merely tolerate others’ freedom but because they respect it. They believe in resolving conflict of interests rather than bad-mouthing those who choose to disagree.
Entry filed under: discussion.