Developed Superiority


I follow some bloggers and their daily lives as they talk about hearth, home, family and love in their blogs. Some particularly interesting bloggers in this list are Dooce, The Pioneer Woman, and Mihow; all very interesting in their own way.

I especially love The Pioneer Woman, her beautiful pictures and her funny and engaging writing style.

This post is not about her though. It’s about how intentions, however well intended they might be, if translated into words and images, should take into account histories, living cultures and readership.

Heather from Dooce recently returned from a trip to Bangladesh, a place close to my heart because 1. It was part of India at one point 2. Two of my closest friends are Bangladeshi – American 3. The culture and cuisine is close to Assamese culture.

When Dooce blogs about her cute children and their mischievous antics, her naughty but adorable dogs and funny stories about her family and work life, I laugh. She has a wicked sense of humor and in a way, she got me to start blogging without hiding the true way I feel about things.

When Bombay was attacked  by terrorists in 2008, I felt disappointment she didn’t think it newsworthy enough to post her own opinions about the tragedy. And soon, 4 years of reading her blog, her complaints about life (no matter how well masked they are under well chosen humorous words) became just that – complaints.

Which is why, I was super offended when she chose to blog about her trip to Bangladesh, with Christy Turlington’s NGO Every Mother Counts. Her first post was airy and it made me feel she was taking this whole thing very lightly.

‘And I will actively be trying to hold it together because one, Christy Turlington, and two, do you know how far away Bangladesh is?’

And then in true white superior developed country citizen style, she talked about what a wonderfully life changing experience this was going to be.

‘I know you will think I am a huge liar when I tell you that I am a sensitive little flower, but a friend of mine from India told me to be prepared for a major emotional roller coaster in terms of what I see and experience. I truly believe that this trip is going to be a life changer.’

Although,  as a writer, you can connect various ideas and talk about multiple topics, I was vaguely offended when she tried to be funny and talked about diarrhea, painful vaccinations, and how she was ‘prepped’ for the ‘almost 24 hour flight’.

Developed country superiority like I said.

Now that she’s back, she has posted a couple blog posts on her trip and what she did.

Seems to me it was a whole lot of sitting and talking to women in villages, going through a lot of ‘feeling sad’ and thinking ‘these poor women’ multiple times.

No, I have nothing against women. And no, this is not an attack against the hundreds of women Heather says she spoke to.

Heather said she was trolled on the internet by a journalist who then proceeded to write an article for The Guardian which was very good in my eyes, and raised many perspectives and interesting questions. I hardly felt it was being a dishonor to the women of Bangladesh.

After all, the truth is bitter.

And it makes her sound like a whiney 16 year old teenager.

Here are my questions:

  1. Heather, apart from getting an ailing online website (Yahoo!) to sponsor one post, what else did you do?
  2. Did you donate money to the causes you talked about?
  3. Would you consider setting up a chain of hospitals for ‘those women’ about whom you write with such a heavy emotional hand?
  4. Why was your reaction to the Guardian’s article more emotional and personal about how ‘offended’ you are, and how you stand up for yourself and ‘those other women’ as opposed to the two posts you have written?
  5. If Christy Turlington hadn’t offered this chance, would you have gone?

We elect Governments for change. Grassroots change in developing countries can only happen when you involve your country’s government and asking them these difficult questions. Questions about foreign policies and concrete plans on assigning aid.

It really isn’t that hard to figure out.

So, while we welcome those who want to make the world a better place, we will not accept bullshit under a layer of fake insincere concerns, and blog posts read by bored American housewives. I bet half of them can’t locate Dhaka on a map.

From someone who apparently has lived such a rich life as Heather, I frankly expected better. My respect for her has diminished for not showing more grace, for not thinking this through.

And more importantly, there are still women in Bangladesh who will continue facing poor health care and a poor quality of life. Regardless of how many Dooce’s want to stand up for themselves, and how many Guardian articles are written. That is the reality.


One Response to “Developed Superiority”

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