Feminist Reflections on My Spiritual Sabbatical pt2

Now in the second week of my spiritual sabbatical I am doing a lot of work to think about who I am, who I’ve been and who I am trying to be. Specifically, re-thinking this notion that I have internalized that I am what I do and accomplish. As I take steps back from organizing and trying to publish my art and writings, two things that I [used to] use to measure my self worth, am starting to re-think how I should conceive of my self and my contributions to the world.
I want[ed?] to be published in a journal or magazine so that I can be validated as a writer by a system that I do not respect and do not esteem enough to trust its judgement but have internalized its authority over my work. I have internalized a dual desire to own my work and be validated as an individual of great worth and genius. That is at odds with a deeply embedded, powerful subconscious desire to share and remix and collaborate with a community of artist, loved ones, lovers and friends.

I know that worship of the written word is a part of white middle class dominate culture and as a written artist [separate but related to being a writer] of color I struggle with this. Thanks to my dear friend and comrade and spiritual teacher Erika Totten I came across this talk by an amazing artist, dreamer, feminist freedom fighter and academic Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs. She ties together so many things that I have been thinking about. Teasing out strains of thoughts that have been unraveling in my mind and connecting them, beautifully, to deeply held and unprocessed feelings of belief [or things I feel to be true on a subconscious level.]

Please find the time to listen to Dr. Gumbs talk! It will change your life.

There is a part of me that hates when people publish things I have been thinking about before I do. It makes me feel less original and less unique. Which it should. Yet, being less unique makes me feel less valuable, which is a capitalist internalization if I’ve ever heard one!

So, I want to thank Alexis Pauline Gumbs for giving me the language to say, I have so many things to unlearn! There is no need to be a snow flake! Think of what we could accomplish as indispensable but interchangeable cogs of a glorious communal machine of change!

I have such powerful dreams and imaginings. I have things that exist in the beautiful intersections of my intellectual genius, my fantastical imaginings of other possible worlds and my deeply held feelings of belief. Over time I have realized how internalized lies of capitalism and cis hetero white supremacist patriarchy have kept me from pulling gems out of those intersections.

The dreams of a Black man are not often worth much on the open market. Men are not supposed to feel as deeply and uncontrollably as I naturally feel. In order for such things to be of any use, they must we fully written out in perfect grammar, vetted by editors and etched in the stone of publication. And above all, the thoughts must be complete. They must be full and brought out to a compelling conclusion.

Yet, my ideas are never complete. My essays and articles and podcasts are not either. I merely force myself to keep them to myself for as long as possible, fixing and writing with fresh eyes until I can no longer contain them and send them out into the universe edited but with grammar mistakes galore.

Instead of feeling bad about this or holding it in longer, I have decided to merely continue to add on, remix, mash together and rewrite my works. I am going to let my works be works in progress. I am going to be more comfortable with myself being a work in progress. If only because it will let me forgive myself more easily and unlearn more of what I need to unlearn.

So, below is a poem that I remixed this morning after hearing Dr. Gubman’s keynote. It reminds me of something a dear friend told me recently: “You are from the future. You are so far ahead of this world.” It is, probably, the best compliment I have ever heard and great testament the internal work I have committed myself to since my last birthday that I was able to [half] belief it.

There is an intellectual story of how we got here, a myth of how we got here and truth of where we are going. This poem is an on going reflection of that, of the three parts of me [intellect, dreams and spiritual feelings] and trips I take, have taken and dream of taking.

We are prophets from a future not our own.

 

 

The Cyclical Triduum of the Undiscovered Prophetic Artists
Or If History from the Bottom Had a Greek Chorus

I.

Know thou that God is a Black Woman.

She is a river goddess
Fluid and running and powerful
Old and dark and reflective of your truest beauty
She is terrifying when you are first immersed in her
Unlearned of ways in which our bodies can move in her majesty
We fear her because she wants subsume us
We fear she wants to drown us
To fill our lungs with her essence
We fear her because we cannot process her brilliance
We fear her because we never want to leave her
Yet but cannot breathe her in

We want to own her
We want to incorporate her into us
But have forgotten how to drink

Perennial Last Supper [47th Street,Yonkers]

img_1292

A photo I took from the hudson line in Yonkers last spring. The trip that inspired most of the following poem.

Street acolytes paint the oxidized steel bridges a bright green,
neon spray painted codex
that guide the observant travelers
down rust gilded train tracks–
a Middle Path along the Hudson—
that ends in art galleries beneath underpasses,
temples to their mantra that another world is possible,
where they sing that art is short
but these tracks,
their canvasses,
stretch for miles.

They jaunt through imaginal spaces
of post-industrial cities,
like 19th century frontiers,
whose souls were marched-
in exodus-
ever westward
pushed by pharonic prospectors
and urban homestead acts.
Economically castrated by redlining
and forcibly sterilized by urban renewal.

Here in this forgotten levant
where Hughes and Ginsberg pondered their mothers’ infinity
on illuminated Black Mecca roof tops
Poets and Vagabond Philosophers
made homeless by forced false choices
feast on visions of a divine counter culture
and discuss the aesthetics of 21 century wanderlust
to the melodic beat of train engines.
A Last Supper set to an industrial rhyme
whose beats and breaks
bring the stockbrokers to work every day.

Tomorrow’s Heroes are marginalized immigrants of the status quo
who destroy the logic of hegemony with the visceral illogic of being.
They are the dread-locked and conscious prodigal children
cast out of Eden by Adam for refusing to eat the fruit
and questioning why g-d placed the tree there in the first place.

We will immortalize them in song only after they are martyred.

Their holy lands are the street corners of yesteryear,
Where the burning buses are headphones
Emanating the sacred beats of Blackened God.

Later they will lay themselves down on the crossroads
bedding down on iron tracks
for a nightly die-in
and sleep on deferred dreams of resurrection.
Praying, out of habit, to a god they no longer believe in
to be awoken in wake of the next train.

They have no designs of death
but feel that art works in mysterious ways
and are creatures of creative habit.
Like their fathers they’ll ritualize their identity crisis
and pass off their PTSD as sacred tradition.

In the morning,
these listless apostles will follow Her
re-claiming and renaming spaces.
Re-authoring themselves
under the guise of supersession
in order emerge from the Bum Fuck Egypt Upstate
and re-create modernity.

II.
Her Maat is simple:
I am love.
Love and be loved by me.
My love will surround you and hold you.
My love will transform you into who you need to be.

My love is change.
All Wisdom is through me.

Sleep and be transformed.
Be awoken by the eternal truth:
through me you are divine.
Dream yourself fully into this world.

The Art Work On Calgary

Its Easter Sunday and every American’s an artist.
A forsaken poet scribbles Her name
Over large
On every surface
naming and claiming greedily
conquering the urban Oasis
like a barbarian On holiday
in half desperate, fully human creative attempts at agency.

She writes the name Her mother gave Her.

Overgrown Oval letters proclaim Her existence to the world
like birth certificates reissued whenever One doubts their Object permanence.

Doubts that creep into Her mind like the fog that licks the steel of the Hudson line at dawn.

It creeps
gently,
unnoticed,
every morning,
only to dissipate as She reissues Her edicts of existence ever higher and brighter
like the sun.

Brushes become the broken bits
of national ideology weaponized that
underpaid janitors use to pierce her sides,
Her blood-
the paint that bleaches
this metropolitan palimpsest daily,
washes away enough of our sins
to call the gentry in.

Washes away our pasts
leaving just enough history-
like exposed brick-
to make condos out of artist plagued tenements.
Neighborhoods thoroughly white washed in blood,
until all that is left is an after image
burned on the inner eyelids
of the consumer hive-mind.

Every three days She resurrects herself
re-writes Her name on Her city-canvass.
Her revelations are progressive,
Like the art of Her aunts before Her.

Torn between a desire to know and be known
educated between a crack rock
and the Iron Shod Chico’s of a modern Empire
Her followers mistake Her articulations of cognitive dissonance
as the second sight through the veil.

Behold your prophets laid bare!
Your Messiah is a creatively maladjusted
Steam-Punk who rocked Chucks and Sun-Ra
And cultural anachronisms before their time!

She is no missed place time traveler,
Born of a world which knew her power.
Her futurisms are lessons you have forgotten!

She leaves Her calling card on old abandoned buildings
deserted shipping containers
and atop water towers
like a young, viral Quixote
schooled in the art of war.
Challenging spring into being
with visual encryption
spray painting Her territory with a vision of a thousand exploding suns.

Her cypher melts away the last bits of snow
washing the feet of the sleeper cars
soothing the anxieties of the unknowing weary and constant travelers.
Her Passion flows like the river
And the devil himself couldn’t tempt Her to stop.

III.
When she spoke she said:
You will know me by my daughters.
You will know my daughters by their magic.
You will know their magic by what it calls you to be.
Your nightmares are merely the dreams you are not ready for yet.
When my daughters break their silence, listen, learn, heal and be transformed.

Aside:

All across the valley, Khaki’ed hipsters and Afro-ed Punks
ride ragged commuter rails
With trolleys labeled working class hero.
As the rolling hills and steep gray cliffs inspire their minds to wander,
She is the canary bird of democracy,
Her prosaic poems draw their psyche back to the moment
And seeing Her name they are reminded of their own needs to be seen
To be acknowledged
To be known
To be loved
To have truly been.

 

 

Resurrection Isn’t Always Rebirth

Its Easter Sunday and the dead are rising.
Its Easter Sunday and Lazarus is giving speeches to
workers in the Montana coal mines.
Its Easter Sunday and the Ticonderoga jets from Philipse Manor to Grand Central
as fry cooks fight for 15
and the fog creeps into our minds
forcing us to forget who we once wanted to be
by the time the sun burns away the sins of who we once were.

Its Easter and the creative spirit of every tourist
with a smart phone rises like Lazarus.
We all collectively create.
We all collectively consume.
We all creatively destroy one another
with likes and smiles.
and with the same gloved hands
we shake off the last bits of winter
-memories of a darker, colder time-
like dandruff off our shoulders.

Its Easter and the dead are rising and every American is an artist.
Suburban tourists video The B-Boys
no longer from Brooklyn
pulsating on the ground
like corpses being struck by lightening
gasping quietly as their bodies come alive
and the neighborhood watch grooves to the beat.

Rejoice as your former slaves delight you!
Sleep well as the Visigoths learn your language
And dance outside your door!
Laugh as your daughter falls for the boy you redlined out of your community!

Its Easter Sunday and the dead are rising.
Everything is reborn at its own pace.
The fog returns every morning,
covering our narrative landscape
with the bitter-sweet vapors of yesterday.
Even with this haze obscuring our history
everything is derivative
and every culture is appropriated.

We are the lambs of a deaf god,
following ancient blind mystics
who are merely futurist and malcontents,
while the philosopher kings spray paint tomorrow
on the brownstoned masonry of the cave.

Where is your G-d when the ocean rise?
Where is your God when the civilization that created him crumbles?
Rome is burning all around us
And Nero’s bankers plan mansions on the ashen remains of our culture!

Don’t wait for the apostles of a future more livable to be torn apart,
limb from limb, in a coliseum market place
before you let yourself believe.
You deserve more than bread and circuses in lieu of democracy.
We deserve more than our father’s share cropped
copping mechanism turned institutions.
Moments only seem pregnant in hindsight
and it doesn’t feel like a revolution until your friends have brought the drums.

It is time to join the egalitarian euphony articulating the future!
The era of prophecy has ended.
The time for tomorrow is now!

I.
Her daughters are here to teach you what you have forgotten.
Do not fear who they are demanding you to become.
Know that they love you because you deserve to be loved.
Know that because they love you, they make you conscious of what you are not yet aware.
This consciousness is my gift to you.
It will allow you dream even as you walk through the waking world.
It will allow to dream and stay woke.

The Future Is Unwritten:

Write it.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The myth of “Fast Black Girls” [TW: Rape]

The myth of “Fast Black Girls” [TW: Rape].

 

Here is an interesting article about the sexualization of young Black girls. It is a good, if mildly disturbing, read about how young Black girls are sexualized to in such a way as to essentially make them inherently rape-able. It is another reminded that words form thoughts that guide actions. It does matter what you call people, it does matter how you describe behavior. This does far beyond semantics.

On Positive Male Role Models and International Men’s Day

This is a thought provoking post from the Feminist Skeptic at thefeministskeptic.wordpress.com. It seems pointless to have an international Mensday but if you are going to have one, the press release should read like that. While it is parody, it brings up a good point. How do expect to raise anything other than generation after generation of violent, emotionally stunted men if that’s all we show boys to look up to? Thoughts?

The Feminist Skeptic

Because apparently not every single day is already a Men’s Day, tomorrow is International Men’s Day, which is all about celebrating MANHOOD of the gender essentialist variety.

Now, they haven’t actually released a press release for this year’s theme (“Keeping Men and Boys Safe”), but they do have one from around this time last year, complete with essentialist goodies such as “[n]o matter how great a mother is, she cannot replace what a father provides to a child” and “[i]rrefutable research shows that mothers typically are nurturing, soft, gentle, comforting, protective and emotional. Fathers tend to be challenging, prodding, loud, playful and encourage risk taking”. Of course, they do not link to any of this research; we’re supposed to take it at face value, without questioning their authority.

Now, I’m not happy with the gender essentialism. And because tomorrow is the proclaimed International Men’s Day, I’m going to…

View original post 604 more words

Tom Jones…Don’t Know What To Say

 

I don’t what to say about this video. I could talk about some racial issues going on, I could talk about some gender and rape culture issues in lyrics, I could talk about Tom Jones WTF? But mostly I want to say that I love this song. It’s cray in the truest sense of the word. As my students would say “Tom Jones is doing too much”  and I kinda love him for it.

Debtors Prison’s

 

Warren on Banks

 

Gearing up for some hopefully thought provoking essays on Capitalism I have begun reading Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber. It is great book so far and I highly recommend it. I will undoubtedly write a review of it after I finish it but for now I’d like to talk about something Graeber mentions in his book. As you can see here some state’s are actually jailing people having outstanding debt. This just blows my mind. How is possible that we are throwing people in prison’s for not paying their debts, which by the way is not illegal? Didn’t we abolish debtor’s prisons years ago? It seems like our whole society is moving to this idea of the rich not only deserve to be rich but that society should insure that they stay rich. I’ve always thought that golden parachutes were outrageous but actually using the power of the state to collect on debts to me is a whole neither level of crazy. Fiscal conservatives always talk about a free market yet seemed to think that the financial companies should be guaranteed profits. I have yet to hear a fiscal conservative of either party talk about how Sallie Mae shouldn’t have government backed loans.  Is the whole point of lending money supposed to be that lenders take a risk? They don’t charge interest just to make a profit, they charge interest in order to cover losses. The idea is that lenders would only give out money to profitable ventures. If they are guaranteed to make money regardless then what is stop them from giving money to anyone for anything? Apparently the answer to that question is nothing.

 

I would continue by why should I waste your time ranting when, my current political crush Elizabeth Warren, has already said all I have to say?

Under-appreciated Steps To Understanding Your Role In “Women’s Issues”

War on womenWar on men

 

We’ve heard a lot about the War on Women and the War on Men in the news the past few months. Every conversation I hear about it seems to be missing a crucial point of view or idea. I am also amazed at how often important voices are left out of each of the conversations. This is my attempt to highlight a few [and by no means all, or even the most important] steps we can take to improve our conversations about issues of sex and gender. As always, I seek increase my own awareness through dialogue, so whether you agree or disagree with this list, please leave a comment on below.

O. Watch this video by Jackson Katz which inspired me to write this.

I think he effectively gives the argument for why I have a problem with somethings being a women’s issue and not a human or a man’s issue. I’m not talking about or advocating for “Men’s Rights” [a topic I will write about soon], I’m talking about how making something a woman’s issues means that it is something that women have to deal with and I can just tune out. This is why you hear the complaint from some men saying “well, we never talk about men’s issues I don’t see why I have to hear about women’s issues all the time.” First of all, we do talk about men’s issues some times but they are just called issues. Here is a great post about how Men are People, Women are Women from a friend of mine. Second, we should definitely talk about Men’s issues more but men need to be prepared to have real conversations about masculinity. Its not going to be easy.

Just like Women’s Issues are not just shopping,  reproductive rights and parenting, Men’s Issues are not just sports, sex and fatherhood. In fact, the issues are basically they same. Some men like shopping and some women like sports. All men should be concerned about domestic violence and reproductive rights and all women should be concerned with fatherhood and men’s health. We all may care about different aspects of these issues. Men may understandably be more concerned with their part in stopping domestic violence and women may be more concerned with how they can support or improve their children’s, niece’s or student’s relationship with their fathers. Yet these are issues that affect us all. Also, I am not calling for the end labeling things as women’s issues, merely advocating that we find a way for insure that everyone hears and is heard.

I think Lindy West put it best when she wrote:

Think of it like this. Imagine you’re reading a Dr. Seuss book about a bunch of beasts living on an island. There are two kinds of beasts: Fleetches and Flootches. (Stick with me here! I love you!) Though the two are functionally identical in terms of intellect and general competence, Fleetches are in charge of pretty much everything. They hold the majority of political positions, they make the most money (beast-bucks!), they dominate the beast media, they enact all kinds of laws infringing on the bodily autonomy of Flootches. Individually, most of them are perfectly nice beasts, but collectively they benefit comfortably from inequalities that are historically entrenched in the power structure of Beast Island. So, from birth, even the most unfortunate Fleetches encounter fewer institutional roadblocks and greater opportunity than almost all Flootches, regardless of individual merit. One day, a group of Flootches (the ones who have not internalized their inferiority) get together and decide to agitate to change that system. They call their movement “Flootchism,” because it is specifically intended to address problems that disproportionately disadvantage Flootches while benefiting Fleetches. That makes sense, right?

Now imagine that, in response, a bunch of Fleetches begin complaining that Flootchism doesn’t address their needs, and they have problems too, and therefore the movement should really be renamed Beastism. To be fair. The problem with that name change is that it that undermines the basic mission of the movement, because it obscures (deliberately, I’d warrant) that beast society is inherently weighted against Flootches. It implies that all problems are just beast problems, and that all beasts suffer comparably, which cripples the very necessary effort to prioritize and repair problems that are Flootch-specific. Those problems are a priority because they harm all Flootches, systematically, whereas Fleetch problems merely harm individual Fleetches. To argue that all problems are just “beast problems” is to discredit the idea of inequality altogether. It is, in fact, insulting.

1. Embrace Complexity:

Understand that none of these issues are black and white. I even disagree with one or two points on all the articles I link to because ultimately these are complex issues and all of us have several lenses and paradigms we see them through. What’s important is that just because you disagree with one part of someone’s argument shouldn’t mean you disregard it completely. You might be a pro-choice man and find a women’s right to choose appalling given that the fetus has no say. You have a right to that opinion but that doesn’t men you should disregard the uproar when people talk about “legitimate rape” just because you like their stance on abortion. Similarly, you might identify as sex positive or sexually liberated but don’t forget that everyone’s sexual experience may not have been as positive as yours.

Bottom line: not all women who are pro-choice have internalized oppression or men who have guilt connected to their masculine identities made effeminate by feminism. These issues and our reactions to them are as complex as we are.

2. Understand that there is a problem:

I get it, maybe you think that women have gone to far. That whatever wave of feminism we are up to now has upset the natural order of things. Maybe you are woman who likes the role which women have been traditionally expected to fill. Maybe you believe that men should be the head of household because God said so. Maybe you are man who is tired of being portrayed as the dumb, overweight husband on T.V. Maybe you are Black man who is tired of young, college educated white women telling you how privileged you are to be a man. Great, you have a right to those opinions. What you shouldn’t do is forget that gender inequality exist because you either think you aren’t directly hurt by it or dislike the people talking about it.

We all have different takes on what the problem is, it severity, urgency and its causes but we should all agree that there is a problem of gender inequality in human society. There are numerous examples of human civilization having some problem with gender. From the examples the severe oppression of women world wide to accusations of reverse sexism, it is clear that it is out there. Recognizing that there is a problem is the first [er second? Third?] step in dealing with it.

3. Learn the power of active listening and intentional speech:

Words matter and how we talk to each other matters. Part of understanding the complexity of these issues is understanding that the are often very personal. This not only means that open dialogue is required to hear different sides of these personal issues but that this open dialogue needs to happen in a safe place. We will learn nothing from each other if we keep on the same accepted scripts and refuse to be vulnerable to each other. I found this article by Ana Mardoll to be helpful for that. It is talking specifically to men about being a feminist ally but I think it is helpful for how to talk about gender in a safe place and how to stand up for justice when surrounded by people who don’t think there is a gender problem. Therefore, I think it is also useful to women. Since society tells women that they are emotional thinkers I’ve noticed that some women assume that they are more emotionally aware than all men because they are women. The sad truth is that we are just not that introspective of species. Emotional awareness takes hard work and all genders have to do it. While different genders may have different emotional work to do, we all, as humans, have to do some.

 

4. Learn what other people think Patriarchy is and then come up with your own definition:

Perhaps you disagree with me about what the problem is? Perhaps you think that feminism went to far. Perhaps you think even radical feminist aren’t advocating that we go far enough? Either way, patriarchy is central to issues of “the gender problem” and questions of if it exists are in many ways secondary to what does it look like. I firmly believe that you have to have your own definition of the systemic problem {patriarchy} [or lack their of] before you can argue about the daily iterations of it {misogyny}.

The OED defines Patriarchy as “a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.” It is pretty difficult to argue that we don’t live in Patriarchy given that definition. [If you would like to argue that we don’t, please, post a respectful comment to that effect.] Yet, ultimately this is an overly simplified definition of the term. For a more in-depth look at the term I’d suggest going here or here.

Hopefully, understanding different ways that patriarchy is defined will convince you that Patriarchy does exist in some form. It doesn’t mean that every man has some societal power over every women. There are many women with more power in the world than me.  It also doesn’t even mean that the men who do have power are openly bigoted or sexist. It is possible to have a patriarchal system in which CEO’s all have programs designed to bring more women into underrepresented fields. Unfortunately, Patriarchy doesn’t need bigotry to sustain itself, undiagnosed and unprocessed bias is more than enough.

In my personal understanding  of the term, Patriarchy exists on two fronts: Power and Privilege. There is the real power that some people [male, female and intersex] have to exert their will [conscious or subconscious] on society and there is the privilege that is afforded to individuals based on their existence within a group which is believed to have power.

Power, in my definition of patriarchy, is the ability to exert your will [conscious or subconscious] over other people. It is important to realize is that power doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are layers of power interacting with each other. Just like having a Black President doesn’t mean that racism is gone, having a female Speaker of the house didn’t mean that women achieved true equality. Nancy Pelosi is powerful by just about any definition and her position as the de facto leader of Democrats in Congress [Harry who?] is a testament to how far women have come in society. Yet, one look at the Republican convened panel on women’s health, shows us that sometimes the dominance of one group’s subconsciously biased view on the world can constrain even the most powerful people in a society. In this case, congress [a body  comprised overwhelmingly of men] decided to have a panel on women’s health and invited people who they perceived as qualified to brief them. The panel ended up being all men talking about women. These congressmen chose men to talk to them about women’s health for a variety of reasons. One of the those reasons is because people tend to like to hear themselves talk. Humans have a natural tendency to want to hear facts from people who act, think and look like us and most of the members of congress on the panel were men. Another, more destructive reason, is the notion of “qualifications,” as in what makes someone qualified to talk about an issue, is biased towards men. We as society are used to men being authority figures and explaining things to us. This means that the voices of women as a group, whose health as group was in question, are left out of the conversation. Not to mention the fact that there are a number of women who are actual trained experts in women’s health and can speak articulately beyond their own personal experience.

When the dominance of the most powerful group in a societies point of view becomes termed “normal,”  members of that group are granted privileges just for perceived as being part of that group. For instance, it is considered “normal” for a boy to be good at math. Science and finance are seen as traditionally male careers. If I were to pursue a career in science or finance I would not have to deal with the problems associated with stepping out a my gender caste. A woman might have to deal with people suggesting she try nursing, teaching or being a mother instead. For many women these suggestions are merely an annoyance, for others there are a barrier to success and advancement.

Privilege is complex but well discussed check out some interesting takes on the complexity of privilege in terms of gender: black women and slut shamming and benevolent sexism.

5. Learn what your role in Patriarchy is:

We all have a role to play in Patriarchy [beyond dismantling or perhaps convincing every one that it doesn’t exist]. I personable believe that the role isn’t as simple as victim and perpetrator or oppressor and oppressed. I, as a man, benefit from Patriarchy. I stand a good chance of getting paid more for the same job than my sister will. I can expect to be listened to in many circles because I am a man and it is seen as normal for me to deferred to [granted, age, race and class sometimes makes this male privilege somewhat null and void.] Yet, at the same time, as a non-hetero-normative man, a man who doesn’t fit naturally into what society expects a man to be, I am also oppressed by Patriarchy. I find the idea of a “real man” in all his well muscled, anti-intellectual, emotionally stunted, alpha male grandiosity to be stifling. It is not an ideal that I can or want to live up to. It curtails my human potential by telling me that I’m not really a man. I personally believe that in internalizing patriarchy I have in effect oppressed my self and other men as well as women. I’ve had to come to terms with this fact in order to start the process of slowly deprogramming myself from patriarchy thinking, which is an on going process.

Similarly, women have complex roles in Patriarchy as well. What arethe moral implications of women who knowingly support patriarchal images of submissive women for their own profit? How does race and white privilege effect your role in patriarchy? What about women in Latino or Asian cultures with their diverse gender roles and stereotypes? How does class change our role?

6. Grow!

In my opinion, the purpose of understanding your role in issues of gender is for both personal and collective growth. I think that conversations about gender roles is essential not because we convince bigots to not be bigots but because we can examine our own biases and hang-ups which impede change more than bigotry. I know, as a man with an over active conscience, that it is easy to get bogged down in guilt or despair. Yet we should not let shame, guilt, anger or pain stop us from striving to understand ourselves and those around us. We need to be introspective to understand why we do what we do and how what do effects those around us. The better we understand that, the easier it will be to tackle and solve gender issues.

I’m interested in hearing what other under-appreciated steps people think there are.

77. With a zoomph

This is a really interest flash fiction piece by another writer I read today. The rest of his story is also really good. I suggest you take a lot at it.

300 stories

With a zoomph the canister landed in the invoice box. That was curious. The pneumatic post office had for decades been the most used communication tool but nowadays was rendered obsolete by more modern means. In fact, Griffin – the postmaster general – would probably have been made redundant long ago had anyone known he still existed.

 

cover

Read the rest of the tale and 100 more stories in 300 words or less in YOU’RE GETTING SLEEPY, THE HYPNOTIST’S APPRENTICE YAWNED.

Available at the Createspace Store, at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or any other Amazon store in your territory.  E-book is also available.

View original post

A Culture Of White Violence

This is an interesting video I found: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/all-in-/52626752#52626752

I find that it is a pretty good satire on how we talk about violence and race in America. I think it is especially interesting to see in conjunction with this article by Tim Wise:

http://www.timwise.org/2013/08/whats-the-matter-with-white-people-a-modest-call-for-personal-responsibility/#more-3293

 

As I young Black man in Chicago, I have to say that this conversation is a deeply personal one for me. We get blamed for violence that is a distinctly America problem not an inner-city problem or a problem in the Black community. Yet we increasingly treat it like it is. What does it mean that after the death of Trayvon Martin you have so many American writers saying that it is now open season on Black men when it may in fact be the safest Black men have ever been in America. I don’t know whether this news that I’m less likely to be killed should make me happy of the fact that I’ve never heard it said on t.v. should make me angry. As it stands now, I’m just worried about the future of race and race relations in my country.

Food For Thought

“Male progressives always see themselves as brothers, “bravely” joining together to rise up and overthrow the rule of their father. We should combat “male supremacy” itself, not merely “patriarchy.”” I like this quote even if I’m not sure I agree. It is in this article: http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/how-two-young-feminists-are-using-radical-feminism-to-pave-a-new-way-forward/

This is why I will no longer call my self a feminist. Not because I disagree but because I literally don’t understand it. To me it is the equivalent of saying you are an intergrationalist circa 1970 without understanding that you are white. I’m not suggesting that all self identified feminist men need to understand radical feminism intellectually in order to not potentially be destructive to the movement. I think it is possible though that we need to understand gender oppression more viscerally to take an active role in dismantling patriarchy vs. castrating kronos to call ourselves Zeus.

I realized recently that I can’t comprehend gender oppression viscerally. I can understand it intellectually but not viscerallly. Not like other forms of oppression I don’t experience first hand. I mean, I can talk to my jewish friends and understand a little about antisemitism viscerally. I understand how they feel when someone says a christian prayer that they are expected to know or when they feel unsafe in certain environments. It is a shallow understanding at best as I will never feel what its like to be Jewish but I empathize viscerally with enough to understand enough nuisance to talk about the complexities of ending antisemitism in America.

My recent time spent thinking about women’s…existence? What is the meta word that captures the female lived experience that includes but is not limited to oppression and rights? It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized as a man that I am not gendered in the way that women are. I am the default and women are the other in America. I had of course heard that but to realize how ubiquitous that is…not too unlike white people not being raced? Crazy. Food for thought. I’d be interested to hear what people think.